I spent a long time putting together my travel wardrobe. With so many different cities, countries and climates on the itinerary this wasn’t going to be a “two pairs of combat pants and a few t-shirts” job. It just wouldn’t be practical. Also, I can think of no feasible scenario in which I could be compelled to wear combat pants.
If you are the kind of person who likes to keep things simple, who can get up every day and sling on some practical shorts and a t-shirt and get going, I’m afraid this isn’t going to be the packing list for you. Don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for your attitude, I just can’t do it myself. I need to have variety, I need some room for creativity and (re)invention. And, so far at least, the following wardrobe has allowed me to do that.
Most people post their packing lists before they set off. However, in the mad rush that was our final week in the UK, packing up our flat as well as our bags, I didn’t have time. So I’m doing it now – two months in. The benefit of this is that I already have some perspective. At the point of writing I have already ditched some things, lost some things, replaced some things, and had some items fall apart. Unless you dress head-to-toe in Goretex, it’s absurd to think that everything you pack will last an entire year and it’s just as daft to imagine you won’t be tempted by any new items while you’re in the road. But in the interests of transparency and learning from my mistakes I am going to list everything I originally brought. Feel free to judge me.
- 7 x everyday vests or t-shirts
- 2 x Uniqlo Heattech vests – perfect for layering in cold conditions, also stupidly comfortable and they hold their shape well after a billion washes
- 1 x “dressy” top – for when I need to look a bit more fabulous
- 1 x vintage lace short-sleeved jacket (not pictured) – bought in Bogotá on a whim, makes plain outfits look ace
- 1 x long-sleeved cotton t-shirt
- 1 x light long-sleeved man’s shirt
- 2 x thin knit jumpers
- 1 x long-sleeved cardigan
- 1 x thick cashmere jumper
- 1 x jeans – YES, jeans. I don’t care how many people tell you not to bother with jeans, I need them in my life
- 1 x skirt, elasticated waist – can also be worn as a dress
- 1 x shorts
- 1 x “action pants” ie hiking trousers – I have Craghoppers Kiwi Pro-Stretch trousers which are slim-fitting and could actually pass as regular black trousers if worn with a nice top and blazer jacket
- 2 x drawstring trousers – spilt coffee on them and had to throw them out
- 1 x drawstring trousers
- 1 x “statement” trousers – much like the dressy top (see above) there are times when you just want to look a little bit more awesome; mine are jungle print and I feel happy whenever I wear them
- 1 x Uniqlo Heattech leggings – for wearing under drawstring trousers on cold bus rides and for layering up generally
- 1 x cropped yoga leggings
JACKETS AND DRESSES
- 1 x Uniqlo Ultra Light Down collarless jacket – I’m not sponsored by Uniqlo, I swear!
- 1 x fold-up rain mac
- 1 x denim jacket – left it on a bus in Colombia
- 1 x smart blazer – because we’re trying to work a bit along the way, I do occasionally have to look smart
- 1 x patterned maxi dress
- 1 x plain midi dress
- 2 x beach coverups/short dresses/tunics/nightdresses
- 10 x knickers – M&S “No VPL Supima cotton with Modal” ones which are probably the comfiest pants I’ve ever worn in my life. Seriously, go and buy some, now.
- 4 x bras
- 1 x sports bra
- 5 x regular socks
- 1 x thick socks
- 2 x bikinis
- 1 x walking shoes
- 1 x everyday sneakers – threw these away after more or less destroying them in Semuc Champey
- 1 x “dressy” sandals
- 1 x everyday sandals
- 2 x casual boots – WAIT, I can explain!
- 1 x Crocs slingback flats
- 1 x plastic flipflops (not pictured)
Ok, I feel I need to stop here and do a little mitigation. First of all, I am FULLY INTENDING to send some of these home as soon as I can get to a working post office. A few of these were emergency purchases. The black boots I bought in San Francisco after the sole on the ones I was wearing came clean off. Then I bought the leather boots in Pastores in Guatemala because… well, I don’t need a reason. But I now need to decide which I’m keeping and which I’m posting home. The Crocs I bought in Guatemala after realising it wasn’t a good idea to wear trainers in water (see above). I have since replaced these with the flipflops but am yet to find a course of action (bin or post home?) for the Crocs. The walking shoes are self-explanatory. The sandals I stand by.
- 1 x everyday rucksack
- 1 x handbag
- 1 x thin black belt
- 1 x sun hat
- 1 x wool hat
- 1 x light scarf
- 1 x warmer scarf
- 2 x thin headbands/scarves/hat bands
- 1 x cheap watch
- 1 x cheap sunglasses
- 2 x necklaces – one long, one short
- A gazillion pairs of earrings*
- 1 x crocodile hair clip – threw it away when I got my hair cut
- A handful of hair grips
- 1 x elasticated headband
* I adore earrings and have already bought two more pairs since I’ve been on the road. Storing them while travelling can be a pain and I didn’t want to fork out for a “jewellery roll” so I made my own out of a simple piece of fabric. Easy!
So what do you think? Have I packed too much? What would you have left out? What might you have brought instead? In terms of what gadgets, kit, and cosmetics I packed… I’ll cover these in separate posts and publish them here soon!