Determining what to pack for long term travel can be a head-spinner.
I can ponder this part of travelling for weeks and months on end. And I have. Even before I left Sydney (Australia), in March 2017, for my indefinite journey, it took me a while to work out what to pack. I had so many lists!
And yet, even now, I’m still tweaking what’s in my bag. I’m pretty happy with what I have at the moment and I will probably stick with this a while.
But I have to admit. In my core, I am a carry-on only type of traveller. So having a suitcase, one which I would have to check, was a great leap for me. Having said that, considering I do travel full time, I actually don’t have a lot in my bag. I had to be strict about what went into the suitcase initially, because it’s easy to think: “oh, I need this”, or “Oh, I need that…”.
Now, as I travel, if something goes in, something is then donated out or thrown out (if it’s worn out completely).
I won’t lie. when you travel full time, you do get sick of your clothes after a while. I mean, you’re wearing the same thing over and over. It gets, well, boring.
The contents of my bags are straight-forward, despite having to account for four seasons and the plan for indefinite travel. The secret is layering and making sure everything coordinates.
Over the course of my journey (so far…), I have road tripped through Australia, New Zealand and the United States, through all four seasons. I visited Iceland in early Spring and then walked 800km across Spain (on the Camino de Santiago) two years in a row, in the springtime; I spent a month in the steamy summer in Japan; Housesat in Canada and Portland, Oregon during Autumn: and spent 4 months exploring Tasmania in Australia through the summer months. That’s just a taste of the travel I’ve done.
I made sure that everything that went into my bag was necessary, practical, made me feel great and was comfortable.
What Luggage Am I Using?
Before I get to the long term travel packing list, let me tell you what I put it all IN first. Because that’s important too.
I have two pieces of luggage (with a caveat):
I chose this suitcase after Virgin Australia cracked the wheel on my trusty ol’ Eagle Creek 22 inch. I’d had it about 15 years, so it lived a good life. It was time for a new suitcase and I’m happy with the Delsey.
The Delsey has a cavernous space inside so I am utilizing my three Eagle Creek packing cubes along with 2 packing cubes I bought when I arrived in America. I use these to sort my clothes into tops, underwear, socks, etc. The bottom layer of the suitcase has one side winter clothes, such as merino long sleeve shirts, jumpers (sweaters), a woollen hat, scarves and gloves. The other half has my summer clothing, such as my swimsuit, my two dresses etc so it’s easy to access as I change hemispheres.
The packing cubes hold my all-season wear, the stuff I wear no matter what the weather. My jeans, yoga pants, t-shirts all sit on top of the layer.
The other piece of luggage is my Aarn Peak Aspirations Backpack
Because walking the Camino de Santiago is part of my travelling plan, I needed a backpack. I COULD forward the Delsey on each day, but that has never need the Camino wander I imagined. Walking 800km across Spain, on the Camino de Santiago, you need flexibility. While I used the Aarn for my second Camino Wander, I used a different one, no longer being made, for my first Camino wander in 2018.
(NOTE: For the first Camino, I carried only what I needed and everything else was left in my overall bag, which I left behind with a good friend in England for the duration of the walk (45 days). When I did the Camino Wander again in 2019, I sent my suitcase ahead to Santiago, storing it there until I was done with the walk. The contents for the backpack have been tweaked, but essentially are the same as the first walk. The main difference is the backpack.)
Between the Delsey and this backpack, it’s more than I need. I used the backpack as a carry on when flying.
When I have a rental car, or my own car when I’m travelling through Australia, and I’m staying overnight somewhere, I pack what I need in the backpack, including clothes and electronics. There’s plenty of room to do this. That way, I’m only carrying inside what I need for the night instead of taking everything.
My Long Term Travel Packing List:
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I have a pet peeve with the mindset: “If you’ve forgotten something, just pick it up along the way’.
As a curvaceous traveller, it’s not that easy. I am between sizes and have a hard time finding clothes that fit even when I am settled in one place.
Over the last two years of full time travel, I look constantly at every thing that goes into my Delsey bag. As you’ll see, a lot of these clothes aren’t of high quality but they are clothes I am comfortable in.
