How do you pack the right clothing for a trip around the world, spanning several months or even years? We definitely had to make sacrifices in what we chose to bring as there is limited space in a backpack. We wanted to make sure what we brought was functional but also looked good. We needed clothes for working on a horse ranch in Canada, as well as semi-decent clothes to be able to have a nice dinner and not look homeless. We needed warm clothes for harsh winters and cool clothes for the summer heat. In short, we needed to be prepared for anything that came our way.
Here’s what we came up with.
I have a tough time packing for a weekend away let alone a trip lasting an indefinite amount of time and spanning several seasons. I did a ton of research and found the following tips helped me a lot:
- Layering is KEY. Think of outfits that can both be worn alone and look good with a sweater/jacket over.
- Stick to one color scheme. This will keep you looking put together.
- Try all of your outfits on before you go! Oh how I wish I had taken the time to do this. It would have saved me time and money spent fixing my wardrobe on the go. Seriously – I know it’s a huge hassle but it is definitely worth it.
- Use packing cubes!! They were a life saver on the trip and I wouldn’t dare go anywhere without them now.
Alright now let’s get down to specifics. This is everything I ended up bringing:
- Dresses & tops
- 1 long summer dress
- 2 short summer dresses
- 3 sweaters
- 3 tank tops – 1 black, 1 white, 1 striped
- 4 blouses
- 2 t shirts for lounging and sleeping
- Lower body
- 1 black maxi skirt
- 1 pair of white shorts
- 1 pair jeans – DEFINITELY worth the extra weight
- 1 pair of black pants
- 1 pair of athletic capris
- 1 pair of yoga pants for sleeping and exercise (bought these on the road at a target and don’t know why I didn’t pack these initially. I wore them almost every day)
- 1 pair of athletic shorts
- Outer wear
- 1 light athletic jacket
- North Face jacket
- Cute warm jacket – I honestly got sick of wearing my north face jacket all the time so bought this in Prague at H&M, my go-to on the road store
- Puffy vest
- 1 cardigan (bought on the road)
- 2 scarves (bought one on the road)
- 1 beanie
- 2 bras – one black, one nude strapless
- 3 sports bras
- 10 pairs of underwear – ExOfficio are great for travel and dry quickly after washing
- 7 pairs of socks – 5 pairs of short thorlo ankle socks and 2 pairs of thorlo wool socks
- 1 swimsuit
My clothing list is pretty simple. In fact, it’s so simple, I’m just going to show you a picture of the clothes packed as well as a few of my favorites. Here’s a few of my tips that I’ve learned over the last few years:
- It’s so much easier to pack just a few sets of clothes starting out. This does a couple of things: keeps your initial pack weight down and makes you realize you don’t need much to survive. If you want another t-shirt or something while you’re abroad, just buy one.
- Don’t be afraid to buy cheap clothes. I’d say the opposite for shoes, but with clothes it doesn’t matter so much. My favorite story regarding this: When I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2012, I started out with a $50 REI high-tech, world-hunger solving long-sleeve shirt. I hated it. What I ended up with was an $8 Wal-Mart t-shirt that lasted me for over 1700 miles. Don’t be afraid to buy cheap clothes!
- I’m going to mirror what Shelly said above. Layering is KEY. Weather is too unpredictable, especially in unfamiliar environments. It’s just easier to wear a t-shirt, then a long sleeve shirt, then a jacket if need be.
So it really depends on what kind of trip I’m going on, but I’ll usually carry the following:
- Two pairs of pants. Since H&M is so popular in the States as well as Europe, I’ll usually carry a couple pairs of grey pants.
- Two pairs of jeans. One pair of work jeans, one pair of dark jeans. You know, for when I wanna chop wood and then go on a date.
- Three or so t-shirts. Same deal as the jeans. A few to work in and get dirty, a few to walk around and explore towns.
- Long sleeve shirt. Sometimes you’ve just gotta look nice, amiright?
- Sweatshirt. For when it starts to get just a lil’ chilly (also my new rapper name.)
- Heavy jacket. I picked up the one in the picture from Tesco, which is like an enormous Target very popular in Czech Republic. It’s surprisingly good quality and keeps me nice and toasty when it gets too cold for me (basically anything below 40°)
- Five pairs of boxers. Sure, let’s talk about them. I’ve pretty much exclusively used ExOfficio Give ‘N Go since I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2012. If they can withstand 2,100+ miles of hiking, they can withstand literally anything.
