What's In My Suitcase?

Friday, February 25, 2011

We have received many emails asking how in the world we packed for six months of traveling. It wasn’t easy. This was my first time traveling for such an extended period of time, so I can’t say I’m an expert, but I thought it would be fun to share my experience. And forewarning-- this post is intended for girls (from one girl to another). Boys just don't have these issues.

Before the wedding, the last thing I wanted to think about was packing a suitcase for six months abroad. It would have been wise to pack far before the wedding and alleviate some stress. Rather, I saved it for the night before we left (which was 3 days after the wedding). I dread packing for trips like I dread the day after Christmas. More, actually (and unpacking is not better). But this was no weekend trip. This was a half a year, several seasons, too many countries. I needed to pack for active days of hiking and biking, as well as for hot dates with my studly new husband in swanky city restaurants. I needed to pack for winter and I needed to pack for summer. And if I packed anything more than one medium suitcase, I wouldn’t hear the end of it from my minimalist, backpacker man.

I carefully considered what items I could sacrifice. I decided I could get by without a purse, without boots, and without a hair straightener. These were all bulky or heavy things that I could do without. I didn’t even think about leaving behind my laptop, iPhone, and a couple of books. Sure they were heavy, but I would give up some space to bring the things that would keep me sane.

Less Bulky//
I packed a little bit of everything—shirts, sweaters, shorts, pants, dresses, skirts. But I think the trick lies in packing less of some items and more of others. I only packed one light jacket because coats are so bulky, but I packed several light sweaters and cardigans because I could layer them under the jacket in cold weather and wear them alone over shirts and dresses in moderate weather. I packed only one pair of jeans and one pair of black pants because pants take up so much room in a suitcase, and honestly I could wear the same pair of jeans for a week with different tops and nobody would notice. I packed a lot of dresses because they’re so light and easy to pack a bunch without taking up much room at all. They also work in warm and cool weather if you have tights/leggings and a sweater to throw on top. Not to mention dresses are just fab.

I tried to pack items that could be dressed up or dressed down depending on the occasion. For example, a good thing to have is a top that will go well with a skirt and jewelry to go out on a date, but can also be worn with shorts and flipflops to the beach. I avoided taking anything that could only be casual (think a sporty Nike top) or that could only be dressy (think sequined, silky top). I took quite a few pairs of shoes, but made sure each pair could be worn with jeans and a dress (excluding my sneakers, which I wouldn't wear with a dress).

Don’t pack things that don’t match with a lot of pieces in your wardrobe. Yes, that means leaving your abstract 80s shirt and fuchsia heels at home. I packed a lot of neutral colors like black, brown, tan, and white for versatility. This will help you create the greatest amount of different outfits with your limited wardrobe for an extended time. Neutral shoes, neutral tops, neutral belts, neutral accessories. 

Accessories—don’t feel like you have to leave them at home because they’re extra baggage. They really help you jazz up an outfit that you feel like you’ve worn a dozen times too many in the last month. Just pack the thin chain necklace, not the chunky beads bigger than gumballs.

Extra Bags//
In addition to our suitcases, we each brought a messenger bag for our laptops. We also packed a small backpack so we could take it on day trips. Here I am going on about how I packed, but actually, Yuriy was the one with the small suitcase and I was the one with the medium suitcase. His packing job was incredibly impressive! However, we picked up some extra things once we got to Southeast Asia because we couldn't resist the cheap prices, so Yuriy had to upgrade to a bigger suitcase (same size as mine). We also added one more backpack because our suitcases were too heavy for flying (darn 20kg limit for checked bags). Now we each have one suitcase, one messenger bag, and one backpack. Not an easy load when there's a lot of walking involved (but it could have been worse). 
This is what our luggage currently looks like with our upgrades.

What's In My Suitcase* : 

7 shirts (6 short-sleeve, 1 long-sleeve)
6 tanks
3 white camisoles
1 jumpsuit
6 dresses
2 skirts
4 shorts
2 pants (1 jeans, 1 black)
5 sweaters/cardigans
1 jacket
3 nightgowns
2 jammies
1 light cotton robe
1 towel
2 swimsuits (bikini, one-piece)
8 panties
4 bras (white, nude, black, strapless)
3 socks
3 belts (1 for pants, 2 for waist)
1 scarf
1 pair of tights
1 pair of leggings
6 pairs of shoes (2 sandals,1 flipflops, 1 oxfords, 1 Toms, 1 sneakers)
1 curling iron
1 bag chock full of toiletries
1 accessory box (jewelry, headbands, etc)
1 mini leather backpack

* As already mentioned, I did some shopping in Thailand and added quite a bit to the list above to take home.

