Raise 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.
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.
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.