When it comes to Packing For an Extended Trip Overseas, there are a lot of things to consider, and to be honest, no matter what style of Traveling you are doing, (or even how long you have already been traveling for) I bet there is something in this article that you would have NOT thought of on your own. So be sure to read it all, as it could be a HUGE Issue for you once you are actually in transit. (Im talking HUGE Fees or even having to buy a WHOLE NEW BAG while in the airport!)
But first off, I have to start with this… Pack lightly.
There I said it, and to be honest, I will probably say it again. But that just proves its important.
While I will go over the basics and essentials of What To Pack For a Long Trip Abroad in this article, your actual list may look a little bit different, and thats fine. But what you probably wont like hearing, is that I am going to tell you to basically cut your list in half. Now it doesn’t have to literally be in half, but you’re going to want to cut down a large portion of what you “think” you need.
With that being said, DON’T PANIC! There are lots of very good reasons as to why to pack lightly, so hopefully this list will help easy your mind…
Reasons to Pack Your Backpack Lightly
- The more you pack, the heavier it is. Simple.
- The lighter it is, the easier it is to go from place to place.
- Save LOTS of money on Baggage Fees!!
- You WILL NOT use a lot of what you think you will use.
- If you think “you will need it in case of…” That is NOT enough reason to ALWAYS be carrying it.
- You can buy (or learn to live without) whatever you end up forgetting. Usually for much cheaper than back home.
- As for clothes, you can do laundry just about anywhere these days. Usually YOU don’t personally even have to do it. Someone will do it for you, and once again, usually cheaper than back home.
- The more room you leave empty in your backpack, the more cool stuff you can put in it along the way.
- It’s better to buy what you need, rather than ditch what you don’t. Both cost money, mine as well have something to show for it in the end.
Different Types of Travel Bags: Backpacks vs Suitcases
First off, the type of bag you choose is going to be based off the type of travel you are doing. If you are doing Backpacking style traveling and your Transportation plans include Buses, Boat Ferry’s, Trains, and/or ESPECIALLY Motorbikes, then absolutely get a proper Backpackers Bag or Ruck Sack to travel with.
If you are not on a Budget and plan on doing a bit more of a Leisure or Luxury style Travel then you will probably want a strong Suitcase with Rolling Wheels and a nice Extending Handle. I will go over both below…
Backpacker Bags or Ruck Sacks
These allow you to have everything rest comfortably on your back, with multiple points of entry to access what you have packed inside. They also have Waist Belts to redistribute the weight from your shoulders to your hips. (YBLTravel Tip: I like to switch back and forth between Shoulders and Waist.)
Ruck Sacks come in many different sizes and the sizes are measured in Liters. I personally started off with a Large 70 Liter Bag and that was The WORST Idea I ever had! The problem is, we have a tendency to not leave any space unused. Which means you will, without a doubt, find yourself stuffing things in there that you absolutely do not need. So start off small, to avoid even having the urge to do this. Once again, you can always add on more later, and you will also have a Day Bag/Secondary regular sized backpack for some extra items, which I will talk about later.
I would say a good size to start with is a 50L Bag. Thats what I have now, and honestly, I still only half fill it when I go anywhere these days. But once again, it is nice to have the space to add things that I want to buy or collect along the way.
Here is a list of some great Backpacker Bags / Ruck Sacks to start with…
- Osprey Ariel AG 55 Women’s Backpacking Backpack
- Osprey Aura AG 50 Women’s Backpacking Backpack
- Osprey Atmos AG 50 Men’s Backpacking Backpack
- Osprey Stratos 50 Men’s Backpacking Backpack
Luggage and Suitcase Style Bags
If you don’t plan on roughing it as much or your Travel Plans only include Transportation services such as Airplanes and Taxis, then a strong Hardshell Suitcase with some Wheels and an Extending Handle, is most definitely the choice for you! However, there are probably more Choices AND Restrictions than you realize.
First and foremost, Suitcases with Built in Locking Systems are super trendy these days. However, many Airlines DO NOT ALLOW them! Especially in the United States. So I would honestly just steer completely clear of these types of Bags for now. You can always Add a Great Travel Lock to Your Suitcase for Cheap.
With this style of Travel and Transportation, the size of the bag is not AS important. However you are still going to want to look at the Size and Weight Limits of the Airlines you are flying with.
Since you will not have to personally carry your bag often, (if at all) you can probably get away with having a bit of a larger bag. Just remember to make sure the Weight and Size is not over your Airlines limit. Otherwise they will most likely charge you an absurd Baggage Fee, or in the worst case scenario, force you to buy an additional bag! Yes, this has happened to me!
If you are going this route, here are some GREAT options for Suitcase / Luggage Style bags…
Day Bags / Secondary Smaller Bags
No matter which type of bag you chose, you are going to want an additional bag to carry your personal belongings whenever you leave your accommodations for the day. This does not have to be anything too fancy, but there are still a few things to consider when making your purchase…
- Make sure it is made of a light material. Ideally you will want something that you can stuff into your other main bag, but if not, then at least get something that isn’t going to weigh you down during long days out.
- You want to have several pockets and compartments. Don’t go over board, but having 2 or 3 different size pockets will really help you when quickly reaching for things such as to take a quick picture, or paying for taxi while standing in the road or even rain.
- You can add a simple Draw String Bag as a 3rd option as well, but I don’t recommend having this as your ONLY option for a Day Bag.
