Packing for long term travel: some people leave it until the last minute, but I – of course, you probably guessed – spent months planning, researching, test-packing, and even in some cases, weighing every item for our trip.
You’re probably not shocked to hear that there were spreadsheets and diagrams (or maybe you are, in which case, let me assure you: there are always spreadsheets where I’m concerned. If this was Harry Potter, my patronus would be a spreadsheet).
So, if you’re wondering how to pack for long term travel, I should be able to give you all the answers, right?
Even though I researched, re-researched, read countless blog posts about packing for long term travel and background checked the authors of the Amazon reviews I trusted (ok, that last part is a mild exaggeration), there were bound to be mistakes.
It turns out that with all my research about what to pack for long term travel, I really wish I’d known what NOT to pack!
Learn from our mistakes – here are 10 of our packing regrets from our year-long trip.
Wish you could quit your job & travel?
Listen: it’s time to stop dreaming and start planning. My best-selling book, How to Quit Your Job & Travel, is a practical, step-by-step guide to one of the most exciting, exhilarating, and terrifying things you’ll ever do.
You’ll learn how to tackle each of the challenges of long-term travel, from finances to fear to returning to reality – and all the nitty-gritty logistics along the way. Ready to get started?
Psst, planning on traveling long term? Here are some of our other posts that might be helpful!
- 30 Things Nobody Tells You About Quitting Your Job To Travel
- How To Plan A Trip: The Ultimate Practical Travel Planning Guide
- How to Be a More Responsible Tourist
- How to Save Money for Travel (& How We Saved $30,000 for a Year-Long Trip)
Preparing for long-term travel is overwhelming. We’ve been there – and we want to help! We’ve created a printable Long Term Travel Checklist & Packing List to guide you through the process – and we’ll send you plenty of tips to help you plan (& soothe your anxiety).
What We Wish We Didn’t Pack For Long Term Travel
The worst part about packing for long term travel is that whatever you bring, you’re stuck with until you either toss it or shell out the money to mail it home.
We spent $100 mailing a box of unwanted stuff home 3 months into our trip.
Here’s what we wish we had left off our long term travel packing list!
One of my genius travel packing ideas was to bring our old smartphones instead of our shiny new latest-edition ones.
So each of us has an ancient old smartphone. Jeremy is carting around an ancient iPhone 4 and I have a dusty old Samsung Galaxy S3. In terms of the tech world, we’ve become my mom.
And although the phones have served the purposes of being easily unlocked and outfitted with foreign SIM cards from each country just fine, and we spend plenty of time browsing Instagram and Facebook like the carefree San Franciscans we once were, there are some major downsides to having such old phones.
For starters, mine has the battery power of an old sock. I’ll charge it for hours only for it to stay on for 10-minutes, and then die again with a puttery, exhausted sigh.
Jeremy didn’t want to shell out for a protective cover for such an old crappy phone, so of course on our first week of traveling, he dropped the thing on concrete and shattered the screen. We had to get him a protective screen just so he’d stop getting glass shards in his fingers.
And, both of our cameras are so bad that if we don’t feel comfortable getting out or fancy camera for a photo, too bad – all we can capture is a blurry Monet-esque impression of whatever we’re seeing.
But you know what the kicker is?
Everyone here has their own fancy smartphones already. We’re the gringo lame asses who have old tech!
Sure, nobody wants to steal our jank old phones, and we have some peace of mind knowing that if they DID steal them, it would kind of just be a relief at this point, but I think we would have been fine bringing our newer, spiffier phones (with protective casing, of course).
We were as, if not more, likely to get them stolen back at home than we are here.
Update: We did end up switching out our phones for nicer phones. Now we’re only 2 years behind everyone else instead of 5!
- Travel Tip: Don’t stress too much about bringing your fancy smartphone abroad. You’re as likely to get it stolen at home as you are while you travel. Just use basic safety precautions: Never use your phone while walking, on a busy street, or on a crowded bus or train. Duck behind a corner or into a shop to check your phone.
Universal Travel Adapters
We brought these big, chunky “Universal” travel adapters – 1 for each of us.
And they’ve been completely useless.
All the plugs in Colombia and Ecuador were standard US plugs, and the ones in Peru were all been special outlets that fit both European and US plugs.
