We’re off! Six weeks in Mexico, maybe more. It’s agonizing trying to decide what to take, but I finally packed everything in my Osprey Porter 46 and a small tote bag.
Joe managed to get six weeks of gear into a Jansport school backpack (I’m jealous!) He’s never been on a long-term trip, but somehow managed to pack about half as much as I did in 1/3 the time.
How did we do this? By answering a few questions, carefully planning, and leaving things we can purchase on the road at home.
Suitcase or Travel Backpack?
The very first question that you need to ask yourself is do you want to take a small (less than 22 inches) carry-on suitcase with wheels, or do you want to take a backpack? Some questions to ask yourself when you make this decision are:
- How far will I be walking?
- Can I comfortably carry my backpack for up to an hour?
- Will I be able to wheel my suitcase wherever I go?
Personally, I believe carrying a backpack is the easiest option. I own a 22″ Samsonite Carry-on suitcase and an Osprey Porter 46 backpack that packs like a suitcase. I occasionally take the suitcase, but not if I know I have to walk a long distance over several modes of transportation.
There were many situations during this trip that carrying the weight of the backpack far outweighed the awkwardness of a suitcase on wheels.
Start Packing Early
Start packing early so you’ll have time to take out the things you don’t need. I used to start weeks in advance for a long-term trip. This time I started the week before I left, laid out what I wanted, then started eliminating items to cut weight. In the end we just have our two carry-on bags, plus my tote bag, and that includes all electronic gear!
Leave the Toiletries at Home
On previous trips I used to pack every thing under the sun of to save money, and make sure all of my favorite items were readily available. This time I left it all behind and took only my favorite face wash, homemade deodorant, a few essential oils, and a small toothpaste. Everything is cheaper here! Plus it’s just as nice or nicer than the products I use at home.
Put Back 1/3 of What You Packed
This goes along with the earlier discussion. Put back 1/3 to 1/2 of the things you plan to take. You don’t need it, and you’ll find plenty of nice cheap things almost anywhere you’re going.
Bring a Small Empty Daypack
How else are you going to bring home all those souvenirs and clothes? The airlines (we flew American) are getting strict about carry-on limits so if you already have your carry-on bag plus a small personal item, you’re not going to be able to add a daypack.
Electronics and Photography
Nikon D3300 DSLR Camera in Red iPad Mini 4
VanGoddy Camera Case iPhone 5s
Battery Charger & Extra SD Card Altec Lansing Bluetooth Speaker
ASUS Zen Book UX305 Cords & Chargers in One Pouch
Thule 13in Laptop Case
3 Lightweight Dresses Hiking Shoes
3 Pair Linen/Cotton Shorts Dressy Walking Sandals
4 cotton/linen t-shirts Flip-Flops
1 long-sleeve white t-shirt 1 bikini
2 cotton sports bras 1 sarong cover-up (doubles as a blanket or towel)
Personal Hygiene Items
Lush Solid Shampoo and Conditioner
Peppermint, Lavender, Terra Shield, & Purify Essential Oils
Toothpaste & Toothbrush, Face Wash, & Moisturizer
Minimal Makeup consisting of concealer, mascara, and lip gloss (everything else’s going to sweat off anyway).
Vitamins Travel Towel
Ibuprofen Travel Pillow
I hope you enjoyed our post on how to pack like a pro for six weeks of travel. Do you have any must-have items you take with you? Do you prefer a suitcase or backpack? We would love to hear what you think! Please leave us a comment below.