What’s In My Messenger Bag:

eye mask/ear plugs
cross-stitching supplies (hoop, thread, needles, scissors)
a growing postcard collection
random maps, tickets, and such

[Items in photo below were not included in my list.]
I mentioned before that I didn't bring a purse, but I did bring a mini leather backpack instead. Best decision I ever made. It was the perfect size for a small camera, phone, money, notepad, and pen when going out daily. It's small and flat so I can easily slip it into my suitcase, unlike a purse which doesn't really flatten. A backpack is also much more comfortable to wear for a long day of walking rather than carrying a purse, not to mention my hands are always full with a camera. This little backpack was a $6 thrift store find!
Must always beware when your husband is a photographer. 

Mistakes I made/things I learned:

-- We weren’t expecting to run into real winter weather, but when we decided to detour to Vienna, Budapest, and Ukraine in December, we were very much unprepared for snow. We had no choice but to go shopping for boots, hats, scarves, gloves, and winter socks. But I would rather do this than carry all that winter gear around “just in case” and then the weather never gets cold.

-- I packed one dress that I always felt was too fancy (and no shoes dressy enough to go with it) so I never even wore it! Pointless baggage.

-- I brought a hairdryer but found that it didn’t work anywhere because it was too much voltage to go through a foreign adapter. Instead of carrying the brick around for six months, I chucked it (it was really old anyway). I relied on hotel hairdryers or air-drying my hair (most commonly). Next time I won’t bother bringing one. If your hotel room doesn't have a hairdryer, ask at the counter--they sometimes have one to borrow.

-- Don’t pack your favorite earrings because you’ll probably lose one by the end of the trip with all that packing and repacking. I did.

-- Even if you pack the biggest bottle of your favorite makeup/lotion/shampoo, it will run out and you will have to accept an alternative until you get home

-- Don’t bring anything that wrinkles really easily. I brought one sweater that I rarely wore because every time I took it out of the suitcase, it looked like it had been chewed up and spit out.

-- Bring lots of underwear! I ended up washing mine by hand several times when laundry wasn’t available. 

-- Bring a watch. I never wear a watch back home because I always have a cell phone on me for the time. When traveling though, I am usually without my cell phone, and so often need the time for buses, trains, and closing times. I was so thankful Yuriy always wears a watch.

-- Toms are magical travel shoes. Super comfy for walking and they go with everything (dresses & pants)!

-- Try to pack some waterproof shoes. Everything I had sucked for rain (especially Toms). 

-- Having a roll of toilet paper is not a bad idea, especially in Asia.

As soon as we got to Vienna and saw all the snow, I went frantically hunting for boots. Yuriy tried to tough it out, but gave in as well a few days later. SO glad we did because they came in even more handy in Ukraine where we often trudged through unshoveled snow (though they're now buried at the bottom of our suitcases).
I still can't believe we pulled it off in such different seasons with just one suitcase each!

I hope something in this post helped you in some way... or just satisfied your crazy curiosity. Are any of you going on an extended trip in the near future? Did I leave anything out?

* Julia


  1. thanks for writing this post! i'm terrible at packing for a weekend let alone an extended trip :) will definitely keep your advice at hand.

  2. this is fantastic! definitely a great resource for any extended traveling. i need to go back and read it again! thanks, julia.

  3. this was so helpful -- thank you! i often go on (much shorter than 6 months) international trips, sometimes to a few different countries, and it's always a challenge to pack. i am impressed that you only picked up a few things along the way! also impressed at how few toiletries you have (how did you manage? :) and i'm curious about your books. did you get rid of ones you finished, and how did you pick up new ones along the way?

  4. loved the post!! thanks for sharing!
    I hope I will go for 6 month trip next year, we'll see what will happen :)
    have a lovely weekend in lovely thailand!

  5. Great post! Awesome advice. I will be pointing my friends to this one for a long time. I'm packed up now for my 2 week Euro-trip with my husband, and I'm packed eerily similar to you. I'm bringing along 2 pairs of Toms though (they get stinky and might need a day to um, air out) and also my knee-high leather boots since it's still chilly over there. I have lots of neutral tops and cardigans, a pair of black pants and pair of jeans, and small black jacket for cold nights and mornings that can easily be thrown over my small messenger bag in the warmer afternoons.

    I think one thing I can't live without on a trip during cooler months is a couple of knit hats. For those inevitable days when my hair will look like garbage, it's indispensable, looks cute, and keeps my head warm to boot!

    Again, awesome post Julia!!!

  6. Thank you for this post! I was so curious how you two managed to pack everything you'd need for 6 months. And having to plan for different seasons too, yikes!

  7. You make me laugh, Julia--you're a good writer, even when just writing a packing manual. Some great tips there. Plus, it helps to have a great sense of style to pull this off well!