Chile & Argentina required Australian plugs which our “Universal” adapters mysteriously didn’t have. And in Europe? The darn things were too big to use – they kept falling out of the outlets.
Turns out all we need is a tiny little $1 adapter that can be found literally everywhere.
There was no reason to buy a big, clunky one-size-doesn’t-fit-anything travel adapter in advance when it’s so easy to find smaller, cheaper, and easier to use versions at hostels and convenience stores!
- Travel Tip: Research online to make sure that travel plug adapters are actually necessary where you’re going. And remember that you can ALWAYS buy one at your destination, guaranteed to be the correct type!
At home, we both wear one of those old-school style Fitbits every single day.
We regularly participate in overly competitive walking challenges with our friends and colleagues, and do idiotic things like taking unnecessary trips to refill our coffee cups just to get extra steps.
So when we left for South America, I had big plans.
I was going to walk so much. I had dreams of beating everyone on my Fitbit friends list, especially that one douche who you KNOW has a desk job but somehow gets 20,000 steps every day (what’s your secret, bro? Treadmill desk?! Do you wake up at 5 am to walk to work every day? HOW ARE YOU DOING THIS?!?!)
So, when I was planning how to pack for a long trip, my Fitbit was the first thing I included!
But alas, it has been completely useless.
Transportation in South America is much bumpier than at home, so the stupid thing thinks that every bus, taxi, mototaxi, and horse I’m on is a huge hike.
I was beating all of my friends, but it was thanks to 12-hour overnight buses, not exercise. With so much bad data, the thing was useless, and it’s been relegated to our electronics case until we get home.
- Travel Tip: If you want to count your steps abroad, make sure that your Fitbit is properly configured to ignore bumpy bus rides and the like. The newer FitBits that count your heart rate are better (like this one), since obviously if I’m snoozing on a bus, I’m not running at 60 MPH.
Cable Lock & Security Wire
I spent a lot of sleepless nights before our trip worrying about theft, kidnapping, and various other anxiety-inducing worse case scenarios.
I’d find myself in Google holes filled with stories about people getting their bags stolen off buses, right from under their noses.
And so I stocked up on precautions: I bought us a bunch of these little locks to deter theft, including a super-heavy steel cable and lock. The idea was to tie our bags together and then to some sort of secure object, like a pole, to keep them from getting stolen.
This is great in theory, except that our bags are never sitting around or near a pole, nor are they ever sitting out somewhere far away from us to be at risk for theft.
They’re either on our backs, sitting at our feet, or locked away in a luggage compartment underneath a bus. So the cable lock was just unnecessary weight. We sent it home and have just been following basic security precautions instead.
So far, we’ve had 1 attempted and 0 successful thefts (though, to be fair, if we’d locked our bag to a chair, the thief wouldn’t have gotten very far and we wouldn’t have had to chase them through the streets of Ica, Peru to get our bag back. Hmmm).
- Travel Tip: Never let your bags out of your sight or out of your reach, even for a second. A cable lock and security wire is overkill as long as you’ve got a hand or an eye on your bag.
Eyeshadow and Bronzer
Yes, I brought makeup on a backpacking trip. It was one of the long term travel essentials I thought I couldn’t live without!
Don’t judge me – a year is a LONG time to go without looking your best, and I happen to love wearing and applying makeup.
Most of my makeup has actually been great. Except the eyeshadow and the bronzer. RIP. They both broke all over my makeup bag into a million pieces of powdery irritation within a week of leaving.
I shouldn’t really be surprised. When my bag isn’t being tossed into the trunk of a car, shoved underneath a bus, dragging on the ground behind a rickshaw, or being crushed beneath the weight of 1000 other backpacks in a hostel storage room, it’s being roughed up by yours truly.
Backpacks are made to withstand this kind of pressure. My delicate Clinique eyeshadow and Korres bronzer? Not so much.
Now when I want some eyeshadow to complete my ~look~, I have to sneak into a department store and use their makeup counters, pretending that I don’t speak Spanish to the irritated salespeople. Don’t be me.
- Travel Tip: Anything you bring can and will break. Leave your fancy but delicate makeup at home, and bring hardy, cream-based makeup for your trip. Revlon makes a cream eyeshadow that is affordable and very travel-friendly. For more recommendations, read my travel makeup beauty guide.
