No matter how many trips I go on, no matter how many countries I travel to, packing for long-term travel is still one of my biggest struggles. To pass on some of my wisdom, and to help others pack for long trips, I have decided to start a series of packing posts. Here I’m just going to start with some basic tips and in the next few posts I will go into detail on what I pack, what I can’t live without and some of my best packing secrets!
Start with Good Luggage
The key to making the entire task of packing easy is having the right luggage for the job. Trying to fit all of the essentials you need for a 2-month trip into a tiny backpack will only cause headaches. Good luggage is not difficult to find.
Consider the total volume of the items you’ll be bringing and the potential weight of your luggage. From these details, you can choose the kind of luggage you need for the trip. There is no shortage of options to choose from, which means you’ll be able to find the perfect items regardless of your requirements. My Mum actually bought me a decent rucksack for my 18 birthday and I still have it today. It’s been on more overnight buses than i care to think about and has travelled with me to more countries in the last 10 years than most people will see in a lifetime. Good luggage is worth the investment!!
The one thing to pay close attention to when choosing luggage is the weight of the luggage itself. Newer, more modern luggage with lighter materials can be up to 60% lighter than older models. The saved weight will make a lot of difference as you carry the luggage around. This will also help to avoid stress on airlines such as Ryanair who charge crazy fines if your luggage is too heavy!
Another thing to prepare is a set of organisers or packing cubes. These are smaller bags designed to carry a particular item. There are, for instance, organizers for your clothes, toiletries, chargers and electronics and even special bags for batteries and other items you need for the trip. These organizers are affordable and can save a lot of time as you pack your stuff for the trip. I found some really cool bags in TKMAXX before my Cork to Cape Town trip – great for keeping all my charging cables in one place.
Instead of trying to fit everything into your bag with no organisation, arranging your items using organizers can also help save a lot of space. You’ll be surprised by how easy it is to carry enough items for a six month trip without having to bring multiple bags when you start using travel organizers to help you. Ian swears by his packing cubes – they ensure he knows where everything is while I let my backpack explode like a volcano every time we travel to a new place!
Stick to the Essentials
It is easy to get carried away and start over-packing for the trip. An easy way to get around this is by sticking to the essentials. Place all the items you’re thinking of carrying with you down and start removing items that you don’t really need for the trip. For example, carrying an extra pair of shoes just in case isn’t always necessary. If it’s a “maybe I’ll wear it” item, leave it at home!!
Sticking to the essentials will also help you reduce the weight of your luggage substantially. You’ll be surprised by how much you can actually save just by removing small items such as a few pairs of clothes and some extra cables you won’t be using during the trip.
There are obviously so many more packing tips, but you’ll have to wait for another day to read them. For now, check out how to pack like a pro and only bring hand luggage for a 3 months trip!