    Funny you mention your minimalist husband griping--I never hear the end of it from mine if I pack too much, either. Which is a good thing, I guess, or I'd always bring way too much. I still kind of do.

    I so knew you'd eventually give in to the urge to bring at least something home with you--at least you saved it for close to the end of your trip.

  8. I love this peek into your suitcases Julia! I would have imagined much bigger suitcases for your trip but for 6 months this is very impressive A+ on the packing jobs. I can only imagine what your souvenir/postcard pile looks like in the backpack. If it were me I'd have to buy an accordian file folder to keep it all together!

  9. I stumbled onto your blog a while ago - I think from someone else's blog (of course I can't remember). Anyhoo, I love seeing all of the pictures from everywhere you both have been. While an extended trip is not in our future, this post was soooo useful and helpful as I am an 'over-packer'. We're going on a two week road trip in May, and I'm sure I can pack a smaller suitcase this time around (normally for a two week trip I pack twice as much as you did for 6 months). :p

  10. Hiya, this is a great post for me...thanks so much!!

    My husband and I are travelling around the US in April 2012, starting in Orlando ending in Chicago, doing a big loop around including CA and Washington. Your packing list has been really helpful although being a britt I have no idea what Tom's are xx

  11. great post! I will be sure to consult it if I ever go on a long trip :)

  12. This is so helpful. As I am already racking my brain on what to pack for a 3 week honeymoon. I could nor fathom having to pack for 6 months!!

  13. Thank you so much for this post! It was extremely helpful. I see where I went wrong on my fist out of country travel.

  14. i'd add to that list pj pants that can double as real pants (i have some flowy capri yoga pants), a clothesline (for when you have to handwash your stuff) and a headlamp (we tend to go places where the current is cut on a fairly regular basis.)

  15. awesome post! definitely taking notes! x

  16. I really really loved this post. Super-useful and very informative. I wondered how you could travel for so long, in such vastly different climates, without bringing tons of baggage! There's nothing I hate more than bringing lots of clothes, only to wear 1/2 of them and feel like I carried around useless items. I will definitely be looking at this post on my next vacation!

  17. Oh my god. I'm amazed by both of your packing skills! Plus all those shoes, how on earth did you squeeze it in the bag? But I really think this post is useful because from your list, I realise I tend to bring lots of unnecessary stuffs when I go overseas due to many 'What if..' reasons. And 1 luggage for 6 months is really incredible! (:

    oh & I really love that accessory box! it's so adorable (:

    Thanks for the blog post! Love it! :D

  18. FIRST!!

    Lovely, lovely pictures as usually! & you guys are the cutest couple ever :)

  19. Oh My Goodness!!!! This was so interesting and insightful!!! I cannot believe that you were able to travel around the world with such a small suitcase. I think that I take more that what you took anytime I travel. Kudos to you guys :)

  20. totally my favorite post from you guys.

  21. Seriously, I have wondered how much clothes you two had to take with! SO impressed by your logical choices and your oh-so helpful tips!!! I was actually planning to write you an email and ask because a few months after our May wedding we are planning to go away to Israel, Turkey, Egypt for 7-8 months and i have NO idea what to take!!!!!!! This post seriously helped, THANK YOU:)

  22. I loved this post! Thanks for sharing!

  23. oh this is great! I'm glad we learned the same packing lessons! When I was in Italy, we got rained on while looking for a hotel. 5 hours I discovered that my suitcase had soaked through and my clothes dried with the funkiest smell imaginable.

  24. SO helpful!!!! After our May wedding, we are planning to go to Israel, Turkey, Egypt, etc.. and i had NO idea what to take, now I have a better idea:) Impressed by your logical selections..

  25. Awesome post! lol... like your simplicity!!

  26. Julia, thank you very much. Perfect timing since i will be packing in a month (i will have to fit our whole family into 2 suitcases, plus i will need to pack diapers!!)

  27. This post was especially informative and fun. Thank you for sharing. :D

  28. This is awesome! You're fitting A LOT into a carry-on! I was especially surprised at the jacket and boots since they are pretty bulky. I guess long trips teach you a thing or two about packing:) Thanks a lot for sharing!

  29. Wonderful advice (and so stylishy given) :)

    That was definitely helpful and interesting,


  30. this is truly inspiring! i love traveling light as well. thanks for sharing!

  31. i think i have have your guys's theme song:

  32. Such an interesting post! Super helpful, and certainly satisfied my curiosity! I've been wondering so much 'just how on earth do they carry it all!?'
    Thanks for sharing! x

  33. so i over pack, a lot. this will really help me in the future. Thanks for posting!

