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TravelA backpackers’ guide – Manchester Airport’s tips for travelling light

A backpackers’ guide – Manchester Airport’s tips for travelling light

Taking a gap year or a career break to travel has become a rite of passage for many people. Autumn is a popular time to set off on a backpacking trip. In fact, more than 1.2 million people will fly from Manchester this month and many of them will be embarking on the adventure of a lifetime.

Manchester Airport’s route network is unrivalled outside London – so the chances are that whether you’re looking to travel Europe or head further afield to Asia, Africa or the Americas, you’ll be able to get there from the UK’s global gateway in the North.

Here we reveal our top tips for getting the most out of your backpacking experience – including what to pack, how to maximise space, and some steps you can take to avoid any mishaps along the way.

Picking a bag

Choosing the right bag to meet your needs is perhaps even more vital than what goes into it. If you’re planning to travel with hand luggage only, a number of backpacks have been specifically designed to meet the dimensions stipulated by most airlines – but designs still vary greatly so make sure you find one that suits your preferences.

Some backpacks have mesh spacers that sit between the bag and your back to prevent you getting too sweaty, ideal for tropical climates, whereas others have inbuilt rain covers, or come with small detachable ‘day bags’ that will allow you to leave your bulky backpack in the hostel lockers when you go out.

Your travel wardrobe

How many clothes do you really need for your trip? If you’re going away for several months, you’re going to need to wash your clothes at some point. Many hostels have washing machines, if not there will be a launderette nearby, and you may find you can get away with just a few changes of clothes – particularly if you pack versatile items that you can combine to create several different outfits.

If you’re heading to the tropics, packing thin clothing will help you keep cool and will free up all-important space. Don’t pack items you’re unwilling to part with, as you’ll probably be wearing them and washing them more frequently, which will speed up wear and tear – so you may be coming home with a different set of clothes to the ones you left with!

Rolling up your clothes, rather than folding them, will save space and will prevent them from becoming creased. A separate foldaway laundry bag – or a compartment for dirty laundry within your backpack – will help you avoid contaminating your clean clothes when you pack everything up to move from place to place.

Saving space

 You’ll almost certainly want to pick up mementos of your trip as you go, or gifts to take home for friends and family – so make sure you don’t fill your bag up entirely, or you’ll force yourself into some difficult decisions on what to part with ahead of your homebound trip.

Space-saving items, like all-in-one travel adaptors, quick-dry, compact travel towels and blow-up travel pillows, will help you get the most out of your backpack. Vacuum-packing items that you won’t need regular access to is another great way to ensure you’re maximising the space available. If you’re staying in hostels, you won’t need a sleeping bag, as the vast majority will provide linen – and even if they don’t, a sleeping bag liner will likely suffice.

You should also consider what you can pick up as you go – if you’re travelling for any length of time then you’ll need to buy consumable items, like toiletries, so whilst it might make sense to pack travel miniatures for a two-week holiday, it’s less essential if you’re on a backpacking trip.

If you do bring liquids or large electricals, pack them somewhere that’s easily accessible, so you don’t have to rummage through your bag at airport security.

Being prepared

Pack an organiser for any paperwork you’ll need, such as proof of vaccinations, visas, or tickets and travel itineraries. Although it’s possible to do a lot online, it’s well worth taking paper back-ups of key documents in case of any tech issues.

Other backpacker essentials include a padlock for hostel lockers, earplugs if you’ll be staying in shared dorm rooms, plastic bags (for anything that gets wet) and first aid kit / medications.

Down time

 You’ll inevitably have time to burn whilst you’re in transit, so bring something to keep you entertained, whether that’s downloading your favourite music, tv shows or podcasts, or bringing a puzzle book or pack of cards.

Downloading offline maps for the places you’re visiting whilst at the airport will mean that you can use transit time productively, planning where you might want to go, places you might want to eat, or just knowing where the nearest convenience stores and launderettes to your hostel are.

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