11873736_10153005033717617_683763527235870508_nI used to love packing for a holiday – the time spent planning my wardrobe, the purchasing of sun lotion and beach towels. Those final moments trying to make everything fit and realising there’s just no way you’ll squeeze in another pair of sandals. I think I used to love it because it only happened once a year so I associated it with the excitement of going away. But now, after an 18 month backpacking trip across Asia and Australia, I think I can safely say, I’m done. When you’ve spent so long living out of a backpack, or trying time and time again to squeeze in your few possessions into your bag with just a few minutes to spare, it gets kinda old real quick. When I was packing for my holiday to Santorini two weeks ago, I thought “oh this will be easy having a whole suitcase to fill!” but how wrong I was – if anything the packing was a lot harder and more stressful. Having all this extra space just paved the way for me to cram more shoes, clothes and rubbish I didn’t need in my suitcase. I actually thought to myself how much easier it was to pack for a long-term trip because you’re less likely to indulge if you have to carry your life on your back.

I’ve started many times to write a packing guide for an extended trip, but have always ended up trailing off to something else. But when Shiply asked me to write about my top packing tips it seemed only right to explain how I managed to cram my life into a 65l rucksack to travel across Asia and Australia for a year and a half. So how do you pack for a long-term trip?11659517_10152807344362396_558828969069746182_n


Choosing a bag

I was lucky and already had a 65l backpack from when I did Duke of Edinburgh a few years ago, it was a good quality rucksack that had been in the sale in an outdoor shop in town. It was strong material, came with lots of useful pockets and had good, thick, supportive straps that would protect my shoulders. If you need to purchase a bag, think carefully when you do, don’t just buy the cheapest or the first one you see. In Asia, you spend a lot of time carrying your bag sometimes great distances, so it needs to be comfortable for your shoulders and it mustn’t be too heavy. If you ask me, 65l is perfect size especially for Asia, but it is also worth seeing if you can find a bag that also has wheels for when you reach Australia. Make sure the bag has strong material – I later had to buy one in Asia and the cheap material ripped very easily. If you’re heading just to Australia, get something on wheels. The whole concept of backpacking is different there and there is no actual backpack needed – you can take a one, but if you prefer you can just use a suitcase or a backpack on wheels which may give you a bit more space.


Shoes

Much like for soldiers in the trenches, as a backpacker, your feet and legs are everything to you. You walk everywhere and in Asia, you definitely don’t want to risk blisters or cuts from bad shoes that could lead to infections. I had a friend who skidded off a motorcycle and scraped the skin of his entire leg – he had a nightmare trying to protect the wound from dust and cleaning it each day. You want to make sure you have comfortable, good quality shoes that will support your feet and will last you. There are three types of shoes you definitely don’t want to leave home without:11751414_10152949592672617_3776395476331486033_n

  1. 1x trainers for walking/hiking and activities. I took Converse with me which lasted beautifully and were really comfortable even when I was hiking mountains and climbing through caves. I later bought some Nike running shoes over there which are my absolute favourite shoes ever.
  2. 1x rubber flip flops for using on the beach, in the showers (trust me) and everywhere else. I took Havianas at first but these broke within a week so I relied on ones from the market which were actually more comfortable and supportive.
  3. 1x sandals – this is where you can take something pretty for the evenings, something a bit smarter for when you hit the bars or want to go somewhere a bit fancier. I’ve found great sandals from Primark/New Look and similar shops that lasted me all around Asia.

Don’t take high heels. You don’t need them, no-one wears them in Asia and I barely saw anyone in them in Australia. They take up space and weigh a lot. Same goes for walking boots – unless you are going specifically just to hike and climb mountains the whole time, trainers will do.


