I left Indonesia on 3rd August 2016, I didn’t know that I would be travelling on a yearlong trip. At the time I thought we’d be going for two months. Three tops! It’s been 8,5 months already (you can read the reality of my long-term travel here)! And though we are constantly changing our plans I know I need to be back in Indonesia in August.

When I departed the plan was to fly to India through KL, spend 2 weeks in Rajasthan, 2 weeks in Darjeeling and Sikkim, 2 weeks in Delhi (we ended up spending 1 week-ish in Udaipur and 3 days in Jaisalmer), 2 weeks in Ladakh and 3 weeks in Nepal (Kathmandu, Pokhara). So I prepared myself (just) for India and Nepal basically.

I brought some moderate clothes (I was worried that I couldn’t wear short + sleeveless top in India, but it actually depends where in India are you travelling to), some trekking equipment and warm clothes. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but my backpack was overflowing.

Now, 8,5 months later my bag is emptier than before. I have learned that I don’t really need a lot of stuff. Yes, true that there are a few things that I wish I had with me, but I feel fine about what I brought. Since I am a carry-on the plane traveller, it means that there are things to sacrifice. I simply can’t have it all.

I’ll share some of practical tips for those who are thinking of long-term travel (either 1 month, 2 months, 1 year or even longer) and things that I learned during my travels (packing related). Hope you can find them useful!

Behind me is Lake Malawi. It is so huge it feels like looking out over the ocean!

1. You can always buy stuff you forget to bring

Travelling long term doesn’t really mean that you carry ‘everything’ with you. The key is to carry things that you need (not things that you might need). Why? Because at the end of the day you can always buy stuff you forget/don’t bring if you really need them during your journey.

2. Understand your needs

Knowing where you’re travelling helps you pack. Are you going to travel to a tropical country/to a cold country? Do you require technical clothes for trekking/hiking? How long will you be travelling? Are you going to attend formal events?

Tips: You can always give away things you don’t need. During my 8,5 months of travelling I have already given away my jumper, several t-shirts, my old shorts, changed sandals 3 times and of course bought several things along the way.

3. Don’t pack to the brim

You’re going to want to buy stuff as you travel. If you’re struggling to close your bag before you leave then you’ll have no space for new stuff. Plus, you just need space in your bag. I’ve lost times of the number of times I have packed and unpacked my bag in a rush!

4. Bring some string (or two)

I carry 2 pieces of strings with me at all times. It’s one of the most useful things I have. There are times you’ll need to do laundry in your room and a piece of string makes for a crazy useful washing line. PS: I wash my underwear by myself. It is so easy and so great to have clean underwear every day.

5. Sarong/a piece of fabric is always useful

It is a must really! You can use it for a seat cover on the beach, to cover yourself after swimming, use it as a blanket, as a skirt, as a scarf… Ahh, if you have the imagination the options are endless.

6. Bring one formal/smart dress

Omg I always confused whenever I need to go somewhere fancy. I just don’t have the outfit. Probably carry 1 black smart light weighted dress next time is useful! Why don’t you buy it, Firsta? Guess what… I never find the one that I really want (and comfortable having it for a while). At some countries, it is a bit tricky to find basic clothing.

7. Bring small sewing kit. Believe me!

When I say small sewing kit, it is actually really small one. There are some clothes incidents, which caused you, wish that you have a sewing kit with you. I’ve been using my sewing kit quite often. It is so useful. Just get a thick piece of paper, put 2-3 needles and have a little bit of several color threads with it.

8. Get yourself quick dry underwear and quick dry t-shirts/tank tops

I did tell you about I wash my own underwear, right? I bought several pieces of quick dry underwear. The best thing ever! Same with t-shirts; I have 2-3 quick dry t-shirts are so good. You can wash them at night, rinse them, roll them in a towel (so the towel absorb all the water), dry them, and can guarantee they will be dry the next morning!

9. Use packing cubes

I love packing cubes! They are great to compress clothes and compartmentalize your wardrobe. I use packing cubes for cables, underwear + bikini + socks. It is so easy to find stuff when everything is classified.

