Packing for a long trip can seem like a daunting task, but it’s certainly not impossible nor do you need to include your entire closet. In fact, you can pack light enough for carry-on only travel, which comes in handy if you’re visiting many places during your trip. Traveling for more than a month? These 8 essential packing tips for long term travel are for you.
8 Packing Tips for a Long Trip
I’ve traveled to over 19 countries and 34 states. Through my travels, I’ve learned to pack light and I’ve passed my tips onto my kids as well. We all travel with carry-on bags even for extended travel. With these packing tips, you will be traveling like an expert in no time.
8. Is carry-on travel an option for you?
There are pros and cons to traveling with carry-on luggage. It can be a hassle to carry all of your bags, but it’s not nearly as stressful as showing up at your destination WITHOUT your bags. If you are changing planes or taking a lot of flights, carry-on may be the best option. If you have only one non-stop flight, checking bags may be a fine choice. Give careful consideration to what will work best for your family.
Join our NEW Facebook Community: Making Travel Easier. We promise to always tell you what we would tell our best friend -- what works for kids, what doesn’t and what you need to know before you go to have the Best. Family. Vacation. Ever. Our group of travel experts are ready to answer your travel questions!
7. Consider your destination and activities
Pack only the clothes you will use based on the activities you’ll be doing on your trip. If you’re exploring cities, perhaps a more fashionable wardrobe with a rolling suitcase will work for you. If you’ll be hitting the great outdoors with hikes, biking, etc, activewear and backpack may be a better option. Take a look at the weather forecast for your destination. Weather.com is a good resource. Since you won’t see the weather for your entire trip, research the average climate for the dates of your travel.
6. Edit your wardrobe
There is often a wide gap between what you THINK you need and what you ACTUALLY need. Each of my family members takes a turn laying out their clothes. Then I challenge them to cut the wardrobe in half. One week’s worth of clothes should be all you need. Just plan to do laundry at least once every 5-7 days. Having clothes you can hand wash that dry quickly can help you pack even lighter.
TravelingMom Tip: Check out this Ultimate Packing List for Family.
5. Don’t overpack shoes
Shoes can be the biggest challenge for a long term trip. Choose versatile shoes that match your clothing choices. I always pack no more than 3 pairs.
- Sneakers or hiking shoes
- Sandals (warm climate), Boots (cold climate)
- Dressy flats
4. Use Organizational Tools
My top choice is packing cubes. These cubes help compress clothing as well as keep your bag organized. I typically divide my cubes by clothing type like bottoms, tops, undergarments, etc. A great option for families is to have different color cubes for each family member. Smaller cosmetic or zip lock bags are good for organizing electronic accessories like power cords, chargers, adapters, etc. I also love a hanging toiletry bag.
3. Roll your clothes
A friend of mine taught me this trick when we were in college. Rolling your clothes not only saves space but helps minimize wrinkling. It helps the kids pack their own stuff as they think rolling clothes is way more fun than folding!
2. Keep your valuables close.
Remember the saying “Don’t leave home without it?” These are the items you absolutely do not want to lose. Especially if you are checking your bag, keep all valuables and anything you might need during your flight in your carry on. Even if we are carrying on luggage, we typically have many of these items in our smaller, under-the-seat bag.
- Travel documents/tickets/Passport
- Medications/motion sickness remedies
- camera equipment
- fine jewelry (although I advise leaving this at home and traveling with costume jewelry instead)
1. Give your stuff a road test.
If at all possible, finish packing nearly everything you’ll need a few days before you travel. This gives you the opportunity to test it out before you leave.
If it’s too heavy carrying it around the house or rolling it down the driveway, it will be much worse in the airport or through a busy train station. It’s time to lighten up! There are likely still a few items that can stay home.
Packed any full-size bottles of shampoo, lotion, etc? Ditch them for travel size containers and buy a few items along the way.
Have you been on a long term trip? We would love to hear how you packed for your family!