One of the biggest changes our travels has brought about has been the different relationship to ‘stuff’ that we now have. Although we still loathe packing we both rather enjoy the limitation of having to fit everything in to one bag – albeit a rather large bag now that we have taken up diving. In the two years we were back in the UK we shopped about 90% less than we had before. We have also become a whole lot more environmentally aware and shy away from single use plastics, and really plastic of any kind if we possibly can, instead choosing sustainable packaging,
In Terms of what to pack for long term travel, it will depend where you are going and everyone will have their own idea of what is essential. You’ll certainly find your own favourites as you go along but a few of the things we’ve found invaluable have been:
YOUR OWN WATER BOTTLE, sorry for shouting but this one should be a given and I am horrified on a daily basis to see travellers without one and using plastic single use bottles.
After that a folding silicone funnel is my top take. When my mum first gave us this we gave it back! Ingrates! We soon realised it was invaluable for many reasons, not least being when we arrive in a new destination we source a gallon reusable water bottles and use the funnel to decant this into the kettle and our personal water bottles.
We have chopstick thin bag closers, which we find great for cereal bags amongst other things.
Our pegless washing line has had more use than most other items and takes up so little room as to be a no brainer and a washing bag, we were gifted ours and it has been awesome, it is a bit like a dry bag but inside one side has nodules, you put the clothes in, seal it up, let the air out and agitate for two minutes and out come clean clothes! Having discovered soap nuts we are now pretty waste free in our washing.
A sewing kit, we’ve sewn up split seems and patched up clothes surprisingly regularly making this one of the best things we packed
A hair towel I picked up in a pound shop in China has been one of my favourites. Most accommodation only provides two towels and having long hair I definitely need a hair towel, so this was a great find.
A mini first aid kit, ours shrinks and grows as we travel but it’s a must have
Stainless steel tupperware, there’s enough plastic in the world, taking your own tupperware means you can get take out or bring leftovers home without creating more trash
Chopsticks and a knife fork and spoon, great for in room meals but also for street eating where they usually provide plastic disposable cutlery.
We are now as single use plastic free as possible using shampoo bars, moisturiser bars, body wash bars, toothpaste in glass jars, face and sun cream in reusable aluminium tins, and bamboo plasters. We tried bamboo toothbrushes but could not get on with them so have gone back to an electric one (we are certainly not claiming to be perfect). Tissues bought in cardboard boxes and folded up into little travel tissue tins we carry rather than buying the plastic wrapped pocket packs. We’ve just added silicone and stainless steel tea sharks to our luggage as JHubz drinks copious amounts of green tea.
I’d read a lot about the shoulds and should nots of a long term travellers packing list and have come to the conclusion that there are no rights or wrongs and it is a very personal affair, almost a year in my only piece advice would be YOU DON’T NEED THAT, OR THAT, AND DEFINITELY NOT THAT! Based on our experiences, faux pas and successes I’ve written a guide to packing for long term travel which you can read here.
After much research we settled on the Osprey Sojourn 80L as our bag of choice, it has big chunky wheels and hidden behind a panel a full backpack harness, JHubz has joked he would be wearing his and pulling mine but I held my own pretty well. It has only been on my back once to take it up the stairs at a hotel with no lift. And our sojourns were great, until we started accumulating dive gear, so we have now both upgraded to the mammoth 130L Osprey shuttle. It’s only downside, other than being able to fit a small pony and full weighs about 50kg, it is not a backpack, but having only used mine once I think that’ll be okay Xx