Long-term Travel Packing List Dilemmas

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  • Post last modified:01/11/2023
Long-term Travel Packing List Dilemmas, all items laid out on bed
Long-term Travel Packing List Dilemmas, all items laid out on bed

If you’re looking for a useful long-term travel packing list, then sorry but I’m afraid this post won’t be much help. I’m awful at packing light, always have been and after 10 years of trying to refine my technique I probably always will be. Packing is by far my least favourite part of travelling, I’d even go so far as to say I hate it.

Therefore I’m not going to try to give advice on something I’m rubbish at, instead here’s a different angle on this subject. This isn’t the perfect packing list, instead, it’s the dilemmas I faced packing to leave the UK to travel, live and work abroad. I hope it’s something those terrible packers amongst you can relate to. 

Packing Dilemmas

When planning for our big adventure one of the most difficult things for me was deciding what to pack. On my previous long-term trip of 15 months, 10 years before this one, I massively overpacked and was forced to dump a quarter of my belongings about a month into the trip. My backpack was so heavy I literally couldn’t put it on without help. Walking further than a few steps was near on impossible; it proved a traumatic experience for any travelling companions – namely my sister!

Subsequent two and three-week trips weren’t much better. I always try to pack light, am not overly bothered about my appearance, and never carry a hair dryer and straightener. However, for some unfathomable reason, my bag always ends up as big as me or if it’s a smaller one it almost bursts at the seams. I just don’t know why! So for this trip, I was determined to pack light and began researching long-term travel packing lists and reading posts with ideas for women’s travel essentials, months before we were due to leave.

Most were pretty good, sound advice, but they were all different and I found myself thinking ‘But what about this?’ and ‘What about that?’. The fact that we weren’t only travelling but would also be living and working abroad meant we had more eventualities to be prepared for.

Long-term Travel Packing List, First Attempt

So armed with many ideas from multiple sources I made my first packing attempt about three weeks before we left. Most of our belongings had already been sold and we’d thinned our wardrobes right down. I was expecting it to be an easy task…how wrong I was! As you may have already read in Travel Long-term or Not | The Big Decision, that first packing attempt for this trip was dismal – heavy and large! In my defence, I did have a week ‘holiday – holiday’ (not travelling) with my family in Mallorca before we left Europe. This meant I took several things which I intended to send home with my Mum and sisters when they came back to the UK.

I unpacked and repacked what felt like twenty times over the following few weeks. Several tantrums were thrown in for good measure much to Andy’s amusement. Typically, and just to rub salt in the wound, he’s great at packing. Three pairs of pants, three pairs of socks, two pairs of shorts, a couple of T-Shirts and a pair of jeans…DONE! Plus a first aid kit and survival kit of course (he likes to be prepared)!

Ten minutes before bed the night before departure, I took out a tin mug from my main bag. That gave me just enough room to squeeze in a nice bottle of red wine a friend had given me (got to get your priorities right after all), an extra maxi dress, and a denim skirt. By then I’d managed to lose about a third of the original pile and was confident my hold and cabin luggage were within the weight restrictions. Ignoring Andy’s comments that I looked like a tortoise and that he found it painful to watch me lugging the bags around, I was reasonably happy with my final packing attempt!

Massive backpack on Mangalore Train Station, India

My happiness was short lived. When we arrived at London, Heathrow Airport, I was over the weight limit and had to unpack in the middle of departures. Out came two maxi dresses, a denim skirt, and worst of all, the bottle of wine my friend had given me – gutted!

My Long-term Travel Packing List

In addition to my packing dilemmas and mainly for the preservation of information, I’ll now share the list of what remained in my bags when I left Mallorca to fly to Mumbai, India, the first stop on our adventure.


1 x Vango Freedom 60 + 20L (with rain cover)                                                       

1 x Berghaus Remote 25L (with rain cover)     

1 x small leather black handbag

1 x Vango set of 3 dry bags

1 x make-up bag

Here are some other great travel backpack ideas from The Family Voyage.


