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Written by Savi, 46 Comments

We’d definitely be rich if we had a penny for every time we were asked how we fit our lives in a suitcase each. Now we have friends who travel the world with a 7kg carry on bag and we also have friends who are happy to take 2 suitcases on a 10 day vacation.  The two of us are somewhere in the middle. Most airline tickets include a baggage allowance of 20-23 kgs, so we take 1 check-in bag weighing approximately 20 kgs. Both Vid and I carried 1 suitcase (check-in bag) and 1 backpack (carry on bag) each for the last 6-8 month leg of our round-the-world trip. Here’s all our luggage sitting pretty, ready for the next flight ;-):

 

Packing long term baggage
The luggage that accompanies us on our travels: 1 suitcase and 1 backpack each 🙂

 

A lot of you requested this post, so here we are sharing it with you. This is in no way a definitive guide – this is what we do and it works for us. Feel free to modify the list according to your travelling style and personality. For instance – we attend a lot of black-tie dinners if we’re travelling for work, so we need to carry dressy evening wear. Of course, you needn’t do that if you’re backpacking around the world for a year or two.

 

Here’s the only thing you need to know before you start packing for a long trip: You need to pack much less than you THINK you do!! Get creative and use the same item of clothing in different ways. For example I use this bright blue scarf as a sarong, picnic blanket, beach cover up, bandana, and warm scarf.

 

bohemian fashion packing for travelling round the world
The same scarf can be used as a beach cover up, picnic blanket, and scarf

 

bohemian fashion maxi dress
Get creative with the same garment – The same maxi dress, worn in 3 different ways, in Myanmar, Australia, and India

 

Travel fashion packing for a round the world trip
Same pair of shorts in two different ways in New Zealand and Poland

 

Onto what exactly is in our bags and suitcases :

 

HAND LUGGAGE

We carry 1 backpack each as hand luggage. I used to carry duffle bags or laptop cases on short trips away, but I find backpacks work well if you’re packing for a round-the-world trip or a long trip. Vid’s handbag is usually much heavier than mine because it houses all his camera gear. I usually carry a Pacsafe backpack, which includes a slash-proof ‘safe’ compartment. We put all our valuables like wallets and passports in that compartment.  It also has a dedicated laptop sleeve which comes in handy for my Macbook. It’s deceivingly spacious and comfortable to carry even when it’s stuffed to the brim 🙂 Here’s a list of items our handbags contain:

 

Savi’s Handbag:

  • Macbook
  • Books (I’m old school and kindles don’t do it for me!)
  • Sunglasses
  • Umbrella (always carry it but never end up using it. I like getting drenched in the rain!)
  • A blanket scarf for when it gets cold on flights.
  • Odds and ends including wet wipes, lip balm, and hand sanitisers, and chewing gum. These little things are all handy to have while travelling.
  • An iPod full of music – for road trips, long journeys, and flights.

 

Our Pacsafe backpack and the slash-proof sleeve/compartment
Our Pacsafe backpack and the slash-proof sleeve/compartment

 

Vid’s Handbag:

We have a detailed post on our photography essentials in case you want more information about Vid’s photography gear!

 

CHECK-IN LUGGAGE:

We carry 1 large suitcase each. Here’s a list of 6 essentials we usually split between our 2 suitcases

