This post was originally published in January 2017 and updated in September 2019.
Packing essentials: Tumi suitcase / Osprey backpack / RX bars / Olly Vitamins / Luggage scale / Packing cubes / DryLite towel / Portable travel clothesline / Outdoor inflatable solar light / Books / Hydro flask isolated water bottle / Taylor’s outfit is LuLuLemon – similar top and leggings
I don’t often talk about our kids on the blog. We have four beautiful, grown children and you already know that we are empty nesters. Today, Taylor is guest blogging and sharing with us how to pack for a four month trip. Oh, and she’s doing it in one suitcase and one backpack! Her packing hints are applicable to any journey.
Our daughter Taylor recently graduated from Baylor University with her Masters in Accountancy, and this summer she will be starting her career as a Tax Consultant for Deloitte in Dallas. She completed the masters program early and wanted to use her “gap semester” to make a difference. Taylor has been given an amazing opportunity – she is moving to Village of Hope in San Lucas, Guatemala to help with accounting and finance for a few months. If you want to follow her journey in Guatemala or learn more about the INCREDIBLE work VOH does, you can learn more on her blog here. She will be journaling her experience.
And in case you are wondering, YES, we will be visiting her. I’ll do a travel blog post about that trip. I know you will find her packing list and hints valuable for any travel plans you have! xoxo – Tanya
How to pack for a four month trip
Is it just me, or is packing for a trip one of the most daunting items on any to do list? It seems like no matter what I try, I never quite end up with what I need. This past October, I traveled to DC on a graduate student trip with Baylor. I packed all sweaters and pants – and of course when we got there it was 85 degrees!
One of the most stressful parts of preparing for my time at Village of Hope has been trying to pack the right thing. Thankfully, there are a lot of travel blogs out there. I got a lot of help from travelfashiongirl.com. I will be in Guatemala for 114 days, and my goal was to only check one bag. Here’s the tips that helped me the most:
1. Do your research
Go online to find out about the normal weather at your destination and what people who live there wear. Make sure to plan clothes for any activities you may end up doing.
Here’s some background on what I needed to know for my trip. Guatemala is sometimes called “the land of eternal spring” because there aren’t four seasons. May-October are known as the “rainy season” because it usually rains for a few hours each day, and November-April are the “dry season.” The temperature starts out chilly in the morning, gets up to 80 degrees F at mid-day, and gets down to 50 degrees or so at night. Because the weather is so nice, most buildings do not have air conditioning so it can get chilly at night.
It is also a very conservative country. The people are Mayan, and they keep their shoulders and knees covered. Shorts are only worn by children, and I have seen natives point and stare at tourists for wearing them.
2. Make a list
Organization is the most important part of packing! Here’s the list of what I’m bringing with me:
- Tops – 8 (5 tees, 1 tank for layering, and 3 nicer tops for visitors, this cardigan for chilly nights)
- Bottoms – 3 (casual distressed jeans, regular jeans, black jeans)
- Dresses – 2 casual dresses and 1 niceish dress
- Utility Jacket
- Jean Jacket (I stole this from my mom. Her secret is to order a Gap children’s jean jacket in size XXL.)
- Rain Jacket & Umbrella
- Shoes – 3 (converse, dressy sandals, Sanuk’s – made of yoga mat!)
- Socks – 6
- Workout outfits – 5 (I am working with the worship dance team while I am at VOH)
- Bathing suit just in case!
- Bras – 3
- Underwear – 10
- First aid kit
- A few good books
- All chargers and tech gadgets
- Rx bars
Make a packing list of your absolute essentials, and double-check everything as you put it in to your suitcase. For extended travel – you only need a week’s worth of clothes. Don’t forget that you can do laundry!
I am normally guilty of over packing. If I thoughtlessly throw clothes into my suitcase at the last-minute instead of making a list, I always end up with both too much and not enough. I have too much in my suitcase, my luggage weighs more than what is allowed by the airline, and I have to lug around things I don’t even use. At the same time, I never have enough of what I need! For example, in Washington DC I ended up dragging around 50 pounds of sweaters and winter clothes, but I didn’t have enough outfits to survive a week in 80 degree spring weather. This is why your list is essential!
3. Plan for everything to go wrong
What if your luggage gets lost? Keep an outfit or two, any prescription medications, any electronics, and a few snack bars in your carry-on in case the checked bag makes it a few days late. What if someone steals your carry-on? Keep a scanned copy of your passport in your checked bag, so you have some proof of your identity. What if your toiletries leak? Keep liquid toiletries in a ziplock bag, so that if they explode they don’t get all over your clothes. It’s also a good idea to get a TSA-approved lock for your bags, so that no one can get in to them but you and airport security. Try to foresee bad things that might happen and plan around them to make your travel as stress-free as possible. Better safe than sorry!
4. Bring basic, tried-and-true pieces
Stick to pieces in one color family so you can easily mix and match. My travel wardrobe is mostly black, grey, army green, and neutrals. Try everything you’re bringing with you on before you pack it. If you’re only bringing 3 pairs of pants, you want them all to fit comfortably. A trip where you are trying to pack light is not the time to break out the brand-new bold patterned top you bought but have never actually worn. Don’t bring anything you wouldn’t wear at home!
5. Travel Gadgets
I’m taking some great things with me to make my life easier while away from home. A quick dry towel, like the Sea to Summit one I got, is essential if you won’t be staying in a hotel. We don’t have a washing machine at VOH, so I’m also bringing this portable clothesline and sink stopper to do laundry in my room. I’m bringing a luggage scale, which is a great way to make sure your baggage isn’t overweight for the return flight because of all the awesome souvenirs you bought. I pack with packing cubes, which keep you organized when you are living out of a suitcase for a while.
I hope this helps you pack and I also hope you will follow my blog. I’m excited to share my journey with you. xoxo – Taylor