1 x Apple iPhone 7                                                                                           

x iPhone charging cable                                                                                     

1 x iPhone headphones                                                                                     

1 x iPhone tempered glass screen protector                                                           

1 x memory stick                                                                                               

1 x memory card                                                                                               

x Kindle Fire HD 7″ and leather case                                                                 

x Kindle Fire screen protector                                                                           

1 x blue tooth keyboard and case                                                                       

2 x android charging cable                                                                                 

1 x Olympus D-745 camera and case                                                                   

1 x camera charger                                                                                             

1 x Garmin Forerunner 225 Running Watch                                                           

1 x Garmin charging cable                                                                                 

x mini binoculars


1 x light denim cropped jeggings/ jeans                                                                 

2 x light cotton/ linen trousers                                                                             

2 x ¾ length linen/ cargo trousers                                                                       

1 x Craghopper Kiwi Pro Stretch walking trousers                                                   

1 x jersey maxi dress                                                                                         

2 x knee-length casual jersey dresses                                                                   

1 x jersey travel skirt                                                                                         

1 x black knee-length skirt                                                                                   

2 x hotpants                                                                                                       

1 x walking shorts                                                                                               

2 x light cotton shirts                                                                                           

x light T-shirt                                                                                                 

x casual vest tops                                                                                           

2 x smart vest tops                                                                                             

1 x smart tunic top                                                                                             

1 x sheer long-sleeved top                                                                                   

1 x cardigan                                                                                                       

1 x hoodie                                                                                                         

1 x smart ¾ length trousers                                                                                 

1 x walking/ gym t-shirt                                                                                       

1 x cycling shorts                                                                                               

6 x cotton thong knickers                                                                                     

1 x hipster knickers                                                                                             

2 x sports knickers                                                                                             

2 x sports bras                                                                                                   

6 x lacy thong knickers                                                                                       

3 x t-shirt bras (underwired)                                                                               

3 x lacy bras (underwired)                                                                                   

3 x pairs trainer socks                                                                                         

2 x pairs hiking socks                                                                                         

1 x pair cotton socks                                                                                             

1 x walking hat                                                                                                   

1 x sun hat                                                                                                         

2 x bikini                                                                                                           

1 x large sarong                                                                                                 

1 x scarf                                                                                                             

3 x belts                                                                                                             

2 x sunglasses                                                                                                   

1 x rain poncho


1 x pair trail shoes/ trainers                                                                                                       

1 x pair Teva flip flops                                                                                                             

x pair dressy ballet pumps                                                                                                     

1 x pair walking sandals

Travel accessories

1 x hammock                                                                                                       

1 x LifeSystem BoxNet – Single Mosquito Net                                                          

1 x Petzl Headtorch                                                                                             

1 x paracord                                                                                                       

1 x small handheld torch                                                                                       

1 x small hand-held torch                                                                                     

1 x Wise Owl travel towel                                                                                      

1 x small duct-tape                                                                                             

1 x multi-travel adapter                                                                                       

1 x money belt                                                                                                   

4 x citronella tea-lights                                                                                       

8 x spare AAA batteries                                                                                       

4 x biros                                                                                                           

x sewing kit                                                                                                     

1 x Anker Power Bank     

1 x Water-to-Go filter water bottle (use the code CTWT15 at checkout on the EU website or US website for a 15% discount).                                                        

Safety pins (small and medium)


4 x pairs dressy earrings                                                                                     

1 x pair small hoops                                                                                           

6 x studs                                                                                                           

1 x long pendant necklace                                                                                   

1 x bracelet wedding and engagement rings (wear all the time)

Toiletries and medicines

1 x soap                                                                                                                                         

6 x disposable razors                                                                                                                   

1 x 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner                                                                                         

1 x travel pot of intensive conditioner                                                                                       

1 x frizz curl calming creme                                                                                                       

1 x frizz curl styling spray                                                                                                           

1 x deodorant                                                                                                                               

1 x travel size body lotion                                                                                                           

1 x eye cream                                                                                                                             

1 x face moisturiser                                                                                                                   

1 x multi travel pot containing (talcum powder, Savlon and athletes foot cream)         