As I’ve said before, finding clothes that fit and look good on me has always been a challenge and if I find something at a discount store that fits the bill, all the better. (I am frugal after all!) For other things I packed, I did buy quality (Merino!), knowing these are items that are hard to come by or some I simply had to lay out the funds for, to find the right fit for me.
The Packing List for Clothes
- 1 long sleeve merino top – 1 MacPac 220 Henley Top
- 1 Essential Long Sleeve Scoop Tee – black, of course
- 1 ¾-sleeve merino top – MacPac Victoria 3/4 Scoop 180 Merino Top
- 1 Autograph Long-Sleeved Chambray Shirt. So versatile!
- 1 ExOfficio Zippered Hoodie – I bought mine at Target about 20 years ago (!) and it’s still going strong. I wear it ALL the time.
- 1 FatFace Denim Jacket. Great to wear over tunics and dresses.
- 1 Long Length Cardigan. Great with Jeans and dresses worn with leggings.
- 4 T-shirts – (1) Blue Illusion scoop Neck Tee, (1) Virtuelle Black and White Tee, (1) Simple Black T-shirt and (1) Kmart Superman Special (for the Camino).
- 1 Tunic – Black Target Off the Shoulder Beach Dress. I wear as a tunic or a dress.
- 1 Yoga pants – Big W Avella (best yoga pants EVER). I wear these a lot when I’m stopped and working, as well as for hiking.
- 1 Leggings – Lane Bryant. I wear these to bed, hiking and under dresses
- 1 Jeans – Levis (1) straight leg (314)
- 1 Lightweight Columbia Hiking Pants
- 3 Dresses – (1) FatFace Simone Dress (Would Wear this EVERY DAY if I could!), (1) Target MaxiDress and (1) Polka Dot Short Sleeve Maxi Dress (I bought in Spain, nice to wear at night or on a summer’s day.)
- 1 Merino Kathmandu Skirt
- 1 Nightie – Jane Lamerton
- 2 Tank tops – Old Navy
- 10 Target Briefs (underwear)
- 5 Bras – 3 City Chic, 2 Lane Bryant ‘Sports Bras‘
- 4 Socks for hiking – Kathmandu Merino Hiking socks
- 1 Zippered Hoody – Exofficio
- 1 Shorts – (1) Jeans West denim shorts
- 3 scarves (I like variety in winter since I’m pairing it with black)
- 1 Purple Wool Beanie
- 1 Buff
- 1 Grey Pair of Uniqlo Gloves
- 1 Speedo Swimsuit
- 2 Hats – (1) Columbia wide-brimmed hat and (1) Summer Straw Hat
- 1 Mountain Equipment Waterproof Jacket
- 1 ExOfficio Women’s Emei Trench Coat
Shop My Simple Travel Wardrobe
The Packing List for Shoes
Ah, shoes. I’m not a shoe girl. I hate shoe shopping.
Let me tell you why: Before I left on the Indefinite Worldwide Adventure, I shopped for a pair of sandals which I could wear during the day, but also have them dressy enough that I could wear in the evening should I go out. (It could happen). I didn’t want to pack heels, because even in my settled life, I only wear heels for special occasions, such as weddings.
I thought I’d found a pair in Sydney but after I purchased them, I tried them on. They didn’t fit at all. They were too narrow. I have wide feet.
Shoes are not a big priority for me, but I also know I’m also hard on shoes, so I had to pack quality.
Did I pack only these three pairs? Of course not!
I had the Camino Wander to consider, so packed some Merrell GORETEX sneakers (they take up half my suitcase by the way, but a necessary item to pack).
I had to pack thongs (flip-flops) because I’d be staying in hostels along the way and needed them for showers. They have come in handy for the beach though, admittedly.
So, what shoes DID I pack?
Ecco High Top Sneakers – I LOVE these. They keep my feet dry and warm in winter.
Merrell GORETEX sneakers, mainly for the Camino, but have worn them through Disneyland, the Grand Canyon, Canada, Tasmania…
Before I tell you the contents of my toiletry bag, I’m going to let you in on the best travel products I’ve EVER found: Muji.
