Embarking on a continent-hopping odyssey in today’s day and age involves a pre-planning phase so vast it would make Marco Polo weep. First, there’s the itinerary, the logistics of who to meet, where and what time (not to mention what time zone), learning new languages, getting all your documents in order (visas, passport, insurance, booking confirmations, and this is before you’ve even left your home soil), and, last but not least, packing.

Packing can be a brain riddle of epic proportions. If x = how much space you have in your luggage, and y = all the things you want and need to bring with you, then somehow the equation will always equal, ‘This zip looks set to burst.’ The constant: you lugging around an unnecessarily heavy bag.

Function and Form: Practical Packing Tips

The issue usually stems from the perpetual battle of function over form. Yes, you love chilling in that beautiful Batman onesie, but will it come in handy during summer in Southeast Asia? And of course a fondue set would be a great addition to an evening trek, but let’s face it, you could live without it. Do yourself a favor and make a little room in your headspace for the following tips and tricks to keep you focused and lighten that tricky load.

It’s all in the bag

First things first, you’re going to need a reliable, durable and spacious backpack. It’s the most convenient means of bringing your stuff with you around the world. There are thousands of backpacks out there, and they’re all sold with a billboard ad’s worth of advertising about special features and new and improved technology. It can make finding the right backpack an arduous task.

Function and Form: Practical Packing Tips

However, UK newspaper The Independent has created a shortlist of the 10 best rucksacks for backpackers over on their site. This run-down has removed all the hours you would have spent researching and testing different products – so cast your eyes over it and find one in your price range and to your taste.

Cover every inch

The average packed bag can still hold a lot more items because of the inefficient way we load them up with our things. Make the most of every nook and cranny in your bag by:

  • Rolling, not folding clothes. It’ll save space and avoid creases.
  • Wrapping belts into a circle and placing them in shirt collars. This will also keep them clean and stiff.
  • Using the inside of your shoes to house rolled up socks, bunched up underwear, or anything else that will fit.
  • Not packing things you can buy at your destination, like sunscreen, toothpaste, laundry detergent, shower gel or shampoo.

Function and Form: Practical Packing Tips

Think smart

Try and pack items that kill two birds with one stone. Hitting that dual-function bullseye means you ultimately have to pack less. Here’s how:

  • Pack clothes that look good and can be worn again and again, like a pair of denim jeans or khaki shorts.
  • Likewise, bring only one sweater and jacket. You’ll only need these items sporadically, so you won’t need more than one of each.
  • Invest in nifty accessories that have extra features or perform more than one role. This will eliminate the need for bringing two of the same item. Think about universal plug adapters, self-tinting prescription glasses, an ebook reader instead of real hardbacks or a water resistant watch – basically anything that adds value to your bag without taking up space.

Function and Form: Practical Packing Tips

Think ahead

There’s no small print to be wary of when picking up trial size complimentary beauty and cosmetic products. Hoard them whenever you can get your hands on some, and when the time comes to travel, you’ll have an armory of free, space-saving essentials to keep you fresh and clean on your travels.