Packing – What, in what, for what?

For every trip, no matter what kind, there is one task that always has to be done: packing.
When it comes to packing, I like to start at the beginning because as it was once said, that’s a very good place to start.

What are you packing into?

The beginning of the packing process is deciding what you’re going to be packing your things into. There are basically two main options that can then be further categorized: backpack or suitcase? 


Suitcases are generally the common holiday packing option. They are handy when you want to pack a lot, you don’t have to carry it around too much and you can then simply open it up upon arrival and just repack at the end of the trip. This is the kind of packing that is great for resort holidays, package deals or a one holiday, one hotel situation. Basically, as long as you’re not constantly unpacking, repacking and lugging your stuff around, a suitcase is the simpler choice over a backpack. Packing into a suitcase is also great when you are visiting places where you’ll be able to pull your case along behind you but start to become impractical as soon as you need to walk longer distances on uneven surfaces or are walking along roads or pathways that aren’t in a great condition such is the case in many places in Southeast Asia.


For some people, such as myself, it’s a “once you go backpack, you never go back” situation. Backpacks offer an array of advantages but also have their issues, so let’s start off with a couple of those.

Certainly not without issues…

The most obvious issue when traveling with a backpack is that you have to actually carry it yourself. This means you need to be careful with what you decide to pack and consider the weight of it all.  Alongside the weight limitation, backpacks also tend to be quite limiting in space. With limited space and weight, the first thing to think about is how many shoes one really needs depending on the destination. A pair of trainers, hiking boots and sliders or sandals are usually the basic three to go with. If you’re headed somewhere more wintery, maybe substitute the sandals for winter boots or if you only plan on doing easy or no hikes, often trainers and/or sliders will do the trick and you can leave the hiking boots at home.

Another thing you need to keep in mind when packing clothes into a backpack is that things will move around and get squashed quite a bit more than they would in a suitcase. This then has a couple of consequences. The first of which, is that things get creased very easily and depending on where you’re traveling to, an iron isn’t going to be the easiest thing to find. Second of all, things are not as easily separated and compartmentalized as when they are tightly packed away in sections. Especially when they are sometimes being carried upright, then laid down again etc. As with most backpack problems though, these are easily solved.

…but a great all terrain travel companion

The backpack itself may not compartmentalize things well but so-called packing bags that can be bought in any travel store like Globetrotter or on Amazon are exceptionally practical. They not only allow you to generally sort your clothing better, but they make the often-constant packing and unpacking so much easier. The ironing and creases problem is simply solved by not packing clothes that crease easily or always need ironing. Or you can always live with the creases. It’s totally up to you.

The limited space and weight issue is also a blessing in disguise if you ask me. The less you take with you, the less you have to lose and keep track of. You have all the essentials compactly stored in one place, you don’t have to ponder too long over each day’s outfit choice, and you can always buy new clothes in case you get bored with the ones you have. That then means new clothes and a souvenir for when you head back home! 

Also, the whole carrying around a full backpack isn’t as bad as it often sounds. The first silver lining is that it’s obviously a good fitness test to carry it around a bit every now and then and to be honest, depending on what kind of backpacking you’re planning on doing, there’s not even that much backpack lugging around going on. If you plan on hiking around with your all your stuff in a backpack, then you will of course be more prepared and pack accordingly. But if you’re simply planning on traveling around to different hotels or hostels, the staff are almost always very friendly and helpful, and most places offer reasonably priced shuttles saving you the long walks to and from airports, bus stops or ferry terminals if you feel the walk is too far.

Packing list

After you’ve decided what you’ll be packing all your gear into, you have to move on to the all-important packing list. There are so many different packing-lists out there and they all vary from destination to destination! I’ll be going over some general tips and recommendations but if you’re after a more itemised list, check out the downloadable packing lists on the Ayo World destination pages for example.

What to pack?

Let’s go over what kind of packing you can do and what that means for your list. There are so many different kinds of holidays depending on what you like, what you book and where you decide to go.

That holiday vibe

A very common and relatively easy to pack for holiday is simply one where you plan on relaxing and staying in one place most of the time. My recommendation for this kind of packing is to not take too long packing each outfit. Try and pack things that you feel comfortable in, maybe somethings that you love but don’t get the chance to wear at home too much and then the essentials according to the destination and time of year – a swimsuit for warm and beachy areas, winter jacket, hat and cloves for winter wonderlands and things like that. Definitely don’t forget those fancy evening outfits that no restaurant at home seems to be worth of. Even if you make your own dinner and just end up nipping to the bar for drinks, you’ll feel even better in that dress you’ve hardly ever worn or that shirt you love but never seem to have the occasion for.

Travel and explore

If you’re like me and are more the explorer type when traveling, I highly recommend practical clothing that you like yourself in. This way you’re dressed and prepared for spontaneous adventures but are also ready for any photo opportunities that may occur. Comfort is key here, so don’t pack anything that you don’t feel like yourself in. Especially if you’re packing into a backpack, you may have to pack and re-pack a couple of times, depending on how decisive you are. Make sure to pack the essentials first such as underwear and toiletries before moving on to things like party outfits. In general, always pack at least 2 pairs of pants more than you think. Sometimes you don’t know when your next chance for a wash load will be, so it’s good to be on the safe side. Depending on how long you plan to travel, it can also be a good idea to pack clothes that go together in various combinations. This way you don’t have to take much to have a variety of outfits with you and you don’t get bored too quickly. Last but not least, a bum bag is a backpacker’s best friend. Well, that and sliders…and a quick-dry towel…and sun cream. 

Just make sure you go over your list a couple of times before you leave and adapt to your destination. If it comes to it, you can always buy more stuff on-site.

That’s about the gist of it all to get you going. Obviously, packing always varies from person to person and trip to trip and there is no right or wrong way to go about it. I hope I’ve given you some insights and helpful information though anyway.  If you’re interested in more details about specific destinations or general travel planning advice, check out some of my other posts and stay tuned for more!

If your questions aren’t answered here or you have any comments or personal experiences you’d like to share, don’t be afraid to get in touch and let me know!

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