Words by Samantha Lego|Edits by Catherine Livesley
So you’ve decided to go travelling. You’ve booked your tickets and your tours, planned your routes and now you have to pack everything you’ll need into a 60L backpack… You already know the basics – bringing clothes that match; not taking every item in your bathroom etc – but you’re still overwhelmed by the thought of fitting everything in. Don’t panic. Here are our choice travel hacks to minimize your luggage and make your life easier on the road.
Whether you’re male or female, a sarong is arguably the most versatile item in your backpack. It’s a lightweight beach towel, a scarf and a makeshift cover-up for visiting Europe’s conservative cathedrals. In a pinch, it’s a blanket or a shawl on a cold bus ride. It can be rolled up into a pillow or transformed into a satchel and, most importantly, it’s a privacy curtain for your bunk bed. On top of that, it takes next to no space and dries almost instantly. Ditch the bulky towel and grab a sarong instead.
In an ideal world, every bunk would have it’s own outlet. Realistically, there will be two sockets for 10 people’s phones, cameras, straighteners and all their other electronics. To combat this and make sure your phone always has a charge, bring a small power strip. It may take up a bit more room in your bag, but some things are worth the space. Plus you’ll only need one adapter and it’s a sure-fire way to make friends with everyone in your dorm room.
Instead of heavy, clunky shampoo bottles, opt for a small solid shampoo instead – for example shampoo bars from Lush. These bars last longer than a bottle and are much lighter – plus the obvious bonus that they don’t count as part of your liquid allowance when flying! You’ll save even more space in your toiletry bag since the bars can also be used as body wash and laundry soap for when you next wash your socks in the sink (we’ve all been there).
LifeStraws were originally invented to purify water from contaminated sources, providing people access to safe drinking water. Although Europe, for the most part, has clean, safe drinking water, the LifeStraw eliminates the need to buy plastic water bottles. You’re doing good for the planet as well as your future hangovers when you can quickly grab water from any sink anywhere.
These will be the handiest things you pack. They can hold stolen food from hostel breakfasts, keep all of your hair ties in one place, make sure your liquids don’t leak (not ideal when everything you own is in one space). They can hold the coins you’ve collected from the different countries and can seal in the odour of dirty clothes. You will never run out of uses for zip-lock bags. Take handfuls of them and shove them in your backpack. You won’t regret it.
Overall, try not to stress too much about what you’re taking with you – you should be focusing on how much sightseeing you can fit in, not how much stuff you can fit in! You can always pick stuff up on the way, and our travel hacks will most definitely make your life easier as you make your way around Europe with your possessions on your back.