How to Pack for a Year Abroad

At first the idea of having to pack for an entire year in one suitcase was daunting to say the least. I’m not exactly a fashionista, I’m pretty practical about my what I wear but I want to look good and feel comfortable as much as the next person.

So I turned once again to Pinterest and created a board titled “Pack”. I pinned ideas on how to put a capsule wardrobe together, packing tips for traveling in more than one season, hacks to make your packing easier and more efficient, reviews on various brands of luggage etc…
It was a lot of information to absorb but what I did was I read in one sitting all the pins that covered the same tips and then just kept the pins that I felt gave me the beat advice that felt right for my situation.
The basic idea behind packing effectively is you can’t layout 10 different outfits and basically pack from there. Think about it, if you were taking 10 outfits of 7 items for each outfit [That’s 2 items of underwear, a shirt, a pair of pants, socks, shoes, maybe a sweater or jacket]…then multiply 10 X 7 and you’d be bringing 70 items. You’d need to bring Jeeves with you.
At this point I went back and studied the “How to pack for a Year in Europe”. It explained how to repurpose basic items multiple ways. Most woman have seen a million articles like this in any fashion magazine they’ve ever read but our consumer culture [and the magazines themselves] are always making you feel you have to buy the newest item, the newest style of the season to really look great.
I also had to keep in mind that I was going to be potentially in every type of weather in a year because we’d be away for four seasons, also I was helping my husband pack as well and he is notorious for packing much more than he needs.
Here is the list I compiled and essentially what I took:

My next step was going through the “Packing Hacks”. This is where I discovered…….packing cubes! I had never heard of them before, maybe I am behind the times, but this one item alone were the single greatest piece of advice from all the articles I read. This was like finding the holy grail of packing.

So packing cubes are nothing more than a set of four graduated sized nylon and mesh [for ventilation] zipped bags. You roll up your clothes [another hack that A] Keeps your clothes virtually wrinkle free and B] Allows you to pack your items more densely] and put them in the packing cubes. Once you arrive at your destination voila, it makes unpacking a breeze because all alike items are conveniently housed in the mesh bag. If you are at a location for only a day or two your items can stay in the cubes. It keeps the items organized and easy to throw back into your suitcase. I love these things!
In my four I put: Bras, underwear and swimsuits in the smallest. Socks, sweaters, anorak in the next size up. Pants in the third and shirts, pareos and a skirt in the biggest bag because I had more shirt than any other items. 

The last decision to make as far as packing was concerned was luggage. My desire was to take one carryon bag, one checked bag, Rosie’s soft sided kennel and two small backpacks. That’s it. We were going to have to lug everything we took on our own around Europe for a whole year so they had to be easy to wheel and hold up to the pounding they were going to take.
I saw some woman on Pinterest who went to the effort of ordering several bags and tried them out at home. Packed them, rolled them, carried them up and down stairs to see each piece of luggage up close and personal for their quality. Really a great idea but a little too labor intensive for me, so I did the next best thing….I called my neighbor who is a flight attendant and asked her what we should buy. She said most of the people in her industry buy “Travelpro” bags. They have several different styles in several different sizes. We chose the Travel Pro Max light 4 “26 for $125. This would be the bag we checked.
My carryon bag I bought [along with my backpack] in San Francisco. I actually had intended to buy something else at first but the store I was intending to go to was closed when we got there. Luckily for me there was another luggage store across the street called “Timbuk2”. This product line was started by a guy in San Francisco. He was a bike currier in SF. You see them all over the city whizzing in and out of traffic delivering papers and small items to businesses throughout the city. So he came up with a concept for a better made and designed bag for himself.
I walked in and it is definitely a hipster styled retail store. I kinda went in reluctantly because although their merchandise looked great I thought for sure it was going to be more than I wanted to spend. Surprisingly they were really reasonably priced and great quality and great looking. I hit the trifecta of purchasing for me. So I bought the Copilot Luggage Roller for $225

and a backpack for $70. We got the husband’s back pack at REI for around $60.
Packing list ☑️, packing cubes bought ☑️, 1 checked in bag, 1 carryon bag , Rosie’s kennel, 2 backpacks ☑️☑️☑️☑️☑️ Mission accomplished. 

What essential item do you think you couldn’t live without on a year long trip? I’d love to hear what you’d choose.

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