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HOW TO PREPARE YOUR BACKPACK FOR TRAVELING

Whether you're going for a few days or a month, there are two key words to remember: anticipation and lightness!

The main idea being: how to avoid forgetting anything and avoid overloading yourself? Julie, our travel expert, shares her best practices with you!

backpack preparation trip around the world

Which backpack should you choose for a trip?

Travellers, backpackers, hikers and backpackers, if you are going on a trip soon, your travel bag will be your ideal companion!

First of all, you need to choose the right backpack. Whether it's a short getaway or a round-the-world trip, our preference is for suitcase-style backpacks with a large opening in the back for easy access to all your belongings without wrinkling them.

Being able to secure it with a padlock is also essential. Indeed, during your trip, you may leave your bag at the hostel during the day or in the luggage storage area of your hotel. And it is also very reassuring when you put your bag in the hold of a bus or plane!

Make sure your bag has a protective cover. This will be very useful to protect your belongings from the rain and will allow you to protect your bag in different means of transports (plane, train, bus, etc.).

Don't forget that your backpack must also be comfortable, you will be wearing it regularly and sometimes for a long time! It should therefore be your best friend. Ideally, you should be able to test it before you buy it by trying out different bed sizes.

How to prepare your backpack to go on a trip?

Is there a difference between a men's and women's travel backpack?

This is a question that often comes up when you want to go backpacking. Are men and women equal when it comes to the shape of the bags? As each individual is unique, it goes without saying that we will not all choose the same size or shape according to our body shape. Whether you are a man or a woman, some backpacks will suit you better than others.

Although one should not make generalizations on this subject, there are differences between the morphology of men and women concerning the shoulders, back and pelvis. Women have an inverted upper back to hip ratio compared to men as they often have a wider and more flexible pelvis. This results in a different articulation, where the pelvis forms a slight angle with the centre of the body. This is one reason why there are often different travel backpacks for men and women.

However, some bags can be suitable for both, so it's always best to try your bag in the shop! At Forclaz, we have identified some key differences between a men's backpack and a women's backpack.

- The size of the back: Women's travel backpacks have a shorter back height.
- The waist belt: Women's bags have a wider, more sloping carrying belt. We notice that some bags also have an extra cushion that hugs the top of the pelvis.
- Straps: to accommodate women, some backpacks have narrower shoulder straps at chest level.
- The chest strap: this is often higher on women's bags, although more and more straps are now adjustable for men's backpacks too.

Why travel with a backpack?

If you dream of exploring the world in a different way and at your own pace, backpacking is ideal. Indeed, it offers you greater freedom and autonomy, without a predefined programme.
Armed with your backpack, you will be the only one to decide on your time and the places you will visit. It is also a convenient way to travel: you take the bare essentials with you and buy what you need on the spot. No suitcases, no planned tours, no hotel reservations, you choose only according to your needs and your mood!

In other words, it allows for more spontaneous travel and removes many constraints. You may decide to stay a week or a few days in the same place, catch a bus, a train or even a new plane in search of a new adventure on that same trip.
In addition, it is an opportunity to meet new people and share experiences with other backpackers. Backpacking opens up the opportunity to experience a country's culture in a completely different, more intimate and authentic way.

On the practical side, backpacking saves you a lot of trouble. You'll no longer need to:

- Queue in transport to put your suitcase in the luggage compartment;
- Wait at the conveyor belt for your luggage at the airport;
- Worry that your luggage will not arrive safely;
- Waste too much time gathering your belongings and repacking your bag when you leave your hotel.

A backpacking trip is an opportunity to take the minimum with you and therefore to travel light. However, backpacking does not always have to be off the beaten track.
For a classic hotel stay, with car rental, the travel backpack also works! There are no rules: if the travel backpack is primarily used for road trips, it can also be used for other types of travel. After all, nothing spoils a holiday more than a bag that is too heavy to carry: it is tiring and sometimes even a hindrance.

Where to go with a backpack?

Are you interested in backpacking? There are some ideal destinations for the backpacker who wants to save money, meet people in hostels or find a seasonal job to learn the language and get a deeper immersion in the culture of the country.

If we were to make a top 3 of the ideal destinations to do this type of trip, trekking in South America and in particular in Bolivia tops the list. Indeed, backpacking in South America is the easiest way to marvel at its breathtaking landscapes.

Thailand is also a great place for backpackers. This country requires a small budget to visit and has a functional train line allowing travellers to get around easily. Many youth hostels have also been established, ideal for meeting people.

Finally, trekking by Argentina backpack is also a great idea. It can be a long way to reach the great outdoors, so be sure to pack everything you need (first aid kit, external battery, etc). In addition to its natural beauty, the country is full of youth hostels and is therefore used to welcoming backpackers!

How to prepare your backpack to go on a trip?

Where to go backpacking alone?

