Packing is challenging, and packing for a month or more abroad is down right daunting. There is no one way or perfect way to pack but there are a loooot of things that you definitely do not need. At Behere, we often get asked about the do’s and dont’s of packing for longer term trips. This seasoned traveller shared with us all the things she did not need while living abroad, and how you can pack more efficiently for longer stints abroad.
Guest Post by Alexis Snell
“I have counted 34 things in my suitcase that I did not need while abroad.
Now, some of these things are tiny (like necklaces), but let’s be honest – no matter how many times you pack, you always end up with at least a handful of unnecessary things. Don’t worry, I won’t bombard you with another ‘here-is-what-I-packed’ list because there are thousands out there if you’re looking for a checklist.
Instead, here are some of the things I definitely didn’t need:
1) Clothes I don’t even like
I keep wondering how I convinced myself to waste the incredibly limited space in my luggage on a bunch of pieces I never even wear at home? If I haven’t already gotten loads of use out of them, then why would I wear them on my ‘big adventure’?
What was going through my head? “Oh, this will be a great casual thing to throw on!” If I haven’t ‘thrown it on’ in the last three months, it doesn’t need to come around the world with me. Same goes for dresses, shoes and workout gear.
No one is going to notice (or care) if you wear the same outfit twice in one week. Stick to the basics that can mix and match.
2) Extra pairs of jeans
I planned to work while abroad and thought I would be working a much more casual job than I did, so I certainly had more than I needed. But still, stick to 2 pairs and that’s it. You can always buy more. Pack a black pair and a blue. They are heavy, they are bulky, and no one is going to be paying that much attention anyway.
Also, kick the jewelry to the curb. I realize these items usually take up very little space, but it is just another thing you have to keep track of. Snag your favorite necklace or two and be done with it.
As a general rule of thumb, I am trying to move towards a Capsule Wardrobe. This is a really useful way to minimize your wardrobe when packing, even if it isn’t your everyday life. For a trip – cut this list down to 15.
3) Too many notebooks
I have a fondness for cute notebooks – and pens. I am fully aware that I have too many, most of which have yet to be used. But don’t bring 3 with you. Well technically I brought 2 and then a cute little 3 pack (wait, 2 and then a 3 pack…oops), but who’s counting. When you add that to the weight of your laptop (and whatever other books you pack), it adds up fast.
Did I really think I was going to fill all of those up?
Bring one. You can buy another during your travels if you need too. Plus, it will make for a great “I got this while I was in….’”story.
4) Travel gear that isn’t practical
I meant to buy myself a new travel pillow, but it ended up being one of those things that never came to fruition. So, my wonderful mother suggested I take one of hers. Well, it was rather gigantic and inconvenient for toting around. And it’s not even that comfortable. Sorry, mom.
I really like inflatable ones with a cozy fleece cover. You can adjust how firm they are depending on your sleeping situation, and they fold up nice and tiny to save space.
The other silly thing I packed was this oversized, super fancy (and overpriced) power adapter. It takes up a ton of space and ended up sounding like I was running a generator all the time. Get a basic one and call it a day. Realistically, you might end up buying new chargers anyway.
I realize that I was actually moving from Seattle to Auckland, not just traveling around, so that warranted a bit of extra luggage. But that also means that I was going to have plenty of time to stock up on anything extra I might need. I will give myself a little credit and say that I did significantly better on this trip than I did on my backpacking trip through Europe a few years ago. But there is still plenty of work to do.
If Colin Wright can live with only 51 things, then I can definitely ditch more than a few items from my bag.
New Packing Rule: Lay out everything you think you will need for your trip – only pack half of it.”
Now that you’re prepared to pack for a long trip, pick a city you want to live abroad in next year.
Originally published here. Repurposed for Behere by Alexis Snell.
Alexis Snell is a Seattle native, travel and adventure enthusiast, and blogger at directionsoptional.com.