Nowadays, most people travel with at least one electronic device—their phone—but most have at least two or three devices, for example a phone, laptop, and digital camera. Some have even more devices, such as an e-reader or an MP3 player or a video camera or a tablet or a GPS. However, the number of electronics that one carries shouldn’t have to mean the person is stuck with huge and heavy suitcases. Flashpackers, who maximize their electronics while still keeping the mobility of backpackers, use their devices to make travel easier, and also to help keep in touch with people back home via blogs and emails.
Some people even use their devices abroad to telecommute or do freelance work, which is becoming increasingly easy and safe to do. (If you are sharing files while you’re travelling, you may want to set up a VPN to protect your personal information, though!) Flashpacking can allow you to do your work from anywhere, which means the whole world really is open to you—well, okay, you may be limited to places where you can access Wi-Fi, but still.
But travelling with all these devices, although they may make your life easier, can be challenging at times. They often are bulky, heavy, and take up a lot of space, plus you need to remember to bring all the parts for them—chargers and memory cards or disks and connection cables and everything else you need to use them. And then you have to be careful with your bags, not letting someone get into the bag while you’re walking or not letting your bag get crushed at the bottom of a bus storage space. As you know wi-fi is never safe, as Anonymster explain in their latest article.
So what do you do?
One thing to keep in mind is that you’re probably going to over pack for your trip regardless of what electronics you’re bringing—even seasoned travelers do this sometimes! That’s okay. What matters is packing smart, and there are some strategies that might help you. Let’s look at some of these:
Strategy One: Don’t Pack Everything You Own
You don’t need to pack everything you own when you’re travelling, regardless of how long you will be travelling for. There are plenty of people who leave home for years at a time with just the things on their back. The key? Plan on picking up some things abroad. Believe it or not, they have clothes appropriate to the weather in pretty much every place in the world. You also can layer clothes—rather than packing that bulky winter jacket, pack shirts and things that take up less space but will keep you just as warm when combined. This will save you some space for your electronics.
Strategy Two: Minimize the Amount of Space you Can Pack Into
Recently I saw a post online from a guy who was planning to travel all around Europe with an 85L backpack, never staying in one place for longer than a month, if that. I was surprised to hear they even made backpacks that size. I was appalled to think that anyone would want to carry a bag that size. First of all, you’re going to have an issue with weight—85L is a lot of stuff. Second of all, you’re going to have an incredibly difficult time getting it on buses, trains, etc. And third of all, you’re going to get so sick of packing and unpacking that thing every month at least, but you’re going to have to unpack it if you want to find anything.
Now, I’m not one of those people who thinks you should never check bags on flights—yes, it’s a hassle and yes, there’s always the chance it won’t make it to wherever you’re going, but if a larger bag is what you’re comfortable with, go for it. But know that if you have the space, you’re going to fill it. If you give yourself 85L, you’re going to bring 85L of stuff with you (or more, because you might carry on your coat and a carry-on bag as well). If you limit the size of your bag, you limit the amount of stuff that you can bring. Again, you don’t need to take everything with you.
Strategy Three: Keep Your Cords from Tangling
Of course, every device that you bring with you will have one or more cords for charging or connecting to a computer or tablet. If you’re not careful, these will get tangled quickly in your bag, regardless of how carefully you pack them, unless you use a simple trick: coil your cords and then use rubber bands, zip ties, string, or even tuck them into empty toilet paper tubes to keep the cords tangle-free and separate from your other cables.
Strategy Four: Don’t Let Other People Tell You How to Pack
I’ve met people who deride flashpackers—something about their “living in the moment” rather than always looking through the camera lens. And that’s fine for them, but if you want to share some pictures with your grandmother or filmmaking is your hobby, don’t let others tell you what you do and do not need for your trip. Don’t worry about bringing two cameras or a tablet and a laptop—don’t sacrifice your work and your work process for space in your bags. Do what feels comfortable for you.
Once you’ve decided on what you’re bringing and picked out your bag, the best and final thing to do is to make a checklist of all your flashpacking needs. This might seem trivial, but it’s honestly an excellent idea, especially if you’re travelling with many devices. Put both the device and the charger and all related pieces on there. If you’re charging your camera last minute, you don’t want to forget your charger sitting in the outlet by accident! If you remember all your electronics parts, you’re all set for an epic trip.