The most important thing about backpacking alone is to be in the right frame of mind, ready to open up to others and to all the adventures that may come your way. In the end, the destination does not matter if you are careful and well prepared.
However, some destinations are known to be safe to visit, especially if you are a woman. These include:

- Thailand, a very welcoming country, where you’re sure to meet many people from your country;
- Iceland, the so-called "safest country in the world";
- New Zealand, with its very low crime rate and a friendly population.

For a solo traveller, we also recommend trekking in Spain or Canada. Although we hear less about these countries for backpacking, they are ideal destinations that lend themselves well to adventure.

How to prepare your backpack to go on a trip?

Which backpack is best to travel around the world?

To go to the other side of the world, it is more necessary to have a comfortable, quality backpack that fits your size. Indeed, the standard recommended size for a round-the-world backpack is on average 50 to 60 litres. Your backpack should not exceed 10 to 12 kg for optimal comfort. However, you should know that there are no real rules. This is a recommended size, but if you're planning a backpacking trip to Thailand, for example, and don't need a star-studded wardrobe, you may want to consider a smaller bag, especially as you can easily wash your clothes there for cheap.

What size travel backpack should I get?

When travelling for the first time, it is common to want to borrow your neighbour's to save money. You will probably regret it, especially if you are going on a long trip!
Indeed, a travel backpack should fit you and your body size to be comfortable during your road trip. So here are some valuable tips to follow if you don't want to go home with a sore back.

Choose your bag according to the size of your back;
Test several sizes and choose a bag that fits your body type and has a good adjustment system;
Get a bag adapted to your musculature. If you are a woman, you will need a bag that fits your body and hips.

The size of your backpack is also determined by the length of your stay. You must therefore choose an adequate capacity:
- a bag of 20 to 50 litres for a trip of less than 15 days;
- a bag of 50 to 70 litres for a trip of more than 15 days;
- a bag of more than 70 litres for a round-the-world trip, but be careful because it can quickly become too heavy.

Some bags also have an expandable size, such as "+10L", which can be adjusted to increase the capacity if necessary. For example, you can choose a small bag of 20 to 50 litres for a trip of less than 15 days, with an expandable size if you want to keep a place to return with souvenirs!

What is the best travel backpack?

Finally got your tickets to your next destination but don't have a travel bag yet? If you're visiting your country or going to the other side of the world, you'll need a practical bag to hold your essentials. Indeed, everything you take with you is important!
The bottom line is that there is no such thing as the best travel backpack. It all depends on you, your budget, the duration of your adventure, your needs, your body type, but also your way of travelling.
However, when choosing a travel backpack, it is still important to pay attention to the following criteria.

Capacity: as explained above, travel bags are classified by litres.

Weight: you don't always realise it until you've packed your whole house in your bag for the first few trips, but the lighter you travel, the better you feel! Be careful with the weight of the empty backpack. A 60L bag can quickly reach 2 kilos.
Type of opening: most backpacks open at the top (front opening), but this is not the most practical way as you will have to remove everything to get to the bottom of the bag. That's why we prefer travel bags that open at the front, a bit like a suitcase! These trekking backpacks have a so-called front opening.

Strap type: the strap is located at the waist and it is the strap that balances the weight of the backpack on the body rather than on the shoulders. The strap prevents back pain, especially when carrying the bag for long periods. We recommend bags with padded straps, which are much more comfortable.

Inner storage systems: some bags have pockets inside, which are very practical for objects that you want to protect, such as a camera or a computer. It's best if there are a few, but not too many to avoid spreading yourself too thin and being tempted to put more and more things in your bag, which will inevitably become heavy in the end!

Ventilation system: if you travel to a hot country, you will be sweating. Carrying a bag with a good ventilation system will keep you comfortable throughout the adventure.

Weather resistance: some backpacks have an integrated rain cover, others are made of a textile that is easily waterproof. If you are going on a trek in Ireland for example, where it rains a lot, we strongly recommend this type of bag! Alternatively, you may as well choose a model that comes without protection and buy a waterproof cover as well.

Style and cut: it’s up to you to choose a bag that you like and whose cut is adapted, keeping in mind that the most important thing is the length of your back.

A travel backpack: equivalent to a carry-on bag in a plane?

Be aware that airlines are becoming increasingly strict about the size and weight of cabin baggage. Make sure you know when you have booked your plane tickets for a trip to the other side of the world. You can make sure that your bag does not exceed the weight and dimensions of a carry-on bag to avoid putting it in the hold and incurring extra charges.

travel backpack contents

Did you find your bag? Great! Now let's see how to choose what to put in it.

How to prepare your rucksack when travelling?

Packing your travel bag can quickly become a nightmare for some. There are those who decide to pack their bag at the last minute with everything they can think of and struggle to close it, and those whose wardrobe is full of clothes they love and find it hard to choose.

Let's not forget the more organised ones, who are simply not used to backpacking! Don't panic, in any case, we give you our tips to prepare your travel bag before leaving for your adventure.

