How to pack for a year abroad.

We’ve all been there: you’re about to leave for vacation or any kind of trip and just can’t get yourself to starting packing because you simply don’t know what to bring…and then we all end up taking 23 different outfits for 7 days but forget our toothpastes and passports. So what on earth are you supposed to do when leaving for not just a few days but weeks or months even?

After arriving in Bolivia, I decided to write down every single item I had taken with me to later rate each one based on their usefulness. I was actually saving this idea for my old blog but then never ended up working on the post. Now I’ve decided to go through with it as I’ve had a couple of people ask me about it and as I think it might be of use to anyone leaving their home for a limited but “long” amount of time, whether it be to travel, work, volunteer or whatever it is you’re doing. This list can be applied to any climate and is designed to leave you prepared for whatever adventures you’ll be taking on.

Here’s an exemplary packing list.

CLOTHES

  • 7-10 t-shirts
  • 4 tank tops
  • 3 long sleeve shirts
  • 2-3 sweaters/ hoodies
  • 1 fleece jacket
  • 1 waterproof jacket
  • 2-3 pairs of jeans/ pants
  • 1 pair of leggings (or sweat pants, whichever you prefer)
  • 1 pair of running or trekking pants
  • 1 pair of running shorts
  • 1-2 pairs of shorts
  • 1 dress
  • 1 nice top (if you’re not traveling but staying in one place you could always bring more)
  • underwear (about 15 pairs to avoid having to do laundry all the time)
  • 4 bras
  • 1 sports bra
  • 10 pairs of socks (if you’re staying in a warm climate mostly you’ll need less)
  • 1 scarf (for climatized bus rides or flights)
  • 1 hat/ cap
  • 1 pair of fuzzy socks (perfect for bus rides and long haul flights)
  • 1 bikini/ bathing suit

Depending on what country you’ll be spending most of your time in, you might want to adjust the number of short and long pants/ skirts/ dresses. If you already know you’ll only be in place with, say, tropical climate you’ll want to pack only one instead of three sweaters and vice versa. I myself brought way too many nice clothes that I barely ever ended up wearing although I lived in just one place and had a couple of occasions to dress up, but obviously that depends on what you’re doing abroad. And layer look is key. You can always bring less than all these items, but as I had to wash my laundry by hand I was happy I had taken a bit more so I didn’t have to do it every week.

If you’re not spending a lot of time in big cities and will be mostly adventuring in remote areas but still need to do some laundry, I recommend the Scrubba Wash Bag*. It’s perfect to take with you while traveling and doesn’t take up a lot of space in your backpack, but it is a little bit pricey if you want to make the investment.

SHOES

  • 1 pair of flip flops
  • 1 pair of sandals (or something)
  • 1 pair of sneakers (converse etc.)
  • 1 pair of sports shoes
  • 1 pair of trekking/ hiking shoes

Flip flops are an absolute must-have for me when traveling. I always use them in (questionably hygienic) hostel rooms and showers and will basically never take them off. Comfortable shoes are key. If you’re merely traveling, leave out the sandals and sneakers or sports shoes.

COSMETICS

  • deodorant
  • shower gel
  • shampoo
  • conditioner (if you’re a frizzy hair gal like me)
  • cleanser/ make-up wipes
  • make-up
  • moisturizer
  • body lotion
  • Aloe Vera gel (magic cure for your sun burn!!!)
  • lip balm (with SPF!)
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • sunscreen (lots of it.)
  • hair brush (the WetBrush* is an actual lifesaver)
  • razor
  • eye drops
  • soap/ hand sanitizer
  • NoBite*

These are just some very basic essential as everybody uses different products for their skin and hair care so feel free to add to it as you like or leave things out.

ETC.

  • travel detergent
  • tissues
  • 1 big towel
  • 1 small towel
  • mosquito net (optional)
  • fanny pack* (No, this is not a suggestion but 100% essential although, yes, very annoying. And I’m not talking one of these hipster ones.)
  • journal
  • writing utensiles
  • books
  • headphones
  • power bank
  • charger
  • camera
  • water bottle
  • purse and or small backpack (for short trips my Fjällräven Kånken* was perfect as it could fit my laptop and clothes for up to five days!)
  • sun glasses
  • phone
  • hair ties
  • nail scissors
  • wallet
  • passport

 

I hope this list was somewhat useful to you, if you’re interested in a print version to check off each item as you go feel free to let me know. As I’m leaving for Hong Kong tomorrow make sure to follow me on instagram (@flightsandfreeways) to check out what I’ll be up to before a post about the trip makes it on here.

It is so hard to leave until you leave, and then it is the easiest goddamn thing in the world.

John Green / Paper Towns

*Affiliate Links. All of these links are products that I honestly believe in, have tested myself and can recommend to you in good consciousness.

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