What We Wish We Packed
Half of knowing what not to pack for long term travel is actually packing the right stuff.
Well, we didn’t just pack things that we didn’t end up needing. We also missed some things that we really should’ve included in our packing list for long term travel!
Here’s what we wish we packed for our one year backpacking trip.
A full-sized travel towel
I bought us this ultralight, dinky, 12×18 inch piece of shit travel “towel” (more of a washcloth, really).
It doesn’t even cover one of my thighs at a time, much less the middle section of my body. It’s about as warm and cozy as wearing one sleeve (not a shirt or sweater with one sleeve. Just one sleeve). I can’t sit on it at the beach, unless I only want one half of my butt to be protected from the sand.
The thing is freaking worthless.
Know why I bought it? 8 ounces. 8 measly ounces that I wanted to save.
Apparently it was worth it to me to save 8oz in exchange for never being able to dry myself off and spending an outrageous amount of money on renting towels from hostels.
All I want in the world right now is a giant, full-sized travel towel, and to go back in time and smack myself in the face with my stupid tiny towel.
Update: We actually went out and bought a real, full sized towel and mailed our stupid travel towel home. Then we bought this regular sized travel towel, too. At this point, we’re carrying 2 full-sized towels, a pair of slippers, and a small bathrobe. That’s how angry I was at this stupid tiny travel towel.
- Travel Tip: A full-sized towel is a long term travel essential and is worth the splurge. There are plenty of compact, quick-drying travel towels in actual human sizes on the market, like this one.
More conditioner. Really good conditioner.
Travel is awful on my long, split-end prone, wavy/curly white girl hair.
From being dunked in saltwater to air-drying while crazily flying through the sea on a boat to my daily “screw it, messy bun” routine to being constantly washed with chemical-laden water, it’s being tested to the max and it’s failing those tests.
I was not blessed in the hair genetics department (unlike, apparently, every other girl I’ve met while we’ve been traveling, as well as everyone in South America in general).
I brought small travel-sized bottles of conditioner thinking I could buy some down here. Well, the conditioner down here sucks, and it’s expensive.
My guess is that, due to a freak genetic jackpot, none of the women in South America actually need conditioner.
Well, not me. My hair is high maintenance and demands nothing but the best, or it gives up and breaks off. RIP, good hair days.
Update: We’re currently carrying around full-sized bottles of my favorite conditioner and my hair is thanking me.
- Travel Tip: Know your hair. It will be at its worst while you travel and will need some extra pampering. Don’t skimp on high-quality conditioner, because – especially in South America – you can’t always find the good stuff abroad.
A Shampoo Bar
I’m dying for a shampoo bar to replace all of the little bottles of travel-sized shampoo we’ve got in our travel bags. We have about 18 times more shampoo bottles than conditioner bottles.
I’d like to replace them all with one, good, moisturizing, travel-friendly shampoo bar. And then ceremoniously destroy all these tiny, half-full bottles of shampoo and conditioner.
Update: We ran to the first Lush we found and loaded up on shampoo bars, and have since donated all of our tiny bottles to hostel bathrooms across the globe.
- Travel Tip: A shampoo bar in a tin will last for months, and will never bust open and spill all over your backpack or suitcase. These bars smell zesty, are made with all-natural ingredients and come as a pack with travel containers and conditioner bar, or find your favorite scent on Etsy (Coffee? Rosemary Mint? Lemongrass Peppermint? Mango?) Omg, I want one of each!
I may be practical to a freakish extreme, but I’m also stylish: I worked in the fashion industry before we left to go traveling, after all.
But sadly for my fashion sense, all of the clothes I bought are functional – few can be called cute.
I see so many travelers in cute flowy tops, sundresses, patterned shorts, linen rompers, and floppy hats – all so impractical, but so cute. Meanwhile, I’m constantly wearing quick-dry performance hiking clothes and borrowing my husband’s shirts (you know, for that over-sized “boyfriend look.” Except not cute).
I underestimated how much I would miss being able to dress up a little bit.
I’d like to exchange a few of my functional but ugly tops for something impractical but fashionable. I have exactly 1 pair of cute & multi-functional travel jeans (which, by the way, I’m obsessed with – take a look at these pocket-blessed stretchy heaven pants), which I live in, but not enough cute tops!
