The following is a guest post written by Alex Jimenez.
When I started traveling in 2008 I had the ability to change my packing list wherever I went. As a newbie traveler I was taking group travel tours which meant that I would leave on a trip for 3-6 weeks at a time and then come back home to work and get a change of clothes. While this worked out great for my travel wardrobe, it wasn’t the most efficient way to travel.
When I finally went on a solo round the world adventure, my seamless region-specific packing strategy was shot. I’m not sure what happened. It’s as if all my common sense went down the drain simply because I was going on a RTW trip.
Despite the fact that I worked in the fashion industry I couldn’t look past the militant packing lists on the internet. Pack 3 t-shirts, 1 pair of shorts, 1 pair of convertible pants, 1 fleece, 3 underwear, no jeans!, and a dozen other super strict travel packing rules with quick dry specifications. Trying to make sense of so many stringent lists, I ended up packing terribly.
The round the world trip packing list for my trip in 2010 went ALL wrong!
As I prepared for my next travel journey the following year in 2011, this time as a more experienced traveler, I carefully planned out my travel gear based on a balance of practicality and personal preference. I considered all my previous mistakes and made sure not to repeat them.
My Round the World Trip Packing Mistakes (and solutions):
Problem: I bought travel specific clothing including a t-shirt, quick dry underwear, and convertible pants. I gave away the shirt and threw away the underwear even though they cost me a fortune. I bought normal clothing when I got to SE Asia which was cheap and easily available.
Solution: Take a look at your own clothing to see if there are items that would work well on the road. Do they pack well? Are they easy to wear in a variety of settings? Are they lightweight? Determine if any of your clothes offer practical benefits that would serve you well on your trip.
Problem: All my travel clothing was meant to be given away at some point. I packed only clothes I felt comfortable throwing away, which meant that I didn’t really like any of them. I ended up spending unnecessary money replacing the majority of my belongings.
Solution: My number one rule about packing is to like what you pack. If you like wearing convertible pants, awesome! If you don’t, look for alternate options. Your clothing is limited when traveling with just a small backpack. You have to remember that you will be wearing the same clothing repeatedly. It’s important that you feel good with the clothing you pack.
Problem: I didn’t plan in advance and could not mix and match my travel clothes. Not only did I get bored with my options quickly but it also prevented me from making the most use of the things I did pack.
Solution: It’s important that you’re clothing is flexible and can be worn in a variety of settings. Every item in your bag should be multi-use and be interchangeable. Plan ahead and determine if your clothing can be worn with the other pieces.
Problem: I carried items in my bag all year that I didn’t need until the end of my trip. I spent the first seven months in summer weather yet carried around thermals and other warm clothing I wouldn’t need until the last month of my trip.
Solution: Unless you’re only traveling to villages so remote that they’re not included in the Lonely Planet Guides then you can probably buy the things you need along the way. Anything from clothes and toiletries to makeup and general travel gear, you can buy it on the road. Determine the weather in your first destination and pack for the heat or cold depending on where you begin your trip. You can buy warmer or cooler clothing once you get to a country with different weather.
Now that I’ve been traveling for several years I can look back at my mistakes and know exactly where I went wrong. This is why I created Travel Fashion Girl, to help you learn from my silly and expensive mistakes. Happy travels!
Originally from Los Angeles, Alex has been traveling around the world since 2008. 36 countries and 6 continents later, she’s traveled as a tourist, a backpacker, and a vagabond. Learn how to travel stylishly and practically on her website Travel Fashion Girl. Twitter: @TravlFashnGirl