Packing

I am currently traveling for months with a 4 season wardrobe in two tiny carry-on bags. This is possible because my clothes are almost exclusively lightweight merino wool which can be layered during the coldest weather and still be even warmer than thicker, heavier items.

Lightweight merino wool is perfect for long-term travel, even in summer, because:


  • It has properties which will kill the bacteria that causes odors, so you can wear it many more times without washing.
  • It absorbs moisture, so you are never drenched with sweat, and yet - as noted above - your clothes will not retain odors..
  • It has insulating properties that allow you to remain warmer during cooler weather and cooler when it's hot out.
  • Your body heat causes almost all wrinkles to fall out within minutes of putting on your clothes.
Here is most of what I have packed. (Almost all of these were purchased from Amazon, and those listings will be affiliate links which could result in tiny commissions for me at no exra cost to you. Should that happen, your support will be greatly appreciated.)

BAGS & BACKPACKS

Samsonite Wheeled Underseater Small - Although this bag is meant to go under the seat in front of you on an airplane, this is my larger bag, which I place in the overhead bin. The price for this fluctuates, and it is often available for under $70. Wait for that, if you can. I consider it slightly overpriced above $75, this is a very sturdy, well-constructed bag. My detailed review, as well as more photos, is on the Amazon product page

Pacsafe Citysafe CS350 Anti-Theft Backpack - I put this backpack under the seat in front of me. I can fit my 13" laptop in it, as well as my other electronics and my liquids bag. I use it at my destination for carrying my devices to libraries, coffee shops and other places where I plan to work. I particularly like that the zippers lock and there are two side pockets that will hold my water bottle, tea mug and umbrella.

Pacsafe Luggage Citysafe 350 Gii Backpack - This is a smaller backpack that I take sightseeing. It has room inside for my water bottle, sweater, travel umbrella and a snack, as well as passport, wallet, etc. There is even room for my iPad mini. 

Many museums, and even some stores, will make me check my larger backpack. This one is allowed pretty much everywhere and can carry all my essentials. To travel, I stuff it inside the trolley strap on the back of my Samsonite suitcase, so it doesn't count as an extra bag.

Eagle Creek Specter Packing Cubes

I like the thin slippery parachute type fabric of these packing cubes, though I wish they opened at least a little wider. I get them in all different colors, so that I know exactly which one I need at a glance. That is a real time saver.

Half-cubes - This a variety set of 3, but I pack my clothes in 4 these, separated by season. Though I'm often using two seasons at a time. For instance, long sleeve turtlenecks and heavier pants go in one, while tank tops, bathing suits and shorts go in another.

Quarter-cubes - I use these smaller ones for socks, underwear, a pair of warm slippers and a silk sheet set.

While this photo isn't from my most recent trip, you can see that the small suitcase actually holds my clothes and shoes.

Eagle Creek Specter Shoe Bag - I don't actually use this as a shoe bag, I use it as a bathroom bag. I put my toiletry bag and pajamas in it, as well as any small items I like to keep by my bedside. I try not to leave anything out where I might forget it when I leave. In the morning, I take it to the bathroom with my clothes and I do the same in the evening when I change into my sleepwear and get ready for bed. It gets packed empty, but takes up practically no room.

Nylon shoe bags - These are what I use for actual shoe bags. Since I have small feet, I can actually fit the two pairs of shoes I'm not wearing into one of these bags. I used to bring an extra one to use for wet clothes or dirty laundry, but I found something better for that.




Damero Wet and Dry Bag - This bag is for my dirty laundry. There is a large section for wet items, which means I can put my towels in it if I have to pack them before they're dry. Although I tend to keep up pretty well with my laundry, the smaller zippered compartment can hold any few things I haven't gotten to before changing locations.

Although my merino clothes don't hold odors, my towels, sheets or random other items could, and the zippers keep these from spreading.

Travel Blue Foldable Bag - I'm on my second one of these. I use them mostly for groceries and laundry, and they are amazingly strong. After overloading with heavy groceries for over a year, one of the handles of my first one just barely started to come apart. It weighs nothing and folds up into a ridiculously small pocket when not in use, so it can be taken literally anywhere. I put a credit card, ID and/or a bit of cash in the pocket when it's unfolded and filled with clothes, so I don't have to bring a wallet to laundry rooms. It's nice and big, holds a full load of clothes - everything I travel with, in fact.

