Planning a trip but don’t know what to bring? Read on for my essential travel tips on how to pack for a long trip! This post includes the many tips for packing light that I’ve accumulated over the years. I even give you a real-life example of a packing list from my 2 month trip spent backpacking around Europe!
See that backpack in the photo below? It’s holding everything I need for the next two months!
Believe it or not, I used to be the WORST at overpacking. But I’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks over the past few years, and now I want to share them with you! Here are my most essential travel tips on how to pack for a long trip!
Clothing: How to Pack for a Long Trip
For clothing, my biggest tip is to choose pieces that are wrinkle-resistant, dry quickly, and (most importantly) are comfortable.
Especially for trips to warmer climates, skorts are my go-to for bottoms. I often find that they are more comfortable than just shorts, and they are also quite versatile and can be dressed up easily. I also love wearing skorts over leggings to give my capsule wardrobe some variety. And, of course, there’s the added benefit that you never have to worry about flashing anyone!
My favorite shoes for traveling are definitely my Olowahu Teva flip flops. These shoes are extremely comfortable even by my standards, and I can walk for hours in them! They can easily be dressed up or down – an essential when packing for a long trip, as shoes are often the biggest culprits when it comes to having a suitcase that is too heavy or full. I also bring a pair of athletic sneakers for all-day walking, which can also double as hiking shoes if they are good quality. If I have space, I try to bring some casual sneakers as my third pair of shoes. I like that they are sturdy enough to be comfortable when walking all day, but are more versatile for matching outfits than my Nike running shoes! Personally, I have found that Adidas and Vans are my favorite sneakers for the job.
Clothing: My Backpack
- Skorts – 4
- Leggings – 2
- Denim shorts – 1
- Skinny jeans – 1
- Athletic sneakers – 1
- Casual sneakers – 1
- Flip Flops – 1
- Peds – 7
- Hiking socks – 2
- Bras – 2
- Underwear – 7
- Tanks – 5
- Tops – 7
- Dress – 1
Toiletries: How to Pack for a Long Trip
My biggest advice for toiletries when packing for a long trip is to hit the travel-sized section of your local drug store. For example, my go-to items are the travel-sized toothbrushes, toothpastes, deodorants, sunscreens, shampoos and conditioners. My hair can be rather finicky, so I often choose to sacrifice a little space (if I can!) and pack mini shampoos and conditioners of my favorite brand. However, most toiletries can be purchased at your destination if your tight on space.
One thing to keep in mind, if you’re a lady, is that tampons are not available in all countries. This has to do with the way that virginity is viewed in local cultures. Pads are often still available, although this may not work if you plan on swimming! If you don’t have space in your suitcase for tampons, menstrual cups are a good alternative if you will have access to clean water to wash it with. I would recommend testing out a few different styles and brands before you leave on your trip to make sure that it fits properly!
For keeping your toothbrush clean and easily accessible, I recommend purchasing a brush cover with a suction cup (like these ones). I keep mine on the mirror of the bathroom when traveling and when at home!
Some airlines and airports are very picky about sharp toiletries such as nail clippers and scissors. If you are not checking a bag, I recommend buying folding travel scissors and a nail clipper without a nail file attachment. These are much less likely to be confiscated, saving you time and stress going through security! Razors can be trickier to get through security, so I tend to put mine in a checked bag, if possible, or buy one at my destination. As for bulky bottles of shaving cream, I’ve found that cheap conditioner works as an easy substitute.
Toiletries: My Backpack
- Makeup essentials
- Basic jewelry
- Mini toothbrush
- Mini toothpaste
- Nail clippers
- Menstrual cup
Travel Accessories: How to Pack for a Long Trip
Always, always travel with a first aid kit and, equally important, make sure you know how to use everything in it! Trust me on this one, I’ve definitely learned this the hard way! Also, depending on your destination, you will likely need adapters for charging your various electronic devices. The outlets and voltages vary widely depending on the country, so be sure to check what adapters you might need before you go. Personally, I recommend buying a universal adapter (like this one) which works in almost every country. This way, you don’t need to buy a new adapter for each trip and you save space in your luggage when traveling to multiple countries!
Travel pillows are a terrific invention, and I never go anywhere without mine. Although neck pillows are easy to find, my personal favorite is the Cocoon Air Core Pillow Hyperlight. It is shaped like a regular pillow but is inflatable, making it the perfect travel companion. It also has a removable cover that is soft on one side and waterproof on the other. This product is definitely one of the best travel-related purchases I’ve made!
Another fun and handy extra is a travel clothesline. These have a suction cup on each end to hang up pretty much anywhere. You don’t even need clothespins – just separate the two twisted pieces of bungee and tuck a corner of your clothing in between them! These are especially great when you have to pack for a long trip, as you can just wash your clothes in the sink and hang them up to dry in your room!
If you rely on guidebooks for traveling but need to pack for a long trip, I recommend investing in a kindle or downloading the kindle app on your iPad or other tablet. Most popular guidebooks, such as Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, Savvy Backpackers, Rick Steves, etc. are available in an identical kindle version. Not only are these versions lighter, they are also easier to navigate with the search functions and easy highlighting/bookmarking. In addition, kindles are a great investment if you love reading on the plane or train but don’t have space for lots of books!
Travel Accessories: My Backpack
One of my biggest tips on how to pack for a long trip is to but everything into plastic bags and compress out the air. Not only does this save a lot of space, but it also helps you stay organized! On this trip, I’m using one large, top-opening backpack with no compartments. I chose the bag for sentimental reasons (my mum used this bag when living in Spain the year before I was born!), but it is definitely not ideal for someone who likes to be organized. Luckily, all I had to do was separate my belongings by type into separate, Ziploc bags and push the air out. Now everything is visible, easily-accessible and compact!
And there you have it – how I managed to fit everything I need for two months into just one backpack! And the best part of it all? My bag fits in the overhead compartment of the plane, so no need to pay extra for a checked bag!
I always used to be the WORST at overpacking and never thought I’d be able to do something like this. But I’ve learned a lot over the past few years, and trust me, the tips above made all the difference. Now I’m proud to say that I can finally pack for a long trip!
Want More Tips?
Click here to read more of my essential travel tips!