It’s all too easy to over pack, but when you are going on a trip lasting more than a few weeks, it becomes more difficult to decide how much is too much.
So how many bags does it take Emily and Michael to travel abroad for a year? That’s the million dollar question.
(Ok, if you haven’t seen this SNL skit of boarding a commercial flight and all the shenanigans that goes on…watch it here)
For those of you who may tend to over pack, I feel your pain. I’m a recovering over-packer. Not that I always want to take my entire wardrobe on every trip, but a girl has to have options. Especially when Michael and I will experience all sorts of climates over the course of a year in NZ, we both need to pack a variety of clothing to be comfortable. Unfortunately, the typical Floridian attire won’t cut it during the winter months in New Zealand, especially if we go to the South island during their winter.
The first step was to create a packing list of everything we were planning to take with us. After creating an initial list, we went through and asked ourselves on each item, “Is this essential for the trip? How often we will use/wear it? How much space does it take up?” That really helped us shave our list down, whether it was clothes, tech, or other miscellaneous items.
We plan on doing quite a bit of camping during our time in NZ, so we decided to bring our 2-person tent, sleeping bags and inflatable sleeping mats. Our tent is pretty tiny and doesn’t take up much room in our luggage. (Sidenote: when buying a tent, always go bigger if you can. A 2-person tent is a tight fit for 2 people, so if you are camping for a long period of time, you had better really like the person you will be sleeping next to!) I’ll go into more detail about all of our cool gear in a future post.
Michael and I went on the hunt for luggage last summer. We had our eyes set on a 36″ suitcase by The North Face called “Rolling Thunder.” It was huge! But for a beast of a suitcase it also came with a beast of a price tag. Like $320 per suitcase…yikes! So while shopping at Kohl’s a couple of months later (probably buying socks or something) we saw their sale on luggage. We found a 36″ rolling duffle suitcase by High Sierra for half the price, PLUS we had a Kohl’s coupon for 20% off. We ended up each getting a huge suitcase for less than just one “Rolling Thunder.” Jackpot.
If you are packing for an upcoming trip, here are 5 packing tips we used ourselves. These tips can help prevent any over-packing frustrations and keep everything organized while living out of a suitcase, whether it’s for 2 weeks or longer.
- Make a list and stick to it: Research the climate where you are going and take into account the different activities you will be doing while there. This will help determine whether you pack moisture-wicking and fast-drying fabrics, thermal layers, beach swimwear, dressy outfits or that big puffy winter coat. As for everything else, really scrutinize each item and be honest with yourself if it is an actual necessity for the trip. Most of us end up over-packing by bringing too many “just-in-case” items. 99% of the time you don’t end up using it or needing it anyways.
- Mix and match wardrobe: Keep it simple! Stick to patterns and colors that you can mix and layer easily. If there is a piece that is difficult to match up, don’t bring it. You are less likely to wear it and will end up taking up precious luggage space. This will ultimately give you more variety without being weighed down with too many clothes.
- Roll clothing: This one isn’t new for most people. Rolling versus folded stacks definitely saves room in your suitcase. I use this technique for my shirts and tops all the time.
- Packing cubes and vacuum bags are your friends: When pairing the rolling technique with packing cubes you will feel like a professional suitcase packer. They allow you to stay organized without digging through your entire bag. We each have a set of 3 cubes (1 sm, 1 med, 1 lrg) to use in our mega-huge suitcase. I was able to fit ALL of my blouses and tops into the large cube, and my dresses and skirts fit into the medium cube. The small one is perfect for bras, underwear and socks. Another valuable packing tool are vacuum bags. These came in handy for our big puffy winter coats and I put my pants and shorts in a smaller vacuum bag. Big space savers!
- Comfortable shoes and wrinkle-free clothing are excellent investments: As much as I wanted to bring a pair of heels to go with alot of my outfits, I had to restrain myself. I know my big feet will thank me in the future. We plan on doing alot of hiking and walking to get around, so heels just don’t make sense for this trip. Plus, heels are the biggest pain to pack in a suitcase due to their weird shape. Ladies, am I right? So for me it will be flats, running shoes, hiking boots, and my croc sandals. Michael will have his dress shoes, running shoes, hiking boots, and crocs. He has also invested in polyester dress slacks and dress shirts that don’t need ironing. The few dresses I’m bringing are also wrinkle-free. Definitely suitcase and travel friendly!
Just this month we did a full test pack according to our packing list. In addition to each of us having a large rolling duffle, Michael will have his laptop bag and a small carry-on suitcase, and I’ll have a backpack and smaller carry-on rolling suitcase for camera gear and miscellaneous items. We lugged our huge packed red suitcases to Publix to see if we were under the 50lb weight limit. They have a large scale right near the checkout aisles which came in super handy! Even though we both thought we would be pushing the 50lb mark, both bags came in under 45lbs!
We may tweak our packing list some more, but as of right now we at least know the large suitcases will be under-weight to avoid any airline baggage fees. This is good because we need to save room for any souvenirs (or baby kangaroos) we may want to bring back! Just kidding, kangaroos are only native to Australia….but I could always bring back a kiwi bird to play with Milo!
Stayed tuned for our full packing list of gear we plan to take with us to New Zealand!