Packing for LONG trips

Travel Forums General Talk Packing for LONG trips

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11. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 1873 posts) 1y 1 Star this if you like it!

Socks and undies can have a rinse in the sink overnight, so you can get by with a few pairs. Bigger laundry every week or so - the time spent on it is not a problem to me as you need to slow down when travelling for a long time. Many hostels and motel/ holiday parks have a guest laundry.

I tend to live in hiking trousers or jeans, neither of which need washing very often, and the hiking trousers are quick dry fabrics as are my hiking shirts. I get by with two pairs of trousers and three shirts plus a fleece and a t-shirt which gets used as a nightshirt.

Footwear is the biggest space and weight hog. I usually travel in some comfortable walking boots and that's it for footwear. Being able to stay casual throughout the trip is key to packing light. Jeans, shirt and boots is dressy enough for most things I want to do.

Electronics are a pain, particularly if they involve non matching adaptors. I've got it down to a smartphone, usb lead and whatever usb wall socket I need for the part of the world I'm in. I understand that this won't work for specialisms - I've tried travelling with a dslr camera and found the extra bag a pain. Does vlogging need better quality video than a smartphone? For me that used android phone does music player, internet, camera, notebook, video, watch, alarm clock, and phone. Can you ditch any of those if they're separate devices?

Maybe I'm lucky as I don't need many toiletries. Just a deodorant stick and some toothpaste. A lot of places provide shampoo and shower gel. Grabbing a spare sachet generally covers for any place without some. My thinning hair looks best kept short cropped so going without shampoo for a couple of days is no bother.

7 books - I get that. Many hostels have a book swap, so ditch the completed one and pick up a new one and only ever carry one.

Then there's the things you carry that you don't need. Mosquito nets - always provided wherever they're needed, and if one is torn get it replaced. Sleeping bag - banned in some countries anyway due to cross contamination of bedbugs. Hairdriers and such nonsense just ditch - justify being scruffy by telling yourself this is meant to be a different experience. :)

Do all those things and you can travel with a 35 litre carry-on bag. As you've already got big packs, if you can't trade them down then at least you can make them light and comfortable.

[ Edit: Edited on 03-Feb-2019, at 03:18 by AndyF ]

12. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 1454 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

For short term traveling I would often have more travel information than clothes. I had two carryon sized cases, and one of them had mostly travel info. I would periodically mail stuff home after I visited those places. I have on occasion mailed a whole suitcase full of clothes and stuff home.

I really like actual books, but now I use a kindle for books.

[ Edit: Edited on 03-Feb-2019, at 06:49 by greatgrandmaR ]

13. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1277 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

My friend Barbara and I strive to carry only 7 kilos (about 15 pounds) in a soft-sided carry-on bag (no wheels) and a “personal item” of about the same weight, regardless of the time spent on the road. If we know we are going to colder climes (like hiking in the Himalayas) we’ll take along a down vest and perhaps a fleece cap. We always carry a medium-weight fleece and a rain jacket. We find that layering with vest, fleece and rain jacket will cover most of our needs.

We prefer quick drying synthetic clothing. Over the years I’ve found that two or three pairs of underwear, two or three pairs of socks, two or three shirts, an extra pair of pants and perhaps a pair of shorts are sufficient. Barbara adds a skirt and accessories, such as scarves and one or two pieces of jewelry. We both bring a cap or hat. I like the REI Sahara cap because the brim is crushable so you can easily stuff the cap into a pants pocket.

I prefer cargo pants because of the ability to stuff everything into pockets in lieu of a day bag. Barbara likes her ScottiVest, except in warm places. The best cargo pants are those made for police and security personnel. There are numerous brands, such Blackhawk, 5.11 Tactical, VertX, TRU-SPEC, etc. I like my Blackhawk Lightweight Tactical; but it’s discontinued.

We hand-wash clothes, either in the sink or in the shower. I carry a universal sink stopper. After wringing, we roll the item in a towel (often supplied by the hotel, B&B or home stay) then pound it with a fist to remove excess moisture. We find that it often dries in a matter of hours, unless it’s exceptionally humid, such as in the Amazon. In that case, we wear the damp clothing; and our body heat helps dry it. We like using shampoo to wash clothes instead of regular soap. It does a better job in removing body oils. Bars of detergent soap, available in some countries, also do an excellent job. I was in Beijing last year and picked up a couple of bars of Tide specifically made to wash underwear. I’ll use them on planned trips to Central Africa and elsewhere.