  34. wow, this is a good post! i don't plan on going on any adventures like this anytime soon, but will definitely look back on this if i ever do! there's a lot of good advice here, thanks for sharing! and i love the photos with it.

    p.s. the wedgie/bum scratching shot is my favorite. i love that you're keeping it real here. :)


    p.p.s. this might be too personal...but what did you do for girly toiletries (like tampons and such? just stock up? or hope to find stuff on the road)...you totally don't have to answer this if you don't want to, just curious) :)

  35. loved this post! such great insight into everything, you all are way better packers that I am - I'll definitely be using some tips!

  36. WOW! I love this post and will come back tomorrow to read it again!

  37. Oh how I loved this post! I have been reading your blog for months now I often wondered this exact thing. My husband and I are taking a 8 day trip to the Portland-Seattle in April and I am notoriously an over packer, I will use your advice and see how much lighter our travels will be. You two are simply inspriational <3

  38. i'm in awe of this. i have trouble packing for two weeks trips to europe! i can't imagine 6 month trips to unknown places! i give you a lot of credit.

  39. Yes, I do agree that women have these problems with packing :)

  40. so so SO helpful! i'm moving across the globe for a year (in 2 weeks!) so any tips/suggestions i can get i totally welcome. i LOVE seeing what other travellers pack and you have packed really well-all of that in one small suitcase? and you always looked pulled together and effortless in your pics. bravo. i have my own packing post going up in a few days too! hopefully i pack as well as you have!

  41. Are your suitcases able to be carried on or do you check them when flying?

  42. You two are such an adorable couple! I stumbled upon your blog a few weeks ago and spent time reading all about your journey from the very beginning. I so desperately want to go on an adventure like yours and hope to sometime soon after my husband and I graduate from college this summer. I can't wait to see the rest of your updates to see how the rest of the world was.

  43. I think this is our most popular post yet! It must have been the wedgie picture. :) You all made us feel so good about our packing jobs. Thanks to everyone who suggested the idea for this post. Now I'll try to answer some questions...

    Julie- Some hotels have free book swaps- leave a book and pick up a new one. Also there are plenty of used book stores around where we could sell the books we already read and buy new ones for cheap. There are usually tons of books in English.

    Amy Radcliffe- I guess Americans assume everyone knows what Toms are. Oops! I linked the post to the Toms website. Stop by Seattle and say hello on your trip!

    sweet pea- Awesome theme song! Thank you for sharing.

    backyardink- I was able to buy tampons in every country we visited. In some places (like around Asia) they sell them at the pharmacy, not the grocery store. They usually have only one sort though.. the o.b. brand.

    Alexandra- We check our suitcases when flying (they're too big) and take our backpacks and messenger bags as carry-ons.

  44. Amazing post Julia! you have definitely covered my doubts regarding packing for my RTW :))) When I will be packing for it for sure I will be coming back to this post to double check your recommendations :))

    I just have one more question :) regarding keeping your things safe when you are in hostels or traveling in trains I was wondering if you had some advices :)

    Thank you again Julia!! and btw amazing pictures Yuriy as always! very funny :)))

  45. Juana- Good question (that I didn't cover)! We didn't do anything special to keep our belongings safe. We always had a private room with a lock, and we just prayed that it would be enough to keep our things safe. We also tried not to leave valuables out in the open. If we were leaving the room, we put our laptops and electronics in a drawer rather than leave it on the bed in plain view through windows. Hostels usually have lockers for free or for a small fee but they sometimes require your own lock, so be sure to pack one. On trains, we kept an eye on our luggage. If we were traveling by bus and had to part with our luggage, we always had our laptops/camera/electronics in a messenger bag near us. The suitcase didn't have anything valuable in it so nothing was ever stolen. Hope that helps a little.

  46. love this post!! it's like behind the scenes and what every girl needs to read before her big trip.
    thanks for all your tips :)

  47. julia..
    what a wonderful post!
    i enjoyed reading this so much, we of course could take more, having our airstream, but i know i have more than i should and my hubby just doesn't know when to say when so he has a lot (though not necessarily clothes but also tools!.. 5 screwdrivers, really?) (O:
    this was wonderful, thanks for sharing!

  48. You have captured each moment beautifully, and looking at your blog, makes me happy :)

  49. I love reading your posts and looking at your gorgeous pictures. You both are talented photographers!

    Thanks for the packing tips. :)

    *Here is a tip from me (I'm not sure if you guys folded your clothes for the picture or if you usually fold your clothes in your suitcase?)

