How to pack for a long-term trip around the world

It isn't too unusual to pack for a weekend, a few days, or even a couple of weeks. But how do you pack for a month, a year, or several years? Here are some of the things we did that helped us.

1. Practice

Go on a few smaller trips to figure out what you use or don't use while traveling. If you're not able to get out of town, pack the bag you're planning to use and live out of it for the week. You'll most likely end up with things in your bag that you didn't touch but had packed "just in case." You can probably get rid of those things. On the flip-side, you may realize you needed things that weren’t in your bag. Evaluate if you REALLY needed them, or if they are things you can purchase while on your trip.

2. Think in layers

On a long-term trip you'll likely run into a variety of seasons and weather patterns. It's easier to pack lighter for warmer weather areas, but if you are planning to be in colder weather pack layers. Also think about which items can be used in multiple scenarios. I have a circle scarf that can be used as a scarf, head covering, blanket, and shawl.

3. Budget aka SAVE MONEY

Most of the time we over pack because we want to include items for EVERY SINGLE SCENARIO we can thing of happening during our travels. But you can save a lot of space in your bags if you pack for most scenarios and just buy whatever you forgot to pack or ended up needing at your destination. For long-term travel you’ll likely have to replace worn-out, damaged, or lost items as well. Socks don’t last forever, and missing sock pairs don’t just happen at home!

4. Sell your stuff

You've packed for your trip and you're ready to go! If you'll be gone for an extended period of time though you'll need to decide what to do with all the things that aren't going with you. Maybe you'll leave it at your parent's house, maybe you'll get a storage unit or maybe you’ll donate it. Another option is to sell your stuff and make some extra travel cash for your trip. This can take some time and effort though, so start as early as you can. We sold our things on letgo and facebook marketplace. TIP: Give yourself extra time to sell as sometimes buyers will say they will come to purchase it and then not show up.

5. Pack some detergent

Since we're only bringing a small carry-on size bag and a backpack with us, we'll be doing laundry quite often. You can always purchase detergent at your local destination but if you have a little space and weight allowance, a few detergent packs can help save time and money. Ultra-light packers often bring a multi-purpose soap that can be used as shampoo, body soap, dish soap, and laundry detergent. While we are pretty light packers, we don’t pack that light. But that’s another option for you as well!

6. Use packing cubes

Honestly, I can pack just as much without packing cubes as I can with them in my bag. Many travelers swear they save so much space by using packing cubes, but I guess I’m pretty good at rolling my clothes and fitting everything in tetris-like that the cubes don’t really make a difference for me in regards to space-saving. However, I DO really like them for keeping things organized. Even if you use plastic baggies, organizing your clothes, medications, accessories, shoes, etc. into sections makes packing and re-packing easier. Find a place for each item you are bringing on your trip and then use the packing cubes to make sections in your larger bag. That way even if you need something at the bottom, it should also be in a smaller pack/cube so you can pull it out easily without disturbing the rest of the contents in your luggage.

7. Remember important documents

Make a list of all your important documents and then remember to bring them! You may want to consider scanning and uploading copies online to access while you’re on your adventure, and also leaving paper copies with a trusted friend or family member back home. If you’re not sure what documents or important paperwork you need to have for traveling, we created a simple planning list to make it easy for you.

Want to know some of Jenny's favorite things in her travel bag? Click here. Hope these tips help you out! Let us know in the comments below what your favorite tip is, and if you have any tips of your own!