How did I pack for a one year trip to New Zealand, knowing that I would probably continue to travel the world beyond that year and not return to the US for a while..?
Since it would basically be impossible to plan for every situation, I tried to keep it simple. I knew that I would most likely be in mild weather conditions, I would need to bring some electronics like my camera and laptop, I would need to be prepared to do both city activities and outdoorsy activities, and I wanted to take as little as possible so that I would be comfortable traveling with all of my belongings.
After several trial packing sessions, here is what I came up with…
Keeping in mind that I didn’t want to haul a lot of stuff, as well as wanting to stick to a low budget, I did not want to check more than one bag. So, I brought a 40-liter backpack that I measured to make sure it fit as a carry-on, a 22-liter daypack that would count as my personal item, and I checked one small suitcase.
I also carried a small fanny pack/waist pack/cross body to keep items like my passport, phone, wallet, and headphones close by.
This is extremely subjective as to where you're going and who you are as a person, but just to give you an idea, here is a breakdown of everything I packed into my bags. At the time of writing, I am about a month into the trip and I’ve been happy with what I brought. Although I almost wished I had packed a little lighter to make the travel days easier (more on that later). Today I went to a thrift store to buy a cheap pair of jeans to wear at my new job. This is a great thing to keep in mind: you can always buy something after you arrive if you really need it, and thrift stores help keep costs low. Then if you don’t want to continue traveling with something, or it’s time to swap out your wardrobe for a different season, just donate it and continue the cycle!
I used packing cubes to organize my clothes. My sister-in-law had the great idea of packing my puffy into a gallon-sized ziploc bag and compressing the air out to make it as compact as possible. I wore comfortable clothes for the flight, and luckily these were also some of my bulkier items: sweatpants, a hoodie over a wool t-shirt, and tennis shoes. I also packed a change of clothes into my carry-on bag, just in case there were any issues with my checked bag or if I wanted a little refresh during the journey.
Here's the full list:
10 pairs of underwear
9 pairs of socks
2 bathing suits
long sleeves: 2 merino wool, 1 quick dry, 2 flannels
short sleeves: 1 button-up, 1 blouse, 2 wool, 2 cotton, 2 tank tops
pants: 1 legging, 1 sweatpants, 1 hiking, 1 work, 1 wool base layer
shorts: 2 quick dry
2 pairs of shoes
lightweight hiking sandals and running shoes
(my hiking boots were worn out and ready to retire anyway, so I donated them before I left and planned to pick some up after I landed. this made packing and going through customs easier!)
1 rain jacket and 1 lightweight down puffy
What I Carried on the Plane
On the left is my waist pack, which held quick-access items: mask, phone, scrunchie, passport and visa, wallet, chapstick, key ring with earplugs, tiny comb, and a serenity prayer coin from a loved one.
The middle photo shows my 22-liter daypack which held my laptop and hardrive, a bag of snacks, bullet journal and pencil bag, water bottle, sleeping bag liner, a book, sunglasses, headphones, Kindle, Garmin InReach, and my charging cables (which are in the blue drysack).
On the right is my 40-liter backpack which held a folder of important documents, camera and accessories in their case, sandals, a therapy ball, poncho, small quick-dry towel, 1-person tent, and toiletry bag.
I ended up rearranging things a little bit at the airport to redistribute the weight and make the backpacks more comfortable to carry. It's always nice to leave yourself extra time for things like that!
What I packed in my Checked Bag
In my small rolling suitcase I had a travel yoga mat, journal, compressed puffy jacket, bowl and lid that held a water filter, camping stove, empty water bladder, sleeping pad, pocket knife, titanium cutlery rolled up in Bees Wrap, bag with some extra toiletry items, first aid kit, art supplies (red dry sack and blue pouch), extra menstrual products (yellow bag), extra phone case, and a padded envelope with two cards to send to friends. The small black box towards the center of the picture contains a few sentimental items... okay, yes, I brought I box of rocks on this trip! ;)
That's everything! During my first month here I have not needed or missed anything, and I have used almost everything here at least once. There were a couple moments walking around the airport and getting on the ferry that I wished I had packed just a little bit lighter. But knowing that I will be at least somewhat settled here (most likely spending a few months at a time in one place) and not carrying everything around every day, I don't feel bad about it. When it comes time to move on to a new country I will likely reduce this further, and either sell some things or simply donate them. And if I really need something that I didn't pack, I can almost always find somewhere to buy it or someone to borrow it from. Remain flexible, don't overthink things, and you'll be fine. :)