6 month packing list: what to take for long-term travel

A while back, I blogged about the benefits of packing light and travelling for six months with 5 kilos of hand luggage. Leaving Bolivia, we realised that we have managed to accumulate a few extra kilos of stuff, so before we move on we will be shedding some of it, as although our brilliant bags are sturdy and have so far taken everything we’ve thrown at them, they are not meant for schlepping tons of stuff around, and let’s face it, neither are we.

Here is what we left the UK with:

Ruth
1 pair combats
1 pair black leggings
1 pair denim shorts
1 hoodie
1 black cardi
1 merino wool long-sleeve top
4 tops – two vests, one baggy T-shirt, one tight top
1 large wrap – useful as skirt, sarong, dress, scarf
1 dress
1 swimsuit
3 bras; 7 pants
4 pairs walking socks
Footwear: walking boots, travel sandals, pair of flats

TIP: Make sure the things you take will mix and match. Sounds obvious but if you go with a set of colours that complement each other you’ll be able to throw anything on and look ok. I have gone for greens and purples as well as neutral colours like black, brown etc.

James:

1 pair combats
1 pair cutoffs
4 t-shirts
1 hoodie
1 merino wool long-sleeve top
2 button shirts – one long sleeve, one short
7 pairs walking socks
6 pants
1 pair swim shorts
1 microfibre towel
Footwear: walking boots, travel sandals
Smellies:
Lush solid shampoo/soap bar each
Toothbrushes and paste
Deodorants
Small bottle conditioner
Contact lens stuff
Moisturiser
Minimal makeup (waste of space, I’ve used it maybe four times!)

Other stuff:
Tech bits like iPod, phones and chargers etc

Things we’ve picked up along the way:

• Small budget laptop that was brought to me in Merida – I work freelance as a translator and proofreader, a job that provides great opportunities to balance work and travel. It has also been a great way to edit the website and keep in touch with family, and it weighs less than a kilo.

• One hat each, pair of cotton shorts and scruffy vest top that we bought for a few pesos to wear to Colorfest which we now use for lazing around in, and a warm jumper for me for the Andean evenings which has since been posted home.

• James was given a coat and a pair of jeans by our friends at Casa Suspendida in Mexico, as well as a couple of replacement t-shirts.

• Two headtorches as we accidentally left ours at home (silly). These came in handy for trekking and during pitch black evenings on our Uyuni Salt Flats tour, and we also use them as bedside/reading lamps when we’re in urban areas.

• We also picked up a small cotton daypack in artsy San Cris to carry drinks, snacks and jumpers etc.

We will happily get rid of anything but the hats if we run out of room.

Writing it out like this makes it seem like a lot of stuff, but it’s not really. If you use vacuum bags to pack your clothes and stay organised by dividing your stuff up into zip bags, it’s easy to throw things in your backpack and move around from one day to the next. Check out my previous post on the challenge of travelling long-term with hand-luggage only. I promise it’s easier than it seems, and having done it now, I can’t believe how much space, weight, and effort I was wasting carrying round all the crap I used to bring before. We are fans of slow travel anyway so we like to keep travel days to a minimum, but if you are living the nomadic lifestyle, packing light is definitely the way to go.

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