I have made more packing mistakes than I care to remember. When I first went hiking in the French Pyrenees, I had so much kit you would have thought I was going on a solo unsupported trip for 6 months in the Himalayas! Even when I did my first UK long distance walk, Hadrian’s Wall, I still looked more like a Marine yomping across the Falklands than someone enjoying close proximity to a World Heritage Site. I finally decided to take drastic action. And it worked. Here are my top tips on how to travel light, travel travel:
1. Limit the size of your rucksack
Keep it to 35 litres maximum. The larger the rucksack, the more temptation there is to fill it up with unnecessary stuff.
2. Leave the camping gear at home
I love camping, but on most walks you will only find one or two sites convenient for the trail. It is not worth taking a tent, sleeping bag etc when most nights you will be in a B&B (Find out more on some of the wonderful places you could be staying in here).
3. Remember you are in the UK, not Antarctica
Of course, the weather can be unpredictable. But do you really need a woolly hat and snow goggles when walking in Norfolk in June?
4. For food only carry your lunch and a few snacks
Remember, you are never far from a Co-Op.
5. Always carry water (at least a litre)
There are normally plenty of opportunities to refill.
6. Walking is a utilitarian exercise. You will not need your dinner suit or ball gown
Two sets of clothes should suffice – one for the day, and one for the evening (or a wet set and dry set, depending upon the weather). Extra socks and undies are permissible.
7. Leave the book (or Kindle) behind
This is not a good time to finally read War and Peace. . In all likelihood, after dinner all you will want to do is relax and watch TV.
8. Do you really need those hiking poles?
I appreciate that poles really help some people, particularly by taking pressure off the knees. But if you are okay without them then leave them at home.
Travelling light is liberating. It is amazing how little you can get by with. And it makes for a much more pleasant walking experience. As the Spanish proverb goes, “on a long journey, even a straw weighs heavy”. Follow my top tips and you too can travel light, travel fast. For more advice on a successful walking holiday read our top ten tips here.