Packing For An International Hiking Trip
Humans love to explore. Throughout history, many people have taken on a nomadic existence, hiking from place to place in search of adventure. Hiking is, after all, one of the best ways to explore new territories. With hiking you get to experience new places in an up close and personal way.
Today, many people have obligations such as work and family, but the spirit of adventure is still there. You may not be able to constantly travel the globe, but with international travel within the reach of so many, why not go on an international hiking trip? To make your experience as smooth as possible, we’ll take a look at how to pack for an international hiking trip.
1. Check Customs Regulations
The very first thing you should always do before you start packing for an international hiking holiday is to check the customs regulations of the countries you intend to hike though. Simple things like snacks or medications that may not seem like a big deal could end up with you spending an evening explaining to authorities that you had no bad intentions. With all the information available on the internet, it’s just not worth feigning ignorance. You may end up being sent back home on the next flight and in extreme cases, you could be detained in custody. Why risk this happening when information is so simple to access?
2. Pack Light
If you don’t already have one, get yourself a hiking backpack that is big enough to store everything you want to take with you, but small enough so that you don’t have to check it in to the cargo hold. We are constantly hearing tales of hikers losing several days of being on the trail because of lost luggage. If it’s with you as a carry on piece, you’ll know where it is at all times. Leaving the airport will be faster as well. You’ll still need to clear customs, but with only one backpack you may even be called ahead of any queues.
3. Pack Essential Clothing
When it comes to the actual packing, keep it simple. It’s often easier if you wear your bulky hiking gear like jackets and sweaters in-flight. That way, you’ll have more room in your backpack for other items. Try and pack your backpack with all the items you have set out. If everything fits neatly, great. If it doesn’t, empty your bag and take out anything that might be a “just in case” item. Most hiking style clothes these days look pretty cool, so choose items that are perfect for hiking, but will also look suitable for wearing around the towns you visit. Don’t bother with casual wear because you most likely won’t need them.
Check the types of weather you may experience through the places you intend on hiking. Light, breathable clothing and hiking or walking sandals are a must in hot weather but if you will be hiking in mountain areas where the weather can change quite suddenly you should pack some thermal underwear. The beauty of these items is that they maintain your body’s heat, yet they are thin, light and generally dry quickly when washed.
4. Compartmentalize Your Luggage
Most hiking style backpacks already come with multiple pockets that make it easy to organize what you pack but you can bring your packing to the next level by packing things in containers, zip-lock bags or even vacuum bags. You should also pack extra plastic or mesh bags for shoes or dirty clothing so that your other clean items don’t get unnecessarily dirty. Zip-lock bags are great for packing travel-sized hygiene products and vacuum bags are ideal because you can pack extra clothes and by vacuuming out the air, your clothes fit into a smaller bundle. The only downside may be that it may be a problem repacking if you can’t get your hands on a vacuum cleaner.
5. There’s No Need To Pack Food
You may be tempted to pack a lot of your favorite snack foods like granola bars or dried fruit but think twice about doing this. For one, food items are almost always going to be looked at when you pass through customs and this is a pain when most countries will have these types of snacks available anyway. By buying these items locally, you get to try new foods and you won’t have the extra weight in your luggage.
6. Send Bulkier Items In Advance
If you plan on packing items like a tent or sleeping bag, it may be easier if you send them to your destination ahead of time. That way, you won’t be carting these items through airports, especially if it’s gonna be a long haul flight, but you’ll still be able to have them on hand when you arrive. Most international hiking trips take weeks or months of planning so you’ll have time to do this cheaply using a standard postal service or a courier service.
7. Double-Up On Shoes
The quickest way to end any hiking trip is having wet hiking shoes that you can’t get dry on time or, even worse, having them break on you while you trek. Always take an extra pair of shoes or Gore-tex boots with you. That way, one pair can dry while you wear the other pair. The extra pair will also come in handy in case of a shoe emergency. You may be thinking, I can always buy a new pair while I’m traveling. Of course you can. But some shoes take longer to break in than others and the trail is the last place to be doing this, since it is crucial to care for your feet while hiking.
8. Don’t Forget The Essentials
Your passport is the most important thing you need to remember to pack. But other than that, some of the other items you should always have with you are extra pairs of socks, a couple of quick-drying towels, a first aid kit and fully charged power banks for your smartphone. While you’re at it, get yourself and international phone card so you can call home to check in.
Novice hikers will almost always pack too much, or pack the wrong things. Don’t despair. With each trip you’ll work out what works and doesn’t work for you so the only thing you’ll be thinking of when you’re hiking in some exotic location is the road or trail ahead of you.