Traveling long-term, such as taking a 10-week trip to Central and South America (http://lodeplus.com/world-travel-in-chicago/one-way-ticket-travels-countdown-to-costa-rica) may have you questioning where to begin the packing process. It’s important to use your resources and seek the expert’s opinion when the journey is approaching and it’s time to pack your bags.
You are able to check up to two bags for free when traveling internationally; however, it’s recommended to check only one large rolling suitcase (preferably one that converts to a backpack). The only other bag you’ll need is a standard sized backpack to use as your carry-on. The larger suitcase will serve to transport your clothing and toiletries, while the backpack is used to carry your wallet or purse, and will be used as a means for daily adventures, such as hiking, swimming at the beach, and shopping. Does it sound too crazy having all of your belongings in just two bags for your long-term holiday? Remember to keep your bags light for easy travel – you will be able to do laundry while abroad.
It’s especially exciting to pull out your summer clothes when escaping the brutal Chicago winter (or any winter weather in general). A great way to not over-indulge in this excitement is to follow a simple packing process:
- Start by laying out your favorite summer bottom options (shorts/skirts).
- Next, gather your favorite tops.
- Lay each top above the bottom it best matches. If the top matches more than one bottom, place the top in between the two bottoms.
When you’re finished with this matching process, pick the 2-3 bottom options that have the most top options available. This will make your travel wardrobe more versatile. In addition, bring only one pair of long pants when traveling to a warm climate that will match most of the top options in your bag.
You will also need to pack beach cover-ups and comfortable clothing options for hiking or working out. Ladies, you can bring 2-3 sundresses to serve as beach cover-ups or daily/nighttime attire.
Finally, you can follow this checklist when packing for your long-term holiday (using the word “holiday” here because that’s the word people use for “vacation” internationally, and also because if you are traveling for yourself long-term, you are essentially creating your own holiday!):
- 7-10 outfits*
- 2-4 comfortable outfits/sportswear*
- 1 pair tennis shoes
- 1 set of flip flops
- tooth brush
- tooth paste
- dental floss
- face wash
- q tips
- first aid kit
- plug converter (http://www.europlugs.com/Design_Review_Polices/Plug_Adapter_Country_Chart.htm)
- chap stick
- 2 bathing suits
- beach & bath towel (if staying in hostel)
- 1-2 set(s) of pajamas
- 10-day supply of undergarments (socks, underwear, BRAS)
- pony tail holders (ladies or men with long hair)
- hair brush or comb
- tampons/pads (ladies)
- credit card
- eye mask
- neck pillow
*reverse quantities if your trip is active
Don’t forget to leave extra room in your luggage for shopping!
In addition, you have to make sure the country you are traveling to doesn’t require you to apply for a visa before arriving. Bring a photocopy of your passport and credit card and be sure to store these copies in a safe place. Take note of the number on the back of the credit card so you know whom to call if the card is lost or stolen. Also, leave behind a copy of your passport and credit card with someone you trust. Don’t forget to notify your credit card company of when (and where!) you are traveling abroad.
American cell phone plans get a little pricey, so it’s recommended to purchase a pay-as-you-go cell phone once you arrive to the country of your choice. Although the rates to call internationally on these phone plans are less expensive, it’s better to use Skype at Internet cafes when calling home or friends in other cellular networks. Be sure to set up a Skype account before departure (http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/home).
Always do your research before planning a trip to a foreign country. You can research by reading articles and blogs online written by people who have traveled there first hand. Keep in mind that you will meet fun travelers from all over the world throughout your journey and your trip itinerary could change. Although this may be inevitable, it is most important that someone close to you knows where you are at all times!