How to Pack for Long-term Travel

Picture this: It’s 11 in the morning on the day I’m moving from Portland to France for at least seven months (and realistically an indefinite period of time). My flight is at 5:25 p.m. and I want to leave for the airport at 2 p.m. I haven’t showered yet, and rather than curling up on the couch and crying it out with my dogs and boyfriend, I have the futon folded out flat and am furiously throwing Ziploc bags full of tights and dresses and sweaters out of my oversized duffel bag, throwing it on the scale, freaking out, and re-organizing my stuff.

Here’s the thing about it: I’m moving to the south of France, and will be traveling around Europe; I’m going to be working as a teacher; I have rock climbing gear that’s definitely coming with. I need a wardrobe that will be diverse, versatile, easy to maintain, and professional. The other thing about working as a teacher is that I look like a child. (Every single class has been surprised to learn I am 27. I look like one of my students, so I need professional-looking stuff.) Oh, and I’m going to living a car-free life, so I need to be able to walk everywhere…

IMG_1219All these factors culminated in a furious packing fit, hours before I’m supposed to leave, and a complete panic. That’s where the three-pile system came in:

-Yes.

-Maybe.

-Okay, fine, I guess not.

You might note the reluctance to part ways with my belongings. I’m a notorious over-packer, and love to be prepared for all situations. Right now, it’s backfiring, and I need to figure this out ASAP.

Step one: Make choices. What can I live without? What do I absolutely need? What can I throw away at the airport just in case my bag is overweight anyway? (Put those items on top.)

Step two: Take only what you love. Should I have left behind those adorable booty heels that kill my feet when I walk in them? Definitely. Do I regret bringing my sweatpants that have holes in them? Not a single bit.

Je suis un cocotierStep three: Be prepared, but not a worst-case scenario planner. Because I will have a home base with a closet and hangers, I brought A LOT more than I would have if I were living out of my backpack. That said, it’s been unseasonably cold, and I’ve appreciated having my vest and ear warmer. I didn’t, however, bring gloves. That’s what pockets are for, and if it gets really bad, I can just buy a pair.

Step four: Research your climate. I knew it gets a little chillier in the winter, so I made sure to bring long sleeves and my two cashmere sweaters. They’re dressy enough I can wear them to work and cute enough to wear out. Lastly, the French GET IT when it comes to scarves. They’re practical, versatile, and the perfect accessory for a bit of warmth as needed.

IMG_0712Packing to move is quite different from packing for a trip, but the basic functions are the same. I could have made a few different choices, but everything turned out fine in the end, which it almost always does anyway!

About the author:

SoManyMoments-32Bethany Huntley is an adventurous gal who has lived in all four corners of the US. She went to middle school and high school in New Hampshire, and still calls it home in the figurative sense, but has spent the last few years living in the Pacific Northwest. She graduated from Willamette University with a degree in English and French. During her college experience, she studied abroad in Martinique, a French overseas department in the Caribbean, and did a semester at Montana State University studying Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems. Her interests include, but are not limited to, food, dogs, France, wine, and adventures.

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