Clothes

Now this is where it gets tricky. Let me start by saying forget all those beautiful boho Instagrams you’ve been stalking – forget the gorgeous floaty white lace items that will be ruined in a day. Keep it simple and keep it practical. If you’re heading to Asia – you want to take as little as possible and just buy clothes out there for a fraction of the price and a lot more traveler style – that’s what I did. I was lucky and already had a lot of summer/festival/traveler style clothes in my wardrobe so I didn’t actually buy much at all. It’s definitely best to use what you have and head to the markets when you arrive, but there are a few key items you want to make sure you remember:11136690_10152722008812617_6311377351277944564_n

Asia:

  • 2x bikinis – one practical for water activities like diving/watersports, and one pretty one for beach parties
  • 2x t-shirt/long-sleeved top to cover up when visiting temples
  • 1x full length skirt/trousers and 1x shorter skirt
  • 1x denim shorts – they go with everything and don’t show dirt!
  • 1x shorts
  • 3x  tops/vests
  • 2x dresses or playsuits (My wardrobe seems to be made up of one or the other, but I think they are the BEST for dressing up or down.)
  • Pants/socks/bras – you decide, but trust me you’ll need a lot less than you think. You’ll be spending most days in bikinis and flip flops, so keep it to a minimum. I took two bras, three pairs of socks and five pairs of pants.
  • 1x leggings and warm top – these are a MUST for when you’re on overnight buses/flights/trains and the air con is on full blast.
  • 1x scarf/pashmina – great for covering up in religious places and warming up if it gets chilly

Everything else you can buy there!11112211_10152889525942617_4295118282751061184_n

Australia:

  • 1x leggings/workout leggings – trust me, these were my most worn items when travelling around or during the winter.
  • 1x big shirt to wear over clothes (my checkered shirt was my fave travelling item and will be the first thing I pack when I go back!)
  • 1x jumper – trust me, Australia gets cold too and you will want a warm sweatshirt!
  • 1x jeans – if you arrive in winter like I did, these are a must!
  • 1x denim shorts, the staple of every travelling girl’s wardrobe
  •  When it comes to underwear you may want a little bit more with you as you’ll use them more in Oz and washing is more expensive.
  • 1x smart dress for job interviews/nights out to fancy clubs if you choose.
  • 5x tops – take a mixture of styles as the weather can vary depending on where you’re going
  • 2x bikinis – one practical for water activities like diving/watersports, and one pretty one for beach parties
  • 2x playsuits/dresses/skirts for nights out

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TOP TIPS:

  1. Always choose patterned and coloured items, white turns grey very quickly when you’re travelling and patterns will hide any unfortunate stains. Also, choose hard-wearing fabrics, don’t go for anything delicate or anything that will crease easily.
  2. If you have to buy clothes in Australia, head to the Op-Shops – they’re amazing and full of vintage/bargains often fresh out of the shops!

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Other practical items

These ones are good ones to remember for any destination:

  • A large padlock for lockers, or even the door to your hut.
  • A small torch
  • A travel towel – takes up half the space and dries much faster
  • Plastic bags – don’t waste money on packing cells when bags will do the same job, just don’t be the person who wakes everyone up rustling in the middle of the night.
  • A sarong for the beaches – don’t bother with a beach towel
  • Jacket/coat/raincoat – look carefully at the weather and time of year you are going. Winter in Australia – you need a jacket. Wet season in Asia – a raincoat is a good idea.
  • A hat – if you burn easily this is important for protection.
  • A smaller carry-on rucksack
  • 2x Adapters so you can charge multiple items

10407945_10153743643145744_3804068750240679927_nSo there you have it – my ultimate girl’s packing guide for a long-term trip. Best thing to always remember is that if you’re starting out in Asia it is a much better idea to buy clothes out there. If you’re spending several months in Asia and have no space to pack for Australia – why not do what I did and send a holdall of clothes back from Asia then either raid charity shops in Australia. Or if you fancy some of your slightly more stylish clothes from back home, get your mum to post out a few of your favourites from home. It’s much cheaper than you think to do this and it can be lovely to get a care package from home with all your favourite goodies, plus it’s always a lovely idea to send a package of gifts for your family. I sent mine a package of jewellery, coconut oil, clothes and Vietnamese coffee – what will you send back from your travels?

If you’re thinking of sending gifts home or want your family to send out packages to you, why not try out Shiply? The courier service will deliver to almost anywhere in the world and will take all manner of items – perfect for travelers all over the globe.

Disclaimer: This was a sponsored post but as usual all opinions are my own.10417584_10152668456562617_4921039091851626771_n

What are your packing essentials for a long-term trip? Which items have been your most worn when travelling?

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