  1. Medicine kit: I have allergic bronchitis which usually rears its ugly head in humid weather, so I always carry quite a few inhalers with me. Other than that, it’s the usual suspects – anti-septic cream, pain killers, blister plasters, aspirin etc.
  2. Makeup and bits and bobs including a nail cutter, tweezers, scissors, safety pins, hair ties etc
  3. Toiletries: Shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, body lotion, mosquito repellent, sunscreens are a must especially if you intend on spending any time in warmer climes!
  4. Travel Iron: We need to attend quite a few formal dos on cruise ships etc while travelling, so we carry a small travel iron.
  5. Nutribullet: Once again, this isn’t a necessity but it’s an essential for us. We love our green smoothies and staying healthy on the go is our priority. We probably wouldn’t take our nutribullet with us on a holiday but since we’re travelling throughout the year, it comes with us 🙂 It comes in especially handy when we spend entire months in self- catering apartments in places like Ubud. We usually stay in comfortable hotels, so we don’t need to pack sleeping bags and towels. But it’s something you might want to pack, especially if you’re backpacking
  6. Snacks and essentials: We always carry a tuck bag to get us settled into a new place in case we get there at an odd time and can’t get to a supermarket or restaurant. The bag contains instant coffee sachets, salt, pepper, biscuits, granola bars or fruit, and a pocket knife. I also have some paper straws & disposable champagne glasses in this wee bag right now, but that’s just me! 🙂
  7. Coffee paraphernalia: If you’re a regular reader of Bruised Passports, you’d know by now that Vid is a BIG coffee geek. When we’re on the move, it’s very difficult to get good coffee (except for when you’re in Australia or New Zealand or Europe). Vid recently got a portable espresso machine called Handpresso and is chuffed with the coffee it produces on the go. You build the pressure in the machine (almost akin to a manual air pump) manually and put the coffee grounds and hot water and voila! delicious espresso ready in minutes. For the size, portability, and price, the Handpresso does a great job in producing a neat espresso.

 

Handpresso machine and tamper - love the colour and the coffee it makes
Handpresso machine and tamper – love the colour and the coffee it makes

 

Packing for a round the world trip
Toileteries and make-up bits and bobs go in 2 separate cases

 

Clothes, shoes, and accessories

While the 6 things listed above keep shuttling between our suitcases, Vid keeps his clothes and shoes in his suitcase and I keep my clothes and shoes in mine. This way they stay segregated and it’s just easier in the long run. Here’s what we pack in our suitcases:

 

  • Woollies: Of course this is dependent on the countries you intend to visit. We knew we would be visiting warm countries during these 6 months but New Zealand’s summer is a lot like European summer and things can turn pretty quickly. We usually carry just 1 down jacket each, 1-2 light jumpers, and thermals. This time around, we packed a couple of extra coats for variety because we knew we’d be filming with Discovery Channel in Taiwan.

 

  • Shoes: We carry 5 pairs of shoes each. These 5 pairs give us enough choice for all occasions, be it a day at the beach or a black-tie dinner. Of the 5, we packed 4 pairs of shoes and wore a pair to the airport.  I packed a pair of sneakers, black heels, my Nike sliders, casual sandals, and boots/loafers. Similarly Vid packed a pair of sneakers, formal suede loafers for evenings out, Puma flip flops, a pair of casual espadrilles, and loafers for everyday wear. Both of us wore sneakers to the airport to save space and weight. I’d love to show you my shoes but they’re beginning to look really knackered after 6 months on the road

 

packing for long term travel
Black boots go with everything – here they are with 3 very different outfits.

 

  • Accessories: Vid carries a few bracelets from our travels with him. My bohemian armoury – flower crowns, body stamps, jewellery, silver rings – comes everywhere with me.  I stuff everything into this travel-themed pouch. To be honest, I haven’t used a lot of the stuff in this bag, so I will definitely downsize my jewellery bag on the next leg of our trip.  I also pack a couple of clutch bags and 1 little satchel bag for days I want a li’l handbag.

 

I put all my jewellery in this travel-themed case I've had for ages
I put all my jewellery in this travel-themed case I’ve had for ages

 

Packing for a round the world trip
Toiletries, make-up bits and bobs, jewellery – Here are the 3 cases all packed up, ready to be put into my suitcase

 

  • Clothes

We’ve expressed our love for packing cubes plenty of times in the past, so I won’t say it again. But they truly our godsent if you’re packing for a long trip. They keep clothes segregated and make packing & unpacking as easy as it gets. We took 3 packing cubes each. Here’s what we put in them:

 

VID’S PACKING CUBES

  • Packing cube #1 – Underwear, swimwear, and gym wear
  • Packing cube #2 – Bottoms including 2 pairs of jeans (black and blue), 2 shorts (denim and khaki), linen trousers (white and olive green), and an array of flowy cotton trousers in greens, blues, and reds.
  • Packing cube #3 – Tops including 2 formal shirts (plain white and plain black), 5-6 casual shirts, and 5-6 tees.

