What Do I Even Need to Bring?

***Extras -American Apparel grey skirt

-Black cotton dress

-2 bikinis

Yes, I packed a pair of heels. No, I definitely do not regret packing them. I also hiked through parts of Patagonia and was headed to Africa, so I was definitely planning to head out of major cities for long periods.

But now back to you: you're going to be living out of a limited set of clothing and personal items for a long, LONG time. You've only now started to process that. Now what?

For me, I needed to pack a bag that would get me through seven months and potentially for a year. So, the question I asked, and many people have asked me, how the heck does one pack for a trip this long? Seriously, it's not that big of a deal.

The first question has nothing to do with how long you are gone. You do not need to bring 60 pairs of underwear if you are travelling for two months. Um... washing machines? Instead, think about the types of climates are you visiting. What time of year are you going? What activities will you be doing? You certainly don't need a perfect itinerary--I only had a one way ticket and one week's worth of accommodation booked on the day I left, and the accommodation was another person's doing. That said, you should have a general sense of what you would like to do or otherwise be very open to changing your plans. Or buying stuff. You have a bottomless wallet, don't you?

I didn't plan on skiing or doing anything that involved extreme cold weather, so ski pants could stay out. Sticking to mostly warm climates, I was planning on doing some hiking in questionable weather, so wool thermals and hiking pants were definitely being packed. Planning a trip through warm/mild weather is obviously preferable: clothes are lighter, smaller, and dry much more quickly after washing.

What size backpack? Well, considering my towering height at 5' (1.52m) and excessive mass of 110lb (50kg), I was going to use one of the smallest of the 'bigger' backpacks out there: NorthFace Terra 45L. Most people travel with 65-75L, and I've met many that travelled with 85 and 100L (it was a female) backpacks. In addition to the big pack, I brought a smaller Under Armour daypack.

The Big Pack
I bought mine from Paragon Sports in Manhattan a couple of years ago. I like it and it worked fine, but a future bag for this type of trip will have a bigger side zip.
The Small Pack
Mine was in black/lime green and I believe it was from a discount store...purchased 12 minutes before leaving for the airport. No pressure.

Clothing took up less than half of my total pack volume, so think about the electronics and other daily necessities that you might have (covered next post).

***4 Pairs of pants (or trousers)
- Old Navy jeans (I can't knock this brand anymore--petite!)
     -Rockstar Super Skinny fit like a custom made glove
-F21 black leggings
-EMS trekking Pants
-IceBreaker base layer

***4 Shorts
 -No name grey (I didn't have these after 2 weeks, gave them away
 -Aeropostale khaki -Under Armour running shorts
 -Black cotton shorts

***5 Long Sleeve Tops
-Old Navy yellow/grey striped cotton
-Mango beige cotton
- 2 IceBreaker base layers (one ultralight and one lightweight)- Cardigan

***10 Short Sleeve Tops
 -4 H&M/cotton tank tops
 -3 t-shirts (including INY) -Distressed tank top
 -Zara polkadot dress top
 -Zara beige dress top

***2 Outerwear
 -Eddie Baur rain jacket
 -Craft zip running jacket

 -American Apparel grey skirt
-Black cotton dress
-2 bikinis

-5 cotton ankle socks
-2 Icebreaker wool ankle socks
-Linen scarf
-Water resistant gloves
-Sarong/"beach towel"

***6 Pairs of Shoes
 -2 Ballet flats
 -Haviana flippies
 -Timberland boots (chucked these in the end...12 years strong. Don't knock them, I am likely to buy the same pair again.)
 -Black pumps
 -NB Sneaks (new colors suck now)
Many things cut out of picture

So you see that yellow thing near the upper left corner of the picture? That is a compression sack
* I have the medium one in the yellow and the best thing about this little guy is that it is also waterproof. Excellente.

*Inspiration came from LegalNomads

All of that... compresed to this:

The picture lies: I fit 6 of the items pictured into the sack before I left 

Clothing items I bought/picked up along the way:
  • Ballet flats (#3)
  • Bikinis
  • Men's XL fleece (it was longer than a dress)
  • Dress
  • Zara Blazer
And I still had space. The bottom line is that you want clothing items that will wash and dry easily (time is not always your friend) and that are reasonably durable (cashmere sweater, I don't think so). For me, that meant getting used to the idea that jeans were going to be a necessity. And despite the fact that they are diffiult to try and do take up space, jeans are an EXCELLENT way to blend into the crowd, dress up or down, and get massive points for durability.

Next post covers non-clothing packing items.

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