backpack preparation trip around the world

How to prepare your backpack for going travelling

Whether you are leaving for a few days or a month, there are two things you need to remember: preparation and low weight!

The main idea being: how to have everything you need without overloading your pack Find out about best practices from Julie, our expert traveller!

Why travel with a backpack?

If your dream is to explore the world in a different way and at your own pace, backpacking is the ideal option. Indeed, it offers greater freedom and independence, without having to stick to a pre-set programme.
Armed with your backpack, you can choose where you want to go and how much time you want to spend on each visit. It is also a practical mode of travel: you take the bare necessities and buy what you need on site. There's no suitcase, no planned route, no hotel reservations, you just go where you want to go according to your mood!

In other words, it creates opportunities to be more spontaneous on the journey and removes many constraints. You can decide to stay in one place for a week or just a few days, catch a bus, train or even a new plane on your quest for a new adventure on the same trip.
In addition, it is an opportunity to meet new people and share experiences with other backpackers. When travelling with a backpack, you give yourself the opportunity to experience the culture of a country in a totally different, more intimate and authentic way.

On the practical side, a number of issues are avoided when backpacking. You no longer have to:

- Queue when travelling to put your suitcase in the luggage compartment;
- Wait at the baggage carousel for your luggage at the airport;
- Worry that your luggage gets sent to the wrong destination;
- Spend too much time gathering your things and repacking your bag when you leave your hotel.

A backpacking trip is an opportunity to take very little luggage and travel light as a result. However, when backpacking, you don't always have to get off the beaten track.
For a standard stay in a hotel with a car rental, a travel backpack works too! There are no rules: while travel backpacks are primarily associated with road trips, they are also very well suited to other types of travel. Indeed, nothing will spoil a holiday more than a bag that is much too heavy to carry: it is tiring and sometimes even incapacitating.

Which backpack should you choose for a trip?

Whether you are a traveller, backpacker or hiker, if you have to go on a trip soon, your travel bag will be your ideal travelling companion!

First of all, you need to choose the right backpack. Whether it's a short getaway or a trip around the world, we prefer a suitcase-type backpack with a large opening in the back so that you can easily get at your belongings without creasing them.

It's also very important that you are able to lock the backpack with a padlock. 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's 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 prove to be very useful for sheltering your belongings from the rain while also protecting the bag during the various forms of transportation (air, rail, road, etc.)

Don't forget that your backpack should also be comfortable. You will be carrying it regularly and sometimes for a long time! So it must be your best friend. Ideally, you should test it with a load before buying it and try out a variety of different backpack capacities.

Which backpack should you choose for a trip?

What size of travel backpack should you take?

When travelling for the first time, many people will seek to borrow a friend's bag to save money. You will probably regret it, especially if you are going on a long trip!
Indeed, a travel backpack must be tailored to your height and adapted to your build to be very comfortable during your road trip. So here are some great tips to follow if you don't want to go home with a back pain.

Choose your backpack according to the size of your back;
Try out several sizes and choose a bag that is suited to your body type and has a good adjustment system;
Take a bag that is suited to your musculature. If you are a woman, you will need a bag that fits your build and your hips.

The size of the backpack you choose will also depend on the length of your trip. You must therefore choose a suitable capacity:
- a 20 to 50 L bag for a trip lasting less than a fortnight;
- a 50 to 70 L bag for a trip lasting more than a fortnight;
- a backpack with a capacity of more than 70 L for a round-the-world trip. However, be careful because it can quickly become too heavy.

Some models of bags also have an expandable "+10L" type capacity, so that they can be adjusted to provide additional capacity if necessary. For example, you can choose a small 20 to 50 L pack for a trip of less than a fortnight, with an expandable size if you want to keep some space to bring back souvenirs!

What is the best travel bag?