CLOTHES

Where my actual items are no longer available, I've listed substitutes that I'm keeping an eye on to replace my own things as they wear out.

Icebreaker Villa Leggings - These are my "good" pants. Although they are called leggings, they fit loose enough to wear as normal trousers and I don't feel the need to wear long tops over them. They are a mid-weight 260 grams, but I wear them pretty much all year round, except for the very hottest days. For the coldest days, I layer a pair of wool tights under them.

Icebreaker Oasis Leggings - These are my choice for lighter and/or more casual wear. Only 200 grams, and fit like regular leggings. I prefer wearing longer tops with these.










Capri Leggings - I actually have the Oasis Leggings in a cropped version, but they don't seem to be available anymore. These Icebreaker Sprite Tights seem to be pretty much the same, if not better. So I will probably switch to them. I like cropped leggings for warmer weather when shorts are not appropriate. These are ultra-light, at 150 grams, but they don't seem to be see-through and are definitely meant to be street wear, not just a base layer.

Shorts - I have a pair of elastic waist camping shorts that I swear by. They are not too short, super lightweight, comfy and extremely quick drying. Mine are by White Sierra and seem to be discontinued, but these by Columbia seem to be much the same. Available in lots of colors, but I only have room for one pair, so I always choose black.





That's it for my bottoms, I have one in each of my packing cubes, unless wearing one to travel. Here are my tops.

Ibex Funnel Neck Top - I hate for my neck to be cold, but I hate tight turtlenecks even more. These funnel neck tops from Ibex are perfect. A nice light weight and available in lovely colors, as well. Of course, I consider a black one necessary, but I do allow a few colored tops for variety.








Ibex Long Sleeved V-Neck Top - Again, definitely a black one, but I probably need regular long sleeved tops more often than anything else, so a couple more colors of this one. I like the length and style of these Ibex Woolies 1 better than any others I've come across, and I have no problem getting the same top in different colors - especially when they're as pretty as these. This blue and the Mulberry were my favorites. Very lightweight, so they can be easily layered.





Ibex Short Sleeved Tees - I think my most comfortable tops are my Ibex OD scoop necks, I even sleep in them. And they have lots of great color choices, but they don't have black. I absolutely need a black short sleeved merino top, and fortunately, the Ibex Black Seventeen.5 Tee is perfect.

There is probably nothing more versatile than a black tank top. But since they take up so little space, I believe it's okay to get one is a different color, as well. I didn't want a racer back, or spaghetti straps, just a basic tank. There is actually a wide variety of choice in wool tank tops, and for good reason, but my favorite is the Ibex All Day Tank. It has a versatile cut, looks great in black and watermelon. Other colors available, as well.






When the weather is warmer, I also like to wear dresses. For years, now, my favorites have been two Villa dresses from Icebreaker. I have a black one and an aqua one. I wish I'd bought more, because there doesn't seem to be many available anymore. I'm not that wild about the choices these days, but I would probably go with the Icebreaker Tech Lite short sleeved V-neck dress, unless something better comes up before I need to replace mine.

I bought a lot more when I was preparing to go abroad for several months in 2015, but I've been paring down ever since and a lot of it didn't make the cut this time around. For instance, there are some nice merino skirts available, and I liked my short Jaci from Ibex. But it just didn't get worn as much as my dresses, capris and shorts, so I gave it to my sister. There was nothing wrong with the style, and it was comfortable enough. It's not available anymore, but if you have room and you like skirts, this petal skirt is pretty similar.

SHOES

I'm still searching for the perfect flats and boots for travel. My Dansko boots seem to be discontinued,
but I find they're a little heavy for travel. I like a plain black mid-calf slouchy flat boot because it hits the sweet spot for protection and ease of packing. I just want a plain black flat with support and a decently thick sole that won't wear out. It's been surprisingly hard to find these things, and I'm thinking of expanding my search to shoes with less support and supplementing them with orthotics. 

In the meantime, I can say that I am very happy with my extremely lightweight walking shoes from Sketcher's. They seem to be indestructible and are SO very comfortable.

More to come later, as I list some of the gear I never leave home without.

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