Update: We totally bought ourselves some cute new clothes. Now we only wear our performance travel clothes for hikes and outdoor activities, like normal people.
- Travel Tip: Functional travel clothes are great, but make sure your packing list for long term travel includes a balance of cute and functional clothes so you don’t spend your whole trip hiding from cameras and feeling like a schlub. The longer your trip, the more important it will be to have the option to change things up sometimes.
One thing we didn’t screw up? Our shoes! We each brought 4 pairs and had 0 regrets. Read about our favorite travel shoes for men & travel shoes for women.
The final item we wish we had included on our long term travel packing list – a second computer!
We brought one teeny, tiny, super lightweight travel-friendly Chromebook, thinking we’d switch off working on the blog or writing while the other one read or journalled or meditated or practiced calligraphy or did yoga or whatever things we assumed we would suddenly develop an interest in while traveling (spoilers: none of that happened).
In reality, one of us hogs the laptop while the other sadly looks at their to-do list and feels unproductive.
If we had two computers, we could both be productive at the same time, which would also have the effect of doubling the amount of work we could do on the blog. We’ve been kicking ourselves for not realizing this before we left.
Update: We actually gave in and bought an inexpensive computer in Lima. It’s WOO brand, whatever that is. Most of the keys are mislabeled. Everything is in Spanish. We were desperate.
- Travel Tip: If you’re traveling in a couple or group, make sure there is equal access to the internet. This is even more important if you have a blog or an online job. You will need more than one computer! That said, it doesn’t have to be fancy. We love our tiny, lightweight little Chromebook but if we could go back in time we’d probably bring a Macbook Air, too.
So those are the 10 mistakes we made while packing for long term travel. We’re still learning as we go and we hope you don’t make the same mistakes we did!
Need some help packing for your next adventure? We’ve created 5FREE Printable Packing Lists with everything you need to plan your next trip. We’ll also send our favorite travel tips straight to your inbox! Just sign up below.
Have you ever arrived somewhere only to realize you’ve made some packing mistakes? Tell us in the comments!
Psst, planning on traveling long term? Here are some of our other posts that might be helpful!
- 30 Things No One Tells You About Backpacking in South America
- 21 Travel Safety Tips: How To Protect Yourself While Traveling
- The Ultimate Packing List: 43 Must-Have Travel Items
- How to Be a More Responsible Tourist
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Our Top Travel Tips & Resources
- Booking Flights: To score flight deals, search on Google Flights or Kayak. Money-saving tips: fly mid-week or on the weekend; fly carry-on only on a budget airline; and take red-eyes or early morning flights.
- Accommodations: We usually stay in budget-friendly vacation rentals, boutique hotels or private rooms in hostels. We use Booking.com to book hotels (we love their flexible cancellation policy) and Hostelworld to book hostels (low deposit, easy change/cancellation, and excellent reviews). For vacation rentals, we prefer to book using VRBO because they've got lower fees and better support than Airbnb, and we're not fans of Airbnb's unethical track record. You can also book vacation rentals on Expedia and Hotels.com. We also use TrustedHousesitters as both hosts (for our home and our fur-child) and travelers!
- Travel Insurance: We always, always, ALWAYS buy travel insurance for international trips, and we STRONGLY suggest it - visit our Travel Insurance Guide to find out why. We recommend either World Nomads or SafetyWing for international travel insurance. SafetyWing is one of the few policies that covers Covid-19, and they have excellent monthly policies that are perfect for Digital Nomads and long term travelers!
- Travel Credit Card: We book all of our trips on our favorite travel credit card. Not only do we earn cash back that we can spend on more travel, but the card offers fantastic travel perks like travel insurance, trip delay and cancellation coverage, lost baggage reimbursement, and rental car coverage, which helps protect us on our travels. Learn more here.
- Vaccines & Meds: We use the travel guides on the CDC website to research recommended medications and vaccines for international trips. We always recommend getting every vaccine recommended by the CDC! You can get them at your primary care doctor's office or a walk-in pharmacy.
- Tours: We love booking guided tours, especially food tours and walking tours, to get a local's perspective and a history lesson while sight-seeing! We book our tours using Viator and GetYourGuide.
- Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to figure out how to get from place to place, and book local transportation online using Bookaway wherever we can. When we book a rental car, we use DiscoverCars to compare rental companies and find the best deal.
- Luggage Storage: Whenever we're checking out early or taking advantage of a long layover, we use LuggageHero to safely store our luggage while we're running around. Use the code PRACTICALW for 2 hours of free luggage storage on us.
- VPN Service: A VPN keeps your digital information (like website login details, bank info, etc) safe, even when you're connected to an unsecured network while traveling. Plus, it lets you use Netflix & other streaming sites abroad! We use NordVPN. Use the code WANDERLUSTPROMO when you sign up!
- What to Pack: Here are the travel essentials that we bring on every trip. We also have packing lists for hot weather, cold weather, and many more. Take a look at all of our packing guides!
What a fabulous post. I’m reading all of your back catalogue now Very entertaining, so thanks for the time & effort you put into these. SO wish I’d found your blog before leaving the U.K. as I’ve packed a few ill advised things for South America! Successes are cond & poo bars (natural), HUGE leave in conditioner (Percy Reed wonder balm, little goes a long way) big gel too (super curly dry frizzy hair) & full travel towel & comfy white trainers, sustainable (hylo). Haven’t tried barefoot shoes yet, I’m 55, so not sure my diminishing foot pads will take it? The rest is shockingly bad! Heavy chunky walking boots which I only wear to travel to the next destination so I’m not carrying them! Sandals that kill my feet, no cute clothes, clunky universal adapter, a thick long raincoat (not worn) & twice the size of my husbands pak-a-mac, full medical kit because access to a pharmacy might be tricky (literally one on every corner), powder makeup etc. I laugh at myself daily! Curious as to where you posted stuff home from? Colombia to U.K. for my boots is $350 US dollars equivalent, yikes! I may have to donate them. Happy travels
Great information and VERY entertaining. Thanks.
Mary Asselin says
What are the best instant coffee brands?
One more comment, on the cute clothes suggestion. I’ll say this; don’t worry about “ruining” them (like a swimsuit in the ocean). That is their purpose! I used to “save” particular clothes that I didn’t want to “wear out” on trips and realized, “Hello! THIS IS WHY YOU BOUGHT THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE! IT’S CUTE! WEAR IT!”
Mary Asselin says
I love this post. We have made several month-long trips and found similar suggestions. I ALWAYS bring make up and RARELY wear it. Check! I find I MUST have an AMPLE supply of Conditioner – as like said, you won’t find it anywhere else. Check! Clunking adapter – unnecessary – found that to be true too. Check! Never heard of a shampoo bar. Love this idea. I will bring hairties, clips, bobby pins, using them to secure other items to save space – but bring plenty because they are easily lost or misplaced, or the ocean rusts out any metal ones worn in the water. I usually bring two pairs of sandals – one cheapo flipflops for beachwear, and one secure variety – like that has straps and rubber bottoms for hiking on rougher surfaces. I should’ve read all the posts, but a small medical kit / sewing kits with needles is absolutely wonderful to have in case of accidents. It sure is easier to go to your own kit than try to find a pharmacist who only speaks Spanish to try to explain what you need. I found that for dresses, I believe it’s lycra, a nylon knit fabric, is lightweight, easily folded to close to nothing, doesn’t wrinkle, and they are so versatile. Took several dresses like this on a cruise and could wear over a bathing suit to beach as well as down to dinner. Using same dress looked appropriate for the setting. We also use a travel credit card – Capital One as there are no transaction fees for withdrawing foreign currency – and I also set up periodic bank transfers so I know expenses are covered.
