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The 6 Packing Rules You MUST Follow (for Long-Term Travel)

Six simple rules to follow while prepping and packing for long-term travel.

Rule 1 - If you're unsure if you'll need it, DON'T BRING IT.

The most important rule to remember and the hardest to follow.

This applies to frequently packed items that are convenient, but not explicitly necessary; ex. tablets, eReaders, portable Bluetooth speakers, umbrellas, jackets, filtered water bottles, etc.

This applies to clothes as well, do you bring that extra pair of pants? Or that extra shirt? Or that thick hoodie? DON'T DO IT.

If you're on the fence, I can tell you from experience, it's not necessary; check out Rule #5 for why.

Rule 2 - If you're afraid of losing it and don't need it, DON'T BRING IT.

If it's of any value to you, and you don't need it, don't bring it; ex. your favorite hoodie you stole from your best friend, a water bottle with a million collectors stickers, or a scarf your grandma knitted you; whatever it is, if the idea of losing it makes you nervous, don't bring it!

Imagine leaving for a three-month trip, you finally arrive at your first city, ready to explore, and suddenly you can't decide if you should bring your favorite handbag or leave it at the hostel, either way, now it's on your mind, and it will stay on your mind, for the next three months.

If you love it, leave it... it's that simple.

Rule 3 - If it's expensive or irreplaceable, DON'T BRING IT.

This should go without saying, but jewelry, watches, family heirlooms, a customized suitcase with your initials embroidered on it; whatever you're into, things get lost on the road, and the longer you're on the road, the more likely you are to lose it, forget it or misplace it. You won't come home with the same things you left with, so plan for the worst and hope for the best.

"You won't come home with the same things you left with.."

If it's irreplaceable and unnecessary, do not bring it.

Rule 4 - If you can easily buy it while traveling, DON'T BRING IT.

This applies to SO many things, and it's easy to forget, but if you're going to a place where people live, you can always find all the necessities; toiletries, soap, shampoo, sunscreen, sandals, towels, socks, underwear, hats, gloves, jackets, umbrellas, ponchos, headphones, charging cables, travel adapters, portable charges - literally anything you could need is available for purchase - often for very cheap - at a convenience store just down the street from your hostel.

This ties back to rule #1 - if you're unsure, don't bring it, you can always pick it up on the road.

Note: I don't even fly with soap, shampoo, or conditioner anymore, many hostels provide it, and if they don't, I make a quick trip to the nearest store when I land.

Rule 5 - If it's expensive and replaceable, consider alternatives...

Things that come to mind that might be expensive yet are replaceable: nice headphones, expensive jackets, fancy backpacks, designer luggage, etc.

I won't sit here and tell you to leave your $250 AirPods at home, but I will tell you that the less you care about your stuff while traveling, the less you'll worry, and the more freedom you'll feel.

"The less you care about your stuff while traveling, the less you'll worry, and the more freedom you'll feel..."

When I embarked on my first round-the-world trip, I splurged on a $250 AER Travel Pack 3 backpack; I was SO excited for my first attempt at fitting everything I needed for 6+ months in a single backpack, it was easily the most expensive item I had; what ended up happening, is that I was nervous, ALL THE TIME, that my nice fancy backpack would get stolen; or that it was screaming "Look! An American with money!"

I feel the same way about AirPods and iPhones; they too, in some ways, signify wealth.

The point is, the more money you pump into travel gear, the more you'll feel invested in it, the more you'll worry about it, and the more it will weigh on you; if peace of mind is a priority while traveling, consider inexpensive alternatives to those things that would hurt (financially) to lose.

Rule 6 - If you need it, and it's not easily replaceable - bring it, and protect it!

This applies to items that are necessary but can be a pain to replace; phones, laptops, eyewear, camera equipment, drones, passports, medications, etc.

If you need it, you need it, it's as simple as that; so for these rare items, consider going the extra mile to protect them; hardened phone cases, laptop sleeves, padded bags, waterproof bags, etc. This will be money well spent if it means you don't have to replace them while 9000 miles from home.

In Summary

Preparing for long-term travel is as much about leaving behind what you don't need as it is about packing the essentials. By following these six simple rules, you'll streamline your packing process, minimize worry, and enhance your overall experience.

Whether you're trekking across continents or settling into a new city for a few months, these principles ensure that you carry only what serves you, leaving space for experiences, discoveries, and freedom.

Travel light, travel far, and most importantly, travel smart!

packing rules for long-term travel


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