At last, you have your tickets for your next destination but you don't have a travel bag yet? To visit France or go to the other side of the world, you will need a practical bag to keep your essentials. Indeed, everything you take with you is important!
The bottom line is that there really isn't a perfect travel backpack. Everything depends on you, your budget, the length of your adventure, your needs, your body type, and how you are planning to travel.
On the other hand, when choosing a travel backpack, it is still important to pay attention to the following criteria.

Capacity: as explained above, travel bags are categorised by their capacity in litres.

Weight: you may not always realise it until you pack your whole house in your bag the first few times you go travelling, but the lighter you travel, the better you will feel! So pay attention to the weight of the empty backpack. A 60L bag can quickly reach 2 kilos.
The type of opening: most backpacks open at the top, but this is not the most practical system because everything has to be removed to get at the things at 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, what is called, a front opening.

The type of straps: the strap is at the waist and this is what balances the weight of the backpack on the body rather than at the shoulders. The strap prevents you from hurting your back especially when you wear your bag for a long time. We recommend bags with padded straps, which are much more comfortable.

Interior storage systems:some bags have pockets inside, which are very practical for adding objects that you want to protect, such as a camera or even a computer. It's better if there are a few of them, but not so many that your belongings become scattered and you are always tempted to add more stuff to your bag, which will inevitably get heavy in the end!

The ventilation system: if you are travelling in a hot country, you will sweat. Having a bag with a good ventilation system will allow you to feel good throughout the adventure.

Resistance to the weather conditions: some backpacks have a built-in rain cover, while others are made with a fabric that easily resists water. If you are going on a trek in Ireland for example, a place where it rains a lot, we strongly recommend this type of bag! If not, you might as well choose a model that comes unprotected and purchase an additional waterproof cover.

Style and fit:It's up to you to choose a bag that you like with the right fit, keeping in mind that the most important thing is the length of your back.

How to prepare your rucksack when travelling?

For some, preparing a travel bag can soon become a nightmare. There are those who decide to pack their bag at the last minute and stuff it with everything they can get their hands on, to the point where they struggle to close it, and those whose wardrobe is full of clothes they love and who find it hard to make a choice.

Let's not forget those who are more organised, but who are simply not used to backpacking! There's no need to panic because, in any case, we give you the advice you need to prepare your travel bag before going on an adventure.

1. Roll up your clothes
The key tip for any good traveller is to roll up your clothes to save space! Clothes that are rolled up like sausages will take up much less space in your backpack.

In addition to optimising the available space in your travel bag, this method prevents the fabrics from getting wrinkled. Indeed, while fashion isn't a priority on an adventurous backpacking trip, it's always preferable to wear clothes that aren't creased! To fold your clothes, we recommend that you fold each side inwards, then roll them up from the top to the bottom.

Good to know: you can get manual compression bags called compactors, in which you can store your clothes and remove the air from inside. This system is very practical, especially if you want to take a padded jacket, big coat or other bulky item of clothing with you. When stored in these bags, this type of garment can take up to 75% less space.

2. Dividing up your clothing into sub-bags
One of the golden rules of a real backpacker is to group belongings in sub-bags by theme. Indeed, the essential feature for any good travel bag are these compartments!

You will be packing and unpacking your bag every day. To prevent this from becoming an annoying chore, storage pockets can be used to easily organise your belongings and gear. Consider using waterproof bags that are water resistant and protect your belongings from the moisture that might get inside your bag. You can also choose storage nets, which are lighter, but less practical.

You can have several sub-bags, e.g.:
- a bag of clothing and underwear;
- a bag for footwear;
- a pharmacy/toiletry bag;
- a bag for technical clothing (sports, hiking, etc.);
- a special pocket for accessories, to add chargers or devices.

Naturally, it's not about having loads of pockets when a dozen will do to store your essentials so that they don't get scattered during the trip.

How to prepare your backpack to go on a trip?

Backpacking: what should you take?

