Packing. Just that one little two syllable word can cause angst and frustration in so many people. When flights are involved in your travels, there are so many decisions to make, especially with all the rules, restrictions, and fees the airlines have put in place over the past decade.
When it comes to packing and air travel, decisions have to be made. One of the biggest questions I have received since we went on our round the world trip was, “How do you pack for something like that?”
I remember back to when we first started planning for our round the world trip, and packing was a major source of stress and anxiety. We weren’t going to be anywhere during winter, but we did plan on spending time in the mountains in South America, and we would be in several places during autumn, so some warm-weather clothing was necessary, which just adds bulk and weight to your luggage.
So if you don’t want to lug an 85-liter, 50 pound pack around, you’re going to have to get organized and really think this out.
Everyone is different and has to make their own decisions when it comes to clothing. Some will go out and spend hundreds on new, lightweight, travel specific clothing. Some will just go with what they have. There is no right or wrong way, but I’d like to offer some tips and my opinion based on my round the world travel experience:
- Go lightweight: Not every single item of clothing has to be synthetic, lightweight, and expensive, but it is nice to have. Obviously the weight is a big factor, but the quick-dry is also really nice, and it is typically more durable than the regular cotton that we wear on a daily basis at home.
- Bring clothing you’ll be comfortable in: That being said, I don’t think your entire wardrobe should be travel, outdoor specific clothing. If you wear jeans all the time at home and are going to a climate where it will be cool enough for pants, bring a pair. I struggled with this decision before we left and ultimately decided to bring one pair, and I wore them all the time in South America and New Zealand before ditching them when we arrived in SE Asia. Same with things like cotton t’s. If you love them and wear them all the time at home, bring one or two (or wait and buy a few on the road – they make great souvenirs as well).
- Matching: I really think this is the most important thing to take time with when it comes to packing for a long-term trip. Make sure everything is interchangeable. All tops (shirts, fleeces, jackets, etc.) should match with all bottoms (shorts, pants, skirts). It will make your limited wardrobe so much more interchangeable, so take some time to think about this when buying/sorting clothes for your trip.
- Shoes: I am a little unusual when it comes to the male sex. I LOVE shoes. While I don’t have quite as many as my wife, I am often ashamed at the number of shoes I have in my closet. So choosing how many pairs to bring was a very difficult to decision for me. It was painful to do so, but I only brought one pair of shoes and one pair of flip-flops (thongs) with me. The shoes had to be versatile because we planned on doing quite a bit of hiking, so I splurged on a nice pair of hiking shoes that at least looked decent with a pair of pants walking around a city. We were a tad old for the clubbing scene, so we were okay with not having a really nice pair of shoes for that type of entertainment. My wife only brought two pairs of shoes and a pair of flip-flops.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to packing for long-term travel. We have lots of resources over at BootnsAll that go much more in depth than this, so check out the following articles/pages for more information:
Photo credit: Adam Baker