How many days of clothes do you recommend packing? Did you bring a hard suitcase or a soft pack? What other considerations should I be aware of for packing for my year abroad?
Yes. Bring exactly 1/2 of whatever you THINK you need 😉
No but seriously, you will over-pack. That is a fact. Here’s my best advice on the packing front:
- Bring only one large checked luggage item. I started Remote Year with a 29″ Samsonite hard shell suitcase and a 55-liter REI internal frame pack. It was just double what I really needed and I ended up paying the $70/mo extra baggage fee on every flight. Dumb.
- Having traveled now for a little over a year and a half, I’ve found that 2 weeks worth of clothes is the optimal amount. Less and you’re doing laundry more than you like. More and it’s just excessive stuff.
- Bring mostly darks. You won’t likely be separating your laundry when you wash it which means your whites will get dingy over time unless you’re disciplined enough to separate them and do dedicated loads for darks/lights.
- I settled on ditching the Samsonite hard case and just using the REI pack. This gives you good flexibility if you are changing locales frequently and end up having to walk a lot with your luggage over uneven ground.
- TSA luggage locks have been compromised and are mostly worthless. Zip ties make a great poor man’s luggage lock in this ^ situation. I cover this and other hacks on Day 5 of this course.
- Make sure you bring a collapsible day pack if you intend to do side trips. Most of the people in our group (including myself) used the New Outlander day pack. It’s a light-weight option that collapses down to nothing and allows you to do weekend trips without bringing a massive suitcase.
You will literally never once say “I wish I had brought more stuff,” only the reverse so take that into account. Last bit of advice: if you know the airlines you’ll be using ahead of time it’s a good idea to research the weight limits and baggage constraints of checked and carry-on luggage. Most airlines limit to 23kg (~50lbs) so plan accordingly.