Travel Packing Tips

Travel Packing Tips for Long-Term Trips

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Since so many of you have expressed amazement at how I am able to travel long-term with so little luggage, I thought I’d share some of my travel packing tips. For anyone considering a trip around the world my first advice is to understand that the travel equipment companies like Magellan’s and REI offer SOME really good items but in general, most of the devices they promote are absolutely unnecessary. Their job is to convince customers that they cannot possibly travel without the latest and greatest travel devices, but the truth is that very few of these items are absolutely necessary.

Second, unless you want to schlep tons of luggage wherever you go, you must be prepared to wear the same clothes over and over. Laundry is quite easy to do overseas. In most cases you can drop it off one day and have it the next – often for a very low cost. Also, many budget accommodations are not the most accessible. Often the road does not go all the way to the hotel’s front door and it is necessary to walk some distance to get to the facility. Other times, the hotel or hostel is at the top of a long, steep flight of stairs. The last thing you want to do is load yourself down with luggage if you are trying to travel economically.

I travel with a medium size (no hard frame) backpack that contains all my electronic equipment and personal items, as well as a 22″ carry-on rolling suitcase. These two pieces of luggage hold everything I need for both warm and cold climates. Once I arrive at a destination I transfer my camera, phone, lip balm, Emory board, comb, flashlight, Moleskin notebook, earphones, phone charger, and wallet (with copy of my passport, credit card, debit card, and driver’s license) to a smaller backpack that is stored inside my suitcase while traveling.

The following is my packing list:

TO WEAR:

  • Long trousers
  • Hiking boots and socks
  • Long sleeve top
  • Sweatshirt
  • Glasses
  • Underwear

TO CARRY ON IN BACKPACK:

  • Wallet (containing ID card with contact info, Driver’s License, Passport, Certificate of vaccination against yellow fever, Credit Card, ATM Card)
  • Airline tickets/itinerary
  • Backup copies of itinerary, passport, driver’s license, contact numbers for Master Card & bank debit card, and contact info for travel insurance, etc., all in plastic sleeve
  • Extra passport photos
  • Camera, case, extra battery, extra storage cards, battery charger, lens cleaning tissue
  • MacBook in case, charger, extra cord
  • Phone, charger, and headphones
  • Plug adapters
  • Wifi Extender
  • Moleskin notebook
  • Mini flashlight
  • One long sleeve top
  • One short sleeve top
  • One Capri pants
  • One set of underwear
  • Eyeglass case
  • Wet wipes
  • Portable toilet paper
  • Small hand lotion
  • Emory board
  • Lip balm
  • Comb
  • Small combination padlock
  • Pens

TO PACK IN MAIN CHECKED BAG:

  • One pair of long trousers
  • One long Yoga pants
  • One capri pant
  • One pair of shorts
  • Six T-shirts
  • Three long sleeve tops/shirts
  • Sweater or hoodie
  • underwear
  • One pair of pajamas
  • Socks
  • Sarong (as a beach towel)
  • Swimsuit, hat, and sunscreen
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Detergent sheets
  • Zip lock sandwich, snack & gallon bags
  • Travel towel
  • Toiletries kit (shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, razors, lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, toenail clipper, nail file)
  • Medical kit (Band-Aids, Hydrocortisone cream, Dramimine, Imoddium, Benadryl, anti-viral, aspirin)
  • Q-tips
  • Yoga mat
  • Rubber bands, & safety pins
  • Sewing kit
  • Travel sink plug
  • Combination padlock
  • Cable for securing luggage to train racks
  • Day-pack with rain cover

You can modify as needed – for instance if you are not going to colder climates you will need fewer long-sleeved tops, etc. Since I began in SE Asia where it was hot I did not pack a coat. Instead, when I got to New Zealand where it was winter, I bought a coat, gloves, hat, scarf, and a pair of woolen socks in a secondhand store and then donated all of it to another secondhand store when I left the cold weather behind.

In future blogs I’ll discuss things you can and should do to ensure safe travel, as well as things you need to do before you leave that will allow you to be away from home for long stretches at a time, such as setting up online bill paying and setting up special ATM-linked accounts. In no time at all you’ll have the benefit of my experience and you, too, can hit the road.

15 Comments on “Travel Packing Tips for Long-Term Trips

  1. That’s a useful list… I usually forget a lot, but it’s probably due to my last second packing habit ;)

    • LOL Anna. I’m also a last second packer, that is, on the few occasions where I’m somewhere long enough to unpack. But I guess I’ve got it down to a science now.

  2. A very comprehensive list and some very useful tips. Even as a man I always pack a sarong. Sarongs have so many different uses and I have even used mine as a carry home bag after a morning of grocery shopping for fresh produce in the local street markets. I would be delighted if you took a look at my travel blog and especially the post ? wrote about how to pack light. Thank you and happy travels everyone.
    http://www.dontworryjusttravel.com/tips/travel-tips/how-to-pack-light

  3. This is a really complete list. Have you added something to this list since the writing of the post?

    • Hi Doug: I’ve actually kept it updated over the years, so it’s pretty current.

  4. Pretty comprehensive list. Quite wise of you not to pack jeans, which can be one of the worst items to pack when it comes to long-term travel.

  5. I used to find packing very difficult, but I discovered the more I travel, the less I need to pack. Last time when travelling in Thailand and Sri Lanka for more than two weeks, I took the smallest backpack. It was lots of fun. Less is more as they say ! Great tips Barbara!

  6. I always love to see what people choose to pack, and your list seems exemplary for long-haul traveling. Still, I kept looking for one small can’t-live-without iconic item. I remember reading a similar list of must-take items packed by Johnny Apple, the late New York Times reporter and gourmand. Another exemplary list — but he also carried a small pepper mill.

    • Hi Terry: You comment made me chuckle. I don’t carry a pepper mill but I
      have added salt to my list. They hardly ever have salt on the table in Asia
      and I must admit that I’m addicted to the stuff.

  7. Wow Barbara, that’s a great (& complete!) list!! I’m printing it out & using it on my next trip, even if it kills me! :-)

    My problem is I’m always packing this or that item “just in case” – Heaven forbid there should be space leftover in my luggage!! :-)

    Thanx for the tips!

  8. That’s unacceptable, right?! Macs never used to be anywhere near that. I’m old enough to remember the very first that had pointer recognition and 2 buttons, nevermind all this new stuff they have.

  9. I could not find one single item you did not cover and then some. Great list and we will print this out and pass along all our friends, maybe even incorporate it into our website giving you credit of course.

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