There are few things more exciting than preparing for a long trip. Whether you’re traveling with your family, some friends, or by yourself, the anticipation and thrill of leaving your usual surroundings and immersing yourself in a new area or culture is unmatched.
The one part of extended travel that people tend to dread is the preparation. You know you’ll be living out of your suitcase and you want to be sure that you’re ready for whatever you encounter. If your trip is spanning many countries or more than one season, the challenge of knowing what and how to pack can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make the process simple.
Organizing Your Wardrobe
The first step is figuring out what clothing you need to bring. When you’re packing for long-term travel, you don’t want to be lugging around your entire wardrobe. It’s not practical and it can make the process of traveling uncomfortable.
The best method to use is to pick a general color scheme for your wardrobe and make sure everything fits into it. That way, every piece you bring will go with everything else and you’ll be able to mix and match a variety of looks with just a few pieces. Some travel experts advocate choosing a ten-piece wardrobe of five tops and five bottoms. For example, you might bring four bottoms (pants, shorts, or skirts), five tops (tee shirts, blouses, or sweaters), a jacket, and a tenth optional item such as a dress. Count things like pajamas and workout gear separately.
You can prevent boredom by packing a few interesting accessories such as jewelry, scarves, hats, and so on. Again, the key is to choose things that go together. You may also want to research your location and figure out which items you can buy once you arrive. If you are traveling to places with different climates, focus on layering pieces that you can use to adjust to the weather as needed.
For long-term travel, you might need three pairs of shoes. For example, you should have comfortable walking shoes for everyday wear and a pair of dress shoes for evenings. If you are traveling to the beach, a pair of flip-flops or sandals is a good idea.
Finally, make sure to bring a week’s worth of underwear and socks. You’re going to have to do laundry while you travel, but this way you’ll only have to worry about washing your clothes once a week.
Toiletries and Other Essentials
The next thing you need to consider are your toiletries and personal hygiene items. These include:
- Soap, shampoo, conditioner, and deodorant
- Toothpaste and toothbrush
Here again, you should plan on bringing only what is necessary. If you know for certain you’ll be able to get shampoo at your destination, you may be able to leave it at home. The one exception here is prescription medications and other things that are necessary for your health. Don’t skip these things. You want to be sure you have them when you need them.
Packing Tips and Tricks
The final step is packing your belongings. Most long-term travelers want to carry the least amount of luggage possible. If you will be staying mostly in hotels, you should bring a suitcase. If you will be traveling on foot or by train, then a backpack is probably your best option.
- To fit your clothes in a small space, fold them in half lengthwise and roll them tightly. You may be able to roll two thin items together.
- Use plastic or dry cleaning bags to prevent wrinkles and keep items neat.
- Stuff small items like socks, underwear, and accessories into your shoes to maximize your space.
- Seal toiletries into plastic bags to protect your clothing in the event that anything leaks. This is particularly important if you are checking luggage as sometimes bottles burst open during flight. You may want to bring a few extra bags in case you need them.
- Carry anything truly irreplaceable, such as valuable jewelry, your passport, and cash, next to your skin.
As long as you follow these simple tips, you should be able to fit everything you need into a single suitcase or backpack and travel light, knowing that you have what you need to be comfortable.