 

SAVI’S PACKING CUBES

  • Packing Cube #1 Lingerie, swimwear, gym wear, and 2 scarves. We hit the gym and frequently go hiking while travelling, so sports bras are a must.
  • Packing Cube #2 Dresses and Kimonos: 2-3 formal dresses, 4-5 flowy maxi dresses, a couple of short tea dresses, and 3 kimonos. I love my kimonos and add them onto loads of outfits.
  • Packing Cube #3 Tops and bottoms: A selection of crop tops, longer flowy tops, tunics. I also took 2 pairs of shorts, 3 skirts, 3 flowy trousers, and 1 pair of distressed jeans. I packed about 20 odd items of clothing in this packing cube, so it got a tad heavy. Don’t forget to mix and match (see the photos below for some ideas). Also make sure you pack basics – tees in black and white are travel essentials. The same black top can go with so many different things. I wear the same black crop top with everything as you can see below:

 

packing for a round the world road trip
Finally 20 kilos – my fully-packed suitcase with packing cubes (left), toiletries, jewellery, shoes, bags, and woolies looks a bit like this

 

Close up of the
Close up – down-jacket and woollens on the left, shoes in individual bags, jewellery, clutch bags, toiletries, and other bits and bobs

 

packing for a round the world trip
Vid’s suitcase – uber-messy packing cubes (err..) on the right and nutribullet, medicine kit, my inhalers, woollens, and shoes on the left

 

Don’t forget to pack swimwear because you’ll need it wherever you go:

 

Packing for long term travel
1 hat, 6 different outfits in Latvia, Norway, Malaysia, and UK. Don’t overpack – the same accessory can go with so many things!

 

packing for a round the world trip
A basic black crop top goes with EVERYTHING!

 

With friends in Bali and London in the same jumpsuit - pack clothes you can wear over and over again for your round-the-world-trip
With friends in Bali and London in the same jumpsuit – pack clothes you can wear over and over again for your round-the-world-trip

 

Pack for travelling long term
Same striped dress on 4 different days in Taiwan, Latvia, and Estonia

 

That’s it – this is what we pack on our travels and it’s sufficient for us. What are your travel essential?

If you’d like to see our country specific packing guides and look-books, head over to our colourful Wears section 🙂

46 thoughts on “Packing for long-term travel

    1. Thanks a million Surabhi – we get so many questions about packing and hope this post will help someone out there packing light (and right!) 🙂

  1. Awesome Post 🙂

    I loved your idea of Re wearing the clothes at different locations.
    Most of the Bloggers these days are not real and end up giving a celebrity like feel with new clothes and accessories in every post.

    I am happy that you guys are keeping it realistic and life like all the time.
    Happy to follow you wanderers. Keep Moving 🙂 <3 🙂

    1. Thanks Neha – we really appreciate it. We don’t have the luxury of extensive wardrobes as we travel the world, so I just wanted to talk about the different ways in which the same items can be worn without ever getting boring 😀

  2. ooh myyy godd !!! that all is really helpful guys !! i mean very organised !!! i mean looking at savi in those mix and matched outfits rarely gives an idea of how organised she is !! 😀 but hats off !!! 🙂

    1. Thanks Kushagr – you’re right, it’s helpful to think about what goes into your suitcase before you embark on such a long trip. Both of us hate lugging around things we don’t need. Besides once we pack, we’re set for the next 6-8 months 🙂

  3. I can ‘t believe you take so much stuff!!! Our check in bags weigh about 10 kg even when we travel for 3 or 4 months! Each to their own I suppose!

    1. Hehe that’s awesome Helen. A couple of our friends get by without a check in bag at all! I could never do it 😉 We packed all this for an 8 month stretch and used 90% of the stuff. I’ll definitely lose the remaining 10% for our next leg of travel.

  4. I LOVE this post! I’ve been waiting for it from so long and it’s really so helpful.
    I’m a light packer. But I nearly always tend to skip out on the dressy clothes and end up at formal events looking slightly scruffy 🙁 But it’s brilliant how you guys have organised your packing! I am definitely going to take a leaf out of your books and take maxis with me. Looks like they are quite versatile!
    And that handpresso is just SO cute! I can imagine my coffee lover friend going gaga over it 🙂 I love my herbal tea so I just carry a variety of tea bags with me everywhere 🙂
    Savi, a request: I’d really love to know your list of favorite books and authors. Do a post on them sometime please 🙂

    1. Thanks Ramya.I randomly shove stuff into my suitcase when we’re off on a short trip but it really helps to be a bit more organised for a longish stretch of travelling 🙂 The Handpresso is adorable
      PS I’ll definitely pen a post of my favourite books and authors

  5. This is by far the best and the most comprehensive packing tips I have ever come across. I am one of those people who always pack (or feel the need to pack) thrice the amount of stuff they need. So I will definitely keep these tips handy for when I travel in the future!

