Whether you are getting ready for a one week get away, or a year long expedition, deciding what to pack and what to leave behind is often the hardest part of the trip preparation. However, packing for long term travel, especially when your destinations cover a variety of climactic zones and your trip spans multiple seasons, can be particularly daunting.
Packing for long term travel has been on my mind recently. In about 6 weeks time we are heading off to South America for just under 6 months. Our trip will take us to cool high altitudes, and steamy tropical locations. It will take us from the cool climate of Patagonia, to the hot and humid weather of northern Colombia. Needless to say, packing will be a challenge.
I’m not going to outline my exact packing list, as your list will ultimately depend on where you are going and what you plan to do, but I will outline some of my must have items and packing principles.
Packing cubes are one of my packing essentials. Ever since I first trailed using them, I have been hooked. When I travel with my family, we generally each have our own cube to keep our clothes separate from each other and easy to find. It also keeps are clothing neat and folded up or rolled neatly. And of course, packing cubes help keep everything condensed so you can fit more into a smaller space.
When I travel on my own, I still like to take multiple cubes. It can be really useful to have one cube for clean clothes and one for dirty clothes.
This is a new addition to my packing list. I have been interested in this product for a while – it’s essentially a portable washing machine. I always try to primarily hand wash my clothing while traveling. It really keeps costs down, and I find that if I wash my clothes at the end of each day, then it really doesn’t take up too much time in my day. We are about to depart on a 6 month long trip to South America, and I received a Scrubba as a going away gift. I’m really excited to try this product out, so keep an eye out for my full review at a later date.
Whether you are traveling with a Scrubba or not, if you are planning to wash your own clothes while you are on your trip, you will also want to remember to pack some washing powder, and perhaps even a portable travel clothes line.
Travel safe bag
Whether you are traveling for a week, a month, or a year, the question of how to safely and securing carry your important documents and cash is always an important one. I personally never use a money belt. I just find them bulky, cumbersome, and annoying. Plus they get all sweaty and disgusting if you are traveling in a warm climate. Other alternatives include clothing which is designed to keep money and documents safe, like the clever travel companion brand. I usually just travel with a normal purse, and opt for one with zip closures for extra security. However, on my next trip I am going to experiment with something different. I’ve decided to take the money belt concept, but give it the 1980’s treatment and wear it on the outside. Yup that’s right, my new travel purse is a fanny pack. Now don’t laugh, it’s actually brilliant. No one can do a drive by bag snatch on me. I can keep my money and documents secure and close to my body. Plus, since I am either pushing a pram or carrying a baby in a carrier, it actually makes my money and documents much more accessible to myself. Plus I think it looks cool.
No matter the length of trip you are about to embark on, you want to pack clothes which are as versatile as possible. Clothes which can go trekking, which can go to the museum, and which can even hit the night club. I’m talking clothes which can be layered. I’m talking clothes which can be mixed and matched with as many other items in your suitcase as possible. I try to pack tops which match all the different shorts/pants/skirts that I am packing, as well as a dress or two with black tights or leggings. Leggings can also double as sleep clothes. I then usually pack a cardigan or two, and a couple scarves and statement jewellery which can take any of the outfits and dress them up as required. Since I also hand wash all my clothes when I travel, I also make sure to consider the fabric of the clothes that I am packing. I rarely pack jeans, as these are too difficult to dry when on the road.
I’m not a fan of travel specific clothing, or backpacking clothing. The only time I pack this type of clothing is where I will be doing a considerable amount of hiking. Otherwise, I just pack normal clothing. Since I have a little baby at home, getting out to the shops can be difficult. I do most of my shopping online and I love online retailers which offer a variety of brands in one place, like theiconic.com.au or lyst.com.au.
Other Things Not To Forget
Don’t stress too much when you are packing. Anything you forget, you can always buy once you reach your destination… with a few exceptions… here is a list of some things to not forget.
- Any prescription medication you may need. Make sure you have enough of a supply to cover the time you are away.
- Contact lenses or prescription glasses.
- Tampons (if you are traveling to Asia, as these can be hard to find there).
- Certified copies of your passport and other important documentation (like travel vaccination records, etc).