    Anyways, I served a 16 month mission in northern Germany, and I have found that by folding your clothes in half and then rolling them tightly into a roll, you can fit way more clothes/other items into your suitcase. This is how the sailors do it when they travel over seas. This method also helps prevent your clothes from getting wrinkled. :)

    Happy travels and greetings from the Alps Germany! (I hope southern Germany is in your plans)

    Oh, and I was an exchange student in Vienna and I would say my favorite city in Austria that we saw during our semester there was Hallstatt, Austria - I hope you get a chance to see it if you are passing by it.

  50. Thanks so much for the post! My husband and I are heading off on a two month journey from paris - morroco - italy - down the croatias coastline - greece - turkey, and this list was super helpful! I love love my Toms, as well.... did you find that they "fit in" for europe?

  51. I think you both are fantastic. And not just because I'm half Ukrainian :) I just moved to Seattle...if you ever need a photography intern (unpaid even!) when you're back, I'm your girl!

  52. You two are amazing! I don't know how you did it.. those suitcases must be like the Mary Poppin's bag, ha! Very impressive. I hate the 20kg limit, too.. quite restricting (especially if you're moving!). I love that you love dresses... I'm sure that helped so much! Thank you for this post! I'll definitely have to keep this in mind for the future.

  53. I love everything about this blog, especially this post- very insightful! I also love love love your mini leather backpack. Since you got that at a thrift shop, may I ask what the brand is (if any)? I want to find something exactly like this! :)

  54. Brittany Bless- Yes I've heard the rolling trick, but I can't find any of my clothes when I do that! We pack and repack so often that stacking it has been easier for us. Thanks for sharing. We will try to remember to check out Hallstatt next time we're in Austria. We barely had enough time for Vienna.

    Pete & Kimmy- We didn't see any Toms anywhere except in London and in Australia. But I still felt like they fit in since there are similar styles of shoes out there.

    Madeline- Perfect! Looks like we have much in common. We need to meet up in Seattle.

    Andrea- The backpack doesn't have a single tag or bit of text on it, so I have no idea. Thank you though! Yuriy laughed at me when I first brought it home, so now I get to rub it in his face that I'm not the only one who liked it.

  55. This comment has been removed by the author.

  56. Awesome post! Those airport photos made me laugh. And I love the summer/winter photos. The captions were great, too. I'm also amazed at how you fit all those shoes! Good to know about Toms being great travel shoes. I got a pair for Christmas, but haven't been able to try them out yet because of all the rain.

    One question, in which country did you buy that tan/white crossbody purse?! I adore it!

  57. Jamie- I got my first pair of Toms as a Christmas gift as well! Now I'm hooked. I picked up the purse at the Chatuchak Market in Bangkok for about $7! Shopping in Thailand is amazing.

  58. i had to save this post to my favorites, and i think it might save my life...or at least my sanity.

    i'm going backpacking in europe this summer for 5 weeks, and i am the WORST packer in the universe. we're talking duffle bags for a weekend trip. i'm going to follow and start memorizing your advice, so thank you so so much for this post!

    any other tips for fitting all of your life into a backpack? haha.

  59. Ha haha, I think this is my favorite blog post you did, very interesting, and love what you wore this trip!

  60. I have purchased a pair of Toms now ;) Also we are stopping by Seattle on our trip :)

  61. Julia, I have to say, you have impeccable taste! I love all your travel outfits and I would've guessed that your suitcase was the size of Mt.Everest. Needless to say, I am impressed beyond imagination!

  62. Hi Julia,

    I think it's awesome how you reply to all your comments on your blog. It shows that you value your readers - very thoughtful and considerate.

    Here is another idea I thought of when I saw the picture of your pile of books. Now I know this is a subject of major controversy for book lovers. However, I think a Kindle/Nook e-reader would be really great for your travels. It's like an I-pod for your books. You can store thousands of books on this light weight e-reader.

    I actually bought a Nook when I married a German and knew I would be living in Germany with a limited access to English books in bookstores over here.

    At first I was really skeptical about the whole e-reader thing, but I found that it doesn't hurt your eyes at all. It's not like reading articles on a computer/laptop. It is so perfect for traveling or for my situation of living in Germany.

    I can buy English novels online to download for my Nook for only a fraction of the book's full price. Plus I don't have to pay shipping and handling. (So this has saved me thousands of dollars) There are a lot of classic books that are free or only cost $1.00 to download. Even newer book titles are priced cheaper for the e-reader.

    It's only a suggestion of course. I think it would save a lot of space/weight in your suitcase and you could always just go online and download a new book when you are ready. The battery life is also really good - like 7 hours and longer if you put it on "airplane mode."

    Sure there are certain books I would not like to read on an e-reader and would rather buy for my personal library collection. i.e. an atlas, reference books, children's picture books, cookbooks, textbooks or books that I would like to highlight/and take notes in, and probably more book genres that I can't think of at the moment.

