We get asked often, “how do you pack for a long trip?” Packing for a long trip takes planning. It’s easier to keep things very organized or you’ll end up with too many carry-ons and more than one piece of checked luggage – not the way experienced travelers do it. We pack for a long trip by using packing cubes. I’ll share our best packing cube tips here.
Right now we are on a long trip to Oahu, both the North and South Islands of New Zealand, and Kauai – 31 days in all. We know that it’s best to have one piece of rolling luggage and one carry on – we use a smallish backpack for our carry on. This backpack converts to a day pack for our daily adventures, so it’s a two-for-one use.
When we pack for a long trip our rule is no more clothing than will last a week. That keeps the weight down, and lightens what we have to handle as we move from place to place. During this trip we’ve got 14 flight segments, boat ride and bus rides – two pieces to handle is all anyone needs!
But we have to pack more than just our clothing. Since we are mobile entrepreneurs we work while we’re traveling. Here’s what we need for a 31 day trip:
- Clothing for both warm and cold weather, including swim wear for Hawaii
- Rain gear
- Shoes for walking, water, and leisure time
- Tablets and phones with recharging devices
- Camera with recharging devices and transfer cords
- Hat for sunshine and rain
- A small folder for travel documents
- Adaptors for any kind of electricity and various electrical outlets
- Protein bars
- Collapsable cup
- Wash cloth (many countries don’t use a wash cloth but they come in handy on the road)
- Washing detergent and a few dryer cloths (what’s available might be strong, scented, or otherwise not to your liking)
When we pack for a long trip we use 2 medium sized Eagle Creek packing cubes and one hanging toiletries Eagle Creek cube. All of these fit into our medium sized rolling duffle. The goal is to have nothing loose in our luggage, everything goes into a cube. Now and then we’ll end up with a pair of shoes tucked along the edge, outside of the cubes.
Why use cubes?
- If your luggage is inspected you’ll have no problems with items falling out and being left behind.
- Inspected luggage doesn’t get disorganized as your belongings are handled
- At your destination you can use a cube to collect what you’ll need for the next 3 or 4 days, dress from that cube, and put all the rest away from prying eyes and out from under your feet.
- When your rule is “everything stays in a cube” you don’t leave small items around the room which can easily get left behind.
We use one cube for pants, slacks, shorts and shoes. A second large cube is for tops, sweaters, scarves, hats. (Basically we have a “below the belt” cube and an “above the belt” cube.) The smaller cube is for toiletries and medicines and a stash of protein bars.
TIP: Get packing cubes in two colors, so that your own cubes are easily distinguished from your travel partner.
In our carry on backpack we have anything that is valuable and needs to stay with us. That includes electronics, cameras, jewelry, passports, boarding passes, money, a few of our protein bars, our toothbrushes, enough medicine in a plastic pill sorter to last a week (sometimes your luggage doesn’t make it and you need your medicine until luggage shows up), sunglasses, a hat, a pashmina (I never, ever travel without one), and chap stick. If we are flying to the other side of the world on a very long flight we might also add a change of underwear and something to sleep in to our backpack. If we get stuck somewhere overnight without our luggage we can still freshen up and feel human.
It’s not that hard to pack for a long trip. Using packing cubes keeps you organized and prevents you from overpacking. When you are handling luggage between stops on a long trip you’ll be pleased with yourself for packing light. We recommend Eagle Creek brand packing cubes because we have used them for over a decade now and never had to replace one. The zippers don’t break or get caught on clothing, and we like the handles. You can pick up a cube, slide it into a drawer, and you’re done. We figure our packing cubes have traveled 50,000 or more miles with us and still look brand new. If you’re packing for a long trip OR a short trip, packing cubes are the way to go!
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