The Dilemma of Packing for a Long Trip

Packing for a long trip is something that I have become quite accustomed to – and yet it’s still something that I loathe doing, mainly because I’m an extremely indecisive person when it comes to clothes and shoes.

Packing for a long trip

 

Will it be cold?

How many pairs of socks shall I pack?

What if I can’t buy the right size underwear I need over there?

Will I really need all of this stuff?

Do I need to bring two toiletry bags?

Well one thing is for certain – I have to bring the teabags!

 

These are all things that run through my mind and questions that I ask myself every time I pack for a long trip away. The fact is, even though I have done it quite a few times, it never gets any easier!

The Early Years

My Backpacking checklist skills have come a long way over the years. Rewind back to when we took a two week holiday to Egypt in 2006, I left home with a suitcase that was as big as a small house which contained more clothes than one would wear in a two-month period.

Let me just give you an example of what I mean.

As we were going for two weeks, I thought I was doing the right thing by bringing 14 bikinis with me – yes, that’s a different bikini for every day!

Think that’s bad? I also brought 3 different types of hairbrushes – just to make sure that I could avoid any unwanted bad hair days.

Oh, how times have changed!

Fast-forward to today, I don’t own 3 hairbrushes or 14 bikinis and I look back and think to myself “who was that crazy lady that needed all that stuff?”

Today, I travel light (with just one bag because it makes sense to do so and I have learned from my packing blunders over the years. I’ve travelled with a 70-liter backpack and let me tell you, carrying it in 40-degree heat is both backbreaking and torturous – (Yes, it’s that bad!)

People often say to me, “how can you pack for a six month trip?”

Truth is, it’s not that difficult. Let me tell you what I recommend not leaving home without so you will find packing for an extended trip that little bit easier.

Footwear

As much as I’d love to pack my favourite pairs of wedge boots, slippers, flip flops, runners and heels – it’s never going to happen!

I like to bring 2 pairs of comfortable flip-flops with me (1 pair for the beach and a dressy pair to wear during the day or on a night out). Colours like cream or tan brown are always my first choices as they are versatile and go with a lot of different colours.

My black and pink sketchers have been with me for almost two years now and I couldn’t be without them. It is worth investing in a good quality, expensive pair of runners when going away as you’ll need something that’s comfortable and supportive when walking long distances with your bag on your back.

Avoid bringing white runners with you, as they will be an absolute nightmare to keep clean. 

Must-have items of Clothing that I Never Leave Home Without

Now here’s where things get difficult for me!

I always pack way more than I should when it comes to clothes. I try to avoid bringing expensive clothing with me, as I’m the type of person who likes to pick up bits and pieces at the local markets while on my travels. This forces me to have to leave things behind to make space for new clothes – (I normally donate my old clothes to a local charity in the country that I’m in).

Even though I usually struggle with what clothes to pack, there are a few items of clothing that I cannot leave home without.

A warm hoody

My warm purple hoody is my saving grace when I’m on long bus and train journeys. In some countries, it’s custom to turn the air-conditioning up full blast – even if it is freezing cold outside. In cases like these, there’s nothing I love more than feeling warm and comfy in my good old reliable hoody.

A rain jacket

Regardless of the country you’re travelling to, there will most likely be a chance that it will rain at some point or other. And for that reason, I think a rain jacket is a necessary item of clothing for any traveller. Again, it’s worth investing in a high quality brand name rain jacket that will last the test of time and be successful in keeping you dry when you need it most.

I always carry my VERY bright orange (so Carlo can never lose me!) North Face raincoat with me on every trip I go on. If the weather in your planned destination is going to be cold, do bring a thermal layer for under your raincoat, as it will keep you warm and snug.

A sarong

I could not leave home without my sarong. It’s an invaluable item that I use time and time again, as its practicality is extensive. I use it as a blanket on buses, a scarf, a cover up when entering temples/sacred buildings, a picnic blanket, a head wrap and I sometimes use it as a skirt/dress while on the beach.

Sarongs are lightweight, inexpensive to buy and they don’t take up too much space so make sure you include one on your packing list.

Leggings

As with the hoody, leggings are a great comfort item of clothing to have while on the road. When the evening gets chilly or the day is cold, my leggings keep me feeling warm and cosy. All you legging lovers will know how comfortable they are to wear and how versatile they really are. Couldn’t live without my leggings!

They are my four must – have items of clothing for my backpack. I could ramble on about clothes forever.

The important thing is to pack clothes that are versatile and pieces that can be mixed and matched easily. Only bring clothes that you could see yourself wearing over and over again.

To finish off this post, I’m going to give you guys a quick list of what’s in my backpack right now.

Come on…let’s take a peek!

