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By Maddy Williams

As any traveller will tell you, traversing the world in search of new sights, sounds, friends, and romance is one of the greatest joys of modern living. Don’t let your suitcase drag you down (quite literally- tripping down a flight of stairs with a massive suitcase is no one’s idea of a good night out) on your extended travels. Follow these tips to minimise your luggage and maximise your capability to have fun, anytime, anywhere.

Pack the Essentials

And by “essentials”, I don’t mean “toiletries”. Think about it: What are the absolute ESSENTIAL items that you could not travel without? They are things that are specific to you and that you won’t be able to obtain easily anywhere else. The first thing is documentation: make sure you have your passport, visa, travel insurance, doctors certificates, whatever- and make sure you have 2 or 3 copies in different parts of your luggage. If you get stuck without any of the above items in airports, travel checkpoints or the emergency room, you are up the creek without a paddle, my friend.

The second is any medication you may need while you’re away. It’s far from impossible to get medication while overseas, but if you have specialised needs or medication then it saves a lot of hassle with language barriers and sourcing the correct meds to have it all sorted before you go.

Make the Most of your Bag Space

This will vary depending on your length and purpose of travel, but the rule of thumb is that less is more. If you’re relocating for a significant length of time, you’ll obviously need to pack more. If you’re off for a one or two month summer trip, you can easily get by with a 7-10kg backpack. As travel extraordinaire Rick Steves points out, your luggage will go most places you do: you don’t want to be dragging along a suitcase behind you when you’re meant to be absorbing the beauty and culture around you!

There are several ways of making the most of your bag space. One method is rolling clothes, which most backpackers swear by. Another way is using packing cubes. These allow you to sort your toiletries and miscellaneous items neatly, separately, and compactly.

Think of items you will really, truly use. Take layers rather than big coats. If you need extras along the way, you can always purchase them in the many stores abroad. Take enough toiletries to start you off and pick things up as you go. With liquid restrictions for carry-on luggage on flights, it works out better this way anyway. If you can get by without them, you’ve saved time and space!

Belongings Back Home

If you’re heading abroad for a significant length of time, you may need to make arrangements for your things back home. If you’re lucky, options include leaving them at your parents place, or getting someone to sublet your apartment or house. However, if these options aren’t viable for you, consider self storage options. Some companies offer short-to-medium term storage, and pick-up and delivery services. This saves you both from over-packing and having to sell off some of your items before you go.

With all of these tips, you’re sure to keep the focus on practical travelling!
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