It’s the travel companion that stays with you, no matter where your journey takes you. Enabling you carry all of your clothes, essentials and other important travel accessories from hostel to hostel, so it’s important that you give it some TLC during your gap year…We’re of course, talking about your trusty travel backpack! Travelling can prove hard-going on your poor old backpack, from being thrown around by the airport staff, to enduring tropical deluges and theft attempts, it’s certainly put through it’s paces on the road!
When it comes to packing for your trip, it can be easy to over pack, which can take it’s toll on your travel backpack. Cramming clothes and accessories inside your bag, to the point that you need to physically sit on it or force it shut, will put pressure on your backpack’s seams and will cause them to weaken over time. This will eventually result in the stitching coming undone and you’ll end up stuck with a damaged bag that you either have to chip in to your travel budget to replace or continue to use once you’ve managed to make an emergency repair. How do you know if you’ve over-packed? Well other than having to sit on your bag to close it, as mentioned before, if your backpack zip is struggling to close and your backpack is practically bursting at the seams…you’ve over done it!
Carry it Correctly
Carrying your backpack correctly goes a long way to prolonging it’s lifespan. When you’ve finished packing and you’re ready to pull it on to your back, don’t make the rookie mistake that many other travellers do by lifting it using one of the shoulder straps. Lifting a full backpack by the shoulder straps will put strain on them and can cause the stitching that attaches the straps to the main pack to come away, not ideal when you’re about to head to the airport for a round the world trip! The correct way to put your backpack on, is by attaching the hip belt first, as this is where the main weight from the backpack should be placed. This can be done by sitting down to place the belt around your hips and once the hip belt is in place you can slip your arms into the shoulder straps and adjust them accordingly. If you need a little help to do this, get a friend or family member to hold the backpack with the top grab handle while you position and fasten the hip belt.
Prevent Damage in Transit
Many of us have fallen victim to damaged suitcases and luggage at the hands of careless airport staff, as well as those unfortunate conveyor belt snags! It’s true there is no sure-fire way to protect your backpack in transit, but checking your backpack without a protective transit cover may well be asking for trouble. Backpack transit covers come in a range of sizes and are designed to fully enclose your backpack to protect it against rips, scuffs and other damage during your flight. These covers also help to keep your bag clean, which is great when you’ve got a light coloured travel bag. Transit covers come with carry handles and usually have a zip of Velcro fastening, which is sometimes lockable for added security.
Protect it from the Elements
If you’re visiting a country during it’s rainy season or are taking part in outdoor activities, where your backpack will be accompanying you, you will need to ensure that it is well protected from the elements. Although some models of backpack claim to have a water-resistant material, no backpack is 100% waterproof, so buying a rain cover to pull over your backpack is the only way to keep it dry in a downpour. You may also wish to consider using dry bags or a rucksack liner to keep the contents of your backpack nice and dry, especially your clothing. If you’re using your backpack for treks & outdoor activities, you may want to opt for a high visibility rain cover.
Keep it Secure
Security is always a concern for travellers, so make sure you keep your backpack as secure as possible during your trip. Locking both the main and base compartment zips (if applicable) is key to keeping people out of your backpack, which can easily be done with a small padlock. Another issue travellers face when it comes to the security of their backpack is how to keep it safe when they leave it back at the hostel…”Couldn’t someone just walk off with it or cut it open?!”…in short, yes they could, but there is one security accessory that can be used to stop this happening…the Pacsafe backpack protector. This backpack protector is constructed from slashproof mesh and can be pulled over your backpack and locked to a fixed or difficult to move object (such as a bed frame), to stop people cutting it open or trying to steal it.
So there you have it, 5 simple tips to keep your backpack in tip top condition throughout your trip. Now you have no excuse not to treat your loyal travel companion with the loving care it deserves!