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 ;-):
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.
Onto what exactly is in our bags and suitcases :
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:
- Books (I’m old school and kindles don’t do it for me!)
- 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.
- Camera: Nikon D610
- Lenses: Nikon 28-300mm, Nikon 50mm , Nikon 18-35mm f3.5-4.5g, and Tamron 24-70mm f2.8(my current favourite)
- GoPro and Feiyu Tech gimbal (for stabilisation)
- Tripod: Manfrotto BeFree
- World Convertor plugs – don’t forget to take convertor plugs or you’ll have to go looking for the as soon as you reach a new place!
- Hard-disk drives, memory cards, and miscellaneous chords and cables
- Torch light
We have a detailed post on our photography essentials in case you want more information about Vid’s photography gear!
We carry 1 large suitcase each. Here’s a list of 6 essentials we usually split between our 2 suitcases
- 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.
- Makeup and bits and bobs including a nail cutter, tweezers, scissors, safety pins, hair ties etc
- Toiletries: Shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, body lotion, mosquito repellent, sunscreens are a must especially if you intend on spending any time in warmer climes!
- Travel Iron: We need to attend quite a few formal dos on cruise ships etc while travelling, so we carry a small travel iron.
- 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
- 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! 🙂
- 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.
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
- 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.
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:
Don’t forget to pack swimwear because you’ll need it wherever you go:
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 🙂