1. Roll up your clothes
The essential tip for any good traveller is to roll up your clothes to save space! By rolling your clothes like sausages, they will take up much less space in your backpack.

This method is not only ideal for optimising the space in your travel bag, but also avoids creasing the fabrics. Indeed, while backpacking is an adventure where fashion does not take precedence, it is always nice to wear unwrinkled clothes! To fold your clothes, we recommend that you fold each side and then roll from top to bottom.

Good to know: There are manual compression bags called compactors, to store your vacuum clothes. This is particularly useful if you want to take a down jacket, heavy coat or other bulky item of clothing with you. With these bags, this type of clothing can take up to 75% less space.

2. Compartimentalise your clothes in smaller bags
One of the golden rules of a true backpacker is to group your belongings by theme, in sub-bags. Indeed, the essential equipment of any good travel bag are these compartments!

You will pack and unpack your bag every day. So that this does not become an ordeal, the storage pockets make it easy to organise your belongings and equipment. Remember to choose waterproof bags that are water resistant to protect your belongings from moisture that might get into your bag. You can also choose thinner, but less practical, storage nets.

You can plan several sub-bags, such as:
- one bag for clothes and underwear;
- one bag for shoes;
- a first-aid or toiletry bag;
- one bag for technical textiles (sport, hiking, etc.);
- a special accessory pocket for inserting chargers or devices.

Obviously, the aim is not to have 50, but rather ten or so in which you can store your essentials without them getting scattered as you travel.

Backpacking: what to bring

Going alone with your backpack is an art, a philosophy. This is the easiest way to discover the world, in a minimalist way. If this is your first trip, you'll probably have lots of questions about what to pack and what to leave at home.

Did you find your bag? Great! Now let's see how to choose what to put in it. Indeed, when you go on a backpacking trip, you have to think about many things.

Don't worry, if the choices are difficult to make at first, with experience, packing your bag will become a breeze. Here is a list of essential items to pack in your backpack for a hassle-free trip!

1. Clothing suitable to the weather
This may seem logical, but it is easy to forget when packing a backpack for an unfamiliar destination.

Our best advice for choosing the right clothes for the weather is to start by checking the weather at your destination. Secondly, we advise you to plan the activities you plan to do once you are there, or at least to have an idea.

Depending on the country you are going to and the time of year, you will need to adapt the contents of your bag. Although the essentials are often the same, you won't need the same things if you go trekking in Thailand as if you go to Bolivia. Also, depending on the activities you plan to do there in addition to your daily walk, your needs may be different.

Whatever the length of your backpacking trip, we advise you to bring as much as possible to change for a week. You'll have enough to do your laundry regularly and if you can't do it in the washing machine you can always wash your underwear by hand.

Choose clothes that do not get dirty, that dry quickly, and ideally clothes with anti-odour properties. From this point of view, we have a clear preference for merino wool clothing. Merino wool limits odours, so you can wear your clothes for several days without washing them.

2. Accessories to stay plugged into the planet
Here, we immediately think of universal adapters, which will allow you to connect in any country in the world. It is best to choose one with several USB ports so that you can charge several devices at the same time. We also advise you to carry an external battery charger to avoid running out of power when you go on long hikes, far from any power outlet.

3. A first aid kit
You can't go backpacking without a first aid kit! It is often only when you leave without it that you realise how useful it is. Indeed, it is used much more often than one might imagine. It is important to remember that some wounds, even minor ones, can quickly become infected, especially in hot and tropical countries.

4. A bag sheet
In some hotels or hostels, hygiene is not really a priority. You may be tempted to choose 'cheap' accommodation and end up with beds with dodgy sheets.

To avoid direct contact, we recommend that you bring a sleeping bag liner (or "sheet"). Some hostels (although rare) may also not provide a duvet. Your lining can save your life if you find yourself in this situation.

Also remember to bring earplugs, which are very useful if the walls are poorly insulated or if you sleep in dormitories with several people. You will certainly have a better night's sleep if people are snoring next to you.

5. Camping accessories
If your backpacking trip involves camping or going out at night, remember to take a headlamp. It can be very useful for walking around in the evening or simply reading without disturbing your partner, even if you are staying in a hotel. A Swiss Army knife could also be of great use to you during your trip, for example for an outdoor meal.

By following our advice, you will be able to set off on your adventure lightly and with complete peace of mind! When loading your backpack, also remember to balance the weights, as this is important for carrying comfort.

You should position the heaviest items along your back. On top, it is better to put the things you might need during the day, so that they are easily accessible.

If you are planning excursions of a few hours, consider taking a lighter, compact bag with a small volume (about 20l), which will be used to carry water, a small first aid kit and some snacks!

How to prepare your backpack to

A LITTLE EXTRA TIP

By Julie, Decathlon colleague and globetrotter

"It’s only by travelling that we ultimately work out what’s essential to us and what we can do without. So give it a go, do some testing, and feel free to leave a comment to tell me what you can’t do without on a trip!"

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