Packing Light for a Long Adventure!

When we tell folks we are preparing for a 7 to 9 month journey to Australia and New Zealand, one of the questions is often “how do you pack for that?” Especially when the person realizes we will be there during both summer and winter months. Well, here is how we pack!

For this trip, we both started thinking about what to take fairly early on as we had multiple considerations: three different seasons, very large countries with different temperate zones, activities from touring cities and wineries to hiking in mountains, scuba and snorkeling to fine dining on a cruise ship and more! So, we had a fine line to balance in terms of variety and use of clothes. We have accepted that we are, by inclination, pretty far to the casual end of the spectrum no matter what the travel is, but the cruise ship we are taking has formal nights, so we didn’t want to be too far off, even if we didn’t fully participate in “formal.” This means I brought 2 dresses and skorts instead of shorts and Dan packed a travel sport coat and travel pants instead of cargo pants.

There are lots of blogs and travel websites that will give packing advice, for minimalists, for carry-on only, for having all that you need and even more scenarios. I am not going to go into a ton of detail in this post, but since so many of our friends and family asked, I am going to give you some information. First off, since it was such a big trip, we did use several trips earlier this year to test our packing and clothing strategies. We were able to take everything we planned to pack on a road trip with multiple stops and lots of cold weather – that validated that our layering strategy would work and that we could pack and re-pack without too much fuss. We also made a list of what we took and made notes about what worked, then we adjusted. After a few trips and adjustments we are both happy with the plan!

Whatever advice you follow make sure it makes sense to you and you can live with whatever limitations they give you. Many sites recommend 3 tops to 1 bottom, but for this trip and the variety of temperatures and activities, I could not make that work, so I have a bottom to top ratio that is closer to 1 to 1. By the way, I found that women’s golf clothes are great travel clothes, they are comfortable, quick dry, HAVE POCKETS and are a little more tailored that camping gear. One more consideration for me was that I had to like everything enough to wear it a lot over then next months, but no so much that if I find something I love while we travel I am not willing to ditch it so I have space for the new thing!

Here is what Lisa is taking:

Here is what Dan is taking:


Next, there is some methodology involved. We both use packing cubes, of course I use 7 and Dan uses 1, but that is for another type of post. Also, I roll my clothes and Dan folds his. Below are 3 packing cubes with my clothes, a shoe bag, my coat and rain gear and the outfit I am wearing on the plane – much less space than the 4 pictures of stuff I showed earlier.


Another point is that the type of clothes matter. We both have amassed a collection of “travel” and hiking clothes that are quick dry, don’t wrinkle or hold wrinkles, and can be used in both casual and active situations. They also all pack up small. I even found a nice pair of jeans that are thin, quick dry, have some stretch and fold up the same size as hiking pants. Our down jackets and rain gear also squish down, a lot. We try to have things that do double duty as well, like our rain hats end up being our sun hats too!

We have been packing carry-on for a while. On one of our first big trips together Dan challenged me to go carry-on because we were going to be staying in four different places on a 10-day trip. That was quite the challenge for me in those days as I was a “just in case” packer and always had everything I might need for a variety of unlikely situations. But, with a bet on the line, I managed to do it, and boy was it liberating. No waiting for bags, no worrying bags would not make it, easily hauling your stuff around, the option for last minute travel changes and so many more benefits. And besides, we seldom travel to places that don’t have some stores.

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” ― Alfred Wainwright, A Coast to Coast Walk




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