• Desert Bloom

The things I forget to pack || Long-Term Travel Packing

Updated: Dec 2, 2019

Packing-light and packing-for-comfort do not have to be mutually exclusive. And I learnt that after way too much trial and error.

For those who frequently live out of the suitcase, it's not an option to be casual about preparing to deal with the unseen weather conditions or burnt skin or torn shoes. Nor can we keep depriving ourselves of our personal care routine or something nice to wear. Being on the road is only as hard as we decide to make it for ourselves. So over the last two years, while packing light still stays a priority, I have decided to start packing for comfort as well.

And so, I present to you.... the list of the absolutely forgettable-yet-important things for my travel bag.

While my maximalist"Master Packing List Template" is there at the end of this blog piece, this list is all the seemingly small stuff which I have forgotten to carry at different points of time this year, and immediately regretted! :P

(1) Nail-cutter

Who thinks about cutting their nails while packing for that fantastic trip? But when you're travelling long-term, you definitely want this little friend by your side. I've been through the ridiculous experience of going nail-cutter-shopping 3 weeks into a trip and it's just not something I want to spend my time on while travelling ever again.

This tiny pocket-instrument has often worked as the most versatile one for me. Apart from its obvious function, it's a safe-to-pack alternative to the pair of scissors and functions super efficiently for cutting across tags, packets and more. I know that people frequently use it as a bottle opener too.

(2) Sewing kit

When packing light, I need to ensure that all my clothes are in a wearable condition throughout the journey. If you're a DIY-person like me, you'd like to add this to your list. I'd say its 100% faster and more convenient to be DIY than spend time looking for someone to do small repairs for you in a new place. I carry black and white threads (and one average-sized needle with each of them) at all times and that has worked pretty well for me so far.

(3) On-road soap

A small soap inside a waterproof bag has often saved me a lot of discomfort and possibly some illnesses along the way. I'm fortunate enough to mostly find hygienic places to rest and stay at. Yet, I cannot emphasize enough on the importance of being prepared if you want to be on the road long enough - you never know when the grease on your hands or face gets too much to handle. Yikes.

(4) Umbrella

Again, this is one of those things which are always lying around the house, taken for granted and ready for use when the need may be. And it's also one of those things which we just kind of "manage" without while travelling. But I just can't let the rain or heat stop me from stepping out. So an umbrella makes a ton of sense in both cases. A small folding umbrella fits pretty neatly into my day-bag, and is definitely one of the most comfort-oriented things I carry with me at all times.

(5) Gifts for local friends

This one's very subjective, of course. But even if you have one acquaintance who you intend to meet in the destination you're visiting, it's always nice to take a small souvenir from your own place for them. After all, that's the joy of travel; this exchange of cultures. It FEELS NICE, even if it's not very functional. It doesn't have to be expensive at all - we're talking spices from Coorg or 'chhurpey' from Ladakh or pear wine from Himachal. (Notice how biased I am towards food items, haha!)

(6) Newspaper

Atleast a few sheets. Whether it is for packing away unwashed laundry or shoes, spreading out on the floor (to sit on, or whatever reason you have!?) or just for cleaning up a mess... there's infinite use cases for this humble object. And it occupies practically no space in the bag at all. Never going to regret this one.

(7) One "Nice" outfit

Packing light often means that we end up living on mix-and-match clothing - mostly separate lowers and shirts. Super functional, yes. But a very recent realisation for me has been that.... it's just no fun!! During long-term travel, there might be a few unexpected occasions, festivals or celebrations that you encounter. And it's nice to be able to dress the part, instead of always being in pants and the same t-shirt or jacket. Don't carry an over-the-top outfit which would be completely useless in the absence of an opportunity like this, though. Choose something that you can end up wearing in any case.

(8) Toilet paper

Like the newspaper and nail-cutter, think beyond the regular use-conditions. Tear off a whole length to carry it in your pocket like a handkerchief. Or use that make-shift handkerchief to take notes on-the-go (it's still paper of some sort!) Use it to clean your shoes in the absence of shoe-polish. Go crazy, guys. While this seems like an obvious item to pack for many people, toilet paper is what I forgot on my last 12-day long trip. So here it is, on this list.

(9) Water Bottle

Unless you want to buy a plastic bottle or two every day, please do consider carrying your own bottle. In my experience so far, it's quite easy to fill up the bottle at restaurants and other places. I try to carry a thermally-insulated bottle if I'm travelling in the cold. Even though it's a bit of extra weight, sipping on warm warm throughout the day is pure bliss!

(10) Snacks

Despite not being a fussy eater, food is still a bit tricky one for me at times. When travelling to slightly remote locations, I do not always find food on time for an early breakfast which I'm used to, or for the late-night snack in case I end up staying up late. For such days and more, I always have a snack like biscuits, some protein-bars or dry wai-wai in my bag. Better safe than sorry!

What are some of the not-so-usual things that you always while travelling? Let's build this list up some more. Add your own to the list by sliding into my DMs here!

Bonus: Master Packing List Template

This "all-inclusive" list was born out of the many packing lists I've made for different sorts of trips this year - from a weekend get-away to B-school classes, to months in the High Himalayas. I always find it easier to cross out items which I don't need, instead of trying to think of relevant ones at the beginning of each packing exercise.

So here it is, for everyone who's as lazy as about making packing lists!

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