The Part Of Any Trip Everyone Loathes
I wish I could tell you I had some well kept secret about avoiding the troubles and hardships of packing… but I don’t. As we travelers continue to seek this unattainable feat, I will do my best to provide you with what I know and share our problems and experiences that we have had with packing for a one year trip. I will also review essential items that we recommend for anyone looking to travel long term. You may also scroll down to see a link that will take you to our packing lists for this trip.
Packing For A One Year Trip
Packing for a one year trip is very similar to packing for any trip that lasts more than a week with the exception of adding a few more essentials that you could live without on shorter journeys. The biggest mistake people tend to make is packing too much. Many travelers feel the need to wear something different every day as if they are going into work or school and someone will notice they wore the same shirt twice in a row. This is very unnecessary while traveling as it just causes more pain for you back and loss of time due to having to do more laundry.
So what’s the key to a happy traveler? Pack Light! This may sound simple but it is easier said than done. Over the course of two days, I packed my bags, unpacked them, and repacked them until I had the combination of items that would provide me with the greatest benefit. My first attempt to pack caused me to panic as I did not have enough room for everything (This is after I created a packing list that I thought was already light). After a few minutes I told myself to relax and figure out what was unnecessary for my bag. I soon realized there were many articles of clothing that I could use for multiple purposes, which allowed me to cut on some of my more bulkier items ( my winter coat liner can serve as a rain jacket for example). Before long, I had a main pack that only weighed 32 pounds and a day back that only contained my laptop and camera. Claire also went through the same process of packing, freaking out, calming down, and cutting everything that was unessisary.
Packing light also helps you save time! Packing light means less laundry and also means you are not wasting time in the morning choosing which outfit you should wear. With a limited (but important) set of clothing, you already know what you’re going to wear. This may sound boring to you now, but when you’re living out of a backpack for a year, you will thank yourself a few months down the road. To see our packing lists, click here.
This is the the question people have asked us the most as we have prepared for our travels. Everyone knows they need clothes (depending on where you’re going), but what else to bring? Here I will highlight some important items along with some that you may not have thought of before.
Obviously you need something to lug everything you will love and cherish for a year with you. We recommend a travel backpack over a suitcase for several reasons. Firstly, suitcases are clumsy and don’t do well off of flat surfaces. If you plan on doing any travel in developing countries, or getting of the beaten path, sidewalks may not exist or might as well not exist. Backpacks give you more flexibility when it comes to transporting your gear around. Backpacks also force you to pack less as they are usually smaller than suitcases. As mentioned earlier, packing our backpacks forced us to really analyze what we needed and what we didn’t need. Hopefully this makes us happier people down the road.
For our trip we are using REI’s Osprey Farpoint travel backpacks. This is by far the best travel backpack I have used. Backpackers have always struggled with using traditional trekking backpacks for long trips. REI makes this a problem no more due to several features of the backpack (I will do a full review of the bag after I see it in action). The Farpoint bags simply combine a trekking bag with suitcase like features creating a bag that takes the best of both worlds. I will be using an 80 L bag while Claire will be using the 70L bag which has a detachable day bag.
Travel compartments will help you keep all of your clothes and other items organized. This allows you to avoid the annoyance of having to dig through your entire bag every time you want to grab something.
A backpack for daily use is necessary for several reasons. Firstly day packs allow you to keep electronics and other valuable items safe with you as you take public transportation. You wouldn’t want you computer or camera stolen all because you threw it under the bus in your main travel bag. Day packs are also great for daily exploration. You can use them to carry supplies for hikes, or for a stroll around a city. I will be using a North Face Recon day pack.
This one may come as a surprise, but American style deodorant (Stick Deodorant) can be very difficult to find in many regions of the world. To avoid the headache of searching high and low for deodorant every few months, I will carry three sticks with me which should last the whole trip.
In many regions of the world, tap water, although free, is undrinkable. To save money on water, you can purify your water instead. Look at it this way; if you spend $4 on bottled water everyday for one year, you are spending $1,460 USD on water for the year! If you plan on doing any trekking, this becomes an absolute necessity.
A water purifier is pretty useless if you don’t have something to put the water in! We use 1 Liter Nalgene bottles as they are indestructible and clean easily.
Stay dry for those rainy days in the city or while trekking.
If you plan on doing any cooking in order to save money, a mess kit is a great item to have. Mess Kits serve as your tableware as well as your pan and pot to cook with.
First Aid Kit
One of the items everyone hopes they never use but is important to have in the event that something does happen. Maybe its the inner Boy Scout in me, but it is always good to be prepared.
Having basic medicine for headaches, allergies, colds, and diarrhea will help you live comfortably when your not feeling so great. We also brought two rounds of antibiotics in the case of more serious illness. Claire also brought Chinese medicine in order to prevent a wide variety of illness.
If your stinky like me (trust me…just ask Claire) you will want to have a bag that separates your dirty clothes from your clean ones.
Laundry Washing Bag
Having a folding bag that holds water will make doing laundry on your own easier and also save you money!
Quick Dry Towel
I can’t count how many times I have stepped into the bathroom of a hotel and see a towel on the sink that I wouldn’t even use to dry my Cat with (Yes, we have a cat named Sushi who is currently living with Claire’s parents). Having a quick dry towel allows you to skip those nasty hotel towels and ensures it will be dry for packing.
Sleeping Bag Liner
Just like many cheap hotel towels, many hotel beds can be just as, or even more gross as towels. A light sleeping bag liner allows you to have a good nights rest without having to worry about how clean the bed is.
A Leatherman tool prepares you for any situation that arises. Think of it like a Swiss Army knife on steroids.
You will want this for those long bus and train rides. It can also be used as your main pillow when your hotel seems to be lacking in cleanliness.
Money Belt and Dummy Wallet
A Money belt saves you the worry of being pick pocketed and keeps your valuables close and in front of you. While these are great for everyday situations, they are not fool proof.
Many muggers are very well aware of travelers using money belts, so the “I don’t have anything” response really doesn’t work. My best recommendation is to also carry a dummy wallet. An old wallet with a small amount of cash and maybe an old card or two that doesn’t work anymore. This way, if you ever get into a situation where someone is mugging you, simply hand them the dummy wallet to avoid confrontation and losing all of your valuables.
A piece of rope acts as a clothes line when you need to dry you clothes and also can tie up your bag in case a zipper breaks.
Although this is easy to pack (takes up no space!), many travelers decide hitting the road without it. Accidents do happen and you don’t want to be stuck halfway around the word in a hospital refusing to treat you because you don’t have the $10,000 to front before going into surgery (many countries expect payment before treatment). These types of scenarios can be easily avoided and at little cost. We recommend our current plan with IMGlobal Insurance known as the Patriot Travel Medical Insurance Plan. For $391 USD, we are covered for any emergencies, unexpected illness, and even includes emergency evacuation insurance. Our deductible is high ($1,000 USD) but we will be able to sleep peacefully knowing we will avoid being in a situation where we become financially ruined due to medical expenses.
What Did we Pack?
Click Here to see Eric’s packing list!
Have you packed for a long trip before? Any other items you find essential? Have any Questions? Feel free to comment below and share you experiences!