Tips for Packing Light

When it comes to travel most people agree packing is not so fun. A holiday or work trip is hard enough to pack for but 2 years of travel, where does one even start?

We made it as easy as possible by asking ourselves the below questions. Once we answered each question and gave ourselves a guideline it was a bit easier to accept the idea of packing so little for 2 years and move forward with our final list.

What type of luggage do we want to bring?

This was an easy one for us – 1 roller carryon and 1 backpack each. Both of us prefer carryon luggage. Neither of us wants to pay the extra fees to check a bag or two. Also, we don’t like waiting for the luggage at arrival nor the fear that the checked bag(s) may not show up at our destination.

Our Luggage

What climates will we encounter during our travels?

No winter! We plan on traveling to countries during the Spring, Summer or Fall seasons only. Winter clothing takes up too much room. A light jacket and rain gear should be plenty for any cooler temperatures. Warmer weather equals smaller clothing, which in turn equals the ability to bring more choices (or so we thought).

Heather's Clothes

Heather’s Clothes

Matt's Clothes

Matt’s Clothes

Our Shoes
How many days do we prefer for our laundry cycle?

Usually, we opt for 7-10 days worth of clothing (underwear being the decision maker) before we HAVE to do laundry. We also need to consider some locations will have ample washing options and others will have only hand washing options, so the type of clothing and how fast they dry should be considered. We tried to pack lighter weight clothing with multiple mix and match options.

Aside from clothes, what do we consider absolute necessities?

Cameras, phones, laptops, chargers and plugs, eyeglasses, eye contacts for 2 years, saline solution, malaria medication, basic traveling medications, preferred toiletry items for each of us, passports, credit cards, and toothbrushes.

Our Electronics

Do we think we can find a particular item or similar for purchase on the trip?

I had to make the decision to either bring 2 years of eye contacts with me or try to purchase them along the way. I chose to bring a 2 year supply with me because I didn’t want to worry about the “what if” factor. We chose to bring a 6-month supply of malaria medicine with us instead of purchasing later in the trip. All these items are taking up a lot of luggage space, but knowing we don’t have to try to find and buy later has significantly cut down our anxiety. Shampoos, toothpaste, soaps, lotions, etc. can all be purchased as needed. If we decide to travel to an extremely remote place we will stock up just prior to departing to that location instead of carrying it all now.

The Toiletries

Putting the above to action was the next step. Both of us have different packing styles. I am an Excel spreadsheet fanatic and love to list all the items I want to bring and then dwindle the list down as I mix and match outfits and other items. I am usually packed a day or so before departure. Matt prefers to make “maybe” piles, ask me what he should bring and then pack it all in like a Tetris game as close to departure time as possible.

Whatever your packing style your objective is to make it all fit. The hardest part is thinking you may have to live without something you have accustomed to. Keep in mind the majority of basic items can be purchased in most places. If you are unsure reach out to your lodging location or local contacts and ask. 

So… did it all fit as planned?

We could have done better. We used packing cubes to help organize our clothing and compression bags to save on space, but we ended up with an extra duffle bag. Luckily, we haven’t had to pay any extra fees yet. Unfortunately, we will need to reorganize before leaving Rwanda and get down to 2 carry ons and 2 backpacks as we travel throughout Africa and beyond.

The Extra Bag

How do you think we did? Please share your packing tips with us by posting in the comments.

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