Packing for a Life of Travel

January 4, 2013 | , ,

It’s time to make your dream of living your ideal life, anywhere in the world, a reality. Your money plan is in place, and you’ve plotted your escape, figured out where you’re going, and worked out some of the travel logistics.

The next step is to start packing! This is Step 4 in the 7 Steps to a Life of Travel.

Now that you know where you’re going, it should be easier to decide what to take with you.

If you’re going to an urban environment and planning to stay more or less in one place, you’ll be fine with clothes similar to what you use at home and a normal suitcase. (Be sure to research local customs; you don’t want to pack a suitcase full of tank tops if you’re going to a conservative country where the locals dress more modestly.)

If you’ll be moving around a lot or trekking the outback, you’ll want to take clothes and shoes that are up for the challenge, and perhaps a backpack instead of a suitcase.

If you’ll be doing some of both, consider hybrid options: clothes that stand up to the outdoors but look nice enough for city living, and a roller bag that converts to a backpack.

If you’ll be working on the road, start thinking about what equipment you’ll need to take with you: a rugged laptop, reliable external hard drive(s), a camera, an unlocked international cell phone, a small router to turn wired Internet into a Wi-Fi hub, etc. Prepare yourself to be able to work without Internet access when necessary. Figure out how to make your work as paperless and mobile as possible.

Try to keep it simple when it comes to everything else, but consider taking some small items that give you a sense of home away from home, especially if you’re planning to stay in one place for a while: spices so you can cook your favorite foods, a yoga mat, art supplies, small good luck charms, etc.

The longer you’re on the road, the harder it can be to pack light, but the more important it can be, too. You’ll probably get tired of lugging around a lot of stuff, yet you might also get tired of wearing the same clothes all the time! Find the balance that works for you. (Here’s my own detailed packing list.)

Once you have a pretty good idea of what you’re taking with you, you’ll need to find a home for everything you’re leaving behind.

The most extreme approach is to get rid of everything you’re not taking with you. Selling or giving away almost everything you own can be emotionally and physically taxing, but it can also be incredibly liberating (and will give you more money for traveling!). Have a garage sale, post things on Craiglist or eBay, or donate items to the Salvation Army, your local library, or another organization.

If you’re planning to return to the same home, or aren’t sure what you’ll be doing next, you might want to take a more moderate approach. (But you probably still have a lot of stuff you can get rid of!) If you’re renting out your home, you can leave a lot of household items where they are, but you’ll need to declutter as much as possible and find a place to store all personal items like clothes, papers, keepsakes, and anything of value.

Rent a storage space, leave some boxes with someone you trust, or secure your stuff in a part of your own home. (TIP: If there’s any chance of water damage where you’re storing your belongings, place things like important papers and photos in plastic bins instead of cardboard boxes.)

Keep decluttering, start packing, and buy anything you’re missing. You’re almost ready to go!

Read about the next step, Disengage and Automate, here.

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