10. Pack medicine + make up – at minimal

If there’s any medicine you use from time to time then bring it. This includes painkillers, face sun cream, moisturizer, lip balm, etc. Remember to keep it minimal as flights have liquid restrictions (especially if you plan to pack a carry-on).

My Cabinzero bag and some of my important stuff 🙂

Bag & 10% discount for you

Speaking about packing, the first thing that you should figure out is the bag that you would like to carry with you. Are you a light traveller and just want to bring a carry-on bag? Would you like to bring luggage?

Since I’ve had some bad experiences with checked in baggage, I choose to pack less and stick with a carry on only. Though yes, it is so nice to check in your baggage and just walk with a small bag to the boarding room, but I can’t imagine the stress that I will have if my checked in baggage went missing or arrived more than 2 days late.

If you pack a carry-on, remember this, choose the bag according to your body size and strength. You want a bag that you can carry comfortably. Trust me, it’s important!

I recently got a new Cabinzero backpack, it is a 44 L (bigger than my previous bag). It is the Cabinzero Classic 44L – Ultra Light Cabin Bag – in Navy blue. I’ve been using it for several trips in Malawi and I’ll tell you what I think about the bag and the reason why I like it.

  • Lightweight

    Empty my Cabinzero bag weight 760 grams (approx) which is great! You know that airlines usually limit the weight of a carry-on bag to 7 kg, so it is essential to make sure your bag is lightweight.

  • Cabin bag size

    I’m happy my bag can fit in the cabin 🙂 It’s the perfect size to fit in the overhead compartments and it’s big enough that I can fit lots of stuff in.

  • Front loader

    I love front loader bags. They are such a useful feature when you’re packing and unpacking all the time. My last bag only opened at the top and it was a real pain.

  • Lockable zipper

    It’s nice to know that you can lock your bag up if you need to. With my Cabinzero I can lock the zipper of the bag (with an additional padlock). It offers a bit of extra protection.

If you are looking for a cabin bag size, I can say that Cabinzero is a great bag. Psst, I worked with Cabinzero to get you, my blog readers, a 10% discount for shopping at Cabinzero. Check out their collection here and don’t forget to input the promo code: CZHELLOFIRSTA. This promo is valid for 30 days only so hurry up (only until 24th May 2017)!

When I packed my stuff, I didn’t have a clue I would travel to Africa!

Qs about packing from my Instagram:

Question: Long term travel packing tips for a girl with a hijab?

Answer: While I can’t give specific tips on this (as I am not wearing a hijab), I think it is pretty much the same with any long term travel packing tips. Just pack a few extra hijabs 🙂

Question: When you start to pack for your travels? A week before the trip? Is that sufficient?

Answer: I usually make the packing list far before the trip start. It can be like 1-4 weeks before the trip (depends on my excitement towards the trip. Haha). While I make my packing list early (and buy/prepare things that I need for the trip), I am kind of a last minute packer. I really pack my bag 1-2 days before the trip.

Question: Do you hate or love packing?

Answer: Haha it is a love hate relationship! Packing can be quite stressful when you do it last minute (I do sometimes want to carry everything!). It is fun to know that you can manage to figure important things you need to bring during your trip and fit them in your choice of bag. It feels good!

Question: Backpack or suitcase? – and what you do when you miss your home country?

Answer: Since I’m mobile during my travels, I prefer a backpack. I love trekking and I can say yes to any trekking opportunities during my travels as I have a backpack. However, if I go for a 3-day trip and stay in the same hotel, I would probably bring a small suitcase.
What I do when I miss my home country? Umm.. I usually message/call my family/friends and talk in Indonesian with them hahaha. Or find a nice coffee, or something similar to Indonesian food.

Last but not least, before you leave, create a packing list. Sure it seems old-fashioned, but it’s a great way to prepare (and avoid forgetting things).

Do you have any questions about packing for long-term travel? Or probably you have additional tips to share? Let me know in the comment section below.