    1. Hey Ritu – the impulse to overpack is only natural but it’s hard to lug around that unnecessary stuff isn’t it? Glad to hear we inspired you to pack light(er) for your next trip 🙂

  6. It’s the nice way the way you do things you look this so easy and casual approach.
    It will definately help those who are reading this post.
    Will be happy to meet u both at some point of life

  7. hey buddies even me is travelling freak and i have observed a lot common between us.me n my wife are leaving for thailand in july second week.please need tips for clothes,weather,packing plz ?

  8. wow , I must say a very well written – informative and useful that’s very rare to find on net 🙂 the tips for travel – clothing – food are the main ones and you guys have a great gallery of pics.Needed info on vietnam and cambodia trip that my friends gang will be going soon what are the best hacks if u r a veggie as those countries offer more of non veg food.

    Great going guys and load ur page and life with more travel experiences, enjoy 🙂

    1. Thanks a ton – we’re written tons about Vietnam and Cambodia – just hop over to the menu on the top left and choose the country you want to read about 🙂

  9. Hey Savy a quick question how do you both manage to take care of ur skin and hair when you always on the go. Could you please share an honest review on products that You personally use like Sunscreen, facial kits, Shampoo, condition etc.. That would be a great help

    1. Hi Swati,

      We haven’t really written a detailed review of the products we use. In terms of skincare, we make sure that we use a good quality sunscreen all the time (even when there is no sun) while travelling. Some of our favourites are Kiehl’s and Avene.

      We’ll try and write a detailed post as soon as possible 🙂

  10. A very helpful and great list, bookmarked!
    A query slightly off-the-topic, do you guys recommend any particular international travel insurance? If possible, please do write a post in detail about travel insurance as well. Thanks 🙂

    Cheers,
    Anu

  11. wow. that was really helpful. i always end up packing extra things on most of my trips. and I loved the idea of packing cubes.. i will order few for me 🙂

  12. Amazing write up! I loved the idea of packing cubes. when are you planning your trip to Hawaii and other South America region? I am planning a trip to Hawaii and would love to hear your experience before I go…

  13. hey guys, i’m a big admirer of you guys. that was one honest and helpful article.
    i just wanted to know where are you based out of? like where do you store the other clothes and any thing that you do not use presently.

  14. Very informative.
    What adapters and convertor plugs do you use? I see a ton of them online and get confused which to buy. Would be helpful if you could tell me what you guys use.

  15. This post is so helpful. I am by nature a perfectionist, and out of habit end up organising everything very neatly in my suitcase; however, no matter how much I try I am almost always left with so much stuff. I think I have a phobia of landing in some place with less stuff or forgotten stuff. That’s the reason I pack so much I guess. :/

    1. Hi Aditi, we too learnt it the tough way that less is better than more.Travelling light and in an organized manner, makes it way more easier than carrying heavy bags filled with stuff we might not even use on the trip.We are glad you found the post helpful and that you will be able to pack things in a better fashion now 🙂

  16. Hi Savi and Vid! Thank you so much for sharing your packing habits in details. Although I typically don’t travel for more than two months at a time, I use the same configuration of one 20kg suitcase + carry-on backpack. I was wondering if you ever encounter situations where wheeling around your large suitcase becomes a major hassle (due to e.g. rough paths)? Do you ever swap those suitcases for large backpacks depending on where you go? Usually this is not an issue for me as I mostly travel in cities, but I’m planning a trip to Colombia with a large amount of time in the countryside, and I’m wondering whether a swap for a backpack would be wise (although I always prefer suitcases for convenience and style reasons 😉

    1. Hey Pauline – we have! In fact we took backpacks that could be converted to strollers in South America too but didn’t end up using them too much after 🙂

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