International Backpacking: Tips for Extreme Space Preservation

Backpacking is a unique and humbling experience, as it requires the traveler to consider exactly what is necessary, and to eliminate everything else. Sometimes the process seems impossible. You have the items narrowed down, you have already gotten rid of everything you think you need, and there still isn’t enough room.

This is frustrating – there isn’t enough room for the things you want. You have to ask yourself two questions: do you really need the items, and did you pack for maximum space preservation?

If the answer to the first question is absolutely ‘yes’, than it is time to consider the second question. Did you pack wisely? Are you sure? Does everything have a specific spot, and no space is wasted? If you are unsure, read the following tips and tricks for maximizing space, and see if you can’t find a spot for those extra items.

1: Vacuum bags. This may work for you. You can’t vacuum something to make it smaller if you are going to keep it, because you won’t be able to vacuum on the go. But if you are one of those packers that disposes of clothes as you go, vacuuming the clothes is absolutely necessary

Each clothing item can be shrunk to 1/3 it’s original size by sucking the air out of their bags. In addition, this will keep them fresh and dry. To vacuum them, simple food saver bags will work, or any other bag designed for this purpose. Food saver is the most economical, however, as you only get a few bags in the ‘specialized’ packages.

2: Carry water outside of the pack. You can buy mess bags that will attached to the outside, or you can strap a carrier on. Water isn’t the most desirable theft item – it’s not likely someone is going to steal your water. If you have to carry them anyway, carry them on the outside of the pack, and use the inside for valuables.

3: Replace clothing with multi-purpose clothes. Instead of carrying shorts and pants, purchase pants that have zippers around the knees that can be used either way. These will cut the amount you have to carry in half. The same works for shirts. Shirts can be purchased with removable sleeves.

4: Take only one pair of shoes. Don’t take more than that. Purchase a pair of shoes that can be casual or formal, make sure they go with your ‘good’ outfit, and purchase some nice gel inserts. There is not point in carrying casual and formal shoes. If you take sandals for showers or rivers, carrying ones that are foam – they can be rolled and/or squashed, and only cost $2.

These tips will help you reduce the amount you have to take and free up some space for things you buy along the way!

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