Six Tips for Packing for a Long-Term Trip

©istockphoto/deimagineRaise your hand if you’ve ever tried to pack your entire life into a sin­gle suit­case. Long-term trav­el­ers will know what we’re talk­ing about. For­get walk-in clos­ets and draw­ers stuffed to the brim with clothes; every­thing you need for sev­er­al months on the road can be tidi­ly fold­ed into one bag. Seriously.

Pack­ing for a long-term trip requires a shift in atti­tude. Think back-to-basics, clean and sim­ple pieces, and def­i­nite­ly less is more. Here are some tips on how to pack effi­cient­ly for those extra long adventures.

Know What You’re In For
To build your wardrobe for the next sev­er­al months, you’ll need to do some research regard­ing your des­ti­na­tions. Know what the weath­er is right now, but also what it will look like a few weeks down the road when you’re still there. Con­sid­er how cli­mates will vary in the dif­fer­ent regions or coun­tries you’ll be vis­it­ing. This will help you deter­mine whether you can stick to light and flowy sum­mer clothes, or if you’ll need to pack some seri­ous lay­ers as well to get you through the cold.

Don’t for­get to look up local cus­toms so that you can actu­al­ly wear every­thing you pack. There’s no space to waste when you’re pack­ing for a long-term trip.

For­get (Most) Cos­met­ics and Accessories
You’re going to need more than those trav­el-sized cos­met­ics to get you through your time on the road, but don’t even think about wast­ing pre­cious suit­case space on that stuff. Sham­poo, con­di­tion­er, shav­ing cream, soap and just about every beau­ty sup­ply you can think of can be picked up along the way or at your final destination.

The same thing goes with acces­sories. Leave bulky hats and scarves at home and instead, pick up new ones on your trip. Bonus: it’ll dou­ble as a souvenir.

Think Easy
Choose clothes that are easy to care for, that don’t wrin­kle eas­i­ly, that can be washed with­out fuss and that is durable enough to wear day in, day out. Leave finicky, high-main­te­nance pieces at home.

When in doubt, stick to dark­er shades and col­ors. They hide a lit­tle extra wear and tear bet­ter than light clothes, giv­ing you a bonus day or two before you have to make a trip to the laundromat.

Con­sid­er Renting
There’s noth­ing worse than pack­ing bulky items that you know you’ll only end up using a few times on your trip. Con­sid­er what you might be able to rent at your des­ti­na­tion of choice. For instance, many ski resorts rent out snow­suits, or ocean-side resort towns will lease out wet­suits for you to use.

Pack Your Bags…Then Unpack Half
Here’s a good exer­cise: take out every­thing you want to bring on your trip, and lay it out on your bed. Got it? Good. Now take half of the stuff and put it back.

It sounds extreme, but trust us: you don’t need as many clothes as you think you will. Yes, one bathing suit is plen­ty. No, you’ll nev­er end up wear­ing those adorable-but-imprac­ti­cal stilettos.

Leave Some Space
If your suit­case doesn’t zip up with com­plete ease, it means you’ve still got work to do. Trav­el­ing with an over­filled suit­case is a pain, par­tic­u­lar­ly if you have to sort through your bag at cus­toms or if you’re over the weight lim­it. Save your­self the has­sle by leav­ing some extra space.

This serves anoth­er pur­pose, too: you’ll have extra space for bring­ing home one-of-a-kind sou­venirs that you’ve picked up on your trav­els. It’s a win-win.