It became very clear, very soon that making a packing list for four persons, going on a world trip for 8 months, was much needed. At least, much needed for me and my brain that is...
Before we left our home in Dubai, I had read many blog posts and Instagram feeds about other wandering families. How they were travelling in vans, on bikes, staying in hotels or hostels and most of them - exciting as they were to read - didn't tell me what I should pack or other practical things. Later I understood why this can be tricky - everyone does it differently.
While reading and reading some more, I found the Instagram of @afamilyafar, from Kelly and her family. She not only showed photo's and interesting places about their journey, she also wrote a blog while travelling and she made a page about the gear they used. *[You can also find her story in the Instagram Inspirations series].
To be honest, writing a blog while travelling was something I aspired in the beginning as well. But (like Kelly later on the end of her trip) I decided that it distracted me from being truly present with my family and fully enjoying our special time together. So we used the available wifi to connect with our family and friends back home in a private account and I shared some photo's online on my Instagram [see #MoksiCollectiveTravel]. *[The Travel Journal here on the blog is where I will share photo's per country and add some stories behind them. You also can read Why we went on a world trip and How we planned a big trip like this].
The good thing about finding a packing list online - prepared and written by someone else - is that it can make it easier for you to tick of your own packing or to-do list. Personally, we used the 'one week' list method. We simply packed as if we would be travelling for one week instead of 8 months.
You can wear certain clothes multiple times before washing them, so we decided packing for one week was enough - although underwear we packed for ten days. It's also better to layer up with thin clothes than to carry bulky clothes - which also takes up too much space in your bag. Think outside the box - a cotton dress can double in function to wear on the beach over your bikini, and is great to layer up over a shirt when it's cooler, while also is good enough for dinner in a restaurant. Since we knew we would be travelling mostly in warmer climates, it made our clothing choices easier. Besides toiletries, we also had at least two long pants each to wear - one which we could either zip into a short or it was thin enough in the heat and covered against mosquitoes. Several t-shirts, socks and one warm sweater or hoody, as well as one foldable thin coat from The North Face were packed. My favourite cardigan I wore the whole trip and still daily wear. It's a thin black knitted one from Zara. Can't go wrong with a black thin cardigan (or sweater), it fits all styles, all the time.
Shoes we limited to one pair of sneakers, one pair of flip-flops and one pair of Toms. The people from Toms shoes wanted to see how we travelled in them, so we made a photo in Vietnam. The one thing we didn't skimped on was travel medicines, we carried that extra weight happily with us. Also various books and a notebook each was something that made our bag packs heavier, but it's all about making choices (like having a small windup flashlight, a plastic whistle and a pack of Uno cards - all essentials to us). Our electronics were limited to our IPhones, one pocket camera, one IPad and two computers.
But, everyone is different in their ways of travelling, packing and preparing, and every trip is different. Some people use suitcases with wheels while travelling the world, others use bag packs. We opted for the latter, since we knew we wanted to travel by trains, planes and automobiles. We also knew we wanted to go of the beaten track (our first stop was staying with a Maasai family in their village without electricity), so wheels were not an option for us. The only suitcase we carried was stuffed with essential items for the children in the village and school, which was all on our first stop in Kenya, so we only had to carry this on two flights and two car rides. And it was worth it!
So no - I will not tell you what you 'need' on your trip - but I will recommend this; there was one crucial thing on Kelly's list that made a world of difference to us. I thought (as someone who has travelled for years and moved homes many times) that I knew how to pack a bag... right? I was wrong....
Yes, I know the 'rolling up' rule and the 'use every corner' rule of packing. But, in all these years, I never used a packing cube. This little piece of information was a game changer! Not only for this trip - I use them now all the time when we travel.
You see, a packing cube not only organizes your items neatly, instead of stuff tumbling out, it makes sure you don't get green in the face from frustration or loud talking... In my case, I talk loud and become a professional procrastinator.... Because as much as I Love to travel, I seriously loath to pack my bag... Raise your hand if you ever have: travelled with children or have shared your suitcase with said children or husband or turned a suitcase and/or bag pack inside out, while searching for clean underwear... Somehow, someone always needs a sweater or underwear, and it's always on the bottom of the suitcase. Neatly folded clothes are turned into small hills, with big frustrations on top... Well not anymore!
By using packing cubes, our lives (read: my live) changed and packing was not a dreadful chore anymore. We all had our own colour, in our own bag pack and searching for underwear was now a cool and calm moment... No more frustrations, no more piled up clothing and no more wasted time looking for something, which was right under my nose in the first place...
From that day forward, packing cubes are my number one go-to item when I travel - either with my family or alone. These come in three sizes, S/M/L, and different colors. I only can speak for the brand we used, Mesh Bag - which is strong and has a netting side for air circulation. We bought ours at one of the Adventure HQ stores in Dubai and also in Amsterdam at the Bever store. You can also find them online at Amazon.
One more thing...
In case you wish to talk more in detail about what to pack or what you might need on a world trip, or any other question, you can always send me an email [firstname.lastname@example.org].
In the mean time, if you are planning a big travel journey yourself, my tip is: don't stress too much about the packing part.
Your health (mental and physical) is important, so prepare for that. Your passport, credit cards, drivers license, visa's and other documents are important. Some clothing, toiletries, medicine and good shoes are important. Read about the country you are heading too (are there certain rules what not to do? is the water safe to drink? do you need cash right away? or a visa before entering? etc)
But the most important thing is not a thing, it's your attitude.
Remember, no matter how prepared you are or how great you packed your bags, while you are travelling, anything can happen. Good and not so good... So prepare as best as you can and pack a mental note in the back of your mind to ENJOY the journey.
Because that's what it's all about...
-to be continued...