Why packing lightly makes you a more responsible traveller – and how to do it
Some fear it, some love it. Some do it four days in advance with a well-prepared list, some throw everything together in the last minute. We are talking about packing for your trip.
It’s especially hard to pack for a trip to a country or continent you have never been before. We’ll give you the ultimate packing list for responsible travel, which in this case also means light travel.
There are two simple steps for relaxed packing.
- You need a bit of time, but not necessarily a list. Go through each room in your house or apartment and pick all the things you think you need from there. Collect them in a bag, box or basket and before leaving the room, already try to sort out half of the stuff. Then pile the rest on the floor or your bed and go to the next room.
- Once you have collected all the things you think you need, sort out half of the things again. I know, it sounds hard, but give it a try. You will thank me later.
Carry only things that you will need at least twice every week (That’s a great tip from Conni of [planetbackpack.de].
No need to bring books, guides and journals. They all fit in one slim multipurposeful device.
(Disclaimer: I DON’T own such a device. I’m an old school soul and swear by real paper books and I journal and scrap book like crazy. But I buy, read and leave my books in the country, and I don’t use guide books anyway. And yes, I stopped collecting supermarket receipts and tickets from every single bus ride I ever took.)
Always consider eco-friendliness of your products and baggage.
They are often great in multipurpose usage. There is organic soap for skin and hair (and sometimes even hand laundry), and lotion for body and face, for example.
Backpacks are often better than trolleys, especially if you don’t expect smooth and tarmacked walk ways everywhere.
The ultimate challenge
Try to travel only with hand-luggage. Although I have never managed to do that, it’s one of my big dreams and I admire everyone [who already ] [does it]. You have so much more freedom and less stress when travelling and moving around.
[Here ] is our suggestion for the very essential, light, responsible packing list for Kenya (and probably other [East] African countries). One page and plenty of space to add items.
You have travelled to a country in the global South and want to share some insider tips on how to pack responsible for a trip there? Please share it by filling [this form].
Just because you are going to the global South, doesn’t mean you are going to be totally out of network. In some places though, Wi-Fi is certainly hard to get. So it depends on your attitude to find the right balance of being cool with resigning from the internet for a while and getting access to the necessary emails every now and then.
There’s a trend of travellers becoming more dependent on their smart phones nowadays than anything or anyone else. If yours can take photos, videos, calls, texts, handle your emails, play your music, and provide you with a map or a guide when necessary – then why carry a laptop and a camera and an iPod and a guide book? Just consider that especially as a participant in a work camp in a rural area, you may or may not be able to plug it into electricity twice a day.
Adapters are practical. However, in Kenya, there is a trick on how to “force” a European plug into a Kenyan socket by pressing a stick in the hole for the earthing cable.
Ask yourself whether the big expensive camera is really necessary.
- Will you be able to use it responsibly?
- Are you aware of the power and the responsibility you have as a photographer?
- How comfortable are you yourself being photographed?
- Are you taking pictures to present yourself or others in stereotypical situations?
- Will you present yourself as a heroine?
- Will you get the true allowance of the people you took pictures of to publish these pictures on social media?
- Will you be stressed throughout because you fear that somebody might steal your equipment?
- Or are you going to capture moments and memories and get in touch with people and culture?
These questions need to be taken into consideration when it comes to the question of which camera to take with you.
People often ask what to bring as presents for their hosts or children in a school . Local food or sweets from your country are always a good idea for everyone to taste. It is popular to bring sweets and balloons for children, but they often just cause waste and teeth problems in countries where waste management works differently and dentists are rare and expensive.
Pictures of your family and your daily activities can lead to good conversations.
You can always find out locally what is needed: school utensils, clothes, shoes, and even solar lights can be bought locally, if you want to show your gratitude in that way.
Many women on the countryside appreciate a bag of sugar or salt or a bottle of cooking oil, since these things present extra costs on their low budgets and don’t grow on their fields.
Now we need your packing list. Share it by filling [this form].