Some Great Day Bag and Draw String Bag options…
- Boulder Pack Co. Lightweight Foldable Travel & Hiking Backpack Daypack Bag – Fits Laptop
- ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack Small Water Resistant Travel Hiking Daypack
Compression Packing Cubes
While “technically” Compression Packing Cubes may not be an absolutely must, i’m still going to say that they basically are. In fact buying some of these might be the hands down BEST YBLTravel Tip there is! I am not kidding when I say this either.
Not only do these little bags help you stay organized, but they also compress everything down to as small as possible to make the most of the space inside of your bag. You can quickly reach in and pull out all your shirts, or all your socks and underwear, while not messing everything up.
But perhaps the BEST reason to make sure you buy some of these Compression Packing Cubes, actually doesn’t have anything to do with packing at all. I can not tell you how many times (literally hundreds) that I have used these little bags as perfect Pillows for my head AND for in between my legs. I can single handedly attribute these little guys to countless nights of sleep, when I would have otherwise probably got none.
Bonus YBLTravel Tip: Be sure to buy Nylon ones, as they also make them in a mesh material, which is not going to be as comfortable to use as a pillow. Also make sure they are Compression ones, because they make some Cubed ones that don’t compress and instead just keep the shape of a cube. Which I never understood because that completely defeat the purpose of them.
Extra Bonus YBLTravel Tip: Buy the multi-colored option so that you can know which color holds which items of yours.
Below are the only Compression Packing Cubes you need…
Finally, What to Pack For a Trip Abroad!
Now that we got what type of bag you will want out of the way, let’s discuss what you will actually pack inside of your bag. While this could vary slightly from person to person, this Official Travel Packing Checking List should be a pretty good starting point for you to check things off with, as you begin to pack.
Also keep in mind that this list is essentially for a trip to somewhere warm, since not only is that where I travel to most often, but thats usually the type of getaway that most other people are looking for as well. If you are looking for a Check List of What to Pack for a Winter Travel Trip, we will be writing another Blog Post about that very soon. So be sure to Follow Us to stay tuned! 😉
- 6 Pairs of Underwear
- 6 Pairs of Socks (Bring extra if you are going somewhere that you will wear shoes every day.)
- 6 T-Shirts
- 2 Pairs of Shorts (When you’re wearing shorts every day, only having 1 is bound to get dirty.)
- 1 Long Sleeve Shirt (Not a Hoodie or Sweatshirt, that is the perfect item you could buy IF you need it.)
- 1 Pair of Pants (Jeans or Khaki. Nice enough to be “Formal” but Leisurely enough to wear around town.)
- 1 Bathing Suit
- 1 Pair of Sandals
- 1 Pair of Shoes (I bring a new pair of Running Shoes, so that I can Workout, Hike, or go to a Dinner.)
- Travel Size Tooth Paste
- Dental Floss
- Travel Size Bottle of Mouth Wash (Optional)
- Small Handful of Q Tips
- Travel Size Liquid Soap
- Travel Size Shampoo
- Charger (If Razor is Electric)
- Towel (Bring a Micro-one if you wish, but I bring a Full Size one and use it as a Blanket or Pillow often as well.)
- Toilet Paper! (A Travel Sized Tissue pack works well. You have no idea how many times you will want your own TP when there is none! Especially in Developing Countries where many times Toilets are just a hole in the ground! For Real!)
- Girlie Items that I wouldn’t know about. 🤫
Medical Supplies / First Aid Kid
To be honest, I brought a Full Travel First-Aid Kit the first time I went traveling and didn’t use ANY of it for the entire year that I was gone. However I did cut my foot pretty bad one time and had many other scraps along the way. But the reality is, when that stuff happens, you usually don’t have your kit with you anyway. Or it requires more than what you have in that kit. In most cases someone else, or a convenient store, will be closer to you than your First Aid Kit is. So by the time you get back to yours, you will already have it taken care of. However there are still some items that are very useful…
- Any Medication that you take regularly
- TUMS or some type of Antacid for Heartburn after spicy meals (SO many sleepless nights I wish I had this!)
- A whole bottle of Ibuprofen, Aspirin, or Tylenol. Whichever you prefer for hangover headaches.
- Motion Sickness Pills if you deal with that sort of thing.
Things I Do NOT Bring
There are A LOT of items that people either think you should bring, are not sure about, or just naturally bring without thinking about it. However I do NOT bring these things and I do just fine without them. I bet you will do just fine without them as well…
- Extra Shoes
- A Hoodie or Sweatshirt (Ok, so occasionally I do, but when I do its because I know some parts will be cold and I always make sure to use it as a Pillow as often as possible. If you aren’t sure, just DON’T bring one. You can always buy a super cheap one later.)
- Full Size Toiletries of ANY kind. (Most of the time you will have to throw them out at the airport anyway.)
- Just about anything else you can think of. If you have any ideas, please DO leave it as a Comment below so that we can either Add it or Eliminate it. (In which case we would add it to this list right here. 😉)
Overall, figuring out What to Pack For an Extended Trip Abroad may seem like a daunting task at first. One that can have you wondering where to start. But I hope this article helps you out with that at least a little bit of that. As I mentioned before, this list is going to be slightly different for each person, but it covers about 97% of things if you are doing it right.
And remember, when it doubt, leave it out!