- Four pairs of thick socks. I wear them with my boots. My favorite are from Darn Tough and just like my boxers, they last forever.
- Three pairs of short socks. For wearing tennis shoes when I get tired of wearing boots.
- Scarf. I’ve never been much of a scarf kind of guy, but when the temperature dips too low I sucked it up and bought one from H&M. Shelly had to teach me how to wear it, but now I have to admit that I do love wearing it.
- Beanie. Got mine online somewhere several years ago. It makes my head itch like crazy, but when it’s cold enough I’ll do anything.
Back row – These were the 4 shoes I originally packed for our 6 month trek across North America and Europe.
1. Teva Women’s Tirra Athletic Sandal – I really like this athletic sandal – it’s comfortable, molds to your feet, and unlike Chaco’s they don’t have that annoying strap around the toe thing. However, I probably could have done without it on my 6 month adventure. I imagined we would be doing more hiking and outdoorsy things but when we ended up settling in Prague for 3 months I decided to ship these back home. They will definitely be my go-to sandals for some summer hiking trips though!
2. The North Face Ultra Guide Tennis Shoe – I picked up this pair of sneakers at The North Face outlet store on sale and truly adore them. They are extremely lightweight which is important to have in a travel tennis shoe. They’re very comfortable and were great for walking and doing some intermediate trail hiking. I also used them to run approximately 2 times while abroad, so you know…they’re probably good for that too.
3. Teva Mush Mandalyn Ola 2 Flip Flop – The name of these flip flops is a little ridiculous, yes, BUT they are literally the best shoes I’ve ever purchased. They are insanely comfortable, mold to your feet perfectly and have never let me down. The 2 inch wedge is a life saver for short girls looking for some comfortable height in their life (guilty). I’ve worn them for Music Festivals, standing in the pit of a Mumford and Sons concert for 8 hours (we had to get there insanely early to get a front row spot, and yes, it was the best day of my life), in hostel showers, and for everyday activities. I’ve had them for several years now and they have virtually no wear and tear on them. Seriously, just do yourself a favor and buy some of these. $30 is WELL worth the investment. In fact I think I’m going to buy another color right now…
4. Sorel Tivoli Waterproof Winter Boot – I remember coveting this boot for a solid month before luckily finding it on sale at DSW one day. I wore them a lot on our 6 month trip and it held up really well. The sole and front part of the boot are waterproof and I never had any issues with leakage. They always kept my feet warm, even in the chilly Prague winter. One of the dogs on the ranch we worked on in British Columbia even thought they made a good chew toy, so there’s that. Thankfully they only had some minor scarring before I realized what was happening! The only issue I had with them was that sometimes if my socks were too thin, they would rub against my achilles tendon after wearing them for a few hours.
Front row – I bought these two pairs of shoes on the road when we decided to hang around Prague for 3 months
5. H&M Flats – I bought these for about $12 USD at H&M in Prague. They weren’t overly comfortable but did the job. The tip of the shoe wore down rather quickly which is to be expected with cheap flats.
6. H&M Wedges – These were more expensive at about $40 USD but I was craving a heel/wedge for weeks so I decided to take the hit. Turns out it was a good investment because these are some of the most comfortable wedges I’ve ever owned behind my TOMS Desert Wedge – which are seriously incredible. Great for nights out on the town or just when I wanted to feel a little more put together (and tall).
1. The Sorrel Men’s Woodbine Surplus Boot is what I wore 90% of the time. They’re comfortable, have Sorel’s outstanding quality and look good. I even had a random girl on a train in Prague stop me and ask what they were cause she liked them so much!
3. I’ve never been much of a sandals kind of guy, but these Teva Men’s Terra Fi Sandals are awesome. They will literally form to your feet, and I know people who will wear nothing else. And because they were first stolen off my front porch by some awful apartment neighbors I had, Amazon replaced them without any hassle.
4. I’ve been wearing Superfeet Copper Insoles for 3 years now, and I can’t imagine using anything else. If my shoe will allow it (some shoes have permanent insoles), I’ll always put them in. I used them when I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2012. I swear, I will use them for the rest of my life.