This past January, I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Europe for a month (or 21 days to be more precise). Before the trip, I watched every youtube video and read every blog post about long-term trip packing. The key is not learning to pack less but pack effectively. Here are some tips and tricks to make the most out of packing for long-term travelers.
So here are some things I learned in packing for long-term traveling.
Some General Tips for Clothes:
- Make outfits before packing. Trying on outfits will help you narrow down what you want and what you need for the trip. It will also help during the trip to have these outfits in the back of your mind for days you need to get ready quickly. (Using an outfit planning app may be helpful!)
- Less is more. Caring around a super large, super heavy suitcase is not an ideal situation. Instead, lay out all the clothes and outfits you want to bring to take away half to two-thirds of what you lay out. That is the amount you should be packing.
- Do not pack things you do not wear on a regular basis. I have packed a really cute skirt or top (that I wear like three times a year) thinking it will be cute or fashionable, and then never reach during my trip too many times to count. Don’t change your style for a trip but pick out what you really love to wear.
- Research the place you are going. Really know what the weather will be like (is it 65º or 45º, how often does it rain?) This can drastically change what you make room for. For example, I didn’t think it rained very much in Italy in January. But I researched a little beforehand and made room for a rain jacket and boots. And thank God I did because it rained for four straight days in Northern Italy.
- Use pieces in multiple outfits. This goes along with the first tip (planning outfits), include each piece in two or three outfits. Wear the same jeans with three tops or the same top with leggings one day and jeans another. Washing machines are not guaranteed when traveling for long periods of time. Be prepared to re-wear pieces at least twice
- Try to make the most of each piece. Going off of the previous tip, do not pack 5 white tops and 5 pairs of dark wash jeans. Try to pack tops of different colors and patterns and bottoms of different shades. This makes it easier to rewear items without repeating the same outfit every day. When I was packing I stuck to neutrals, but I packed 2 black, 2 green, 2 white and 2 grey tops.
- Pack for a week and a half. I was traveling for three weeks, so I packed for half that time. Hopefully, by halfway through a trip, you would have run into some way to do laundry. Packing a week and a half gives you options, but isn’t over packing (it also saves you if you can’t do laundry every week).
- Pack practically more than fashionably. Now, this tip is useful for some, but not a hard and fast rule. My trip was 95% museums and tours, so I packed for comfort. I knew that I would walk around 10 miles a day and packed accordingly. If you are going on a relaxing vacation this might not be the case. That being said, I still was stylish in my outfit choices, but I thought more about the practicality of each piece more than how trendy it was.
- Pack for the specific activities you will be doing. Don’t talk yourself into packing a formal outfit because there is a small possibility that maybe you will go to a super nice restaurant. Usually, trips are fairly planned out by the packing stage, so you should know what activities you are going to do.
- Choose a small suitcase. The smaller the suitcase, the less you will pack and the less your suitcase will weigh. I bought this suitcase because I knew it would be big enough to hold my things, but also restrict me to only what I need.
- Use packing cubes. These help to efficiently pack and organize your clothes. I use about 4-5 cubes and organize them by tops, bottoms, underwear, dirty clothes, etc. It makes it so much easier to find things and know what is clean. These are my favorite.
- Pack a small travel bottle/pack of detergent. This way if there are no laundry opportunities, you can wash the necessities (underwear, socks, etc.) or even a whole outfit in the sink. **Keep in mind that air drying clothes takes forever!!!**
Now that you have read some general tips for packing for long-term travel, here is a general list of things I brought on my trip (keep in mind that this is for 3 weeks in Southern Europe in January).
Bonus Tip: packing a surge protector with multiple outlets will make life infinitely easier to charge your computer, phone camera and plug in hot tools all at the same time.
I hope this was helpful in planning for your next big trip! Let me know in the comments your #1 traveling tip!
Until Next Time,