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Living Out of a Rucksack: Travelling Packing Tips

By Lucy Plimmer

One aspect of travelling to far off places that most won’t consider, unless they have experienced it first-hand, is living out of a rucksack for weeks on end. Whilst to some this may not seem an issue, (what could possibly be difficult about that?), being organised beforehand can save you a huge amount of time, frustration and unpacking/repacking of bags. So, here are my 6 top tips for packing when travelling:


1. Don’t Over-pack

Whilst this may seem obvious, sometimes the concern of ‘what if I can’t get this in-country’ creeps in and can result in over- packing things you will never even use. Chances are after a few days in your chosen destination you will have a favourite pair of comfy trousers that you’ll wear every single day, you’ll stop caring if something smells, and your skincare routine will have gone out the window. Don’t fall into the trap of utilising all the space in your rucksack- remember you will want to bring back souvenirs, and that there is also a baggage allowance too!

2. Use Packing Cubes

For my recent travels to Nepal, I used packing cubes to organise my rucksack, so that I could easily find what I was looking for. This comes after many difficulties from a trip to Tanzania, where my rucksack was so disorganised I was emptying it out to find what I was looking for multiple times a day. Whether it is to separate your clothes into trousers, t-shirts, underwear etc., or to keep toiletries, tablets and electronics separate, I can guarantee this is a game-changer.

3. Pack some home comforts

Whilst it is important to not overpack, sometimes having a few items that will be good for a down day can help lift your mood, stop you feeling homesick and help with general adjustment to your new environment. Whether it’s a sheet mask to be able to chill in the evening on a particular tasking day, a couple of books to help you unwind or your favourite snacks, having these at hand can help you feel at home.

4. Protect the straps on your bag

For your hold bag, ensure that the straps on the outside are protected and won’t get caught in conveyor belts, which can result in lost or destroyed luggage. Either invest in a bag to cover the rucksack, secure the straps yourself or contact your airline beforehand to ask what options there are to stop this from happening.

5. Separate your liquids BEFORE the airport

When travelling with a rucksack for your hand luggage, there are many compartments and pockets where liquids could be hiding. To save time at the airport, check that you have them all together in an easily accessible pocket. Remember, lip balms count as liquids!

6. Ensure you have a spare change of clothes and your valuables in your hand luggage

As your flight will most likely have a connection, ensuring that you have all of your valuables and a spare change of clothes with you is important. Not only will it give you an opportunity to change in your connecting airport if you wish, but also is useful if your luggage did go missing. Not an ideal situation but will give you some leeway if it did happen!


The overall take home from these tips is being organised before you go will save time later on, and to consider what would be useful if you are struggling with homesickness or generally feeling a bit low. Remember, when volunteering where you are staying will become a home away from home, so be as comfortable and prepared as possible!

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