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How to Pack For One Year

And How You Pack for one Year

Thinking, nature, wondering what to pack
So much to think about...

What Do We Need to Pack?

We are travelling for a year. We will not be going home at any point so what we have in our bags is extremely important… or so I thought before we took off on our adventure. I took packing very seriously, almost considered it an art, and thought a lot about what we should bring. How many bags, what will be practical and the easiest for us to carry? How much clothes? How much toys for kids? Which shoes?

Let me tell you - I found the trick to... but read on, and I'll share it with you.

An Emotional Packing Process...

Let me start by admitting, I probably have too much clothes with me, and I say this, as I have clothes in my backpack that I haven’t worn yet. I’m still not quite ready to admit it, as I keep telling myself that I will use it when we get to another place… which I still plan on. My problem is that I have some clothes that I seem to be rather attached to. This means that I can’t just leave it behind somewhere if I don’t use it.

I did a lot of research before I started to pack, but often when I saw a list of what people were packing, it didn’t resonate with me. How do I know that I have the same priorities as these people when it comes to clothing? Are they hikers, beach people, fine diners, thinking about what they wear? Am I willing to put on a dirty shirt or pair of pants if I don’t have enough clothes? It’s hard to know. All I know for sure, is that I want to be able to do it all, liking what a wear.

Even though I travel and I’m not likely to bump into anyone I know, I do care what I wear. When I look at myself in a shopping window walking on the street, I want to be happy with what I wear, don’t we all? I also want to be comfortable. Combining pretty and comfortable is not always easy, and honestly, I think that was what made packing such a challenge for me.

“Never Travel Light”

If there is one sentence that Martin, my husband, has used to describe me with it’s: “Helene doesn’t travel light”. This might have been the truth on many occasions, but it’s my guess that it could have been much worse. Yes, I usually have what we need in the bag, and if I don’t, chances are that I can transform something in my bag into what we need. Oh, and I never travel without my Swiss Army tool, but hey, it has saved us many times, when we didn’t have a bottle or can opener… But this time around, I’m actually traveling much lighter than ever before.

Packing exercise, clothes out on bed
First attempt at packing...

The Secret to Packing Light

There was one sentence that I read and heard a lot during my packing research and from people traveling a lot: “Pack what you want to bring and then take away half of that”. This made sense to me, as I can see how easy it is to pack too much. So, I went along with this strategy. Got out the clothes I wanted to bring. At first, I was optimistically happy with it all, but soon realized that it took up way more space than I thought. I took away about half of it… and I’m proud to say, that I actually did this exercise twice. If there are any clothes where you think, “this would be nice to have…” don’t bring it. Only bring must haves. Believe it or not, I just had to buy an extra t-shirt. Most of my tops were without sleeves and so far, I’ve been cold on many occasions when going into a place with air conditioning. As nice as it is the first 3 minutes, it’s also a curse, and here it helps me to have a little sleeve on my shirt.

Now, how is it possible that I have clothes that I haven’t used yet? Well, as I already mentioned, I will use it… later… when time is right, and we get somewhere colder. So, I found that the above-mentioned strategy did work for me and have come to terms with the fact that this one dress will get used eventually and so will my jacket and my long pants, I’m sure.

Is What I Packed What I Need?

I think so, but you really don't know until you are on the road and see what kind of situations you will be in. We have 4 unused jackets in our bags, along with some clothes that I see the boys aren’t wearing, our long pants and our towels. Do I think we will be happy to have these things with us, sure I do. Traveling for a year, you end up in different situations, climate, seasons and eventually, I think we will need the jackets and long pants. And as a matter of fact, we did use the traveling towels once already, (we’ve had towels provided everywhere we’ve stayed, so far). Going to an amusement park with water activities, we brought them optimistically. It ended up raining, and on our way home, it was raining so hard, that we got the towels out to cover ourselves and our backpacks.

Hate to Waste Money

Many people also told me, that we can always buy what we didn’t bring. And as true as that is, if there is one thing that I can’t stand, then it is to buy something that I already have but just didn’t bring. It seems like such a waste of money to me. I’m very cheap in that way. Actually, I think that this is the core of my packing worries. I will go quite far to try to think of what we could need and on top of that only bring things that can serve more than one purpose.

Luggage backpack suitcase - will it fit? One year packing
This is where it has to fit...

Pass It On

Something that adds to the packing issue is that I cannot throw away things or clothes that can still be made use of. I want to pass on things that I’m done with, if there is any way it can still be of use. This means that we are currently traveling with 3 shirts, two pairs of shorts that the boys apparently don’t like to wear and two pair of shoes that needs passing on – kid’s feet grow unexpectedly quick. I expect to find new owners at our next destination in Southeast Asia.

Leave Them at Home

Oh, there is one thing that I can recommend not to bring, based on experience. Don’t bring your old socks to a country where you take off your shoes all the time, e.g. Japan. I had several pairs where I thought, “I’ll just use these, until there is a real hole in them and then I’ll throw them away… nobody will notice or care”. Well, let me tell you, if you have to take of your shoes in a museum, a restaurant, or anywhere else, people will notice, and you do feel pretty stupid with your stupid holes in your now stupid socks. In this case, out with all the old socks and get new whole ones.

Our next blog post will be on what we actually have in our bags, and what the packing process ended up in. So, don’t forget to subscribe to new blog posts. And if there is something in particular you would like us to write about or just know about, let us know at

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