    I still love books even though I have a Nook and would never consider completely switching over to an e-reader. I'm sure you would agree that there is nothing like the feel of a real book in your hands and the smell of books. But e-readers really are practical for traveling ;)

    Question: Do you have an overseas insurance to cover you if you get sick? Have you or your husband gotten sick yet?

    Hope you are both staying healthy. Happy traveling ;)

  63. e.day- I wish I had more advice that was actually useful in life. Have fun on your trip!

    Amy- You will love Seattle! Who doesn't? :)

    Brittany- That's a really good idea. I saw a few people reading on e-readers during our trip, and you're right, I wasn't attracted to them because they don't look or feel like books. But now that you've highlighted the benefits, it seems like a totally logical and great idea.

    No we don't have travel insurance. Other than a cough and a some stomach aches, we've been okay, thank God! We've never looked into it.. is it a good idea?

  64. Hi Julia,

    I'm not sure if my last comment sent or not?

    Anyways, earlier you said you liked to fold your clothes and be able to find the things you need fast since you pack and repack so often.

    I just remember that I used these Pack-It system folders and cubes for my study abroad to Vienna. I think you would like them since you like to have your things folded. It would make packing easier, faster and more organized:


    As far as insurance goes, my university had all students doing study abroad, internships and field studies get HTH Worldwide insurance. I did get really sick when we went to Prague, but not enough to see a doctor.

    Later, fall 2009, I did a summer academy program to southern Germany and got deathly sick. HTH was a real lifesaver - I called the emergency number and they told me exactly what to do and what doctor was the closest that would be covered by HTH insurance. It saved me a lot of money in the long run (I hear it is super expensive to see doctors overseas).

    So insurance can be really handy when needed but might be seen as a bit pricy if you don't end up needing it.

    I would say if you don't have a lot of time left overseas to not worry about it. But if you still have a few months left, maybe look into it?

    Here is the website (and I'm sure there are other options out there as well):


    I hope that helps :)

  65. Here is a short (and cheesy) youtube of the Eagle Creek Pack It system.

    It's a good demo how each of their products work. It really does make packing easier and more organized. I myself want to get some more of their products for my next trip :)


  66. Julia this is so helpful even for shorter vacations...I usually end up packing tons of stuff and half doesn't even make it out of suitcase. By the way where do you go thrifting in Seattle? That little backpack is great! :)And love all your pictures...just amazing!

  67. Thank you for your lovely blog. I'm perusing the archives. Hours of enticing entertainment unfolds! Plus, you've visited some countries I am personally interested in but don't see too many blogs about. Plus, you are such a photogenic and engaging couple. What a lovely way to continuing bonding. I hope you are going to self-publish a travel guide or at the very least a picture book (for e-readers & iPad because your photos are sublime as well. Again, thanks. Beautiful....

  68. Nella- I go thrifting at all the basics in Seattle-- Goodwill, Value Village, Salvation Army. Mostly Goodwill because they have the most stores. Goodwill Outlet downtown is gross but super cheap and sometimes awesome.

    Faith- We're flattered. Thank you. We're thinking about making a photo book at the end, but I don't think we're nearly experienced enough to make a travel guide.

  69. JULIA, this information is amazing! I LOVE that leather backpack that you found! I can't wait to find those little gems in Spain:)
    From your experience through Spain, was the shopping super, with super deals!?:)
    We'll only be there in Oct. but this was most helpful!!!

  70. So I am one of the individuals that just came across your blog somehow, and I have lived in Europe from 2 suitcases for 4 months once. And traveled quite a bit, and I must say that your advice was terrific! Wish I had known more of that before I had traveled! I have enjoyed getting to know you through your blog, the magic of the 21st century and how strangers can somehow know where eachother is in the world and what they are doing :) Thanks for sharing! This stranger appreciates it!

  71. Ya seriously..I read this on my train ride home from Seattle, wA, and its like the cutest post ever. Great things to know for future..
    I was laughing cuz I only left for 3 days, and like way over packed...


  72. great post! thank you SO MUCH for sharing your awesome packing skills!!! i hope you're having a ball back in seattle :)

  73. Julia....this post was incredible! I am the world's worst packer. I always feel like I need to pack for EVERY scenario, so my suitcase for a quick weekend trip always looks big enough to last me a month. This is such great advice...I definitely want to bookmark this post as my fiance and I plan to do plenty of traveling together once we are married next year!

  74. this post was awesome! everything about it was informative and visually beautiful BRAVO! i adore this blog and hope someday i can copy your 1/2 year adventure! soooooo jealous!

  75. Casey- We didn't go to Spain. I wish!

  76. You guys are amazing for packing your lives into such tiny suitcases! I thought I was a light packer! Thanks for such a detailed post!

