Last year, we took some time out from saving and went travelling for around 5 months. It was a wonderful experience – too wonderful to put into words sometimes. It definitely had an impact on us in more ways than one and it’s something we hope to repeat again – before we reach financial independence. We could wait and travel all we like when we no longer need conventional jobs, however, life is for living and if we can afford to travel and take some time out on the journey to financial freedom, then we will grab that opportunity with both hands.
Travelling for an extended period of time meant we had to get smarter with our packing strategy. It’s been a constantly evolving process to become smarter packers. It’s learned behaviour to pack a lot, I think. Growing up, we both went on family holidays with the car bursting at the seams and suitcases strapped to the roof rack. For our 3 week honeymoon in 2011, we took 3 suitcases and a 50 litre backpack full of clothes. I literally had an outfit for every day and every evening of the honeymoon. I clearly didn’t think they had washing machines in other countries.
Suffice to say, we’ve slowly got better over the years and we’ve also made ourselves be better too. Neither of us really like packing or lugging our stuff around. That coupled with the trend of us liking to visit multiple places on trips, means generally a lot of moving around and lugging stuff. The prospect of a multi-month trip really spurred us into action and made us re-evaluate everything we knew about packing!
what we packed
Here’s a list of what clothes we packed
|Mrs NC||Mr NC|
|Walking shoes, pumps and flip flops||Walking shoes, flip flops and water shoes|
|Lightweight, waterproof jacket||Lightweight, waterproof jacket|
|7 pairs underwear & 2 pairs socks||7 pairs underwear & 2 pairs socks|
|Swimming costume & rash vest||Swimming shorts & rash vest|
|Walking trousers/shorts (detachable)||Walking trousers/shorts (detachable)|
|2 vest tops and 5 other tops||Cap|
And here’s the list of toiletries and other items
|Dental floss||Kindle x2|
|Shampoo/shower gel||Phone x2|
|Shaving oil||Headphones x2|
|Face cream||Charging cables for all electronics/2 travel plug adaptors|
|Deodorant x2||Anker power charger x2|
|Hand cream||DSLR camera|
|Sun lotion||Sunglasses x2|
|Lip balm||Document wallet (for passports etc)|
|Tinted moistuirser||Head torch x2|
|Body spray||Wet bag|
|Hairbrush and hair accessories||Day backpack for city sightseeing days|
|Vitamins||Reusable shopping bags|
|Nail clippers||Clothing line|
|Tweezers||Laundry detergent pods|
how we packed
We packed everything into a 50 litre and 35 litre backpack – the 35 litre doubled as our day hike bag when we needed it. I cannot recommend enough considering a backpack instead of a conventional suitcase when you travel – even for shorter breaks. It is so handy to have everything on your back – we found this especially to be the case in some of the places we visited in Europe that had small cobbly streets and lots of stairs. Even negotiating busy train stations was much easier with everything on your back. Backpacks are so cleverly designed too, with hip and chest support so your shoulders don’t take the brunt of the weight.
We utilised Eagle Creek compression packing cubes for our clothes, which I have to say are a-may-zing! We discovered packing cubes far too late in our travelling lives and only recently purchased our first set in December 2016. They were a game changer – I loved being able to organise and compartmentalise our clothes. We realised for this trip though, we would benefit hugely from compression cubes as a way to utilise every single last spare inch of packing space. Now I use them whenever we travel – even for weekend trips.
We have also used a small packing cube for our electronics cables, head torch, chargers, spare batteries etc. There’s nothing worse than having to organise all the wires that come with modern day life and this packing cube has saved my sanity. We also use velcro strips to tie our cables up as there’s nothing that irritates me more than tangled cables.
our first foray
Looking back, I think we did a good job of packing for a long trip. We are already planning, a second longer travelling stint and recently discussed what we’d do differently in terms of packing. And honestly, we didn’t come up with too much different. My biggest change I’d make is to not take a big a camera as our DSLR. We have the Canon EOS 550D and I honestly just found it a pain to carry around. We took way more photos on our phones and for our next trip, I’d like to invest in a smaller, more compact professional camera.
One of the hits of our trip, aside from our compression cubes was our stuff daypack that we used for city sightseeing. Knowing we already had bags on our back for travel days, we couldn’t really take a large, dedicated bag for those days where we were just cruising around cities, taking in the sights. So we bought a daypack that stuffs itself into a handy little carry case that we could pack in our main bag and use when needed.
It’s not the most extreme we could have been but our packing for this multi-month trip is the leanest we’ve ever gone for the longest we’ve ever been away, so I’ll consider that a win!