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Are you about to embark on a multi-week/multi-month trip and have no idea how to start packing? You’re not alone! Packing for a long trip is such a daunting task, and it is difficult to know how to start if this is your first time doing it. Minimalist packing is always something I try to follow on longer trips so I can carry my larger luggage on the plane instead of checking it. I always travel with a 40L REI backpack and a 20L Osprey daypack. I have never had issues with my 40L pack being considered a carry on; however, I do know that recently some airlines have made changes, so I always recommend double checking!
The first thing that I could not live without that helps me pack as minimally as possible is packing cubes. I use these Eagle Creek Packing Cubes. I like these because they come with three: a large one for my shirts and pants, a medium one for my socks, bathing suits, beanies, etc. and then one small one for underwear. These three packing cubes fit like a perfectly scored Tetris game in my 40L backpack, and that’s why I love them. Using packing cubes also helps tremendously with feeling organized throughout your trip, especially if you are on-the-go and moving around. It helps you to re-pack frequently with ease because everything has a place in your pack.
Once you’re feeling good about the packing cubes, start thinking about which clothes of yours you want to bring. Then, lay them all out and start going through which ones you will ~actually~ wear. A common mistake is packing clothes you like that you will “probably wear at some point”. If you have that thought about any of your clothes/outfits you planned, scratch them off the list. Prior to your trip, if you are unsure if you will wear specific clothing, odds are you will not wear it and it will take up valuable space.
Now moving onto quantity. My favorite tip that helps me the most while figuring out what to bring is packing for seven days at a time. I will always pack for one week at a time no matter how long I’m traveling for. When I tell people I pack seven days worth of clothes for a three month long trip, they’re appalled. The thing that people forget about is that laundry services are a thing! If you’re traveling to cities/small towns, you’ll most likely always be able to find a place to wash your clothes after you run out of clean ones.
Let’s assume I am traveling to Latin America for a three month trip where the climate is warm, I am doing minimal hiking and just traveling around cities. This is what I would typically pack:
3x tank tops
1x cotton short sleeve shirt
1x athletic/hiking shirt
1x nicer top
1x sweatshirt/light jacket
1x t-shirt to sleep in
8x underwear (I always bring an extra pair just in case! Underwear is not fun to have to rewear)
3x bras (sport and regular)
1x bathing suit
1x sun hat
With packing cubes and the seven day mentality, packing for a long trip becomes much easier to tackle. Just remember: you will most likely always be able to do laundry, you will not wear those clothes you’re debating on bringing, it gets easier the more times you do it, and you’re going on a trip of a lifetime!
-Peyton Greenberg (@peygreenberg00)