2 x mosquito repellant                                                                                                               

2 x factor 30 sun lotion                                                                                                             

1 x travel size factor 50 sun lotion                                                                                         

2 x rehydration sachets                                                                                                             

6 x Alka-Seltzers                                                                                                                         

6 x cystitis medication sachets                                                                                                 

1 x pack of moleskin                                                                                                                 

1 x zinc oxide tape                                                                                                                       

1 x digital thermometer                                                                                                             

1 x toothpaste                                                                                                                             

1 x toothbrush                                                                                                                             

6 x packs of travel tissues                                                                                                         

2 x hand sanitiser                                                                                                                       

1 x antihistimine cream                                                                                           

antihistamine pills                                                                                                               




back pain pills                                                                                                               



travel-sick pills


1 x makeup remover                                                                                                                 

1 x tweezers                                                                                                                                 

1 x nail clippers                                                                                                                           

1 x scissors                                                                                                                                   

4 x emery boards                                                                                                                       

2 x nail polish                                                                                                                             

2 x mascara                                                                                                                                 

1 x face powder                                                                                                                           

1 x BB creme                                                                                                                               

1 x concealer                                                                                                                               

1 x blusher                                                                                                                                   

1 x blusher brush                                                                                                                       

3 x eyeshadows                                                                                                                           

1 x eyeliner                                                                                                                                   

3 x lipsticks                                                                                                                                   

2 x sun protecting lip balm                                                                                                         

1 x vaseline                                                                                                                           

cotton wool                                                                                                                           

cotton buds                                                                                                                                 





flight tickets/ confirmation                                                                             

travel insurance confirmation                                                                   

vaccination card                                                                                           

yellow fever certificate                                                                           

photocopies of passport                                                                             

passport photos


3 x Visa debit cards                                                                                                                   

2 x Visa credit cards                                                                                                                   

1 x card reader                                                                                                                             

2 x A5 spiral notepads                                                                                                                 

1 x snorkel and mask                                                                                                                 

1 x iPhone running armband                                                                                                       

small amount of UK Sterling

small amount of US Dollars

This list was definitely a marked improvement on what I started with, but I soon realised when we arrived in India and had to move around that I still had way too much. In fact reading that list back now it’s actually quite embarrassing.

Lost or Discarded

True to form I managed to lose several items between Mallorca and Cambodia, and also binned some items that broke, most of which I still haven’t missed. Lost or discarded en-route were:

1 x sunhat                                                                                                                                     

1 x favourite green hoody                                                                                                         

1 x favourite green pendant necklace                                                                                     

1 x white shirt                                                                                                                               

1 x multi-travel adaptor (broken)                                                                                             

1 x iPhone travel charger and cable (broken)                                                                     

1 x iPhone cable (broken)                                                                                                           

1 x android travel charger and cable (broken)                                                                     

3 x pairs black thong knickers                                                                                       

Several stud earrings                                                                                                                 

If I had known I could manage without these at the beginning I would have left them behind.

Additions En-route

Luckily I only added three items to my bags whilst we were travelling. The first was a polo shirt I bought during our 3-days in Mumbai, India. I only had one T-shirt that covered my shoulders and having your shoulders exposed in many places in India is a no-no! The second was a pretty green silk scarf my mum-in-law bought me for my birthday. The third was a tube of aloe vera gel, much needed after I got very sunburnt at the Puang Daw Ooo Pagoda Festival on Inle Lake in Myanmar. I also bought some face creams, mascara, face powder and concealer from duty-free in Bangkok whilst waiting for our flight to Siem Reap as digital nomads. These were just replacements though so no extra weight there.

I’ll refer back to this long-term travel packing list ready for our next destination to see if I’ve been able to reduce it. Hopefully, I’ll be travelling much lighter.

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Long-term Travel Packing List Dilemmas, How not to Pack

Is anyone else out there incapable of packing light? If so do you have any packing dilemmas or horror stories to share? 

P.S. You can read more on planning and preparing for long-term travel or moving overseas via this link:

Tanya Korteling

Tanya is the founder and head content creator for Can Travel Will Travel. She combines freelance SEO, CRO, Data and Marketing consultancy with exploring the world. Passionate about adventure, nature, wildlife and food, she incorporates these in her travels as much as possible. She also loves immersing herself in new cultures. She's visited hundreds of destinations in 50+ countries and lived in 4 countries. Tanya worked as a Data Planning Manager and Digital Marketing Strategist before leaving the UK in 2016 with her husband Andy, to travel, live and work abroad indefinitely. Together they share their experiences and useful information to inspire and encourage others to do the same.

This Post Has 30 Comments

  1. Guest post

    What a nice post! Thank you for letting us know.

  2. Archana

    Wonderful post
    Backpacking is a great way of life, just like any lifestyle, it has ups and downs.
    I like to travel, but the problem I am facing is carrying a bag.

    1. TanyaKorteling

      So true, it’s my biggest problem. We’re due to hit the road again in 3 months – this time I’m determined to pack light!

  3. Mags

    I feel your pain! I’ve never had to pack for long term travel, but I have tried to be one of those “2 weeks in a carry on” people and it has never worked well!

    1. TanyaKorteling

      I know nightmare isn’t it! I’m going to report back in Jan 2018 after I pack for Latin America!

  4. Michelle

    I love packing, but I’ve never traveled for longer than a month or two at a time, so I guess I’ve got no room to talk! It always feels like a fun puzzle to me, and it’s interesting to look inward and learn about what kind of things you prioritize. Thanks for sharing!

