THE ART OF PACKING FOR LONG-TERM TRAVEL

THE ART OF PACKING FOR LONG-TERM TRAVEL

“The sense of having one’s life needs at hand, or traveling light, brings with it intense energy and exhilaration.  Simplicity is the whole secret of well-being.”Peter Matthiessen

the cover of The Snow Leopard book

I read The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen while trekking through Nepal.  This quote spoke to me as I walked swiftly and lightly through the Himalayas, carrying everything I needed on my back.  I knew that I had come across it at the perfect time.  There is something uniquely liberating about having everything you need in a backpack.  Backpacking is all about simplicity, and being nomadic is so innately human that it just feels right.  When you’re ready to roam, you simply pick up your pack and move wherever your heart desires.

Now for the big question.  Backpacking sounds great in theory, but how in the world do you fit everything you need for a long trip (2+ weeks) into a backpack? Through trial and error over years of preparing for long trips, I have mastered the art of packing.  Simplicity is key.  Trust me, you don’t want to be the person in the hostel who needs help lifting their pack onto their back.

Below you will find  a 100% comprehensive list of the things I carry in my pack, as well as packing tips and tricks.  I even threw in a few cute photos of my travel companion and me rocking our gear 😉

NOTES:
*When I’m travelling, I’m typically hiking/trekking in cold areas, so this list includes a lot of gear from that genre.  The list would be very different if I were doing something like sight-seeing around Europe or sipping cold beers on the beach.
*When I’m travelling, I don’t look like I’m in a magazine photo shoot.  I look like a hiker who may not have showered recently and is all about comfort.  I typically don’t bring makeup or cute clothes.
*The packing list is catered towards women but can be used as a guide for men.
*The only products that are linked are those that I personally use and highly recommend.

two people with two backpacks each
Chad and me with 5 weeks worth of gear on our backs for our trip to Peru.  I know what you're wondering, and yes, we do always look this fabulous!

PACKING LIST

TOPS
Shirts
3 t-shirts
2 short-sleeve hiking shirts (wool blend is best)
1 long-sleeve hiking shirt
1 long-sleeve wool shirt
1 nice shirt
Jackets
1 raincoat
1 down jacket
1 ultra-light windbreaker
1 fleece (the Melanzana micro grid is so cozy and versatile)
Dresses
1 versatile dress
Bras
1 sports bra
1 regular bra

BOTTOMS
Pants/Shorts
2 pairs hiking pants
1 pair casual pants
1 pair wool long-underwear
2 pairs hiking shorts
Underwear
8-10 pairs
Socks
4 pairs low-cut running socks
4 pairs wool hiking socks
1 pair heavy wool socks (for sleeping in frigid temps.)

SHOES
1 pair trail running shoes
1 pair hiking boots (optional, trail runners are sufficient for many hikes)
1 pair hiking sandals
1 pair flip flops or slide sandals

MISC  CLOTHING  ITEMS
1 hat
1 beanie
1 swimsuit
1 belt
1 pair gloves or mittens
1 neck warmer
1 warm headband

IN  MY  WALLET
Charles Schwab debit card (the traveler's best friend, this card refunds ALL of your ATM fees)
credit card(s) with no foreign transaction fees
drivers license
health insurance card
50-100$ USD or home country currency (stash away for emergencies)
50-100$ local currency (just enough for your first day abroad)

ELECTRONICS
1 pair headphones
1 camera and charger
1 phone and charger
1 phone power bank
1 plug adapter

DOCUMENTS
passport
photocopy of passport
travel insurance policy documents
copy of your eye prescription

TOILETRIES
contact case/solution
extra contact lenses
compact toothbrush
travel-sized toothpaste
mini hairbrush (bonus if it has a mirror on it!)
obi tampons (very compact!)
pads
2 oz. bottle Dr. Bronner's soap
2 oz. bottle hand sanitizer
face lotion
tweezers
nail clippers
first-aid kit
blister band-aids
chapstick
deodorant
floss
sunscreen
bug spray
Q-tips
tissues
headbands
hair ties
bobby pins

 MISC  NON - CLOTHING  ITEMS
1 backpacking pack (approx. 50-65 liters)
1 small day pack (approx. 20 liters)
1 fanny pack (optional, I use it as an additional day pack)
1 purse
1 headlamp
1 deck of cards
1-2 handkerchief(s)
1 quick-dry towel
1 pair sunglasses
1 pair eye glasses
1 waterproof backpack cover
1 whistle
1 dry sack (5-10 liters is fine)
1 pair ear plugs
1 eye cover
2 reusable water bottles
1 diary
1-2 leisure books
snacks

the contents of Tooch's backpack laid neatly across the floor
This is what (almost) all of those items look like when laid out


PACKING TIPS AND TRICKS

-Carry 2 backpacks
1) A 50-65 liter carrying the bulk of your stuff
2) A 20-25 liter carrying things you'll need on the plane (e.g. snacks, basic toiletries for long flights, headphones, passport, etc.).  The 20-25 liter can also be used as the perfect daypack for wandering around cities or short hikes
-NEVER CHECK A BACKPACK WITH YOUR AIRLINE UNLESS IT'S INSIDE A DUFFEL BAG!! IT WILL GET TORN AND YOU'LL BE SOOOO SAD!!
-I’ve only had one issue taking a 50-65 liter pack as a carry on.  It was a 65 liter pack full to the brim and the airline made me check it.  It got torn and I was really bummed about it.  As long as your pack can fit (or even be shoved) into the overhead bin, you can take it
-Leave space in your pack to bring gifts and souvenirs back home
-It is possible and easy in most places to pick up items (e.g. toothpaste, extra t-shirts) you may have forgotten at home
-Bring items that are versatile such as trail running shoes.   They can be used for walking around towns or hiking long trails.  They’re more comfortable and lighter weight than traditional hiking boots
-Bring chapstick that contains sunscreen
-Take empty contact cases and fill them up with liquid toiletries that you don’t use a lot of (e.g. body lotion, face wash) so you can avoid taking large bottles
-Use Dr. Bronner’s for body wash and shampoo. It’s super concentrated so you only need a tiny amount
-You can purchase shampoo/conditioner in any country if you need it.  It's best not to travel with large bottles of each
-Put tape over any bottles of liquid that you bring (e.g. contact solution, bronners) and pack them in quart-sized baggies.  They can and will explode at some point
-Start traveling with 1-2 leisure books (or a lightweight Kindle) and then trade them with other travelers or at a café with a book exchange
-Laundry is widely available and super cheap in many countries

two pairs of shoes overlooking a beautiful glacial lake
Trail runners!
Two REALLY COOL backpackers 😉
a boy and a girl posing in front of hills
Wool blend t-shirts for the win!
a girl dipping her toe in cold water
Patagonia headband, Mountain Hardware fleece, North Face hiking pants.  I'm stylin'!


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