How To Pack For Long Term Travel

Jill wearing her Deuter 55gal backpack.

Jill wearing her Deuter 55gal backpack.

One thing that most people ask me about when they find out we travel full time is packing. "How do you pack for this kind of thing?" is a usual question.

When we set off on our full time travels nearly two years ago, I knew where we were going. I knew the scope of difference in climates and activities, but I didn't know we would continue traveling well beyond our originally planned date. So, I packed my 55gal back pack with a variety of clothes that I thought would be essential for our adventures. All these days later, I feel like I did a pretty good job with my predictions. I've used everything in my bag at least once and most almost every single day (depending on weather).

But packing for long-term travel can be hard. There's only so much space and for me, practicality outweighs fashion sense. I have "not looked like myself" for years now as I favor clothes that won't wrinkle, that I can easily wash and can do double duty. These sensible clothes are in place of those that I truly love - billowy organic voluminous shapes. I continue to favor black, grays and blues because well, I like them, but that also serves to allow me to interchange what I have without conflict. 

On the days when I have to put my pack on my back I feel like I have too much stuff. There's really no room in there at all! Not one bit. If I want to buy something new I either need to ship it to a friend or get rid of something else from my bag. I've had to replace a few things and am in desperate need of doing so now, as clothes just get worn out much faster when you wear them every day or every other day. 

In hindsight, I think I should not have packed so much yoga/running wear. I've changed the type of yoga I do and I am no longer running, so don't wear these as much as I thought I would. However, they are great for flower picking in Italy and when we go on treks, so they have been really useful - which is why they have stayed with me this long.

So here are some images of what's in my "closet" and what I've been living with the past few years. I do wish I could have some nicer things, but it's just not practical. I didn't take a photo of one of the most essential things I carry (in addition to the essential cosmetics); my yoga mat! Technically, Zac carries it.

I do also carry our toiletries and a year's worth of prescription medicines. Some additional volume is also taken up by disposable contact lenses. 

Jill's Portable Closet


This is the first in a series of posts about fashion on the road. Let me know what you think and how you pack for your travels. I'd love to hear what you think is important to carry and what you think can be left behind. I'd also love to know if you dress differently when traveling than in your everyday life.