It’s challenging enough deciding what to take with you on holiday, and that’s without the added complication of having to pack sports equipment. These ten packing tips for sporty travellers should help you make best use of the space you have.
1. CONSIDER RENTING YOUR GEAR
It’s always tempting to pack everything but the kitchen sink when you’re heading away for an extended period of time, but this is a big mistake. You might only use some of your gear a handful of times, and the combined weight could cause you to develop back problems.
If you’re fanatical about a particular sport then, by all means, carry your own gear, but if you think you’ll just be trying something out once or twice, you will probably be able to rent it easily in your destination.
2. PACK LARGER ITEMS FIRST AND FILL EVERY SPACE
As an avid scuba diver, I broke my own rule recently and bought some personal gear. I have huge fins, a mask, a bulky wetsuit, booties, and a surface marker buoy/reel. Not only is this gear heavy, but its awkwardly shaped.
I usually pack small, soft items like socks inside my fins to support their natural shape and economise the use of space. They’re the first item into my backpack, which enables me to pack around them.
With every item you put in your backpack, ask yourself first if it’s really necessary, and second, whether or not you can squeeze a smaller item inside it.
3. USE BACKPACK ATTACHMENTS
Whether you’re hiking the Torres del Paine or going on a yoga holiday in Greece, you can usually find creative ways of attaching excess gear to the outside of your backpack when the inside is full to bursting.
Most backpacking and climbing packs have side compression straps, which are great for holding exercise mats, sleeping pads or cylindrical tent bags.
Also look out for gear loops, caribenas and ‘daisy chains’, which are great for hanging items that you need easy access to, such as water bottles.
4. RESEARCH LUGGAGE OPTIONS
If you’re on a short trip, have a look at CabinZero luggage. Their packs are lightweight, so they can carry more items than a traditional suitcase, and they’re designed to be worn comfortably like a rucksack. If you’re heading to more remote areas, it’s easier to carry your luggage than to wheel it around and lift it awkwardly over obstacles.
For long-term travel, I love the Lowe Alpine AT Travel Trekker. You can easily access your gear via a side opening; the smaller bag detaches and can be used as a day pack; there are loads of useful compartments and hidden pockets; and it’s designed to perform as a trekking/camping backpack.
5. WEAR YOUR LOCKER KEY ON YOUR WRIST
Always have a padlock and key handy for securing your gear and other valuables in hostel lockers, and wear the key around your wrist on a hair tie. This way, there’s no risk of it dropping out of your pocket when you’re out pursuing sporty activities. Just be careful it doesn’t roll off when removing a wetsuit.
6. CUSTOMISE A PAIR OF SUNGOD SUNGLASSES
I recently came across SunGod sunglasses and they’re perfect for adventurous travellers. The frames are made from a really bendy material, so they’re very difficult to break, and they come with a lifetime guarantee.
What’s also really cool about them is that the design is customisable, so you can come up with a unique style to suit you. They make a range of customisable snow goggles too.
7. STOCK UP ON SUPPORTIVE SWIMWEAR
If you buy two or three sets of really good swimwear before your next trip, you might find they come in handy more than you expected.
More supportive styles are great because you can trust them to protect your modesty at all times.
I own a few sports bra-style bikinis and they double up as light, yet acceptable bed wear for hot dorm rooms; you can wear them as underwear and always be prepared for unplanned opportunities to swim; and they’re more comfortable than bows and buckles when you have to carry a sports bag or dive tank on your back. They’re also made from quick-drying material, which is very handy if you handwash your clothes as you travel.
8. LIMIT YOUR TOILETRIES TO THE BARE ESSENTIALS
Your approach to packing toiletries can majorly affect the final weight of your luggage. When I travel, I try to limit myself to the bare essentials, although sometimes a luxury item sneaks its way in.
I take: single-application sunscreen with a high SPF; strong insect repellent; shampoo/conditioner sachets; a razor; a small tube of toothpaste and travel toothbrush; a lightweight cloth; a microfiber towel; tweezers; nail clippers; a few cotton buds, some staple makeup items; and a pack of wetwipes, which double as make up remover. Girls should take a healthy supply of tampons, especially if they’re planning to do activities in the ocean, as for some reason, they can be extremely difficult to find in many foreign countries.
Think of ways one product might perform the task of another. Shampoo can be used as shower gel and shaving cream; and there’s no need for moisturiser if you’re using sunscreen regularly.
9. CHOOSE YOUR CLOTHES WISELY
Don’t be tempted to rush out and buy a whole new travel wardrobe. The secret to packing is having insight into what you’re most likely to wear.
Think about which of your clothes you naturally choose to wear most often, then ask yourself how appropriate each item is for the climate you’re going to and the activities you’ll be doing. How lightweight is the material? Can you move around comfortably without feeling self-conscious? Is the material durable? Is the item versatile with different outfits?
It’s better to take fewer items than you need and to accumulate clothing along the way as and when you need it. This way, you also come home with a wardrobe of souvenirs. Woollen hats in the Andes are cheap and effective; baggy pants in Asia are really practical; and you may well find that you never use that expensive new raincoat because the humidity is too high for it to ever succeed in keeping you dry.
10. BE ORGANISED
There are several techniques that can help you ensure you don’t forget something vital.
Make lists in the run up to your travels and accumulate a pile of things to pack. Mentally think through your daily routine and travel itinerary, imagining yourself picking up items along the way. Read packing suggestion articles online to see if there’s anything you’ve forgotten. You might also want to go through your wardrobes casting a final glance over your possessions to make sure you haven’t missed anything.
Finally, remember to consider what you might accidentally forget to leave behind. There’s no reason to wear expensive jewellery, for example. You only risk losing or breaking it, and it might attract opportunistic thieves.
If you have any useful packing tips, comment below!