I have found that Bar-none shampoo and conditioner bars are THE best. Long ship time from Australia to USA but totally worth it. You can also buy small square “soap holder” type travel containers. Amazingly they sell some wonderful “reusable” food storage bags in a variety of sizes that are thicker than regular sandwich ziploc type bags and can be washed and reused if something leaks. My best find has been Compression packing cubes. I’ve had the regular type which are fabulous but the compression type are a game changer for size restrictions in luggage. If folded correctly to prevent too may wrinkles I can fit two shorts, two leggings, a pair of jeans, two tshirts, two tank tops and four pairs of socks in one bag that when fully zipped is about 3” by 8” by 6”. Amazing for backpack storage
Black travel plus sized woman here. I always pack a ponytail and hair elastics if I don’t wear my hair cornrowed or with braids or twists. I tend to overpack makeup, so I try to keep it to one kit that has eyeshadow, blush and brow powder. I do subscribe to beauty boxes and take a lot of those mini creams and tubes and throw them away as I travel. I also bring those fragrance samples and oil in a roll on. I would add incense and a lighter or matches to freshen a room or defunk a bathroom. I also bring those instant coffee packets and splenda in a baggie and an insulated mug or tumbler. I buy my liquor duty free when I arrive and use the tumbler to put it in and then only buy mixers or juice which saves on alcohol costs. If you aren’t sure there will be a toilet, wear depends, they actually fit like panties and have gel that absorbs your pee and won’t leak (like pads). Also, disposable wipes which are good for cleaning hands, wiping sweat, wiping other areas and removing makeup.
Lia Garcia says
These are fantastically helpful tips, many of which I hadn’t even considered! (Depends: brilliant.) Thanks so much, Michelle!
Tim Scottious says
Love the tips! Thanks for sharing it!
The towel bit made me laugh so hard!! Because I did the exact same thing… My tiny towel was soaked by the time I finished drying my head! A fun read and way too relatable 🙂
Lia Garcia says
Bahahahah at least we’re not the only ones who made that mistake 😛
Just a late random comment, I always put my chair leg through my bag strap, slows down any snatch and go thefts. If no chair I always put my leg through the strap. I also gave up on the cable lock, it looks like you have something to steal.
Lia Garcia says
I do this too! Both at home and when I’m traveling. I’ve seen too many people put their laptop bag down in a crowded bar in San Francisco and quickly had it stolen right out from under them.
Kelsey Cetin says
Seriously, this article was amazing and made me laugh. It was a really unique way to look at how to pack- thinking about what NOT to bring! For me, my first time traveling long-term, I brought way too many things that I didn’t need that I could have just bought where I was going. I was kind of a brat and wanted all of my favorite products. It ended up not being necessary. Thanks for sharing!
Absolutely loved this post! Cute clothes is definitely a big one! I still look around enviously at so many of the girls walking around in their flowy dresses and impractical but adorable footwear. I did the same thing as you though and definitely picked up some clothes along the way to fill out my wardrobe!
Ahhh this was SUCH a great read. I literally laughed out loud to myself reading this. I am definitely keen to read more of you stuff. We are hoping to do some long term travel next year and these tips are great. So glad I stumbled upon this on Pinterest. Now to find and read your blog ☺️
Great tips! With 4 girls in our family, we totally need shampoo bars & loads of conditioner. Everyone keeps saying you can buy it when you get there but I was worried that it wouldn’t be the stuff we need. Thanks for the practical advice. I’m so packing good conditioner now!
Just discovered your blog and could not be more grateful! Your tips are so realistic and helpful. It’s been a long time since I did a several month long backpacking trip and will be about a year before I go again (plan is Mexico and Central) but your blog has made me so excited and already wanting to get myself organised even though I am soooo far off going (nothing even remotely booked yet :P) . Bookmarking everything I read!
Not the most useful comment but just wanted to say thanks!
Lia Garcia says
You’re so sweet! Comments like this ARE super useful because they feed my ego and make me feel good which in turn helps me to create more content and not spiral into an existential crisis. VERY HELPFUL, thank you Julia 🙂
PS I’m roughly 8 months behind on my Mexico & Costa Rica content, sooooo sorry about that, maybe I’ll actually get it published before your trip 😛
Akshay Koranne says
Nice one Lia! Most of the times it happens with me that I forget things that should have been packed and then end up spending money over it. Specially winter cloths and tooth brush. Feels weird but true :-).
Lia Garcia says
OMG yes. It’s so tempting to skip big, bulky winter clothes. But then we end up having to buy them when we arrive and we’re FREEZING! This is how we ended up with 3 alpaca sweaters in chilly Peru 😛
Great packing tips on what’s really important and necessary to keep you comfy while traveling. I’m always so amazed adventurous travelers who contain all their “stuff” in a single back back. Although, I’ve managed 2-3 wks. in a carry-on and 3 months (2 seasons) in similar space camping, I could never manage with only a backpack.
