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Pack like a pro: 31 packing tips for your next long-term trip!

I hate packing. You pack, you unpack, you forget things. And especially you take things you don’t need. But I guarantee you, with time you get better at it. Packing takes less time. You will pack less and learn your lessons.
Use these 31 packing tips to learn how to pack like a pro.

Pack like a pro: Travel Essentials

  1. Get a travel towel.
  2. A Travel Towel takes only very little space and dries quickly. An item a traveler should not travel without.

  3. Your sarong is your new best friend.
  4. Sarongs have so many usages. You can take them to the beach as a towel. You can wear them as dresses or skirts. They serve as a scarf. Make your sarong your new best friend.

    Packing like a pro: Sarongs are your new best friend

    Sarongs (Source)

  5. A lock is a must.
  6. Hostel dorm rooms often provide lockers. Nonetheless, most of them do not come with a lock. That is why a combination lock is an absolutely essential travel item when you plan on staying in dorm rooms. You do not know the people in the room, so always be careful.

  7. Pack simple shirts to combine.
  8. Bring clothes you can combine with everything. Shirts that look good with most of your shorts/pants/skirts. This way you have always something to wear. Imagine you bring a shirt that only fits with one short. This short is in the washing but it’s the only shirt you have available. Annoying! So, be prepared with combinable clothes.

  9. Bring clothes you like.
  10. Another thing I recommend is bringing clothes you really like. You will wear them a lot and I can tell you from several long-term trips that if you do not like the shirt, you won’t wear it. Consequence it’s useless and you don’t need to bring it.

  11. Pack clothes for 7-10 days.
  12. That depends on your ways of traveling (super light or not?). I always leave with clothes for 7-10 days on long-term trips. I do not want to go to the laundry every couple of days when I’m in a hot country, so I prefer taking clothes for 10 days. They do not weigh much anyways if you go to summer destinations.

  13. Bring tissues & hand sanitizer.
  14. You might end up in a toilet without toilet paper. Or where there is no running water. Tissues and hand sanitizer are life savers in those situations. Hand sanitizer also comes handy when eating street food.

    Hand Sanitizer

    Always bring hand sanitizer and tissues/toilet papers on your journeys (Source)

  15. Don’t forget your flip flops.
  16. Even if you plan on traveling only to cold destinations. You might end up in a hostel with a shower you do not want to enter barefooted. Flip Flops are always necessary and can be used as slippers while moving within the hostel.

    Pack like a Pro: Don't forget your flip flops

    Don’t forget your flip flops

  17. Bring some medicine for emergencies.
  18. Imagine you get sick and you are on your own. You do not want to get out of bed. Bring some pain killers and medication against diarrhea and stomach issues when traveling. You will appreciate it when you need it.

    First aid medicine, contact lenses & repellent

    First aid medicine, contact lenses & repellent

  19. And a world-Adapter.
  20. I cannot believe how many people travel to another country without taking an adapter. In the hostel I’m working, there have been so many people asking for an adapter. Seriously? That’s what you have to bring yourself. I cannot provide an adapter for every guest for every country in the world. You will need it at some point.

    World Adapter

    World Adapter (Source)

  21. Keep your documents safe!
  22. From now and then you will travel while it’s raining. If you have a good backpack, water will not enter. But if it’s pouring most backpacks won’t stand that for a long time. Instead take a waterproof document case to store your passport and other important documents.

    Pack like a pro: How to pack

  23. Leave your valuables in your hand luggage.
  24. Always put your valuables in your hand luggage.
    1. It doesn’t matter that much if your luggage is lost on the way.
    2. You don’t want your lap top or camera to be broken because your backpack was thrown into an airplane.

  25. Use packing cubes to organize your clothes.
  26. Packing cubes are the best invention ever. Your backpack will always be organized and you have everything handy within a second. Put your shirts in one packing cube. Your pants/skirts in another. You will never have to look for anything anymore.

    Pack like a Pro: Stay organized with packing cubes

    Stay organized with packing cubes

  27. Store your socks in your shoes.
  28. If you travel with little space, use every cm you have. Put socks and underwear in your shoes to save space.

  29. Buy small tubes.
  30. Instead of buying these huge shampoos, shower gel and conditioner, take small bottles. Think of going for a piece of soap instead of shower gel. It’s lighter, takes less space and lasts longer.

  31. Take one spare outfit with you in your hand luggage.
  32. When you catch a plane, take one spare outfit with you in your hand luggage. In case your backpack will be lost, you still have enough clothes to wear when you arrive.

  33. Travel with washed clothes.
  34. Dirty clothes not only weigh more, they take more space. Whenever possible, try to travel from A to B with washed clothes.

  35. Toothbrush, toothpaste & deodorant come with you on the plane.
  36. When traveling for hours and overnight, you might want to brush your teeth. You want to use a deodorant to feel cleaner after hours without having a shower. Don’t forget to pack your toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant in your hand luggage.

    Pack like a pro: Things to consider

  37. Just one: trainers OR hiking shoes.
  38. Don’t pack two pairs of shoes. Decide if you want to go with trainers or proper hiking shoes depending on what you want to do. I recommend my beloved Nike Free trainers. They are comfortable and enough for usual hikes. Hiking shoes take a lot of space and are heavy. If you do not plan to hike on Kilimanjaro or similar, good trainers should be enough.

