With so many options available for someone keen to spend some time abroad between finishing their studies and taking the first big step on their career path, itâ€™s easy to see why more and more people are wanting to get on a plane and see the world. Whether youâ€™re planning a multi-stop gap year or looking to make a real difference in one particular country by volunteering abroad, there are number of measures you should take to ensure that youâ€™re fully prepared before setting off.
Reading up extensively on the country or countries youâ€™ll be visiting is of course vital, but one of the most important things to get right is also one of the things that is most often overlooked. Youâ€™ll soon come to regret it if you pack too much for your time abroad but by the same token simply packing light wonâ€™t cut it either â€“ youâ€™ll need to â€˜pack smartâ€™.
1. Your best bet for extended travelling is a medium-sized backpack with an internal frame. These tend to be lightweight but sturdy, making them absolutely ideal for gap year travelling. If you can find one in your price range that includes a detachable daypack then all the better. Be sure to pick one that offers a good amount of padding for added comfort around the shoulders and hips. It may not seem to make a huge amount of difference at first but after extensive use youâ€™ll be glad of the extra padding.
2. Try and stick to a reasonably sized backpack â€“ the bigger the bag, the more tempting it is to stuff in items that you simply donâ€™t need to take with you. Stick to the essentials and keep your luggage as compact as possible. Itâ€™s always an idea to test out just how well youâ€™ll be able to cope with the weight of the backpack; try lifting it above your head once itâ€™s fully packed. If thatâ€™s at all uncomfortable then itâ€™s going to be a struggle to lug it around over the coming weeks and months. If thatâ€™s the case, seriously consider going with a smaller backpack or ditching some of your heavier items.
3. If youâ€™d prefer to take part in more extensive testing then strap on your backpack fully loaded with everything you intend to take and head out for a few hours. Taking a long walk with the backpack on is obviously a good indicator, but also test to make sure it isnâ€™t overly unwieldy by taking a trip on a busy form of public transport, for example. The chances are that youâ€™ll reassess just how much you need to take with you by the time youâ€™ve finished your test run.
4. If you really break things down to the absolute essentials then you may even be able to fit everything into a daypack, meaning that you wonâ€™t need to check any luggage in when it comes to take your flight. The likelihood is, however, that youâ€™ll want to take more than that. Strongly consider sticking with your light and sturdy backpack and resist the temptation to make life easier with a wheeled suitcase â€“ depending on the country/countries youâ€™re going to visit, you may encounter rough terrain that will put paid to the suitcaseâ€™s wheels in a matter of minutes.
Photo by: Dave_B_