My one tip to offer: try Lysee Denim straight leg pants for travel….these are the best for dressing up or hiking. The 8% spandex makes them extremely comfy, never wrinkled and pair nicely with everything from tees, tunics and your husbands oversize shirts!
Sorry this is almost year late but the reason most of those ladies have lushious locks and no conditioner is because they use natural conditioners. In my family, we use 100% extra virgin coconut oil. A penny size amount for midback length hair is more than enough. In America, they usually have some in the beauty departments of drug stores and are designed for head to toe use as a moisturizer and for hair. Of course, depending on what you prefer, you can also hit up a grocery store for some coconut oil. I don’t think I would fully skip the conditioner like my aunties do but it would definitely be a good investment especially since it can last a year if you use it right!
That’s so good to know! I use EVOO and Coconut Oil on my hair usually after I shower, but I’ve found it’s too heavy for my hair if I use it as conditioner. It weighs it down and ends up looking oily. I think some hair types respond much better to it!
Totally agree with the conditioner! As a curly haired woman, it’s so hard to find a conditioner my hair likes and I use so much of it so I always take a huge bottle of conditioner with me. Other travellers who have these little travel bottles look at my massive bottle askew, which is always a giggle.
Love this post! I am crying because I’m laughing so hard! This is me to a tee!
Lisa Dean says
I love that you are so down to earth and give honest opinions. I am taking my husband to Graspop in Belgium this year. After he read your blog (s), he now agrees with most of my suggestions ( I am a seasoned traveler). Also, I have learned a couple of great tips too! Thank you!
Hahah I’m glad that we were able to help you convince him (although hopefully from now on he’ll start listening to you)!
I really like your fashion tips, particularly the ones about bringing a mix of functional but also pretty clothing, and also avoiding bringing powder products that may crumble. Great blog!
Thank you! I’m so glad our tips were useful!
joanne reynolds says
I have just returned from our holiday having forgotten to pack my make up bag!!!! So unlike me – like you I am a planner and had a list!!!! I managed to get hold of an eyeliner and it turns out that was all I needed! I will remember this in future. I always take a multi socket extension lead – that way we can charge / use multiple items off one socket. I completely understand the need for feminine clothes – I usually pick up some cheap dresses from local markets and leave them when I’m due to come home! For me, comfortable shoes are a must – have spent so much time with achy feet because I had inappropriate footwear – has anyone else tried walking through a Costa Rican rain forest in a pair of flip flop????? What was I thinking!!!!!!!!
OMG I can totally relate to ALL of this! We’ve made so many, many mistakes along the way. Every small success we’ve had in travel has been paved with about a zillion complete screwups and failures 😛
Everyone tells you not to take Jeans, I live in my jeans at home don’t understand whilst travelling I suddenly wouldn’t. That meant on my year travels got envious glances in pretty much every hostel when I got them out to wear.
I absolutely agree! Bring your favorite pair of jeans from home – but at the same time, you should be prepared for them to be absolutely ruined by the end of your travels. Nothing puts holes in your clothes and ruins a new pair of shoes like long term travel!
I brought 4 pairs of Jeans for 3 month’s in Italy last summer and wore one pair out 1 night. Its crazy, but jeans were the biggest waste and they are so heavy! I am only bringing my favorite pair this year and only because I will be traveling to places where the weather will be a little cooler
Lia Garcia says
I totally feel you! I only travel with 1 pair of jeans ever now, and I wear them constantly. I wrote a whole post about them because I love them so much, actually – take a look.
I’m so glad I read your blog before I leave for my long vacation. I’ve already packed the things that I shouldn’t pack and my luggage feels much lighter. Thanks for the great blog
I’m so happy to help! Have a blast on your trip!
Great article! I always take a eyeshadow stick with me and it works great!
Clothes-wise…I always take comfortable, simple clothes and usually miss a cute top or something. Lesson for next time.
Ooh an eyeshadow stick sounds like a good idea! I’m currently using some Revlon Cream eyeshadow and it works okay, but I’m looking for a better solution.
The part about the fitbit made me laugh! Must have been off the charts after a 12 hour bus ride.