I LOVE Muji. I have my all of my toiletries in Muji Polyethylene Bottles and I’ve never had a spill, leak, or worse, an explosion of liquids mid-flight. The caps stay on and you can even get labels from Muji that will help you decipher between body wash and shampoo.
In addition to the bottles, I’ve found some bags that are amazing for those ‘plastic bags’ you need for carry-on. I hate trying to find zip lock bags every time, so I’ve found these clear cases at Muji and they are AMAZING. They are a heavyweight clear plastic and if something does leak (as in a non-Muji container), it’s an easy cleanup.
OK, so here’s what’s in my Kathmandu Toiletry Bag:
- Tea Tree Oil Antiseptic Cream – I never leave home without it. Best stuff around.
- Olay Regenerist moisturizer
- Rose Water Great for a freshener in the bathroom or after a long flight (before you hit the shower)
- Thank You Geranium and Rosewood Hand Cream / Moisturiser
- Thank You Antibacterial Lemon & Lime Hand Sanitiser
- Face Wash (in a Muji Polyethylene Bottles)
- Shampoo (in a Muji Polyethylene Bottles)
- Conditioner (in a Muji Polyethylene Bottles)
- Body Wash (in a Muji Polyethylene Bottles)
- Small Cosmetics Bag containing: IT Cosmetics CC Cream (the magic stuff), Mascara, Eyelash Curler (yes, I do), Bronzer and Chapstick (nothing but the original).
- Sunscreen – 50+ SPF
- Toothbrush / toothpaste/ mouthwash/ floss
- Antibiotics (1 fill)
- 1 pack of Panadol Extra (medication for migraines)
- 1 bottle of Zyrtek Antihistamine tablets
- 1 bottle of 200g Ibruprophin for headaches
- Body sponge
- Headband for washing face
- Razor + refill blades
- Nail polish, nail files, nail clippers. (Yeah, it’s a girly thing, but I find when I wear nail polish when I travel, my nails don’t break or split as much.)
- Portable hair dryer + round brush.
- Aveda Control Paste (in a screw cap Muji container)
Shop My Essential Carry On Items
The Packing List for Miscellaneous
There is always stuff that doesn’t fit into the ‘clothes, toiletries or electronics’ categories. It’s miscellaneous but in no way less important.
- 1 Canvas bag – for when I need a ‘handbag’. Also good for groceries and general shopping.
- 1 REI Travel Towel – mine is old, like 20 years old, but still works great.
- 1 Lightweight Torch (Flashlight)
- 1 Travel Clothesline, Sink Stopper, 10 Plastic Pegs
- Transport cards (Oyster card for London, Opal card for AU when I return)
- A small amount of local currency for the first country I travel to.
- Extra photos + copies of documentation for visas
- Vegemite (a must for every Aussie)
- Reading glasses (2) – I have two pairs for reading. One pair is spare.
- (2) Nylon shopping bags. These are great to carry groceries (especially where many states in Australia have banned plastic bags in grocery stores!) and for general every day, like packing picnic stuff.
- Muji Journal and Pens.
The Packing List for Electronics
Because I’m a digital nomad, I run this business (and the rest that makes up my patchwork income) from the road. So I have probably more than one would need for travelling. Plus, I’m a serious photographer so I want my stuff with me.
- Selfie stick (don’t judge me)
- Olympus EM-1 Camera – I love this camera, more than any other I’ve owned. You can read my review here.
- A MacBook Pro 13″. My workhorse.
- iPad Air 2, 64gb with Logitech keyboard. It’s on it’s way to the grave, so I’ll probably forgo an iPad when it eventually dies.
- My electronics bag (an Eagle Creek packing cube). It includes 1 USB stick, camera accessories and chargers, electronics chargers, , adapters
- WD Passport external drive within it’s own case. I also back up to the cloud via CrashplanPro (It ROCKS).
- Pens, plus strategy planner.
- Business cards – I love the ones I ordered through Moo.com. If you’re interested in purchasing these, let me know and I’ll send you a 20% discount for your first order.