Expert Advice: How to Pack Like a Pro for Your Solo Adventure

As you already know, traveling is some of the most exciting and fascinating moments of our lives. However, the packing process can be one of the least exciting and cause a bit of stress. Not only do we have to worry about what to pack and what not to pack, but we also need to consider packing light and choosing the right bag.

Below are some of the most important packing tips, specifically for solo travelers.

Pack only what you need!

1) Pack For What You Need, Not For What You Want:

Only pack what you will actually need and keep your luggage as light as possible. Don’t pack for every ‘just in case’ situation that you can think of. As someone who has traveled for many years, I can say that having a light bag is one of the most important things. Carrying extra weight from items that are hardly used is pointless.

2) Choose the right Bag For Your Trip:

Will you be carrying a suitcase or a backpack? This decision is very important. For example, if you plan on visiting cities and countries that are more developed, suitcases with small wheels are probably your best option. This will allow you to pull the suitcase everywhere you go on the sidewalk.

But if you visit underdeveloped countries or destinations located in the countryside, there will not be sidewalks or pavement. You will need to carry your bag, in which case, backpacks with shoulder straps are probably the best option.

If you are undecided, look at the pros and cons of both a suitcases VS backpacks to help make your decision. If plan on bringing a rucksack, be sure to also be sure to read the full article describing how to choose the right rucksack for your travels.

3) Wear Your Heavy Items While Traveling:

If you wear your heaviest items, such as your coat or pants, it will save space in your bag and make it lighter. This is especially important when you are on a bus, a plane, or simply don’t have a lot of space in your bag.

If it’s on your body, then your bag will not take up as much space.

Heavy items on the bottom!

4) Pack Heavy Items at the Bottom Of Your Bag:

For balancing purposes, whether it’s a backpack or a suitcase, it’s better to put them in the middle of the bag. This a better weight distribution and make the carrying / pulling experience much better. But by doing this, heavy items will often rub or damage other items in your bag, so it’s best to keep them at the bottom.

Sacrificing a bit of comfort to prevent damage on your items is a good idea – especially if you are carrying expensive items.

5) Don’t Put Bank Cards in Your Bag:

When traveling, keep your debit cards and cash in your pocket, don’t put them inside your bag. If you happen to be an unfortunate traveler, and experience theft, you will lose everything all at once. Without bank cards, how will you get money out of the ATM? You will be in a really bad situation.

In addition, when your bags are in the hands of airline companies, the employees may see the cash or cards in your bag through the X-ray machine, and decide to take it for themselves. Think that’s too far fetched? Well, it happened to me.

Keep your cash and credit cards with you at all times while on a bus, train, or plane. Learn more about the travel bank card that I use.

6) Keep Electronics in Your Carry On

Having been robbed once before by airline staff, I have decided to keep my electronics only in my carry on. This way, if the airline staff choose to look through my bag when I am not present, they won’t find anything but clothes and other replaceable items.

Keeping electronics with you at all times decreases the likelihood of theft by a significant amount.

7) Keep an Emergency Contact Card:

Emergencies are not something we often think about, but it’s important to have a plan in case something happens. Bring a brightly colored emergency contact card with you and keep it in your wallet or bag, or both. If something unfortunate were to happen to you, someone could find that card and know how contact someone on your behalf. Learn more about the best travel safety practices.

Everything matches everything.

8) Pack Versatile Clothing:

Bring clothes that can be easily mixed and matched with each other. If you have certain shirts that only match certain pairs of pants, you will be very limited should one pair of pants become dirty. All of your shirts should be able to match all of your pants so you never get in a to a predicament.

Instead of bringing multiple pairs of shoes for each occasion, bring one pair of shoes that are suitable for all terrains. This will reduce the weight of your bag and increase available space.

Are your shoes all-terrain and waterproof?

9) Weigh Your Luggage Before Arriving at the Airport:

If you tend to overpack, make sure you weigh your luggage before you arrive at the airport. Imagine arriving at the airport with all your belongings just before your flight, and they airline staff tell you that your bags are too heavy. What would you do? You are in a foreign country, already checked out of your hotel, and your plane leaves in 45 minutes. You’d probably throw some unnecessary items in to a garbage can or pay a lot of money for the extra weight. Both options aren’t very good.

Plan ahead and make sure your bags are not too heavy. You can either carry a small hanging-scale, or be like me, and always under-pack so you know you will never be overweight.

10) Pack Clothes for the Climate:

Make sure to pack clothes that are appropriate for the climate and weather conditions at your destination.

As long as you plan to travel in many countries with similar climates, you will not need to purchase additional clothing. But if you plan on traveling from a cold country to a warm country, that means you will need to carry all of your cold clothing with you in the warm country. The other option would be to keep buying and throwing away new clothing to prevent extra weight. But that seems like overkill.

I simply try to spend a lot of time in many countries with similar climates so I don’t have this problem. I personally like warmer climates.

11) Leave Some Space in Your Luggage:

This will give you room to bring back souvenirs or other items back home. But if you are traveling the world long-term, like me, the extra space is simply not needed because I don’t plan on going home. If you plan on going home, then leaving a little bit of extra space is usually a good idea.

12) Roll Your Clothes To Reduce Wrinkles:

Rolling your clothes instead of folding them can save space and reduce wrinkles. Better yet, use packing cubes or compression bags as these can help you save space and stay organized. One of the biggest problems of living out of a suitcase is that clothes become wrinkled rather easily. Using packing cubes or rolling your clothes helps dramatically.

‘Pack’ a digital copy of everything!

13) Digitize Your Documents:

Make a digital copy of all your important documents that you will need along your journey and upload it to your cloud. This includes your passport, visa, hotel reservations, flight tickets, and any other important documents.

If something happens to your bag or your physical documents, at least you will have a backup available on your cloud. So “pack” your scanned documents into your cloud. Don’t have a cloud? Learn more about the best travel cloud.

14) Make a Packing List:

Before you start packing, make a list of all the essential items that you will need on your trip. This is rather important because if you plan on traveling for an extended period of time, you may be rather upset if you forget an important item.

Lists will definitely help keep you organized and prevent you from forgetting anything. Not sure what to pack? Learn more about what essentials to pack on your solo trip.

Rucksacks are my preferred bag type.

Final Thoughts

If you keep these tips in mind while packing, you should have a much smoother experience than I did when I first started traveling alone. My humble beginnings were, well, a bit bulky, to say the least.

Follow the tips from above, and you should be well on your way. If you learned anything from today, I hope it is that you will pack lighter than you think you need. This is probably the most important tip on the entire page. Extra weight is the biggest burden.

Happy travels!


Hey - I'm Brock. I grew up in the USA, and I have been a full-time Solo Traveler since June of 2016. I am also a Travel Vlogger on YouTube where my primary focus is to simply hang out with local people around the world. My full story is here: About Me

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