A trip to Africa can be a once in a lifetime opportunity for many travellers. One day, you could be taking a jeep tour through a safari park, another day climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Maybe at night, you’ll be camping around a fire or staying with a local tribe. These are undoubtedly all incredible things to do, and the one thing you don’t want is to ruin it by having to lug around a heavy backpack or suitcase. So, in this article, we’ll be looking at the 7 top tips for packing lightly for your hiking adventure.
1. Only bring the essentials
When you’re at home, it really seems like you need your hair dryer, your straighteners, and all those other things that keep you looking beautiful. In the middle of a hike, they suddenly seem less of a good idea and much more of a hindrance.
Many hotels have these extras anyway, but if you’re camping out at night, or on a multi-day hike, no-one is really going to care if you’re looking perfect. Embrace the natural look and leave all those heavy beauty devices at home.
2. Have a daypack inside your full-size bag
Of course, no-one wants to carry around a huge 75-litre backpack with them all the time. It’s cumbersome, awkward, and heavy, especially if it’s got all of your holiday belongings in it. Surely, it’s better to have a daypack, right? Of course, it is. You can get some great daypacks that will fit in everything you could possibly need on a hike, while still fitting inside your full-size bag.
Some hiking brands even offer full-size bags with daypacks strapped or zipped to them, which are a great option for your trip.
3. Only bring light clothing
So, you’re going hiking and you’ll be spending the night camping. You’ve heard it’s going to be cold at night, so you better bring a couple of woolly jumpers. One to keep you warm, and an extra in case the other one gets dirty. Great, but now you’ve taken up half the space in your bag. Rookie mistake!
Yes, it may be cold but if you really need to bring bulky clothes, wear them on the way to your destination and back on the plane. What’s better though, it’s buying something like merino wool, which is comfortable, can be used for more formal events, and is super light and small to fold up. Also, in terms of coats, bring a lightweight mac that you can pack into a small bag. Much better than a huge, waterproof coat.
4. Roll, roll, roll. And flatpack.
It’s not just about what clothes you decide to take with you, it’s also about how you pack them. With limited space in backpacks or suitcases, you have to think more carefully than just throwing them in, as you might into your drawers or closets at home.
For large clothing items, like jeans and pants, or sweatshirts, flat pack them and make a base at the bottom of your bag. Now, you’ve still got a lot of space left for the rest. With smaller items like t-shirts, roll them up and fit them in wherever you can. Roll up your underwear too. If you’re taking an extra pair of shoes, put your underwear and socks inside of them. Now, you still have loads of space for souvenirs to bring home!
Packing cubes are also a great way to maintain space in your luggage – if your clothes don’t fit in the cubes, then back in the drawer they go.
5. Pack clothes for 7 days
It can be so hard to know what to take – and what to leave behind. What happens if your clothes get dirty? Well, it may not be the first thing you think about when you’re going on holiday but remember that in most places it’s fairly easy (and also pretty cheap) to find a laundry service that will wash your clothes. So even if you’re going on a trip around Africa that will last for many months, you don’t need any more than one week’s worth of clothes.
This will save a load of space in your luggage, and it also means that if you see any clothes you really like, you have space to buy it and wear it during your trip. Just make sure that when you are washing your clothes, you don’t throw everything in at once. You will need something to wear while your clothes are at the cleaners!
6. Forget about toiletries
Shampoo, check. Shower gel, check. Toothpaste, check. Sun cream and after sun, check. These are all things that will be available at your destination. You may not be able to buy your favourite ever brand there, but not buying toiletries in your own country will save you a whole load of money, and also a whole load of space in your luggage. They’re heavier than you expect!
Also, if your bag is overweight at the airport, they’re going to be the first thing you throw out. Do yourself a favour and wait until you’ve arrived. Take a quick trip to the local supermarket and you’re sorted. You’re also helping the community where you’ve chosen to stay.
7. De-materialise your technology
Of course, everyone loves to have a physical book. If it’s a guidebook, it’s easy to find what you’re looking for and you can access the information you need in seconds. If it’s a novel, it’s just nice to be able to hold it in your hand. However, books take up a lot of space.
Many travellers are swapping physical books for e-readers, which they can hold thousands of books on. It may not have the character of a physical book, but it will certainly take up a lot less space in your luggage and the battery will last for ages! Even if you don’t have an e-reader, you can download books to an app on your phone. For more travel tips, check out Trip101!