How to pack what you need and eliminate what you don’t.
Traveling long term requires smart packing.
If you’re on the road for months at a time, the last thing you’ll want to do is pack like you’re on vacation. This is not the time to carry every piece of clothing in your wardrobe and bring extra bags for shopping. You’re likely going to carry your bags a long way, and lift them up staircases.
If you travel by bus or by train, you’ll quickly get tired of trying to lift your bag onto a luggage rack, or throwing it underneath the bus.
The key is to pack as light as you possibly can! It’s hard to do – even though I have gotten better each trip, I still end up shipping stuff home because I just don’t use it.
What to consider when packing for long-term travel.
- Lay everything out on the floor before you pack it. Have a list of what you need and check off items on the list as you pile them up.
- Bring more underwear and less clothes. You’ll definitely want a clean pair of underwear every day, but you won’t wash your other clothing as often. It may sound gross, but eventually you’ll get used to wearing things a couple of times and being ok with it.
- You may want to buy some clothing locally so you can blend in better, so it’s best to leave space in your luggage
- If you’re changing climates, you need to consider layers. Generally that’s a few long sleeve tops, a few short-sleeved tops, a sweater and a jacket.
- A versatile scarf/pashmina is great both for covering yourself at holy sites, and an extra layer of warmth when you need that.
- Weight over looks. If an item of clothing is heavy in your hands, don’t bring it. You’re going to quickly wish you had way less than you bring, no matter how light you pack
- Technology sucks. Unfortunately we all need the plugs and the chargers and they end up taking up more space and weight than anything else. Unfortunately there aren’t any great solutions. Another reason to bring fewer clothes.
- Limit your shoes. You’ll need a nice pair of closed hiking shoes that can double up as keeping your feet warm if you go someplace colder. Waterproof shoes are best. Another great pair of shoes is a waterproof sandal that can also serve as a lighter hiking shoe – these transition great from the beach to a hiking trail if you’re in warmer climates. Finally, a sandal or light shoe that can serve as your dress shoes. I stopped bringing anything with heels because with only 3 pairs of shoes you’ll end up walking in each of them all day so arch support and comfort trump style!
- Medication. If you’re going anyplace exotic you’ll likely have an embarassingly large stock of medication. My medecine bag takes up more space than I’d like, but since I want to be able to prove to airline and customs agents that it’s medecine, I leave it all in the original bottles.
- Small bag. I travel with a knapsack that folds up into a small square. I love it because once I get someplace I use it every day as a day pack. I also like to travel with a small bag I can use as a purse if I want to carry less on me, or go out to a restaurant and not look like I just came from a day of hiking.