What to Pack When Traveling
Okay packing your bags. I experienced a lot of heartache from one simple problem that is so so so easily avoidable - I bet you can guess what it is. Go ahead, I’ll give you a second.
Overpacking. You can seriously ignore any other packing tips if you follow this rule: do not overpack! Bring only what is essential. And not “I want six different outfit choices” essential, think utility. A sweatshirt and maybe a flannel to keep you warm. One pair of jeans. One pair of dress pants (if you plan to interview for jobs). One pair of sneakers - you get the idea.
I truly wish somebody drilled this into my head before leaving because I overpacked. Kenyon and I both did really. Just to give you an idea:
- 10 Sweaters (for the very chilly Australia)
- 6 Sweatshirts (sweaters = formal, sweatshirts = casual)
- 15 Button-up shirts (conservative estimate)
- 4 Pairs of shoes (don’t ask Kenyon how many he brought)
- 20+ T-shirts (this is just getting ridiculous)
- 9 Pairs of pants (why)
- 10 Pairs of shorts (why)
- 6 Jackets (literally, why)
- 2 Bose speakers (1 portable, 1 not portable OF COURSE)
- 5 Bottles of cologne (???!)
- 4 Watches and other miscellaneous jewelry
- 7 Bathing suits (although I stand by this decision!)
I also brought other random personal items including unnecessary books, room decorations, stacks of photos, lotions - I could truly go on forever.
So we spent our first six months in Melbourne and everything was fine! We had a great set-up in our room, everything we “needed”, we were golden! But then we realized we wanted to move around. In other words, travel the East Coast for a month, move to Sydney for a couple months, move to Port Douglas so we can work to extend our visa, and in the future: move back to Sydney, live in Brisbane at some point, etc. etc. And I’m weak (physically), so there was no way I would be able to lug all of that around. So when we decided we wanted to leave Melbourne and begin moving around a lot more, I couldn’t really afford to send everything I wanted to home. So I downsized. A lot.
I arrived with:
- 2 Checked bags
- A giant suitcase (I don’t know the dimensions, but trust me it was big. And also overweight at the airport)
- A giant duffle bag (this might as well have been a second suitcase)
- 1 Smaller duffle bag for my carry-on
- 1 Backpack for my personal item
I left Melbourne to travel the East Coast with:
- 1 70L Backpack (for those of you unfamiliar - not that big, at least in comparison)
- 1 Regular backpack (not even 100% full!)
Essentially I could carry all of my belongings on my back (hence, backpacking). I seriously got rid of a lot of clothes and other miscellaneous items. Yes, it was mostly out of necessity and yes there are some items that will live on in my heart forever (looking at you gray knit French Connection sweater, RIP), and yes I probably COULD have sent some things home but it was honestly… kind of nice.
I began to realize that my identity didn’t lie in the *things* that I own. I was not my favorite French Connection sweater. I was not my five bottles of cologne. I was not my old jeans I’ve had for years. I simply owned those items and I didn’t need to base my identity in them. So it was hard at first, but by now I’ve forgotten 95% of the things I got rid of and I am truly and honestly happy for it.
Okay, didn’t mean to take this simple post about packing down the existential route but the point I’m trying to make is just don’t overpack. Bring what you need and what you need only. For example, my backpack contains somewhere along the lines of these items:
- 1 Sweatshirt
- 0 Sweaters
- 4 Button-ups
- 7 T-shirts
- 2 Pairs of pants
- 5 Pairs of shorts
- 2 Watches
- 5 Bathing suits
- 1 Pair of overalls (okay unnecessary, I know - but old habits die hard)
I recommend just keeping it simple and brining a few (1-3) of your favorite things in each category. The less you bring, the more mobile you are. And if you’re a delicate flower like I am when it comes to lugging things around, then it’s less you have to actually physically carry when you’re on the move. If you’re planning on going to a place, spending 3 months there, then going home, then sure. Bring your entire life. But if you are going to be traveling in any way, learn from my mistake and pack light. Oh! And roll your clothes! Do not fold, you can fit a lot more if you roll and it's a way easier way to keep everything organized.
Remember, these are just things. You’re not traveling so you can show people all around the world your things, you’re traveling so you can meet new people, explore different parts of the world, and have amazing experience. So pack light, be mobile, enjoy life not objects, and your things will all be there when you get back, I promise.
As always, if you have any questions about what you should/shouldn’t bring or any other comments, shoot us an email :)