What to Pack or Not to Pack…That is the Question
Making the decision to travel for several months and live out of a suitcase is not easy. My decision was several months in the making. For those of you that may be wondering if this was an easy decision for me…it wasn’t. Watching my photos on social media and reading my blogs may lead you to think, “Wow, this girl knows what she wants and is going for it.” As much as that may be true now, as with any success story, the details, pain, struggle, and work leading up to that decision are rarely seen or talked about. And, for your information, the struggles and challenges do continue. Changing location does not magically make the internal challenges that we battle disappear.
Oddly enough the main question people asked me when I began letting people in on my little “travel secret” wasn’t, “Where are you going?” “Who is going with you?” or even “How long will you be gone?” People wanted to know what I was going to pack! That question was as crazy to me as watching people flock to the store to buy toilet paper during the pandemic! Admit it, you thought about it too when you heard what I was doing. Those who know me well know I LOVE clothes and shoes and they definitely had this question floating through their minds. I am sure of it!
In the months leading up to my departure, (in true Chris form!) I researched the heck out of what and how to pack. I followed groups on Facebook and Instagram, I read blogs, I Googled items galore, I made multiple lists, and as the date came closer and closer, I did at least 12 practice packs before I left.
It is extremely challenging to pack for a year. What do you take? What do you leave behind? What are the items you think you need, but don’t really…you just want to take them because you think you cannot live without them? Not to mention that there is a specific weight limit to your checked and carry-on luggage when you travel abroad. Unless you want to pay upwards of a couple hundred dollars for an overweight bag, it is best to stay within this weight limit.
At the end of the day, I knew a couple of things. One, I knew I needed to pack things that would fulfill me not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well. Two, I knew I was NOT one of those people who could travel around the world for a year with only a backpack (NO WAY!). In case you are wondering, I have two suitcases and a backpack. I wanted to have things with me that reminded me of home and that would comfort me on days I felt off while l was in the faraway places I would be going.
Below are the items I have found invaluable on my journey (where appropriate, I included links to the brands I purchased – I am not getting kickbacks for any of these mentions BTW…these are just amazing products that have been lifesavers for me!):
- Portable phone charger – This has been a lifesaver to have. I keep it on me at all times and it not only helps with my peace of mind, but it also has saved me several times when I needed to use my phone to catch a ride and my phone battery was low. Iniu is a great brand and it is airline approved. It even came with a little reading light!
- Wise debit card – One of my biggest fears while traveling was using my debit and credit cards while overseas. I have seen many debit cards get “eaten” by ATM machines over the years. Wise is a debit card account that allows you to transfer money from your accounts in multiple currencies. It is easy to use, helps me stay on budget, and works just like a debit or credit card. I even use it to withdraw money out of the ATM machines and the fees are much less. This way, if something unfortunate happens, I have not lost my precious bank ATM card.
- Larq Water Bottle – My daughters bought me two amazing gifts before I left and this was one of them. As seen on Shark Tank, the Larq water bottle has a chargeable UV cap that not only cleans whatever water I put into the container but cleans the container itself as well. All I have to do is press the button on the lid whenever I fill up my water bottle and bam…clean water!
- Packing Cubes – There are a ton of brands out there for packing cubes and I never really was a fan of them. Knowing that I needed to be efficient with my packing and I also needed a system to make packing and re-packing easier, I looked into all types of packing cubes. I found an amazing brand…Gonex. Not only do these come in multiple sizes, but they have a handle and use two zippers to close and compress. These have been amazing!
- NFL Game Pass – Ok, so this one may sound odd to those of you who are not avid football fans but knowing that I would completely miss football season on my trip made me totally depressed. I LOVE football! The NFL Game Pass only works if you are overseas…a U.S. IP address will not work. For $150 for the year, I can watch games live or full replays of any game I chose. Life is good again! (Go Cardinals and Browns!)
- Skylight Frame – The second amazing gift my daughters bought me was a Skylight frame. This is not just any electronic picture frame. With the Skylight Frame anyone who has the special email address that comes with the frame can send pictures directly to my frame and I can see them on my frame in 60 seconds. This has been the best on days I feel lonely and miss my family and friends. I have also been loading pictures from the places I have been visiting along the way as well. Love this!
- ReMarkable Tablet – I bought this tablet about a year ago and it has never left my side. I am a big “to-do” list girl and when I travel I always take a pad of paper with me. To cut down on the paper I was consuming, I got the ReMarkable tablet. This works like a pad of paper with an electronic pencil and I can even load PDFs on it to read and take notes. All my client files and notes are on this tablet…all in one place.
Some other items that I have found essential that I am SO glad I packed:
- A plastic cutting board (not every place that has a kitchen has a cutting board)
- A sharp knife and pair of scissors (most places only have butter knives)
- My shower speaker – love blaring my 80’s music!
- Computer stand for when I have Zoom calls
- Ethernet cord to plug into the router if there is unstable Wi-Fi
At the end of the day, we all have different needs when we travel. The key is to know what your needs are, what items will be cathartic for you when you feel homesick and realize that some things we think we “need,” we can get along just fine without. So far, there hasn’t been anything I wished I would have packed that I didn’t. Not bad for a first-time world traveler!