Packing for a trip is often difficult. You don’t want to over pack, but you also don’t want to leave home without the essentials. Things get even more complicated when you’ll be traveling for an extended period, especially through multiple climates and for different activities. You will never be able to carry all the things that could come in handy so you need to be very selective.
What you need to pack will vary based on whether you’re doing a multi-city luxury trip, backpacking off the grid or trying something in between. You’ll need to consider the temperature, weather, places you’ll eat and the activities you plan to do. However, this list applies to many situations and you can modify it to suit your needs as you prepare to travel.
Regardless of what you decide to pack, you will need to keep your items organized and easily accessible. Packing cubes compress your clothes and allow you to separate them into neat bundles. You can simply remove them from your suitcase and place them in the hotel room dresser for convenience. Cubes can also be used to separate your clean clothes and your dirty items until you get a chance to do laundry on the road. Make sure to purchase packing cubes which are both lightweight and durable.
Clothing makes up the bulk of most people’s luggage. When you’re packing for a long trip, you need to take clothing that can be worn in a variety of situations. You may be going on adventures during the day then out to dinner at night so you need pieces that can be dressed up or down. If you’ll be dealing with varying temperatures, having items you can layer is essential. Clothing which protects you from the sun or repels mosquitoes can also be very helpful.
If you take prescription medication, pack it along with the prescription from your doctor or the label on the bottle or package. You may need a refill along the way, and you may also need to prove you have a legitimate prescription to border security.
Contacts and Glasses
It is a good idea to take all the contact lenses you will need for the time you will be away. In many destinations, you may be able to pick up contact lenses solution when you need it so you don’t need to pack this in bulk. However, you should pack your glasses as well as the prescription for them just in case something happens. If you really can’t see without assistance, you don’t want to be left without at least one visual aid.
First Aid Kit
If you’ll be staying in hotels or luxury hostels, you don’t need to pack a full kit. A few painkillers, bandages, and antihistamines should be enough for emergency situations. However, if you’ll be camping or road tripping through a remote area, you’ll need more supplies. Rehydration salts, anti-diarrhea meds, and antibiotic ointment are good to have. You still don’t need to load up too much. If you get seriously ill, you will need to go to the hospital.
If you’re staying in hostels or campgrounds, you may need your own towel. You definitely don’t want to get stuck without one. Grab one of the microfiber varieties which will dry quickly and take up less space than the fluffy alternative. If you’re really short on space, a strong or large scarf will work just fine and can serve multiple purposes.
Liquids aren’t only an issue when you’re going through airport security. They also add extra weight to your bags, and they can be messy. Luckily, there are lots of solid options available. You can purchase dry shampoo as well as solid toothpaste, perfume, sunscreen, and laundry detergent. These are very convenient for long trips.
Water Bottle and Purifier
You’ll be warned about drinking tap water in many places around the globe. However, the money you spend on bottled water can add up quickly and all those bottles generate waste. Pack a reusable water bottle with a filter instead or purchase a separate purifier to ensure you have clean, tasty water at all times.
Universal Power Adapter and Converter
Long trips often involve moving between countries or even continents. This means you may need multiple power adapters. A universal adapter brings them all together in one device. You may want to purchase two since it is likely you will lose one along the way. If the voltage is different, you’ll also need a converter if you don’t want to fry your devices.
Your technological needs will depend on whether you plan to work on the road. However, many travelers will need something larger than a phone if they will be away for some time. Decide whether you need to take a laptop, hard drive, and USB readers or if a simple tablet is enough.
Many travelers rely on electronic devices for communication, navigation, currency conversion, and even translation. If you need technology to survive, a dead battery is the last thing you want. To stay connected, pack a power bank so you can charge your phone, tablet, and other small devices on the go. They come in especially handy in emergencies.
You’ll need to keep a close eye on your cash and cards. Travelers are vulnerable to pickpockets in crowded train stations and airports as well as on buses and around tourist attractions. As your trip goes on, you may begin to let down your guard. It is best to keep your money and cards as close to your body as possible. Pack a money belt so you can hide your valuables away from people who are up to no good. Many modern money belts are stylish and they look like a regular belt, so you won’t look out of the place. Some include RFID blockers to protect you from identity theft. You shouldn’t travel without the peace of mind these small items offer.
No matter how you’re traveling or where you’re staying, it’s a good idea to lock your suitcases. Using a TSA-approved lock doesn’t remove all the risks but it definitely deters opportunistic thieves. A travel lock can also be used to keep your bag’s zippers together to prevent things from falling out in-transit. You’ll also want to keep your suitcase locked if you’re staying in a hostel or traveling on a packed bus.
It is challenging to determine what to pack for a long trip. However, you just need to focus on the essentials. You can usually pick up any other items you need along the way. Even if you don’t get exactly what you use at home, you’ll find something which does the trick. Travel is all about trying new things so embrace the local products!
Ben Brown is the owner of The Prepping Guide. Involved in Military for many years and write about Personal Security, Preparedness, Prepping, Survival, Self-Sufficiency, and Readiness for Safety, both Physically and Digitally.