I straight up *forgot* to bring a towel when I first went traveling, and I had no idea where to buy one. I wound up finding an outdoor/camping store and purchasing this super compact micro fiber nonsense that was like $40 (NZD). It was tiny, like yours, and would dry one arm before being totally soaked. Needless to say, I was pretty happy to trade it in for a nice big fluffy bath towel once I found it!
I’m glad we’re not the only ones who neglected their towel! If this was the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe, we’d be breaking the main rule 😛
This is awesome! I think I lol-ed a bit when you suffered ‘powdery irritation’ from your eyeshadow breaking all over your toiletries bag. I’ve SO been there with face powder! It’s one of those things where you can never get your pre-trip packing right because you have no idea what you’ll face on the road. Thankfully you can usually pick up the bits you need!
The Dame Intl says
Oh I totally relate to this list! I just spent 3 weeks in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica and while my big clunky travel adaptor did come in handy (TWO USB points thank you!) I too wish I had brought a REAL TOWEL, ALL the conditioner and actually for me, cute cycling shorts to minimise the “chub rub” between my thick highs!
Oh girl I feel you so hard, I brought like 4 pairs of spandex shorts AND some bodyglide. Chub rub is no joke, especially with all the walking we do while travelling!
I am totally with you on ‘bringing some nice clothes’. We always pack as if we’re going to be in the forest all the time, but the thing is, most of the time you are in the city where people can see you and more so, the pictures! When I look at the pictures after, I always wish I was bringing nicer clothes and spent some time looking in the mirror, especially since they will be all over your blog 😀
Taylor's Tracks says
It’s always so hard to know what to bring until you actually go! I’m moving to Australia and will then be traveling, and the idea of having to pack for a year has me freaking out!
The good news is, for the most part you can buy most of what you need abroad (although I don’t like to)! We ended up buying some clothes, a new laptop, and about 85 different types of conditioner abroad 😛 Still, it’s so much easier if you just magically pack everything perfectly, isn’t it?
Thanks for this. Definitely some things to keep in mind as we prepare for long term travel next year. Your blog also does a great job of luring people in to read more!
Thank you! Your trip sounds super exciting! And I’m so glad to hear you say that, because we’ve been working really hard at it 😛 it’s so difficult to keep readers from leaving after just one article!
Oh, I wish I had taken a Fitbit or some kind of thing that counts steps on our trip around the world! God, my stats would have been through the roof! Opposed to now, when sitting at my desk the entire day, barely making it to 3,000.
I totally feel you on the cute clothes part. I have whined about my ugly quick dry travel clothes at least once a day for the entire 1 year trip! (Exaggerated just a little.) EVERYONE looked cute all the time, me never. Golden tip to pack a combination of cute and functional clothes!
Right?! Plus when running a travel blog it doesn’t help that without cute clothes, all of the pictures of me staring wistfully off into the distance are ruined by my lime green workout pants or whatever. Sigh.
Stacey Gilkes says
Great tips here! I’m a pretty low maintainence traveller and definitely plan a packing list months in advance!
A fellow planner! It’s funny how packing so little (in theory) takes so much planning and research (in practice). Like, if I’m only packing 2 pairs of pants, they have to be THE best pants in the universe, which requires so much thought and effort. It’s almost easier to just pack more and call it a day 😛
Jennifer Harvey says
THANK YOU! I’m heading to South America (Colombia/Peru/Bolivia) from the UK in a few weeks time and am not known for my light packing, or packing anything remotely useful, but I know I must do on this trip. Your tips are invaluable, especially about hair products, as this is what stresses me out the most travelling anywhere…as I too suffer with frizzy/wavy/unruly hair! Have a fantastic time in Europe (where you can actually find decent conditioner, at cheap prices!).
I’m so glad this is helpful! We’re working on getting a full post out about the best things we DID end up packing, hopefully that will be helpful too 🙂
The hair thing- I SO understand. I swear I have the worst natural hair in the world. It naturally looks like Monica from Friends’s hair when they go to Barbados, but not only in humidity it’s just like that all the time! (Though humidity obviously does NOT help) I backpacked Europe and I bought a straightener- you gotta do what you gotta do when everyone else apparently has gorgeous perfect beach waves 24/7 with zero effort!
OMG a fellow sufferer! haha. I totally bought a tiny travel straightener to take on the next leg of our trip, in Europe 😡 don’t judge me!