While I know that there are plenty of packing advice articles out there, I hope to produce one which does not patronise the reader by reminding them to bring things such as their contact-lens solution, money or socks (as the first handful of google results list). I hope that my post will provide some retrospective advice on things that people might overlook.
The four month trip that my fiancé (Chris) and I embarked on took us through five different countries which made packing very difficult. Differences in things such as temperature, weather, culture and activities meant that we had to be prepared for a whole spectrum of clothing needs. Our baggage limit varied depending on the airline, but the lowest was a weight of 20kg for our check-in luggage and 7kg in our hand luggage. In reality we managed to get away with a few more kgs by stuffing everything heavy into our backpacks which were using as our hand luggage and by being very polite to the check in desk staff. (Although in the spirit of complete honesty, Chris also managed to get away with leaving his bag a little off the scales when weighing it so it came in way under what it actually was – cheeky chap!)
In this post I will try to narrow down some advice on how you can pack 30kgs of weight to travel with to the other side of the globe.
As you can see from the map above, our journey took us in a roughly south-easterly direction, but differences between the countries and our choice of activities meant we had to be prepared for pretty much anything! If you are interested in advice on how to pack for mountain life or for island life, have a look at my more in-depth blog posts on the relevant countries (coming soon).
Three Things to Consider
- Research is Paramount.
- Cultural sensitivity is very important, not only in order to respect the people you will be interacting with, but for your own comfort. You do not want to be walking through a modest country in short denim shorts and a strappy top, capturing disapproving or even lustful glances from every corner!
- Research what to expect weather wise. You may assume that countries like Indonesia and Fiji are island paradises, but with that also comes tropical rainstorms so be prepared.
- Be Strict.
- It is very hard in this world of Instagram glam holidays to limit yourself clothing wise. I would loved to have had a stunning new outfit to wear to the beach each day, and another to drink cocktails in at sunset, however long trips do not work like that. Therefore be REALISTIC! (I also can’t believe these people spend all day in these stunning intricate designs because the humidity and heat of these destinations means wearing anything at all is often unbearable!)
- If you are visiting hot and cold countries, prioritise the cold weather clothes which will be more expensive. For example your down jacket and nice warm wool/cashmere jumper are going to be more important than the hot weather gear. If needed it is much easier to by appropriate clothes like tank tops and shorts in places like Indonesia and Fiji, than fancy thermal gear in Nepal or New Zealand!
Absolute Necessities (beyond common sense items like underwear!)
- Sewing kit.
- We ended up using my sewing kit in every country. From fixing ripped clothing, to using the needles to access our sim cards, to using the pins to tack closed some rubbish hostel curtains.
- Super glue.
- My small bottle of super glue has come much in handy, such as fixing my cheap fake Nike trainers!
- Multi-plug converter.
- Much handier than buying separate converters, but also useful when places like Fiji can’t make their mind up to which sort of plug they are actually using!
- One outfit which makes you feel good.
- When travelling with the same set of clothes for 4 months, a gal can get a bit down in the dumps. I found it handy to pick myself up now and again by making an effort in the evening with my go-to dress.
- Backpack (of the casual, not trekking variety).
- This is useful, whether for putting shopping or groceries in, for taking to the beach, or using as an anti-faff bag when travelling via plane, boat or bus. (Who wants to wait around while someone tried to find their water, headphones, snacks and book from their suitcase when it could all already be in a backpack! Crazy lady I may be, but efficient!)
- This is useful for securing your suitcase on all transport, but also within shared dorm rooms.
- These were necessary in loud city environments such as Kathmandu, as well as on planes surrounded by crying wailing children.
- External hard drive (if bringing a camera & computer).
- Using a GoPro creates a huge amount of data – with 4K filming a few minutes video can easily be a few giga bytes. We regularly backed the GoPro up onto an external hard drive. The computer couldn’t handle the amount of storage we needed, and if the computer broke we could have lost everything.
- On a side note, we were really glad we brought our computer, even if it was a risk. It was highly useful for quiet evenings in for watching TV, for doing research, for my applying for jobs and for writing blog posts!
- Phone contract with international data roaming included.
- We were lucky that for most of the countries we visited, Chris’ contract (Three) included international roaming with no extra charge. It was also useful for checking things like tripadvisor, as well as using maps to get us around.
- When we were in countries which Three did not cover, depending on how much free time we would have, we opted to buy local sims. This worked particularly well in Fiji to help us keep in contact with our families when we were in more isolated areas.
These are just a few of the things which I can think of which have really helped us out along the way. I hope this might help those of you who are feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of travel packing! If you have any other suggestions, let me know and I can add them on!