I don’t carry a day bag unless I know I’ll be on long hikes. In that case I’ll take a 25L waterproof Aquapac. I remove the backing, roll it up and stuff it into my main bag.
Good socks are as important as good shoes. I prefer Wigwam merino wool-silk hiker socks to cushion and protect my feet in the many hours I spend walking or hiking. I use them all the time everywhere.

I also carry a pair of flip-flops. Barbara brings sandals instead. We both wear hiking shoes (our only pair of shoes).

Our other accessories include an LED flashlight. Mine delivers a maximum 1,000 lumens; and the battery is rechargeable. I carry a spare battery since we frequently travel to places where electricity is limited or not available.

Our toiletry kit includes various trial-size items, including a deodorant crystal stone (potassium alum). We also carry a small tube of petroleum jelly. It has a variety of uses, such as helping to heal cuts and wounds.

As for electronics, I carry a 13-inch laptop and a Google Fi smartphone (Pixel 3) that works in 170+ countries. On most trips I use a Panasonic Lumix ZS60 pocket camera that zooms to 700mm. If I know I’ll be in harsh environments, I’ll add a weather-resistant Panasonic Lumix FZ300. Barbara uses an iPad instead of a laptop (she downloads books from the NY Public Library). Prefer movies instead? If you have a library card you may be able to watch on Kanopy and Hoopla. Barbara has her own Google Fi smartphone (a Motorola) and a ZS70. Our photos and videos are stored in the cloud; automatically with our smartphones. We are puzzled why more Americans don’t use Google Fi as their telecom provider while traveling overseas. It has many benefits, including the ability to access Facebook in China that otherwise is blocked. The price of the service is reasonable; and in many cases lower than that of other providers.

Forgot something? You can try to buy it overseas or find an alternative. The notable exception is prescription drugs. Bring an ample supply from home. Finally, if we need something and don't have it we always smile, politely ask; then say thank you. Most of the time it works.

[ Edit: Edited on 03-Feb-2019, at 09:25 by berner256 ]

14. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 1318 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Flashlight (we use a maglite), raincoats (we use them for everything, not just rain and have zip-out linings for all weather conditions), sandals or flip-flops to use as sandals and house slippers, prescription drugs if you need them (take your prescription made out in generic form just in case), chargers for your electronics (as universal as you can get them so you don't need a bunch of chargers). When we land, I always get a small bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide and that is our first aid kit for the trip. Any cuts, scratches or blisters (or badly scraped knees) get doused with it before bandaging. In a pinch it is also a great mouthwash although my dentist says not to use it regularly because it kills good bacteria too.

We both read a lot and were delighted when the Kindle was invented. Instead of taking a book or two and hoping we could exchange or replace them on the way, we now can pack a hundred books knowing we could be stranded on a desert island for quite a while with reading material.

We are both watercolorists and I take my painting supplies. My husband doesn't paint when we're traveling, preferring to read in his spare time. The Kindle again . . . I love books and the feel of them, but having a choice of reading material on a long trip is wonderful especially on long plane trips because I really don't care for most of the movies on airplanes so the Kindle is a lifesaver.

We usually don't pack toothpaste, shaving cream, deodorant and shampoo because we buy them when we land and use them up before we return. I do take soap because I'm allergic to many soaps so that's a necessity and a bar of soap doesn't take much space. A tube of aloe vera gel serves many purposes as mentioned in a previous reply.

We do take hats (Tilley hats that we just love) to save ourselves from the sun. We've met a lot of people who have stopped us to comment on our Tilley hats so they are kind of fun. One day a next door neighbor actually didn't recognize us without our Tilley hats. You can sit on them in restaurants and they pop right back up and look perfect after lunch. They pack flat or can be rolled.

I have a MotoX Pure XT1575 mobile phone that's a few years old and everyplace except the USA I use LeFrench Mobile as my carrier. They have very reasonable rates and are in nearly every country. We pretty much stay in the USA and Europe and it works very well there. It is cheap in Europe but expensive in the USA so I use US Mobile here at home. Both are prepaid and really inexpensive.

For photos I take a Panasonic Lumix with a Leica 30x Zoom Lens and it's fine for what I want. It does do videos but I seldom take them so have no idea of the quality. I like still photos better so that's what I take unless it's a carousel, waterfall, moving fountain, etc.