 

Clothes:

  • 2 pairs of leggings (one navy, one black)
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 1 pair of tracksuit bottoms
  • 1 dress
  • 1 playsuit
  • 1 pair of light trousers
  • 2 light jumpers
  • Raincoat
  • 1 Hoody
  • 1 sarong
  • 6 tops (4 vest/tank tops & 2 t-shirts)
  • 1 bikini
  • Socks & underwear

 

Footwear:

1 pair of runners (sketchers)

  • 1 pair of flip-flops
  • 1 pair of walking boots

 

Toiletries:

  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Cleanser & moisturiser
  • Toothbrush & Toothpaste
  • Teeny bottle of body lotion
  • Talcon powder (doubles over as dry shampoo for when I need it!)

 

Make-up:

  • Tinted moisturiser
  • Small eye-brow palette
  • Mascara
  • Lip balm & gloss

 

Accessories:

  • 1 hairbrush
  • 2 hairbands
  • Tweezers & small mirror
  • Nail clippers & nail file
  • 1 thermal mug/flask
  • Small travel hairdryer

 

Essentials:

  • Basic first aid fit
  • Small sewing kit
  • Travel Adaptor
  • Tea bags
  • Phone & charger

Wow – it seems like I have A LOT of stuff when it’s listed like that!

Carlo is the tech guy so he carries my MacBook and its charger, which frees up quite a lot of space in my bag for less important and more girly things like a hairdryer and nail file!

He’s also a person that never leaves home on a trip without the following few items:

  1. His beloved MacBook Pro laptop. It’s his “mobile office” as he does say to me!
  2. His smartphone – recently he switched from Samsung back to Iphone – after years of hating on apple! 🙂
  3. The Shave by Maverick’s  This is a 3-in-1 Aftershave, shave cream and moisturizer and I have to say it’s a pretty cool product. It’s under 4 oz. so it’s carry on compliant plus no alcohol, sulfates or parabens are used in it making it safe and smooth!
  4. His 10 year old travel t-shirt! Yes, it’s been to all 51 countries that he’s visited in that timespan. There are more holes in it than Swiss cheese at this stage, so the only time he wears it nowadays is for a photo in a new country.

I think I do quite well with keeping things to a minimum – not sure if you’ll agree!?

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About the Author


Florence has relocated herself to S.E Asia to pursue her life-long dream of travelling and working around the world. She's currently working as a freelance writer and enjoys the travel lifestyle. She blogs in her free time - which she now has a lot of!! Her favourite things about travelling are meeting new people, interacting with the locals in a new country, sampling new foods and embarking on long bus/plane/train journeys!!

8 Responses to “The Dilemma of Packing for a Long Trip”

  1. Hi Florence,

    Smart post! I pack lighter for each trip. I lugged a big old piece of luggage around as a travel newbie 3 and a half years ago and now I do the light travel bit.I learned less is more. We do more laundry and carry less because in the tropics – where we are usually – you need a few things. Shorts, shirts, a pair or 2 of pants, flip flops, and maybe shoes if you go formal, but that’s rare. Other than that you’re golden. Toiletries, etc. We pack light, save time and feel less urgings to fill our luggage with stuff we won’t use. We may buy a few presents for family but that’s it. We have laptops, tablets, and whatever’s in our luggage and that’s very little. I find that with each trip I take even less to lighten my load mentally and physically.

    No sense burdening yourself, right? It’s better to take a few items, and to wash them frequently, even for a super long trip. We’ve done the world trip things for 43 months and running and after the 3 return trips to the US – for only a month at a time – we take less and less stuff with us, and find ourselves enjoying the experience greater and greater. Less equals more, even for long trips 😉 Thanks Florence, fun post. Tweeting from Ubud. Looking forward to future updates here.

    Ryan

    • Florence Murphy says:

      Hi Ryan, Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

      Yes, what you’ve said is so true…less equals more! I think you’ll agree that the more we travel, the more we learn about what we need and what we don’t need. Like you guys, I definitely find that I enjoy being on the move so much more when my back isn’t hurting from carrying such a big heavy backpack.

      When in the tropics, it’s so much easier to pack as you end up wearing the same clothes over and over again anyway…I love that! I found it was a little more difficult packing for South America as I had to bring clothes for hot and extremely cold weather. My friends can’t believe that my bag is only 10kg and I’m thinking that’s even too much! My mission is to get it down to 8kg for the next trip 🙂

      Hope you’re enjoying Ubud 🙂

  2. Kacy says:

    Great tips! I am currently on my first six month trip and I have to admit I packed horribly. I will file these tips away for next time 🙂

    • Florence Murphy says:

      Packing is something that us girls can always improve on Kacy! I’m still making mistakes, but I feel that the art of packing is a learning process 🙂

  3. Totally with you on warm hoody. Never missed leggings but like to have a pair of yoga pants. Excellent advice on footwear. I dumped my old trainers mid-trip in SE Asia – too bulky. Didn’t wear my high heeled sandals once! Left hair dryer behind though.

    • Florence Murphy says:

      I’ve taken your advice on board and actually swapped my leggings for yoga pants now Allyson so I’ll have to do an updated version of this post! As much as I hate to say it, the hairdryer is still with me 🙂

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