Pakistan - Indus Silk RouteBe prepared for the experience of a lifetime on this fascinating journey following Pakistan's Silk Route to legendary Hunza.
Packing for travel is never easy. There are lots of questions and many variables to sort out. Questions like; where I am going, what the weather will be like, will I use public transport, how many bags can I comfortably manage, what sort of baggage is best and what gear and clothing will I take.
When I started travelling 20 or so years ago my baggage always used to weigh around 20kg. I needed a large 75 litre bag for that amount of weight. Clothing was bulkier in those days and boots were seriously heavy. Amongst other stuff, travellers carted weighty books, heavy SLR cameras and bags of film. Now, that we live in an age of lightweight layers and digital tech all I need is around 14kg. I can get everything I need for a 6 week journey into a 40 litre bag.
I have a simple rule; I take as little as possible. It’s easier to say that than it is to achieve it but here are my self-imposed rules for preparation and packing.
- Do your research on things like climate, season and weather conditions prevailing during the time of your travels.
- Decide how you are going to get between destinations. Public ground transport options will invariably require ‘hands free’ or manoeuvrable luggage that can fit into overhead bins or racks.
- Decide on a luggage limit of two items; your main bag and your hand/shoulder bag.
- When you have answered the 3 questions above decide what type of luggage is the best solution for you. Backpack, wheel-able soft or wheel-able hard, shoulder carried or trolley style or both.
- Decide the capacity (in litres) of the luggage that is best for you. A standard full length back pack is about 70 litres, standard carry on trolley style luggage is about 25litres
- Decide on the essential gear and clothing items that you must take, make a list of the essentials then go over that list with a super critical eye. Ask ‘why is this item essential’.
- Learn about the cultural clothing norms and expectations of the places that you will visit. Take note of what is appropriate and inappropriate. Plan your wardrobe accordingly.
- Decide how you are going to pack your wardrobe; roll, fold or in one of the popular commercial cells, folders or cubes. Choose a ‘system’ that optimises space and keeps your clothes compact and tidy.
- Choose clothes that are easy to wash out and dry overnight, light versatile clothes that can be worn as layers and combinations are best
- Select items that can be combined or worn individually to suit the situation and conditions e.g. Lightweight Merino style wool long sleeved T worn against the skin in combination with a ‘technical’ lightweight windproof/waterproof shell jacket is a good combo for cool – wet conditions anywhere and a lot more versatile than a bulky rain jacket. Add a travel umbrella for downpours and shade
- Pack at least one combination for ‘dress up’ occasions when that ratty T, or travel weary jeans won’t cut the mustard.
- Take no more than 2 pair of shoes. One light pair of travel or sport sneakers or sandals plus something a bit sturdier for active use like a trek shoe or cross trainer. Toss in a pair of flip flops
Here is my standard spring /summer travel wardrobe;
- 2 pair of lightweight trek/active style travel trousers
- 1 pair lightweight travel jeans
- 1 summer weight long sleeved ‘good’ shirt
- 3 summer weight short sleeved travel style shirts
- 2 cotton short sleeved T’s
- 1 light weight Merino style wool short sleeved T
- 1 light weight Merino style wool long sleeved T
- 1 technical active wear style rain/windproof shell.
- 5 pair under wear
- 5 pair socks
- 1 pair travel sneakers or sandals
- 1 pair light trek shoes
- 1 pair swimmers
- I pack my clothes and shoes in specialised travel folders. My clothes fit easily into a single medium size garment/shirt folder. I pack my shoes, undies and socks into 3 separate shoe size tubes/cubes. I can get all this and my sundry gear into a 40litre soft shell trundle bag.
- If you need something else you can easily buy it as you travel.
Once you have your clothing sorted, think about the ‘other’ gear you will need – first aid, toilet bag, phone/camera chargers, documents,
Here are a few tips;
- Toilet gear – Take as little as possible with you. There are few places in the world where toiletries and cosmetics can’t be purchased locally. If you have particular preferred brands then decant into small containers. The same rule applies to toothpaste, shampoo, gels and creams.
- First Aid – Pack only your prescription meds and over the shelf items that are essential. There are 4 common ailments that travellers should be prepared to deal with.
- Travellers Tummy
- General infections
- Wounds and scrapes
Ask your GP to prescribe an antibiotic for respiratory infections and an antibacterial for gut infections. Include an over the counter antibacterial cream plus a supply of band aids, wound dressings and tape. We also recommend an anti-nausea medication in tab form and a few sachets of electrolyte replacement powder. A simple kit like this will be good for most common travel ailments.
- Documents –save documents onto your phone, pad or tablet – If you don’t use this type of device, take the minimum number of hard copy documents.
- Chargers – nowadays, most electronics charge via a USB cable which saves having to take bulky gear. For phones and tablets buy a multi plug travel charger with at least two USB slots. Some cameras can be charged by USB cables but many still rely on the clunky battery charging station and cables. Take only the essentials.
- Laundry stuff – take a small ziplock sandwich bag of laundry powder, a universal sink plug, a mini scrub brush and a length of elasticated travel clothes line which does not require pegs plus a couple of inflatable clothes hangers.
- Sun protection – Take a ‘scrunchable’ wide brimmed hat or peak cap, a collapsible travel style umbrella and a good sunscreen cream.
- Gadgets – In my main bag I usually stow a lightweight multi tool and a micro torch or small headlamp along with a few spare batteries. I take a small roll of ‘gaffer’ tape and a small selection of plastic zip ties for emergency repairs.