  77. I loved this post. Read all of it. Cautiously as to not miss a point. So much good information and inspiration. I've actually been persuaded to consider and adventure like this... im not currently in a relationship but feel this would be something i would love to do with my partner in the future. beautiful. im skimming through, as this is the first i read on you two, so i could learn more about what led you on this adventure. :)

  78. Julia, this might be the silliest question, but would you mind sharing what brand your sneakers are? I've been looking for something similar and in a different color but I can't seem to catch a break, so I'd really like to check this brand out! I'd really appreciate it. I've been following your blog for quite a while and the travel advice you've given has made a world of difference in how prepared I feel about living in Busan, S. Korea for a year (if I get the job! *fingers crossed*). :)

  79. Carrie- My sneakers are Pumas. I didn't want to bring tennis shoes because they are pretty bulky and don't collapse (bad for small suitcase). These Pumas were perfect because the shell is not too bulky, but the sole has a nice rubber padding and arch support. Not the IDEAL shoes for a lot of walking, but pretty close. I hope you get the job too! What an experience that would be.

  80. I'd love to give a tip to this:
    "-- Don’t bring anything that wrinkles really easily. I brought one sweater that I rarely wore because every time I took it out of the suitcase, it looked like it had been chewed up and spit out."

    If you do end up bringing something that wrinkles, putting it in the bathroom and having a steamy shower and letting it lay flat dry or hang dry will usually get the wrinkles out, depending on the fabric.

  81. Julia, I'd love to ask where you purchase most of your clothes? (or at least the bulk of them) Especially your dresses, they're all so pretty.

  82. Thanks for this post. I'm traveling for a year, but I'll be in warmer climates. Only Iceland and Sweden, but summertime are cooler. I'll be in Europe until October, then Ghana, South Africa just after Christmas, Australia and Southeast Asia until this time next year. Would you say that your 6 months of packing could have lasted you another 6 months? I'm sure I can exchange things as I go, but I don't want to spend a whole lot of money on clothing.

  83. Amanda - I did exactly that a couple times with a sweater I had that wrinkled very easily! It helped.

    Amanda II- That's sweet. I buy some used clothes (usually only dresses/accessories) at second-hand stores. I don't have a go-to store but some of my favorites include- Macys, Nordstrom (& Rack), Target, H&M, Urban Outfitters, The Loft, modcloth.com, shopruche.com. I don't spend a lot of money on clothes.

    Jeweli Anne- Yes, my packing would have definitely lasted another 6 months. We didn't pack adequately for winter weather since we weren't planning on it. If we did it over again, I would have packed a better coat and some warmer things. That shouldn't be a problem for you. That's the beauty of visiting only warm places-- less packing. Your trip sounds amazing! Have a great time.

  84. Awesome post!! My friend sent me this link to improve my packing skills...I have noticed that I am a heavy packer and end up not even using half of what I take... I will definitely keep your post in mind when I pack... Thanks!! :-)

  85. Omg this has been a life saver! I never know what to pack n normally pack to much! I need to pack a little for both seasons n now I'm not worrying bout it as much!

  86. This post is great. I love reading other bloggers packing lists because I haven't travelled for an extended period of time...yet. I'm hoping to change that soon and in the meantime posts like this are so useful to help plan ahead. You both look amazing in every single picture so your advice is definitely valuable to your followers who want to travel in style!

  87. where did you buy your beautiful leather backpack?

  88. Where dis you buy that beautiful leather backpack?

  89. Where did you buy that beautiful leather backpack?

    1. Ximena - I bought it at a thrift store. Sorry that doesn't help much!

  90. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design
    this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for
    you? Plz respond as I'm looking to create my own blog and would like to know where u got this from. thanks a lot
    Also see my page > click through the next page

  91. Wow! This was really helpful. I'm not going on a trip any time soon, but this post was a great read. I totally know what you mean about packing and unpacking. If I could, I would hire someone to do it for me. :D

  92. TOMS really are the magical traveling shoes, aren't they?! I couldn't have done my trips without them. But, like you said, they do NOT to well in rain, or puddles, or water at all. ;)

  93. This was super helpful to read! Thanks so much! As a study abroad student, packing is definitely a compromising situation. Loved hearing how you did it!

  94. This was such a great post! Bookmarking this-- hopefully I'll need to be packing for a trip around the world soon ;)

  95. Loved this post ! Im packing for a 6 month trip to ecuador .some things were very helpful & others not so much. like heavy winter items . I will be reading this again soon . Thanks so much !

