As I’ve been getting ready to traipse through South America, Europe and Asia, the number one question I’ve gotten over the last few months is:
How are you packing for a year?
I wish I could say I have it all figured out, but I don’t. What I do know is that as I write this on my first flight of this adventure, my checked bag is (hopefully) sitting safely below me, and my travel backpack is in the overhead bin. Neither was oversize or overweight, which I count as an accomplishment.
With that, here are some notables from my packing list:
- Clothes: luckily, most of our climates are temperate. I’ve got 2 pairs of jeans, a few pairs of light pants, a lot of tank tops/tshirts, a couple dresses, and 6 pairs of shoes + flip flops. I have some light sweaters, some recently acquired Uniqlo Heat Tech long-sleeve shirts, my leather jacket (because I can’t live without it for a year, not because it’s practical), and an ultra-light down jacket. And, at the recommendation of the Remote Year group that left before us, a lot of underwear…
- Tech: I have my work stuff: computer, portable laptop stand, foldable travel keyboard, mouse. Then there’s my unlocked cell phone, a new travel-proof (i.e. waterproof, shockproof) camera, a new Kindle (I know I’ll miss the feel of paper books…), a gifted checked bag tracker (saving me a lot of anxiety already), and extra headphones. Also brought adapters of all kinds and an outlet splitter.
- Miscellaneous: I’m not joking when I say I think I have 5 lbs of medicine. Between vitamins, just-in-case antibiotics, prescriptions, all kinds of fun stuff for stomach ailments (since I plan on eating everything), and first aid supplies, I think I’m set to get dropped on a deserted island for a year. Probably overly cautious on this one, but you’re welcome, Mom! Then I’ve got a mini tea kettle, because I can’t live without tea and don’t know that every place will have a kitchen. Also packing a travel yoga mat, travel microfiber towels, a Lifestraw bottle, a last-minute SteriPen (thanks to my protective boyfriend), toiletries (since I stick to natural products, this is a big question mark I have about living abroad, cable locks to keep my stuff safe, my Badass Backpack (more on this later)… Starting off better safe than sorry, and hoping to find coconut oil everywhere I go!).
All of this is in a 30” spinner suitcase, a carry-on size backpack by Rick Steves (if you don’t know him, get his guidebook next time you’re doing a Eurotrip), and a purse.
Believe it or not, packing was one of my lowest priority tasks. I spent a lot of time handling other logistics like…
- Subleasing my apartment
- Visas (just Bolivia for now, though I’ll need Turkey and Vietnam as well)
- Vaccines (Yellow Fever, Hep A, Typhoid)
- Doctor’s appointments
- Medical insurance
- Travel-friendly credit cards and bank accounts
- Figuring out what to do with my cell phone (best guide I found here)
- Last minute thinking about how to get my family access to my assets in the event that something bad happens. Morbid, but important to think about (and ideally not on the last day before you leave).
I’m sure I haven’t thought of everything, which is driving my Type A brain crazy, but luckily, I’m traveling to places where I’ll be able to buy almost everything I use at home. I’ll provide an update in a few months on what I wish I knew now.