Anyone who has packed for a short trip will have some idea just how much more complicated packing for a long trip is. Longer trips are becoming more popular, with people often taking extended sabbaticals from work and travelling for several months at a time. Obviously, packing for such a long trip needs a very different approach to that used when packing for a two-week vacation.
Renting Out Your Home
Many long-term travellers like to supplement their income by letting their home while they’re away. A couple of favourite ways of doing this include taking the conventional route and offering a traditional six month let through a letting agent, or making the house available to holidaymakers through companies such as AirBnB.
If you’re planning to do this, you could make use of storage facilities to safely stow away those personal items you want to keep safe. You’ll need to leave the basics in the house to provide a home from home, but heirlooms, trinkets, photographs, expensive furniture and personal effects are all better packed away until you return.
Self storage is a better option than leaving items with friends or family if your trip is open-ended and you don’t want to impose. Companies offer flexible, ongoing terms and notice periods of just a week, while some offer boxes and packing supplies too.
Stay Regulation Aware
Checking customs regulations and airport weight allowances is now common practice amongst seasoned travellers. Most of us have learned the hard way that what’s allowed can change rapidly, and rechecking before every journey is vital to avoid fines or confiscations.
Careless packing can also get you into trouble when you’re globetrotting if you’re not aware of the customs regulations when you fly into a new country. Make it a habit to double-check immigration rules whenever you set off on a new leg of your journey and you’ll sail through customs without any delays or nasty surprises.
Some of the regulations can be quite obscure so don’t rely on your own ideas of what should or shouldn’t be allowed. New Zealand for instance, is very careful not to let foreign organisms enter the country so will even check your boots for mud. Lots of other countries are wary about letting travellers bring food items in, and even an innocent packet of nuts can get you into trouble in some places.
Pack (and Repack) for The Climate
Packing becomes more complicated if you plan to travel extensively and will encounter various different climates. Don’t make the mistake of packing for all eventualities, especially if you don’t want to carry too much. Arrange your route so the climate changes are gradual, and repack your bags each time you change destination. Discard items that are either too warm or too cold, and replace these with clothing that is more suitable.
It’s a good idea to keep running lists of necessary items for each climate in your journey. It will help you keep track of what you need next as well as providing a shopping list of items you need to buy. That way you won’t forget anything and find yourself in Siberia without a winter coat or on the beach without your suncream.
One of the very best tips is to pack for one or two weeks at the most, and do laundry often. Look for public launderettes in town or city centres; if you’re staying in a hotel, ask if they have a laundry service, and make full use of facilities at any campsites you stay at. Stay on top of it by not waiting until you have a full load, and you’ll never be stuck for something to wear.
General Packing Tips
- Don’t take too many pairs of shoes. Two is plenty. Choose a sturdy pair for hiking or sightseeing, and a lighter pair for evenings out or occasions that are more formal. If a visit to the beach is on your itinerary, you are allowed a pair of flip-flops as well as the two other pairs.
- Keep fabrics light. In cold climates it’s tempting to pack woollen items or heavy cottons. Swap these with polar fleeces which are much lighter but just as warm.
- Don’t pack lots of accessories, and make sure those you do pack serve more than one purpose. For instance, scarves or shawls can double as belts and beach wraps, and even towels at a pinch.
- Take only easy to launder items. Check the label for non-iron and wrinkle resistance.
- Don’t take valuable jewellery. You will be forever wondering if it’s safe. Far better to leave it at home and wear costume jewellery instead.
Taking a logical approach and resisting the urge to pack absolutely everything will, hopefully, mean you don’t need to hire a van to carry your luggage. And at the same time, you won’t be short of anything either.