“A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a fabulous pair of shoes”
How many times have you looked inside your full closet and said out loud “I have NOTHING to wear”?
Well, imagine having to pack 6 months of long-term travelling adventure worth of clothes in one backpack, and making sure you have enough outfits to look good and feel confident every single day on the road. It is difficult but definitely doable. How do I know? Because I have been doing it for the past year.
First of all, it is important to understand that it is just simply impossible to wear perfectly coordinated designer outfits from top to toe with matching heals every day when you are on the road. (Unless you’re Mariah Carrey. If you are, then HI MARIAH!!)
Nevertheless, you can pack a limited amount of clothes to keep yourself cute enough for your Instagram posts, and comfortable enough to enjoy long-term travelling. You should also know to be resourceful and practice some minimalism techniques to move around easily while not having to wear the same thing every day as well. Following are some of the tricks, tips, and habits that worked for me. I hope you find them just as useful!
What to Wear!
This is usually the most difficult part to pack when it comes to long-term travel. Checking off essentials is easy, but choosing what you will be wearing for the next few months can be fun and quite stressful at the same time. A rule of thumb that I usually follow when I travel for over a month is always packing enough clothes for 10 days.
I become very detailed in my packing, and make sure I can mix and match everything that I pack. I also make sure to include both monochrome and colourful pieces so that you can pair up the same top of the bottom with a few different colours and black and white pieces making many different ensembles.
This is generally what I pack for South and South East Asia
- 5 Tank tops/t-shirts
- 2 cardigans
- 3 pairs of shorts
- 1 long-sleeved plaid shirt
- 3-5 pairs of soft leggings
- 2 pairs of long pants/jeans
- 2 skirts (long and short)
- 2 summer dresses
- 1-2 shawls
- 1 sarong (multipurpose)
- 3 pairs of socks
- 2 pairs of shoes
- 1 pair of sandals/slippers
- 8-10 pairs of underwear
- 3 regular bras and 1 sports bra
I keep my colour palette mostly pastels and monochrome since it has always been my go-to theme. It is easy to mix and match with simple colours and add a pop of drama with an accessory or a shawl around your shoulder. Remember that you can always buy cheap clothing from the countries you are travelling to.
Personally, when I do happen to buy new clothes, I tend to donate or leave a few pieces of old clothing before I move to a different place. That way I can keep my backpack light while adding more colour and patterns to my clothing.
Depending on where you are travelling, you have to add special clothing like swimwear, jackets, trekking gear, hiking boots etc. Above is a very general packing list for somewhere with a hot climate.
Everybody wants to look good when they travel! Packing some minimal makeup in my carry on is something that I have always done. A little red lip and mascara can add a whole lot of confidence to your mind especially when you are travelling for longer terms without a lot of luxury around you. Following are some of the beauty/cosmetic items that I always keep in my backpack.
These are my preferred brands and items that I cannot replace easily in another country. For example, I am not too specific on the brand of shampoo I use, and I always buy it from where I am travelling to rather than carrying it with me. Following are however my must-have items. After all, you need to always look good for your Instagram – and keep glowing and healthy skin!
- Moisturizing Sunscreen with 30+ SPF
- Tinted moisturizer
- 2 Matte Liquid Lipsticks – Red and Nude in colour
- Liquid eyeliner (For that fierce cat eye!)
- Eyelash curler and a pair of tweezers
- Leave-on conditioner
- Moisturizing body lotion
- Dry shampoo
Now that you are dressed well and wearing simple yet pretty makeup making you look your best, you need to make sure that you are happy and healthy from the inside too. This is why you need a first aid kit with basic medicine and necessities that you can use in an emergency situation. You are away from your home and your support system.
It is your responsibility to always keep yourself ready in case you have to face a sprain, a headache, diarrhoea or any other health problems that are very common to happen especially when on long-term travelling. Following are the basics you keep in your first air kind in your backpack just in case.
- Tablets for constipation
- Tablets for diarrhoea
- Anti-bacterial balm, cream
- Sanitary items
Once you cover the basics and destination-specific items, there are practical things that you can pack which may not seem much at first but will save you from a lot of grief when you travel. Following are some of the things that I personally love to keep with myself for some extra safety and comfort.
These are cloth containers that come in different sizes, helping you organize what is in your backpack or the suitcase. When a backpack is fully packed, taking something important out during an emergency can be quite difficult. With packing cubes, you can separate the items into manageable categories and pack them safely in a way that is easier for you to recognize and remove whenever needed. I like to put little labels on them for extra convenience.
A messenger bag
Keeping all the valuables in your backpack can be risky especially if you are travelling alone. While we like to think that everywhere is safe, there can be thieves in places that you would not even dream of sometimes. Keep a separate bag to keep your valuables, important documents, and your cards and keep it close to you at all times.
That way even when your backpack is stolen or broken into, you will not lose the most important things. However, do not keep all the valuable things in your messenger bag as well. Get some copies of your important travel documents and conceal them in a place that a thief is not likely to look, like a hidden pocket in your backpack.
Last but not least, always keep one or more padlocks with you when you have to keep your things in a locker or you want to add an extra level of security to a door. Thieves may still attempt to steal, but the most you can do is to make it more difficult for them!