I do take my Toshiba Ultrabook computer with me and we both use it. I can keep up with a couple forums I enjoy, keep my photos on it and stay in touch with friends and family. It weighs less than 3 pounds. If I had to give it up, it wouldn't kill me but it makes life easier so I take it. If I were doing a vlog, I would probably find it very useful. Phones are great but do have limitations.

As you travel, you will discover what works for you and what doesn't. You can ship things home, donate them or just toss them as you go along. If you find something that works better, switch. You will soon know exactly what you need and will be able to pack in a few minutes. We have friends who start packing two weeks ahead of a trip. We're usually packing a half hour before we leave for the airport.

BTW, shopping in a foreign country is always an adventure and you meet the nicest people when looking for things so don't feel bad if you forget something. Enjoy the adventure.

15. Posted by JetlagWarriors (Full Member 42 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Wow guys really appreciate the help so far. Right off the top I want to say thank you very much because Ivana and I were going into this completely blind and over packed like crazy.

I was debating not admitting to this but for the help you've already given me I figured I give you guys a laugh. The total weight of our 4 bags is 43.1 kgs.

So that's ridiculous. I have deleted a bunch of clothes and got myself down to one pair of jeans, 3 underpants, 3 pairs of socks, one pair of shorts, one bathing suit, 3 t-shirts, one long sleeve shirt and a warm vest. I have one pair of shoes, one pair of water shoes and one pair of flip flops. I thought maybe I could delete my flip flops and use my water shoes as sandals, but once the water shoes are wet they don't dry fast enough, so today I had wet feet all day. Kinda gross and cold -- we were riding a scooter around an island.

For electronics, we have a sony hd video camera, a stabilizing arm, a go pro underwater camera, and a drone. All of these have batteries and chargers and wires and crap galore. We also have 3 rechargable battery packs to charge our zillions of batteries while we are on the go. We also have a laptop and 2 phones. Sheesh that sounds like a lot when I actually list it. We had about 80% of this stuff in one bag at the airport, and that bag weighed 9.7 kg. So it's probably safe to say we are travelling with 11 or 12 kgs of electronics alone.

Ivana has an incredible amount of clothes -- she laughed at herself when she told me she was approaching this trip with a 'layers' technique. Not the greatest of ideas. So we will delete a bunch of her clothes next week when we are in Indonesia and we can give them to her family.

We deleted a bunch of toiletries, although they aren't necessarily big or heavy. I think clothes was our main mistake. To be fair, we were in some colder climates early in our trip, and from here on our it should be pretty warm. Probably not the best planning on our part.

After we get rid of a bunch of Ivana's clothes, I'll let you know how light we've got. I am hoping for... maybe 30kgs? Oof that still sounds like a lot.

And thanks again everyone! Some good advice in here and we really appreciate it.

[ Edit: Edited on 05-Feb-2019, at 04:56 by JetlagWarriors ]

16. Posted by Andrew Mack (Travel Guru 1037 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Stuff like toiletries is such a personal thing.

I'm quite happy buying stuff like deodorant and toothpaste on the road but I usually actually take the small half used bits from home (and get replacements on the road) or spend a few minutes in the supermarket at home, trying to work out things like what the smallest and lightest roll-on to take. I know that for me using it is like fighting a losing battle because I'll be sweating buckets within moments of leaving the air-con, but it's habit...

Similarly I've found shaving oil comes in a tiny plastic bottle and I only use a tiny amount per shave and don't shave every day (although I should).
Shaving cream is also quite small compared to foam but still enormous compared to oil.

I haven't really travelled since cutting my hair really (I mean really!) short, so I'm not sure if I'll take my electric cutters on the next tour, or rely on local barbers every week+... Probably the later which will save a few lbs.
I do take a small container of medicated talcum (weighs nothing and is small - 75g and 10x4x4cm) for travel days when I have to wear trousers and shoes all day (rather than shorts sandals/flip-flops).

I found telling my wife (now ex) that she could only take bags that she could carry herself for at least 30 minutes, was a good way to ensure she didn't take too much (and yes I'd end up carrying them most of the time, but not every moment).

[ Edit: Edited on 05-Feb-2019, at 06:17 by Andrew Mack ]

17. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1277 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I'd get an extra long-sleeve shirt or two to protect yourself against biting insects and the sun. Most of the time I roll up my sleeves, except when biting insects are present in large quantities, such as in the shade and at dawn and dusk. Get shirts made of quick-dry synthetic fabric.

