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Take the sarong, forget the shampoo: Backpackers reveal secrets of what they don't carry

Nora Wanzke/DPA

Berlin: Backpackers get plenty of time to sorely regret taking heavy, unnecessary clothes and equipment with them on holiday.

For the uninitiated, rucksacks seem attractive because you can stuff in so many clothes and potentially useful gadgets.

For the experienced, a dpa survey of online travel bloggers reveals, the name of the game is eliminating excess weight from the pack.

Before the author of the Pink Compass blog, Carina Herrmann, set off on her first long journey, she asked her friends for advice.

"They told me to divide my travel load into three piles. The first category contained indispensable items, the second was important stuff and the third was the nice-to-have stuff."

The third category never went on the journey and the second category was then examined again with a critical eye.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Just because low-cost travellers are often called backpackers doesn't mean they have to carry traditional top-opening backpacks.

"I don't think hiking rucksacks are suitable for world travel," says Conni Biesalski from Planet Backpack.

She is a big fan of a new type of rucksack that is packed like a suitcase and has a U-shaped zipper and several grips. Laid on the ground, its soft lid can be easily opened to reveal all the contents.

Blogger Carsten Jost from Fastpacking recommends against the usual 70- and 80-litre packs that fly in the hold, and prefers a smaller load.

"A 40-litre carry-on rucksack is enough for anybody," he says. That way you are forced to limit how much you leave home with.

There is no perfect way to pack a rucksack. "We think compression bags are great for getting everything in," say bloggers Franzi Zuercher and Simon Zyrd from the blog Um die Weltreise.

An alternative is a travel accessory known as packing cubes, which are cuboid zip-up inner bags that help you keep everything in order inside your rucksack.

If packing cubes sound like too much order for a trip to freedom, Jost recommends rolling your clothes up, instead of folding them, before you pack them away.

"Rolling them up is much better. Everything inside your rucksack is going to get creased anyway."

A basic rule is to pack all the clothes you will need for one week on the road including T-shirts and underwear.

Jost travels with just three pairs of underpants and socks. The clean pair is in his rucksack. He wears the second pair, while the third is drying on the outside of his backpack.

Herrmann advises taking clothes along that are easy to mix and match.

All of the bloggers dpa spoke to recommended taking a smartphone along, because the apps and map functions make life much easier on the road. An e-book reader will also help you save space.

"Their batteries last weeks on end," says Jost.

Simon Zyrd likes to take a lot of photographs while travelling. On his last journey he had almost 20 kilograms in camera equipment to carry. "But if you are planning on taking just normal pictures I think a smartphone is quite okay. Modern smartphones are excellent."

If you want a little more photo technology you could try taking a so-called system camera, because they are small and light.

Multi-functioning is the secret to backpacking. Biesalski recommends taking a sarong.

"You can use it as a blanket, a towel, a beach towel or even as a headdress." You should also carry a pocketknife. Simon Zyrd and Franzi Zuercher always take along a silk sleeping sleeve and a pillow cover in case they encounter a dirty bed.

The heaviest object you are likely to have with you while travelling is your toiletries bag. The advice here is to take the absolute minimum along and buy what you need when you get to your destination.

Earplugs could also be useful when travelling as well as a padlock for youth hostel lockers.

Always take a basic first aid kit on a long journey. Franzi Zuercher recommends taking medicine to combat diarrhoea, headaches, fever, absorbent charcoal tablets, disinfection spray and plasters.

Herrmann prepares for the inevitable upset stomach when she goes abroad by taking a digestive electrolyte product.


Updated Date: Feb 06, 2016 09:21 AM

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