    Trainers vs. Hiking shoes. Choose one

    Trainers vs. Hiking shoes. Choose one

  39. Write a journal.
  40. You are going to create a lot memories. And you will keep a lot of them in mind but some will disappear slowly and you don’t want that to happen. Keep a journal and write about your experiences. It is the best thing in the world to get out your diary after a year of traveling and read about your past travels.

    Pack like a Pro: Keep a journal

    Write down your experiences

  41. Bring some snacks for your long-haul flight.
  42. When traveling long-haul always take some snacks. You will get food in the plane but there are hours between the meals. And don’t forget time in the airport and until you reach your accommodation. When I’m hungry, my mood gets worse and a simple snack avoids the situation completely.

    Snacks on the flight

    Snacks for long-haul flights (Source)

  43. Order a back up credit card (& take some USD).
  44. Especially when traveling solo, you should travel with two credit cards. One credit card might get stuck in an ATM, your bank might cancel your card or your card gets stolen. There are many situations that can happen. I don’t wish it to anyone, but just be prepared for such situations, so you won’t end up without money.

    Within my 1.5 years abroad, my credit card was cancelled twice. My bank had the suspicion that my card was copied in an ATM and was used in a country in Asia (I have only been in the Americas). No money was stolen as they reacted quickly but I couldn’t use my card anymore. Thanks to my back up credit card that was never a problem.

    Additionally take some US-Dollars with you, just in case you end up in a place without an ATM.  Viñales in Cuba is a good example for that. In those places, there is often a place where you can at least exchange money or you can simply pay with dollars. You will be grateful to have some spare cash with you.

    Bring a back-up credit card & some dollars

    Bring a back-up credit card & some dollars (Source)

  45. Buy a Kindle for long flights, bus rides (or a book to exchange).
  46. My Kindle Paperwhite is my loyal companion when it comes to traveling. I read a lot and couldn’t think of living without it anymore. I take it everywhere I go and it’s the best way to kill time on a plane, bus or tube. And it might be easier for you when eating out on your own and feeling uncomfortable about that. Reading a book will distract you from feeling uncomfortable.

    Pack like a Pro: buy a Kindle

    My Kindle is always coming with me

    If you are no fan of e-books, take a normal book with you which you can exchange after finishing it in your hostel. Most hostels offer book exchanges!

  47. Have your hostel address handy.
  48. Always take the address of your accommodation with you. If you get lost, you can always catch a taxi and it will bring you there. When you don’t know the address, forget it. You will have to find your way yourself.

    Also, have the address of your first accommodation available when you enter a country. Entrance documents often require you to fill out an address. Some immigration officers don’t care if you don’t know the address but others do. You do not want to be sent back just because you do not know the address.

  49. Don’t wear expensive jewelry.
  50. If you can, please don’t take expensive jewelry with you. Especially when traveling to poorer countries. You already look like tourist even though you don’t wear those traveler pants. You look different, they know you are a tourist. When you show them your expensive jewelry, you will make a good victim for pickpockets.

  51. A little Make-up is enough.
  52. Believe me when you are in country with 90% humidity, make up will be gone quickly and it doesn’t feel very nice. While traveling many people do not use make up at all. It’s not necessary. And if it’s gone within minutes totally useless. Take a mascara and some basic stuff if you want to for your nights out, but take as little as possible.

    Make up

    That’s way to much make up to bring (Source)

  53. Research your destination.
  54. Other countries, other cultures. Research your destination beforehand to know about special customs and no-goes. In Muslim countries for example, bring clothes that cover your shoulders and knees.

  55. Mark your baggage with your name.
  56. Don’t forget your luggage tag when flying or catching busses. Label it with your name, home address, email address and phone number. In case your luggage gets lost, it’s necessary. It is more likely getting back your baggage when you have a tag. If not it’s difficult for the airline to track you down.

    Tag your luggage

    Tag your luggage (Source

  57. Keep the noise down.
  58. Your accommodation is situated on a main street. Your dorm mate is snoring loudly. There is a kid crying in the row behind you on the plane. You are tired and just want to sleep. Noise reducing headphones or ear plugs will save your life.

  59. Travel pillow – yes or no?
  60. I’m a really bad sleeper. I take forever to fall asleep even in a usual bed. Overnight bus rides or planes aren’t any easier obviously. If you have problems falling asleep in busses or planes, take a travel pillow with you. You can inflate it when you need it. When you don’t need it, it doesn’t weigh anything and takes no space, you don’t lose anything.

  61. Make a list of what to bring so you don’t forget anything important while packing
  62. When packing the first time for your trip, make a list of what you want to bring. While packing you might pack and unpack several times as you decide to leave some things at home. You will possibly forget what you’ve already packed and what not. Make a list and cross off what you’ve already packed. This way you won’t forget anything important.

    Create a packing list

    Create a packing list. http://packingessentials.com/ is a great help here!

    Do you have anything to add to this list? Please share your advice on how to pack like a pro in the comments to help future long-term travelers.

    Please note that I am an affiliate of Amazon. That means that I earn a little commission from your booking through this link at no extra cost for you. Thank you very much for keeping this site running.

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    Pack like a pro

    Read next:
    WHY do you want to travel long-term


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