    1. TanyaKorteling

      Yeah it’s always a bit of a challenge, every short trip I’ve been on since that mammoth packing list I’ve tried to cut down on what I take and also take things that can be used/ worn multiple times! I think I’m getting there 😀

  5. Suruchi

    Woo! This was a quite extensive travel packing list and I am still wondering how did you manage to backpack that much stuff. I really pack light and prefer to buy there itself when on long trips.

  6. Paige W

    I totally feel this! I’m about to embark on a year-long trip and I’m starting the ‘what-the-heck-do-I-pack’ freak out! Haha! My vain side makes me want to take enough of my favorite mascara for a year! Haha!

    1. TanyaKorteling

      Haha I know that feeling – mascara doesn’t take up much space though. I’m still on the same one I started with. It’s lasting well 🙂

  7. Tami

    I’ve never taken a trip more than two weeks, and I never take more than a carry-on and a personal item. I can’t even imagine packing for long-term travel, though. If you’re going somewhere for a lengthy stay, might it not be easier to have some of your clothing shipped ahead to be ready for you? Or wait and buy some of the items when you get there? (like your toiletries, etc.)

    1. TanyaKorteling

      The problem was we travelled for a couple of months before settling in Cambodia for a year so I needed a fair bit of it for the journey. Plus postage to Cambodia is pretty expensive from the UK and it would be hit or miss if it even arrived :-D. Toiletries etc. we do buy out here in emergencies but it’s very expensive (and all skin products have whitening agents) so tend to wait until friends visit and get them to bring anything we’ve run out of. The other thing is we’re actually travelling indefinitely so didn’t want to also ship things out here as we’d then have the problem of getting it all to the next place…we just sold everything we owned instead 😀

  8. Lydia Smith

    What a detailed list. I agree with everything. I can remember begging for hair band when I had surplus back home.

    1. TanyaKorteling

      Haha yes – despite taking all that I’m still getting friends to bring me back things like toiletries and underwear when they visit or other things that have been lost or broken!

  9. Natasha

    Haha I am the complete opposite when I go travelling! I take a little amount of clothes and then our filming gear. On our trip to South East Asia we are planning on going as light as we possibly can! However saying that, packing is still hard on what to take and what not to haha!

    1. TanyaKorteling

      Light is definitely the way to go for sure, I have no filming gear but next time I’ll be travelling with a laptop for work so I will 100% have to cut back on everything else!

  10. Jenna

    Packing can be so hard sometimes! I always find that I pack less for longer trips than shorter ones–I’m not sure why, lol! Thanks for sharing what you pack–always nice to see what others bring with when they travel!

    1. TanyaKorteling

      Yes definitely, I’m really embarrassed looking back on that huge list now…but it’s a good basis for cutting down next time!

  11. Jane M

    Whoa, when you lay it all out there like that in a big list it looks like so much stuff – amazing that you can fit in all into two relatively small bags. Great list, thanks for sharing. I’m always curious to see what other people have in their packs.


    1. TanyaKorteling

      It was a silly amount….never again – haha!

  12. Becky

    Wow this really is the ultimate list. I’m also a fan of dry bags too, they are perfect for so many things and really help organise my bag. I tend not to take much jewellery as I like to treat myself when I’m away 🙂

    1. TanyaKorteling

      I agree the dry bags really help compress things and get more in! Next time I’m not taking much jewellery, I’ve only worn a couple of pairs of earrings!

  13. Victoria

    YES!!! This is so me!!! I cannot pack light so I appreciated your more in depth packing list! It’s more to my liking than simple and tiny ones!

    1. TanyaKorteling

      Haha; glad I’m not alone. However, this is by no means a recommended list, I’d recommend trying to take at least a third less than this! That’s what I’ll aim for next time!

  14. Fiona Mai

    This detailed list is so useful – I like that you’ve grouped these things into different categories for ease of checking. I always feel like I have not packed enough, just to find out after the trip that I actually don’t need dozens of things that I bring along. 🙁

    1. TanyaKorteling

      Yes that’s what I found too! Next time a good proportion of that list won’t be going with me!

  15. Felicia Broccolo

    Wow this is so detailed and helpful!! I just moved to another country for a year and packing was sooo hard!! And you did it in a backpack?! So so impressive!

    1. TanyaKorteling

      Definitely don’t use it as a guide on what to pack…it was way too much. Learn from my mistakes – haha!

  16. Shannon

    That list is impressive! I had the opposite problem, totally underpacked and have needed to buy so much stuff on the way…

    1. TanyaKorteling

      Packings always a challenge one way or another. I’m definitely going down the minimalistic route next time!

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