What to Pack When You Travel Long-Term

Hello, hola, vγεια σας, zdravo, ciao!!! Some links in this and other articles on this website may be affiliate links. This means that I get a small commission if you choose to make a purchase. ~ Daisy

Imagine that the only thing you’ll have access to for at least a year is the stuff you can put in a couple of suitcases and a backpack. What on earth would you bring? How do you narrow it down? Here’s how I chose what to bring wandering with me.

Deciding What Clothes to Bring

What do you wear on a trip that will last indefinitely? My wardrobe has to handle multiple seasons and modesty requirements, be comfortable, be durable, and be cute. Sorry, but Instagram.

I bought 2 sets of these compression packing cubes, a hanging toiletry bag, and a jewelry case to keep things from getting jumbled and tangled.

I ended up not using the toiletry bag and only using half of the packing cubes.

You would be stunned at how much stuff you can pack into compression cubes. I really never thought it would all fit, but here I am, ready to go. I’m going mostly with clothing that has a bit of stretch in case my weight changes either a) from all the good food I’ll be eating or b) from all the walking I’ll be doing. Plus, stretchy stuff doesn’t wrinkle, it’s easy to wash and hang dry, and it’s lighter (and more comfortable) than a whole bunch of blue jeans.

I’m doing a capsule-type wardrobe where things can mix and match. The colors are pink, green, gray, and black. This way my purses and shoes can all work with everything. I’m more of a dress/skirt gal than a pants gal. Remember, when you think “Holy cow, Daisy sure doesn’t pack light!” that this is a year-round wardrobe for an indefinite time period.

  • 4 pairs of leggings (These can work as pants, PJs, or an extra layer under other clothes in the winter.)
  • 2 pairs of black pants (Can you ever have too many black pants?)
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 2 black maxi skirts
  • 9 dresses (soft, stretchy cotton: 1 black, 2 gray, 1 olive green, and 5 patterned)
  • 7 plain short-sleeved t-shirts (4 black, 1 pink, 1 gray)
  • 3 plain long-sleeved t-shirts (1 black, 1 gray, 1 pink, 1 green)
  • 2 graphic print t-shirts
  • 1 flannel shirt
  • 2 dressy shirts
  • 1 pair of sweatpants
  • 1 cashmere sweater
  • 2 black cardigans (1 slim-fitting, 1 long and loose)
  • 1 long winter coat
  • 1 fall/winter jacket
  • 1 light water-resistant spring jacket
  • 1 pair of Nikes
  • 1 pair of Merrell hiking boots
  • 1 pair of Skechers flats
  • 1 pair of sandals
  • 1 pair short boots
  • 1 pair of tall boots
  • 1 pair of heels
  • Socks, undies, and jammies (2 summer and 1 winter)
  • 1 purse
  • An assortment of scarves, pashminas, and gloves
  • 2 winter hats

This all fits surprisingly well into my compression cubes and in my big suitcase. I kept one cube out that has 2 complete days’ worth of clothing for my carryon. Just in case, you know.

The Other Stuff I’m Bringing

Obviously, I have to bring some other stuff because my goal is not a Spartan backpacking experience but a comfortable gently-paced journey during which I can soak in the local color.

  • Laptop
  • Kindle
  • Phone
  • 2 chargers for each device (because one’s going to break or get lost, right?)
  • Portable phone charger
  • 2 pairs of reading glasses
  • Cordless mouse and pad
  • Notebook
  • Little zipper folder for postcards
  • Plug converters including one that can handle hair appliances
  • Curling iron
  • Lifestraw filtration water bottle
  • Small toiletries (I don’t have to stock up forever – they have stores in Europe)
  • 1 year’s worth of prescription thyroid medication
  • Some OTC meds like ibuprofen, antacids, antidiarrheals, and Benadryl)
  • A teeny Bluetooth speaker for my laptop and phone
  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • Makeup
  • Makeup mirror
  • Flashlight
  • Headlamp
  • Pocketknife
  • Lifestraw and Sawyer Mini because you can never be too safe about water
  • Lighter
  • First-aid supplies
  • Small cooking vessel loaded with the above survival gear
  • An emergency bivvy bag

If you know about my other website, you’ll understand why I’ve always got some survival gear on hand. I’m the girl you want to be traveling with if things go sideways. (Wink.)

What I’m Not Bringing (and hopefully won’t regret)

What not to take was just as much of a dilemma of what to take. When I recently traveled to Bosnia and they didn’t have Tums and I had wicked heartburn I had one thing. REGRET.

I’m not taking…

  • A year’s supply of OTC meds – I’ll just learn to live with what’s available or have my daughters stock me up when they visit
  • Physical books – it’s so weird to read on a device instead of a book in my hand but there’s only so much a woman can lug around
  • A back-up laptop – as a blogger this is terrifying. Terrifying.
  • Big bottles of my favorite shampoo, conditioner, and hairspray – women in other countries have nice hair – I’m sure I’ll find good products.
  • More clothing and shoes – I tried to plan so that everything is versatile enough to see me through
  • My favorite coffee mug – I came very close to bringing it but eventually decided that it just wasn’t worth the real estate in my luggage

I’m sure I’ll be adding a list called “Stuff I Forgot and Should Have Brought.” What would you take on a trip if you were going indefinitely?

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