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Your itinerary is planned. Your road trip map is routed or that plane ticket is booked. You’ve started compiling a list of restaurants where you’ll eat and all friends you’ll see.
Now it’s time to pack. Whether you’re traveling for business or vacation, knowing how to pack for a long trip is a crucial skill. From your bag choice to the contents that go in it, in this article, we’ll cover the must-haves and the don’t-forget-to-haves when you’re packing for long trips.
When it comes to how to pack for a month long trip, one of the most important components is your bag choice. There are several ways you can go—suitcase, hand luggage, day back, travel backpack, checked bag. If you’re going to be traveling by foot often, flying, going on trains and moving from place to place, it’s best to keep it minimal. Utilizing a packing cube or two can also help you stay organized. If you’re driving there, putting your belongings in an apartment, and keeping them there, you have a bit more flexibility. The one thing that’s true about bag choice is that once you make your decision, you're kind of stuck with it (and there can be nothing more daunting than realizing right before a big trip, your chosen bag isn’t going to cut it).
What to pack for a month long trip or even just a week can be a daunting task. Before you throw the content of your closet into your checked luggage, consider the season. Too many times we pack three pairs of pants when just one will do and forget to toss in enough underwear. Cold weather may lean toward wool socks and a bulky sweater (even though it takes up space, it’s worth it for those chilly nights). Warm weather may mean flip flops and an extra bathing suit (or two). Starting with seasonality in mind will ensure that you don’t go overboard because, let’s face it, that’s quite easy to do when packing for long trips.
From toiletries and clothing to shoes, breaking down your packing list before you even begin will make the process run much more smoothly.
If you’ve ever ventured to a hotel or vacation rental without toothpaste or a hairbrush, you know what a pain it can be. When you’re packing for long trips, bring these sometimes forgotten, must-have bathroom items along for the ride in your toiletry bag.
Lip Balm and Deodorant
Whether it’s a dry summer or a cold winter, chapped lips while traveling are an inconvenience. Do double duty, if you’d like, and bring something with a little tint. Deodorant is an obvious staple, too.
Toothpaste and Toothbrush
Luckily, if you forget your toothpaste and toothbrush, lots of lodging locations will have one for you. But we all like our own varieties (Tom’s toothpaste and Recycline Preserve toothbrush, anyone?) so remembering to bring yours along is always advisable. Whether you’re staying at a turnkey rental or in a hotel room, nothing says comfort like your favorite toothpaste and toothbrush.
One of the best tips we’ve ever heard when discussing how to pack for a long trip has to do with color families. Planning your outfits around colors like, tan and white or black and grey will help with packing light. Of course, it’s always tempting to bring a little bit of this and a little bit of that but keep in mind, the more you can mix and match, the easier life will be (and the easier laundry will be, too). You can also consult resources for building a travel capsule wardrobe, an easy way to keep packing minimal.
Pants are a traveler's best friend because you can wear them multiple times without washing them. Jeans can get heavy in your suitcase, so limit them if you can (depending on the season). If you’re figuring out what to pack for a month-long trip vs. a week-long trip, you might bring along a few pairs of pants, like one pair of jeans, one casual pair, and one fancier pair.
Extra travel tip: plan your outfits day-by-day before your departure if you know what the weather is going to look like. This can help with packing light if you are limited on space or bringing along checked luggage with a weight limit.
When you’re packing for long trips, t-shirts are essential. You can wear them with a pair of shorts for a casual dinner or put layers over them when it’s cold. You can toss one on if you run out of pajamas or wear them while working out. They’re versatile and easy.
You know what you need. Bring them.
Shoes and Socks
Shoes are entirely a matter of personal preference, but they’re also very important. Whether they’re hiking boots or ballerina flats, first and foremost, you want your shoes to be comfortable. If you’re traveling, chances are you’ll be walking around, and blisters can quickly become a walker’s worst nightmare. Get a pair of shoes that feel good and look good, so that they can do double duty. Bringing enough small, lightweight socks along is always key. You’ll be surprised just how much a clean pair of socks can make you feel like a million bucks when you’ve been on the road for a while.
Using up suitcase space for a special dress or collared shirt can seem silly, especially if that’s not your thing. But when you’re figuring out how to pack for a long trip, who knows what could happen? You may meet a new friend and go out to a nice dinner or wind up at a wedding. Remember, the world is your oyster, and bringing along your something nice is a good plan.
There are certain things one should not go without when traveling. Knowing exactly how to pack for a long trip comes from repeated experience. Bring on the travel extras.
Whether you’re packing for long trips that involve lengthy plane rides or going on an epic family road trip, a good neck pillow is key. These well-designed pillows support your head and neck in a natural position so you can catch some shut-eye when you need it most. Neck pillows are especially useful for overnight car journeys and red-eye flights.
It’s good for your brain and will help you pass the travel time. Pick up a good book!
When you’re figuring out exactly how to pack for a long trip, travel-sized hand sanitizer is key. Between escalators, airports, and taxis rides, there are plenty of germs to be had. Get yourself a pocket-sized sanitizer, so you can forego sickness during your travel adventure.
While you’re at it with the sanitizer, get a package of wet wipes, too. Frequent travelers swear by their ability to clean everything from airplane tray tables to door handles. If you get the right kind, you can also use them on your body to wipe off sunscreen or clean up after a hike. Wet wipes are extremely versatile and should definitely be on your road trip packing list!
As you fine-tune what to pack for a month-long trip, don’t forget a reusable water bottle. We all know plastic, single-use bottles are neither cost-effective nor eco-friendly, but when you’re traveling, it’s easy to get thirsty and fall into the trap. Empty your reusable bottle before you go through airport security, then fill it up after you’re finished. Today, plenty of airports have water refill stations.
How long can you stay at extended stay without the lifeline of electronics? Electronics are essentials for everything from road tripping to island hopping. Even when you’re packing light, you don’t want to forget the electronics. Of course, try to keep it minimal. Bring along your phone, tablet, and computer as well as the necessary chargers and adapters.
Mixing dirty clothes with your clean clothes in a suitcase or duffel bag is never fun, particularly if you’ve been traipsing around in mud or swimming. Make sure to add a collapsible dirty clothes bag that doesn’t take up much room to your packing list. If you’re lucky, your rental will have it’s own laundry facilities, so you won’t have to travel around with too much dirty laundry. What is temporary housing without the luxury of a nice, in-unit washer dryer, anyway? (At least, that’s what we think at Zeus.) Make sure to add this to one of your top questions to ask when renting an apartment or hotel room.
Now that you know how to pack for a long trip, we hope you’ll come to stay in one of our Zeus listings. We offer all the comforts of home in some of the most incredible cities in America. Just drop your bag, spend your day exploring, then come back to cozy linens, a comfy mattress, and a kitchen stocked with the basics.