  96. My husband and I were married last month and are currently planning for our 6-month honeymoon to Europe. He insists we take only backpacks and a messenger bag each (carry-on only). Before this blog, I assumed I would never be able to wear cute clothes n just be in the same jeans and shirt for 6 months. However, this blog gives me hope. I'm doing a mock-pack this weekend! Thanks for all the advice! So glad to have found this blog and a couple who has done exactly what we are planning!

    1. Victoria - So happy to see other couples taking extended trips! You will be talking about this trip fondly forever. Happy travels!

  97. super blogpost! Will use it :)

  98. I really love your advice! It's nice to have this information. Thank you!

  99. Thanks for the awesome information. Just in time. I have to pack for myself and my husband for about two weeks away. He will be in hospital most of that time. What to bring, what not to bring. YIKES. Thank you again. DEB

  100. Awesome post, thanks for sharing! super useful!

  101. hey I was just wondering what kind of camera your husband uses? This is such an inspiring post for me! I'm also about to go on a 6 month trip. -Sarah

    1. Sarah - We use a Nikon D700 + Nikon D800 for all the photos on our blog. Occasionally, we'll use our Fuji x100s when we don't feel like taking the big camera.

  102. Very useful - cheers!I can never decide what to take with me so I always end up packing almost everything into a luggage that would suit better a European migrant to America sometime in the 19th century... Will try to follow your advce in the future. Best, Alina

  103. You're a life saver thank you!

  104. Thanks for sharing what's inside your travel suitcase. :) Traveling with the family is indeed a worthwhile activity.

  105. really good photos!!!! I like your style!

  106. Your photos are AMAZING!!
    thanks so much for all this comprehensive advice!!
    someone I know is planning on going to Taiwan for a year, and is required to
    live with a very small amount. Very good lists!


  107. This was absolutely fantastic! So incredibly thrilled to have found this. I'm moving to the Caribbean for 6 months, so packing should be even simpler than this since the climate is always the same. Again... THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

  108. Thankyou!!! This really is a great help! I am orignally from England but I have lived in New York for the past 7 months I travel to India in 1 month and then move on to China for 4 months and after that i am travelling to cambodia, vietnam, thailand, laos, indonesia, Malaysia to end my trip!! And this really is a great blog for packing!! I am just looking at my wardrobe now thinking what on earrrth am i going to take - and being a fashion student doesnt help me either!!
    Your photographs are so lovely also!! What a great honeymoon :)
    Thanks again - Scarl

  109. Thanks - great blog and very helpful. I'm going to Europe in May, only for 2 months, but will cover chilly early spring in Russia, then hot summer in Italy. Could I ask please what the capacity of your suitcases were - cubic litres, or what ever you use in the US.
    Regards Vivien

  110. LOVED reading this and am now even MORE inspired to make a huge trip 'round the globe. Thank you so much for sharing! :D

  111. What brand of suitcase do you both have?

  112. This is great! I am going to Maine for 3 months and was so lost as to how I was going to manage packing for that long, but this blog really saved my life. Now I'm not completely terrified... only a little :P Thanks for writing!

  113. This is a bit late, but I referenced this post when my hubby and I took our honeymoon of 6+ weeks through Europe (Bosnia/Croatia/Italy/France/Scotland/England) and went through 2 different seasons (summer and fall) all in our backpacking packs. So much useful information, thank you! I definitely relied on hotel/Air B and B places for a hair dryer or just air dried my hair (I cut it too before the trip so it was easier to deal with). Packets of Tide laundry detergent were my life saver for the days I had to do laundry by hand in the sink. And I definitely recommend travel insurance - especially for extended trips. It was relatively cheap for a piece of mind in case something happened to us. Already planning our next trip!

    1. Hi Ines, thanks for coming back and sharing about your trip! You hit some really good countries in 6 weeks! Cutting your hair is quite the commitment. But so smart. Glad you guys had a good time. :)

  114. Appreciated work!

    I like the post. It is really very helpful to make a rationale decision between the fairs of shipping to usa
    shipping to Canada
    shipping to Australia
    excess baggage shipping.

    I hope I will back soon.


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  116. Great tips! Must have been quite stressful thinking about all the things you might need for a 6 month trip, but you have it nailed down like an expert!! Will come in handy to others I'm sure :)

  117. this is so far the best post on travelling that i've found.

  118. Great post! Would you mind sharing the brand of luggage/messenger/camera bags you used?

  119. These are all great suggestions ! As far as I am concerned while traveling I apply Susan Heller's saying " “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.”

  120. How were you able to take 3 pieces of luggage on board the plane: a suitcase, a backpack and a messenger bag

  121. Brilliant!! This post was wonderful - my name is Julia too, and I'm about to study abroad for a semester in Spain. Packing is sooo hard. Thanks for all the tips!