I prefer rolling down my sleeves instead of slathering on repellent. A Buff with repellent built in is perfect for hiking in rain forests, particularly when you stop and the insects begin to swarm around your head and neck. I also sometimes use it to protect my head from getting too much sun. I've used it hiking in the Himalayas when strong afternoon winds can easily blow off a hat or cap.

I almost always carry a pair of flip flops. They don't weigh much (especially the cheap ones) and they are useful when the places you stay aren't as sanitary as you'd like. But never hike in flip flops. Protect your feet as best you can. Injure them and they won't be forgiving. On my first trip overseas I rode a moped with flip flops and broke one of my toes on the pavement. Lesson learned.

I ditched t-shirts a long time ago; not as durable nor as versatile as polo shirts. One or two will do.

I discovered years ago that it always pays to look presentable, particularly when crossing borders. It also helps to smile and say hello.

I leave next month for six weeks in the South Pacific. Instead of water shoes I'll take a pair of sandals. They'll dry more quickly. I'll leave my flip flops at home this time.

Finally, microfiber cloths can help protect and clean your electronics, including cameras. I often travel in remote areas where there is significant dust, particularly on unimproved roads or tracks. Those cloths are invaluable. You can also use them to dry yourself. Heavy Duty Handi Wipes are good for that, too. You can reuse them many times. I carry one in my pocket to wipe sweat from my face in India and other warm and humid places.

18. Posted by Andrew Mack (Travel Guru 1037 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Quoting berner256

I'd get an extra long-sleeve shirt or two to protect yourself against biting insects and the sun.
I rode a moped with flip flops and broke one of my toes on the pavement. Lesson learned.
I ditched t-shirts a long time ago; not as durable nor as versatile as polo shirts. One or two will do.
I discovered years ago that it always pays to look presentable, particularly when crossing borders. It also helps to smile and say hello..

Long sleeves are also wise on long bike/moped rides, as it's easy to get sun burn on your arms then.

I agree completely about riding in flip-flops. An experience biker friend made that mistake years ago. Long story but the end result was he put a flip-flop foot down at less than 10kph (6mph) and the flip-flop gave him 0.25 of a second protection before it left his foot, so then it was layers of skin that did the rest of the job. He was in amazing pain for the rest of his holiday.

Most polo shirts are thicker than t-shirts, but if you do find some that are similar thickness then yes it's certainly worth using one or two instead of T-shirts (I've only one of them but keep checking the sales for another, even though I had shopping...).

19. Posted by MAd4travel (Respected Member 25 posts) 1y 2 Star this if you like it!

My partner an I have now been traveling for 3 years and now starting our 4th. We are young retired couple you could say. We’ve going to cold (artic, winter Canada) to hot weather. From western country to remote place in Asia, Africa our South America. Our bags is our home. Yes our electronics are an important part of our luggage. Laptop, iPad, SLR camera as my hoby is photography and binoculars. We self catered as much as we can and we added a couple of plates and bowl as well a simple cutlery. More stuff but this simple things not always easy to buy on country like Cuba or Laos for example. Anyway all of these details to say that underwares, sox T-Shirt are not really a packing problem. We keep our bag under 20kg as to never have a problem with air lines, and that include our hiking boots and rain jacket . As you go on with your travel you will probably shed stuff as se did. And maybe add some stuff that you find useful. Don’t stress too much about it and enjoy your travels.

20. Posted by JetlagWarriors (Full Member 42 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

We won't be flying for a few weeks, but our bags are MUCH lighter. I'll let you know the exact weights when we fly. Some great advice on toiletries in here, holding onto products that do double duty is great. Also reduced size of our shampoos and soaps. We can refill at hostels for the most part.

We've dumped a bunch of clothes. That was an easy fix. With 3 pairs of underpants it seems best to do 'shower laundry' every 3 days or so. We are making it work and getting much better at staying on top of things.

We are also reducing a bunch of our electronics. They make handled cameras with built in stabilizers now. Basically designed for vlogging. So we are going to get one of those and sell our massive stabilizer for our DSLR.

Will post in a couple weeks with our exact weight. You guys have easily saved me 5 or 7 kgs. We should be down to a combined 35... hopefully less.

Thanks again everyone!