Travelling by yourself with a backpack is quite an art and requires a certain mindset. It's the easiest way to explore the world, without a minimum of fuss. If this is your first trip, you'll probably be asking yourself lots of questions about what to pack and what to leave at home.

Did you find your bag? Great! Now let's look at how you choose what to put in it… Indeed, when you go on a backpacking trip, there are lots of things to think about.

Don't worry, while the choices might not be easy to make it first, with experience, packing your bag will become child's play. Here is a list of the key items that you should have in your backpack for a trouble-free trip!

1. Clothing adapted to the weather conditions
It may seem obvious, but this is something that easily gets overlooked when preparing a travel backpack for a destination that you don't necessarily know.

The best advice we can give for choosing the right clothing for the conditions is to start by checking the weather forecast at your destination. Then, we recommend that you plan the activities you want to do when you get there, or at least have an idea.

Depending on the country you are going to and the season, you will need to adapt the contents of your bag. While the basics remain the same in most cases, you won't need the same kit if you are going on a trek in Thailand as on a trip to Bolivia. What's more, depending on the activities you've got planned for when you get there on top of your daily walking, your needs may be different.

Whatever the duration of your backpacking trip, we recommend that you take no more than the amount of clothing you would need for one week. This will be enough if you are doing your laundry on a regular basis and, if you don't have access to a washing machine, you can still wash your underwear by hand.

Choose quick-drying clothing that doesn't show dirt easily, and preferably has anti-odour properties. From this point of view, we have a very clear preference for merino wool clothing. Merino wool reduces odours, so you can wear your clothing for several days without washing it.

2. Accessories to stay connected to the planet
Here, what immediately comes to mind are the universal adapters which you can use to stay connected in any country in the world. Your best bet is to choose one with multiple USB ports so that you can charge multiple devices at the same time. We also recommend that you bring an external battery charger to avoid getting stranded when you go on a long outing or hike without any access to a wall socket.

3. A first aid kit
You can't go on a backpacking trip without a first aid kit! Often, it's only when you leave without it that you realise how useful it is. Indeed, it is used much more often than you might imagine. Bear in mind that some injuries, even minor ones, can soon become infected, especially in hot and tropical countries.

4. A sleeping bag liner
In some hotels or youth hostels, hygiene is not really the priority. You might be tempted to go for some "cheap" accommodation and find that the bed linen is not quite up to standard.

To avoid being in direct contact with the sheets, we recommend that you bring a sleeping bag liner"". On some rare occasions, certain hostels may also not provide a duvet. Your liner could be a lifesaver if you find yourself in this situation.

Also remember to bring earplugs, that come in very useful when the walls are poorly insulated or you are sleeping in a dormitory with a number of other people. This will definitely give you a better night's sleep if someone is snoring right next to you.

5. Camper accessories
If your backpacking trip is going to involve camping or night-time outings, consider bringing a head torch. Indeed, it can be very useful if you are going for a walk in the evening or you don't want to disturb your partner when you are reading, even if you are staying at a hotel. A Swiss Army knife could also be used for many different tasks throughout your trip, like preparing an outdoor meal, for example.

By following these recommendations, you will save weight and set off on your adventure with complete peace of mind! When loading your backpack, also remember to balance the loads. This is important for your carrying comfort.

You should position the heaviest items along your back. It is advisable to put the things you might need during the day at the top, so they will be more easily accessible.

If you are planning an excursion that will take just a few hours, consider bringing a lighter, more compact and small-volume bag (around 20L), which you can use to carry some water, a small first-aid kit and a snack!

Frequently asked questions:

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.

Where to go with a backpack?

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;
- 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.

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.

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.

Travel backpack: that matches the cabin baggage requirements for air travel?

Be mindful that airlines are becoming increasingly strict when it comes to the size and weight of the cabin baggage. Make enquiries when you have booked your plane tickets for a trip to the other side of the world. You can ensure that your bag does not exceed the cabin bag weight and size limits so that you don't have to put it in the hold and incur additional costs.