SF backpacks


What to pack for an epic overseas trip of 6 months (or more!)

Published October 8th, 2014

Everyone knows the first rule of packing for a holiday – take half the clothes and double the money – but what about when you need to stuff the entire contents of your life into a bag and carry it around on your back for six months or more? If you plan to hit up multiple stops on your round-the-world trip, or decamp to one spot for a working holiday, you’ll also need to think about different seasons and what activities you plan on doing. Even if you have mad ninja packing skills, one carry-on bag is not going to cut it for a long-term trip. So, here’s the essentials to pack for an epic overseas trip of 6 months or more.



1. Get a backpack (or a large suitcase)

Travelling around Asia on a shoestring? Dragging a wheeled suitcase behind you from rickshaw to the beach screams tourist. On the flipside, if you’re furthering your career in London on a gap year, you’ll appreciate some sleek baggage that’s not crinkling your power suit and fits under a bed. Opt for a study backpack or suitcase that has easy zip-around access. The top-opening backpacks where you have to rummage around for what you want gets old. Real quick.



2. Pack for every occasion

For a round-the-world trip, take one outfit for trekking, one for sightseeing outside, one for sightseeing inside (think museums and religious monuments where you’ll need to cover up), a going-out outfit (a dress-up or dress-down dress for girls and some good pants and dress shoes for guys), and your go-to comfy clothes for travelling on planes, trains and camels, as well as going running or to the gym. Toss in your underwear, socks, PJs and swimmers and you’re covered. Literally.


3. Pack for your intended activities

Think about what you’ll be doing on your overseas or round-the-world trip and pack accordingly. Working at a ski resort in Canada? Pack your thermals and waterproof boots. Going from the beach to the jungle around Asia? Take your watersports necessities (or hire them) and comfy shoes. Volunteering with animals or in remote communities? Long pants, waterproof shoes and moisture-wicking fabrics will be a godsend. If clubbing and cultural activities is more your thing, see above.



4. Pack for all seasons

If you’re away from home for a while, layering is not just a trend; it’ll be your capsule wardrobe’s best styling tip. Pack items that you can layer for warmth and strip off when it gets too hot. Think light jumpers, long-sleeve tops and streamlined jackets that you can also wear while travelling so they don’t take up too much room in your luggage. Of course, if you’re going to a hot climate first, pack summer clothes and beachwear and buy the bulky cold weather gear at your final destination.



5. How many shoes can I get away with?

Ah, the shoedrobe. First up, don’t take shoes that are not broken in. You will be walking – a lot – and those new shoes are guaranteed to give you blisters. Shoes are the one thing that’s not a good idea to buy on the fly. On a big OS trip, you can get away with three pairs of shoes – open-toe shoes, comfy flats and trainers. Throw in a pair of thongs if you’ll be showering in spots of dubious hygiene quality. Ladies, buy your heels on your travels. Hey, any excuse for new shoes...


Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.