Packing for a short trip is relatively simple. You throw a few of your “greatest hits” clothing items into a bag alongside some travel-sized toiletries, and – Voila! – you have yourself a serviceable piece of luggage. (Okay, it’s not that easy, but you get the point). On short trips, if you miss something or pack a clashing garment, it isn’t the end of the world; you’re only gone for a couple of weeks at most.
Packing for long-term travel is different. It requires a systematic, minimal and efficient approach. You have to be thorough and streamlined at the same time. Remember, you’re living with your packed bag for potentially months.
In this article, let’s explore just three overarching tips for long-term packing. Consider these guiding principles as you assemble a bag for your grand adventure abroad.
It May Seem Counterintuitive, but Keep It Light and Compact
At first blush, you may think, “well, I’m gone for longer, therefore I need to pack more.” That’s an understandable, perhaps even intuitive way of thinking. But it misses one critical detail: long-term travel requires a lot of movement.
Moving a large suitcase from destination to destination gets tiresome quickly. Additionally, the more items you pack, the higher the chance you’ll lose something along the way. All the travel experts online – the digital nomads, backpackers and frequent flyers – all advocate for minimalism in long-term travel. Keeping your bag light and compact allows you to move freely, stay secure, and save money on checked bag fees.
The section below recommends materials that allow you to pack light. Consider dividing your clothing items with vacuum-sealed packing cubes to squeeze even more storage in your luggage. Packing light requires some ruthlessness and precision – but you’ve got this!
Choose Seasonally Versatile, Antibacterial Clothing
Because you are packing light, it’s imperative that you choose seasonally versatile clothing – articles that work as well in cold climates as in hot weather. And because you may go days, even weeks, without seeing a laundromat, experts recommend packing antibacterial clothing that stays fresh.
The prevailing wisdom in the travel community is that merino wool is best. Merino wool is insulating (for cold weather), breathable (for warm weather), sweat-wicking (to keep you dry), wrinkle-resistant (to keep you looking put together), and antibacterial (to keep you smelling fresh for weeks). For a long-term trip, all you’ll need are three merino wool socks, three pairs of merino underwear, a long sleeve merino Henley and short-sleeved t-shirt. Depending on the season, you can pack around these core items with middle and outer layers.
Pack Electronics in a Secure Day Bag
It would be nice if we didn’t need electronics when we travel, but unfortunately, that’s seldom the case. A phone keeps you connected, a laptop lets you write and watch movies, and a good camera allows you to capture all of the bright moments on your trip.
Instead of putting all of your proverbial eggs in a single basket, consider packing your electronics in a secure day bag – preferably a slash-proof bag with a locked zipper. That way, you can keep your valuable electronics safe and easily accessible.
With just three tips – incorporating minimalism, versatility and security – you can pack the perfect bag for a long-term trip. Now, all you need to do is make sure you have enough bankroll to last the whole trip!