Packing for a trip abroad is no easy task for the untrained. Here are some tips to help you out! Of course, it varies on the destination, type of travel, and length of stay, but these general tips should be useful.
Tip 1: Bring clothing, including socks, underwear, jackets, and hats, that have some or all of the following qualities: wrinkle resistant, quick-drying, moisture-wicking, sun-protective, and anti-microbial/odor. Avoid bringing thick cotton clothing. When compared to synthetic blends, it takes longer to dry, is heavier, and is more likely to mold if packed when damp.
Tip 2: In many countries, people tend to or are required to wear modest and conservative clothing, especially females. And so, it is often polite or in your best interest to also dress conservatively. For ladies, cardigans, komonos, or sarongs are great cover ups, and can easily be worn when needed. A sarong is great because it can also be a towel, a skirt, a blanket, a head cover, a privacy wall, and more. A long skirt is also a great option, and can provide a modicum of privacy on travels where you find the only bathroom is in the public eye. Swimsuits are usually accepted in most tourist destinations, but consider wearing a t-shirt and/or sarong over it. In some places, the locals swim fully clothed. Some countries and sites have strict dress codes where head coverings are required so be sure to do your research.
Tip 3: When packing for varying weather, choose clothing you can easily layer. This allows you to customize your clothing given the climates you are in. Essential layers include a light long sleeve or short sleeve shirt, a wool blend long sleeve base layer, a fleece jacket, and a light wind and waterproof jacket. For colder climates, a down jacket is preferable because it is compressible and provides great warmth.
Tip 4: You can buy most items at your destination, especially toiletries. It is often the cheaper and lighter way to go. Buying clothes and shoes as you go is a good way to add variety to your wardrobe on longer trips and help keep the load light. Keep in mind that quality and size can vary dramatically in your destination(s).
Tip 5: Though many hotels have laundry services, you also have the option of washing your own clothes. A universal sink plug or plastic bag can be used to create a basin of water in the sink, an all-purpose soap can be used for laundry soap, and a long string (shoe strings, Paracord, etc.) and some clips can be used to rig a clothesline. This is where those quick-drying clothes come in handy. Your clothes may take more than a day to dry in some climates, like those with humidity. Try tightly rolling your clothes in a towel before hanging them to dry, that helps ring out some of the excess water.
Tip 6: Avoid bringing clothing that is white or brightly colored. White shows dirt easily and bright colors will make you more likely to stand out, which is not optimal in environments that prey on tourists. Also, some colors may attract insects, generally that’s any color that isn’t earthy colored. Of course, this depends on where you are going, and in general, it is best to blend in with the local attire or look like an expat. Think twice about shirts with sayings or symbols, they could be offensive, or draw unwanted attention.
Tip 7: Pack light! You will appreciate the mobility that it offers, and how less burdened you will be by your stuff. If you can, shoot for a bag that is just carry-on size. This gives you more control over your stuff and where it is. You also don’t have to lug a bag around.
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“You should be able to walk away at a moment’s notice. Give what you can and take what you need.” – The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus