How to Pack for a Long-Term Trip
When I decided to take a 7-month trip I was terrified at the thought of traveling with nothing but a backpack. Before I left I compiled a list of everything I thought I would need and it turns out that only half of it fit (after I packed my beauty supplies, some things are necessities that could not be skipped)! Even after removing a few things, it turns out that I still packed way more than was necessary. Here is the list that I put together after my return with the only items I really needed while I was away. I’ve added some links of some of my favorite products because they made life on the road so much easier and I absolutely loved them! In a future post Amy and I will tell you why we love some of these products so much. This packing list is a combination of necessities if you plan on staying in hotels, hostels or other basic accommodations.
- Day pack or lightweight bag
- Compression Sack: Not only does this help to save space but it also helps you to stay organized since backpacks don’t have a lot of compartments. I kept socks, underwear and t-shirts in it and always knew where to find them.
- Passport (visas and extra passport photos)
- Credit cards
- Driver’s license (in case you don’t want to bring your passport when you’re out and about)
- Student ID for deals and discounts that require it
- A folder or USB drive with important documents (copy of passport, travel insurance details, usernames and passwords, copy of credit card information and numbers in case you need to cancel them ASAP, emergency contact numbers, embassy numbers, vaccine history, medical information, etc)
- Address list of friends and family so you can easily send out postcards on a whim
- Business or contact cards to give new friends with your email, phone number, skype name and link to your travel blog). I used this company and it was great because the cards were small and memorable.
- Local currency and US dollars: Many countries will accept US dollars more readily than any other currency. If you ever find yourself in a jam and can’t get to a bank machine US dollars are your lifeline. In addition, most international airports only accept US dollars when paying for your visa at the border so make sure you have the exact amount as they sometimes don’t have enough to give you change.
- Guide books or downloaded travel and bank account apps for your electronics (Trip advisor, Hostelworld, Agoda, Kayak , American Express, and Delta, are some examples).
- Lightweight travel pants
- Yoga pants- for those long flights or hikes
- Socks (7), underwear (10) : This may not seem like a lot but if you plan to do laundry every 10 days you’ll be fine and will save a lot of room with this strategy. And if you are in a warm country you won’t be wearing socks everyday anyways.
- hat or bandana
- T-shirts (6)
- Shorts, if you are in hot weather (4) or pants (2) for colder climates
- Jeans: These may take up a lot of room but I wore them the most because they are so versatile(flights, going out, cold days)
- Pair of Toms Shoes : They can be worn with anything, can be washed and are very comfortable to walk in when exploring a city.
- Waterproof watch
- Flip flops (for beach days, dirty showers or for places you plan on taking a boat where you are likely to get wet)
- Shoes that can double as sneakers and hiking shoes :These were the best purchase I made before I left. I knew that I would do some hikes no longer than 10 miles at a time and I like to work-out so I used them for both activities. If you plan on doing a lot of hiking you may want to splurge on some hiking boots but if not, I’d skip buying them. I saw so many people while traveling that were forced to wear their hiking boots in 100-degree heat because there was no space in their bag to pack them. They looked miserable!
- Light-weight rain jacket with hood: It may not seem like a necessity but for the days it rains this is a god-send! It also helps to keep you warm on brisk mornings and long flights.
- Long-sleeve T-shirt
- Small brush or comb
- SPF cream
- Face creams and other basic beauty routine products. If you are a beauty junkie like myself, pack enough products to last the entire trip. You probably won’t find your brand abroad and if you have sensitive skin it’s best to to stick with what you know works! Also by packing all of your supplies you will eventually gain extra room in your bag as you run out.
- Basic first aid kit (band-aids, Tylenol, hand sanitizer, personal medication, tigerbalm, mosquito repellant, country-specific medicine, hydration packets to put in your water if you are dehydrated)
- Chap stick (for cool and dry climates and for long flights that suck the life out of your skin)
- Universal adaptors: Try to bring at least 2 if you have multiple electronics so you don’t have to wait for one to charge before charging the second one
- All electronic charging cables
- Music: Download a new playlist for your ipod or phone. You will associates these songs with your travels for the rest of your life and they are so comforting on long road trips or when you find you can’t sleep because of jetlag.
- Camera : If I had a penny for every time a stranger complimented my camera I would not be looking for a job right now. The quality of pictures that a camera of this size produces is unreal. You would think it was one of those big chunky cameras with multiple zoom lenses but it’s not! On top of that, there is wifi so you can directly upload your pictures to instagram, facebook or email (so say goodbye to taking one picture with your camera and one picture with your iphone). Check out some pictures that I took with this camera.
- Other necessary electronics (the less the better)
- Waterproof bag to store camera, important documents and electronics
- Pen: Carry one at all times to fill out custom forms in the airport, this will save you so much time so you don’t have to wait for someone else to finish using the one provided.
- Alarm clock (or use your phone)
- Small lock for luggage or storage locker (or to chain your bags to a seat if you happen to be on an overnight train in India)
- Large duffle to store your backpack in during flights so the straps don’t get caught on luggage belts. The airports will cut them if they get caught and they don’t care if your bag gets ruined in the process!
- Makeup but only the essentials: lip gloss, eye liner, mascara, bronzer
- Bras (2) and sports bra (1)
- Pair of earings: It may sound silly but when you are on the road and roughing it sometimes you’ll look in the mirror and barely recognize yourself. I met many women on the road that said a pair of earings made all the difference in the world to make them feel more feminine when wearing ratty t-shirts and muddy shoes.
- Feminine supplies
Hostel or Basic Accommodation Supplies
Wish-list but not Necessary
- Water-proof cover for your backpack
- Small doorstop to use in hotels that you feel a tad unsafe in
Buy it During Your Travels
- Scarf or sarong: It will keep you warm and can be used in places if your shoulders or head need to be covered. They are sold everywhere and are great souvenirs!
I wore the same 5 t-shirts the entire time because they were always at the top of my bag and I didn’t feel like digging to find different ones. I also advise not to bring any clothing of value because you will wash and wear it so much that it will eventually get worn out.Lastly, don’t forget you will also be buying stuff while on the road. So the less you pack, the more room you have for souvenirs! And if you truly feel like you are missing something, there are usually cheap markets on every corner that sell everything under the sun for a cheap price if you know how to barter!
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