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#DestinationUnknown – Independent Short-Haul Travel – Packing and the Pitfalls.

#DestinationUnknown – Independent Short-Haul Travel – Packing and the Pitfalls.
My son Dan in Luang Prabang, Laos; proving you can travel anywhere with 35 litres.

So now that we’ve booked our impromptu flight, sorted out some cheap accommodation, and figured out how to transfer from the airport it’s time to look at how we’re going to pack efficiently.

I’m going to look at suitable packs, the type of clothing that is best suited to travelling, essential items that are worth considering, and the sort of shit that you might be tempted to carry but shouldn’t!

The perfect pack? Whatever suits you best.
35-40lts will keep you on the right side of the airline baggage rules and will be plenty big enough for the 7-10kg weight allowances.

I happen to have a number of options. These are a few of them 😀

My preference is for a rucksack; in particular the Osprey Atmos 35L (See my review here). Why? Several reasons.
Firstly a good pack will last you a long time, it will become a trusted and familiar friend. If you plan to make some regular sorties then investing in a quality pack will pay dividends for a long time to come. 
The Atmos has a very comfortable and well supported carry system, important if you have to walk any kind of distance.
It isn’t too big which means I won’t be tempted to carry any just-in-case items.
It is extremely robust.
It is front loading with a half zip that makes it extremely accessible, and it has a few external pockets for keeping oft used or important items to hand and a big stretchy stash pocket.
It is, quite simply, the best travel pack I have ever owned.
It has been used for short-haul Euro breaks, backpacking around South-East Asia, Himalayan treks, bicycle tours, and carrying my bike over a 5000m pass, amongst other things.
Sadly it seems to have been discontinued by Osprey, but I’m certain you could track one down somewhere on the internet with a modicum of determination. Their Stratos 34 looks like the next best alternative, it is almost identical but appears to lack the stretchy stash pocket on the front which is a shame.

The Osprey Atmos 35. The best travel pack I’ve ever owned.

Carry-on sized luggage is available everywhere these days, even the airlines will sell you their own brand. 
The most common ones are the little rectangular hard case type with an extending handle and little wheels for pulling it around.
They are simple and effective but personally I wouldn’t want to be dragging one around all day.
The same goes for Duffle Bags.
But for short well planned trips I don’t suppose it really matters all that much.

One of those little wheelie case thingys.
Your classic duffle.

Clothing choices can be multitude.
If I’m travelling in to Europe for a few days to see friends or for a city break then my normal clothes are fine; I’m a jeans & tee’s man.
If it’s going to be especially hot or cold then I will pack differently.
A little bit of research beforehand will give you a good idea of what you might need.
Modern polyesters, merino wool, and technical fabrics, make for excellent travel clothing; and if you have to hand wash them they dry very quickly and don’t need ironing.
British company Rohan have long had a solid reputation for making smart and functional travel clothing.
Rab MeCo 120 tees are the best multi-functional travel tees I own (see my review here).

The savvy travellers rule-of-thumb is The Rule of Three’s.
Three pairs of underpants, three pairs of socks, and three tees, will get you anywhere. One to wash, one to wear, and in the case of underpants one in case you shit yourself 😀
You really only need one pair of comfortable shoes, approach type walking shoes are great. Flip-flops however are an excellent item to carry.
Talking of underpants my now go-to preference is for Alpkit Kepler Merino Boxers; these are available in both the male and female varieties. Merino is a wonder wool and resists odours superbly.
A lightweight zip-hoody can be very useful, I have an old reversible one from Paramo but I think it has now been discontinued.

Packing tips.
Pack heavy, bulky, and occasional use items at the bottom.
Keep oft used items to hand in accessible pockets.
Roll clothes; they pack down much smaller that way and it helps to prevent creasing; don’t be a stuffer.

Always remember to pack liquids in a zip bag at the top of your pack. You don’t need a big bottle of shampoo. Nor do you need a fancy smelling bottle of shower gel, unperfumed soap will last longer, is cheaper, and won’t attract our little bloodsucking friends from near & far.
Aerosols are a no-go. You can’t carry them on the plane. A small roll on deodorant will do the job.

Essential items – Soft ear plugs, a bar of soap in a cheap plastic soap dish, microfibre travel towel, a small combination padlock or two. A small headtorch.
A small roll of Duct tape and a few zip ties are the travellers best friend.
A plastic/zip/similar bag is very handy for keeping used clothing separate.

Useful items – USB memory stick, combination cable lock, pocket compass. Silk sleeping bag liner for hot nights or grotty sheets.

A few of the more essential items.

It’s preferable to carry some items separately in simple robust bags with pull toggles – or roll top dry bags like the Airloks from Alpkit. A few different sizes and colours help to identify what is where.

You probably don’t need a travel iron or, as I once saw on a Himalayan trek, a travel hairdryer either!

A small pocket daypack made from siliconised nylon can be indispensable. I have a little beauty from Alpkit – The Atom Litepak – sadly for you the reader these are no longer available. You will find similar products in most good outdoors shop though.

Things like spare l-ion batteries, memory cards etc aren’t really necessary on short trips but are invaluable if you ever plan on going for a big trip.

There are very few towns and cities in the world where you can’t buy anything you might need or forget.

And finally… One last tip – Learn to take really good images, and then share them with the rest of us on the internet please 🙂

You can read Part 1 here
And Part Two here

You can also follow Chase The Rainbow here:

Thank you for looking, see you soon.

Please don’t forget to Like, Share, and Comment, if you enjoyed it 🙂

Consume less, live more. Plant more trees. 

The Osprey Stratos 34 looks to be the savvy travellers weapon of choice in the future.

About The Author

Neil Cottam

Neil is the founder of Chase The Rainbow. He has spent a lifetime exploring the outdoors, from a childhood climbing trees and scrambling his bike around old pit heads to hiking in the Himalaya and backpacking around Europe and Asia.

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