November 2016

How to hack packing for long term travel

Over packing is the curse of long trips - the first time Mike and I went to Europe I went a little nuts with my clothes because I had never been away for so long and I just didn’t know what I needed.

I learnt my lesson and the second time round I pared my packing all the way back and I still think I could have taken less!

You want less, not more choice when you’re travelling. When you’re heading out every day for an adventure you won't be particularly interested in having endless choices for clothes.

Don’t panic though - I don’t think you should sacrifice style just so you can pack less clothes. It’s not about packing your track pants and sweatshirts - it’s about curating the nice clothes you already have so that you only take the bare essentials.

I’ve tried to make these tips as general as possible but ultimately these tips are based on my personal style + gender. So if you’re not keen on any of these tips feel free to disregard them.

What to pack

  • Only take one or two bottoms: Take your favourite pair of jeans and a pair of shorts or a skirt.

  • Pack a handful of tops: I would recommend prioritising comfort when making your choices

  • Flesh out: With dresses, an extra skirt, shorts or pants. Remember to only pack as much as you need either:

    • To last one week

    • To last between access to a laundry

  • Shoes: Only pack three pairs of shoes - MAX. On our last trip I took my boots, a pair of flats and a pair of fancy shoes because we were going out somewhere nice for Christmas.

How to pack

  • Roll your clothes: I know this sounds like one of those weird myths but you absolutely have less wrinkled clothes and let you pack more into less space.

  • Unpack when you get there: Regardless of how long you're spending in a place the easiest thing to do once you get to your accommodation is to unpack what you plan on wearing for the days that you’re there. It seems like more work but ultimately it saves you rummaging around and messing up your rolled clothes every morning. I love taking a bit of time when I arrive in a new place to unpack my clothes and also my toiletries, shoes and entertainment. Repacking takes a lot less time than you think and it really helps to make a place feel more like home and make you feel less like a guest.

  • Utilise packing cubes: I know packing cubes are going through a bit of a moment right now. There are lots of different packing cubes available but I just use large zip lock bags. I don't use them for my actual clothes which I'm happy to roll but I do use these bags for my underwear, jewellery and chargers/cables. It keeps things together rather than having them loose in your bag.  I also use different toiletry bags to separate my morning face routine, night face routine and make up.

  • Have a laundry bag: It seems so strange but when you're living out of a suitcase it's hard to remember where you're at in terms of clean clothes (particularly underwear). Having a laundry bag handy makes it easier to keep track of when you're starting to run out of clean clothes.

Photo courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo


The unofficial textbook on getting around when you travel

One of the biggest things to consider when you travel is how you're going to get around. That's what this post is hopefully going to help you with! It's divided into two parts. Part One is all about travel between countries and cities. Part Two further down looks at travel where you’re at your destination.

Part One

I absolutely recommend you book as much of your transport in advance - especially when you’re travelling between countries. It can really help things run smoothly when you’re there - particularly in avoiding issues with language barriers.

Planes

Choosing your airline should be based on one consideration - how long is your flight. For myself living in Australia most flights are lonngggggggg and so I have no problem going with a slightly more upmarket airline to get that little bit of extra comfort, nicer food and more entertainment options.

On the flip side for our short flights within Europe we took full advantage of the incredibly cheap options available. I didn't mind so much about getting the most comfortable flight available - instead I was much happier prioritising price. It blew my mind that we could fly (with baggage) from Rome to Athens for under $300 AUD for two people. 

Trains

Whenever you can - take the train. It really involves you in the country in a way flying doesn’t. Some of my favourite memories are of Mike and I flying through the countryside on a train - particularly in places like Switzerland where the scenery is ridiculously beautiful.

Feeling close to nature also makes time go so much faster than when you’re on a plane - there were multiple days where we were on a train for over 5 hours - and it never felt like a long time because you get more space, you get natural light and you can take coffee on the train without getting dirty looks from staff members.

Lastly trains are normally a lot more affordable than planes, and not nearly as cramped and uncomfortable as a bus.


Part Two

Public transport

In our last trip whenever we couldn’t walk we took public transport - to and from train stations, airports and on adventures out to ancient ruins. Amazingly this was less stressful than negotiating the language barriers and lack of local knowledge that comes with taking taxis.

Google Maps is really useful for working out public transport options - you just put in your location and your destination and it will suggest car, bike, walking and public transport routes for you.

Walk

Wherever and whenever you can - walk. It is the absolute best way to see a place. I am fascinated by the way people live and walking in cities really make me feel like I know a place compared to seeing it from the back of a taxi or a bus.

Obviously this isn’t always possible, but most cities are walk-able. Mike and I walked well over 12 km one day in Paris and it is absolutely why I fell so in love with the City of Lights. You will also see things you will would never otherwise have seen - foreign cities are full of things that are so familiar and yet so different to what you see every day.


But what about...

I'm yet to hire a car or use an Uber in a foreign country. I love Uber in Australia but I don't feel like I can give an opinion of using it as a transport method until I've used it somewhere unfamiliar. The same goes with hiring a car. 

Photo courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo