8. Be equipped
Make sure you’ve got the right gear for your trip. I definitely recommend a backpack over any other kind of bag, and I’ve travelled with them all, including a convertible backpack/roller bag.
A backpack is simply the most flexible bag, easiest to move around with in all kinds of terrain, like up stairs, over broken pavement, gravel and dirt roads. It will force you to consider weight and what you pack a lot more than a rollerbag. A backpack is often designed with compartments in mind. That means you can easily seperate different items to make them easier to find later on. Another bonus is that you get a bit of exercise by carrying everything you brought on your back.
If you go the way of the wheels you will regret it. You will curse everytime you knock the bag over and it’s dragging upside down behind you. You will curse when the wheels come off, or you get to some stairs and you have to carry it by it’s crappy handles just for said handle to come off as you’re at the top. You will curse when the telescope handle breaks and won’t retract.
Don’t even think about going the way of the duffelbag, or the old fashioned suitcase. A duffelbag will destroy your bag by it’s unbalanced weight hanging off of one shoulder or being carried in your one arm. The same obviously goes for an old fashioned suitcase. A duffel bag has the extra disadvantage to not having many compartments and the handles easily coming off.
Apart from the bags you might want to consider the kind of trip you’re going on, if you will be hiking a lot you may want to bring (or better yet: wear on the flight) your hiking shoes/boots. Don’t bring snorkelling gear as it’s easier (and often cheaper) to buy it on site. Think and plan for the kind of climate you’re going to. Bring warm clothes to keep you snug on the coldest day for the destination you have in mind at the time of year. This links back to the first tip on this list: Be prepared. Do your research, know where you’re going and prepare for it.
One of the more essential things to decide is how you will keep in touch with friends and family. These days I don’t think there’s much use for you to bring your laptop, unless you’re a professional photographer, a writer or someone on a remote work contract. An unlocked smartphone is more than enough for most people. You might not even need your smartphone, maybe internet cafes are enough, although it is a piece of equipment I definitely recommend bringing as it carries weight off your back by acting as a map, a guidebook, a phrasebook, a notebook and in some cases your boarding pass among other things. Read my post Make travel easier: 10 reasons to bring your smartphone if you want more tips on how to use your smartphone, or if you’re simply not convinced of the benefits.