What I Packed – 8 weeks, Hot & Cold

Packing for a trip can feel like solving a giant puzzle. You’ve got the excitement of your adventure ahead, but the dreaded task of deciding what to bring can be overwhelming.

I mean, how many times have we all ended up packing way too much or forgetting something essential?

I remember being so focused on bringing enough warm jackets, I forgot to pack socks! Talk about a packing fail.

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A person stands on a snowy street carrying a large backpack and wearing winter clothing.

When it comes to packing, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you’ve got everything you need without overstuffing your suitcase.

First, the obvious, consider the climate of your destination. If you’re heading to a tropical paradise, you won’t need that bulky sweater but don’t forget a light jacket for those cool evening breezes.

Next, think about the activities you’ll be doing. Are you planning on hiking, swimming, or maybe just lounging by the pool? Make sure you pack accordingly so you’re not caught unprepared.

Don’t forget about the local culture and any dress codes you might need to follow. You don’t want to end up in a fancy restaurant wearing beach attire or, worse, disrespecting local customs.

Remember the importance of packing versatile items. A sarong, for instance, can double as a beach cover-up, a scarf, a towel, or even an emergency picnic blanket.

Finally, always leave a little room in your bag for souvenirs – you’ll thank me later.

Exactly What I Packed on My Last Trip

So while I can’t provide a personalised packing list just for your next trip, I can show you what I packed on my last trip to Europe.

I like to pack light. When I checked into my flights on my last trip my checked bag was around 11kg.

So you might be wondering – what I packed for almost 8 weeks through both warm countries (UAE/Egypt) and cold countries (Scotland/Finland)?

Most clothes end up being black/dark with just a few of the tops having some colour.

This makes it easier to coordinate and easier for laundry (only one load instead of two) as I handwash the few white/light things that can’t go in a dark load.

I do tend to pack more for comfort than for fashion, and I’m not going to win any prizes for stunning Instagram photos with this list.

I don’t take any jewellery with me at all. In fact, the only things I have with me are my plain wedding band and a small pair of stud earrings.

Packing cubes are essential for me – it makes it so much easier to keep everything tidy These are the ones I currently have.

I’ve included everything, but, of course, I wear some of these things on the flights – including my hiking shoes and down jacket when it was colder.

A duffel bag is open on a bed, containing a green packing cube, a purple BAGAIL packing cube, a black toiletry bag, and a small clear bag with personal care items.

Here’s the list

Tops

  • 3 x long sleeve loose cotton tops to wear in the heat and to wear with layers underneath in the cooler weather
  • 1 x short sleeve sports tshirt for hiking etc and comfort on travel days
  • 2 x tanktops one black, one white, for layering
  • 2 x long sleeve thermal tshirts for layering
  • 1 x thin cardigan
  • 1 x thick down jacket that packs down small into a pouch.
  • 1 x thin outer waterproof jacket
  • 2 x bras, one normal, one sports, black and skin tone

Bottoms

  • I x 3/4 cargo hiking pants
  • 1 x 7/8 capri pants
  • 1 x jeans
  • 1 x long black pants
  • 1 x fleece-lined long black pants.
  • 2 x leggings, 1 fleecy for layering in the cold or hiking
  • Underwear (I didn’t count, maybe 6-8)
  • 2 x short socks, 2x long socks, 1 x compression socks, 1 x thick hiking socks

Other

  • 1 x pyjamas
  • 1 x bathers
  • 1 x beanie
  • 1 x packable sun hat (I really don’t like this hat, but it does the job and I’ve never found anything else better)
  • 1 x thin scarf for covering hair in mosques
  • 1 x thick scarf for warmth
  • 2 x gloves, one fingerless, one waterproof

Shoes

  • 1 x thin, flat sandals
  • 1 x plain black hiking shoes
  • 1 x flat black boots (these were an extra because I had room)

I also always carry a t-shirt and extra pair of underwear in my carryon bag too, just in case my checked bag goes missing.

The other things in my checked bag

  • 2 x toiletry bags, one with shampoo, sunscreen, hairspray, toothbrush, comb etc, most things in smaller travel sizes/containers. The other has makeup, deodorant, moisturiser etc in it.
  • 1 x spare book
  • A large snap lock bag with all my vitamins 😂
  • Umbrella (sometimes it’s in my carryon, depending on the weather)
  • Laundry essentials, a small snaplock bag with a clothesline, sink plug and some laundry pods (solid ones are best for travelling).

All electronics, essential documents, medication and anything else I would be devastated if I lost goes in my carry-on.

I’m usually travelling with my husband, and he carries our universal travel adaptor and power board.

And how did it go?

I admit, I did get a bit bored with wearing the same things over and over, but I had something for pretty much every scenario – except perhaps a fancy night out.

We did everything from hiking to the theatre, sweating in Egypt at the Pyramids to walking in snow in Finland.

I didn’t feel like I was missing anything.

I wore everything I took, which is good, because I do have a tendency to throw in that extra top “just in case” and then never wear it.

I loved only having this weight to carry around – it was about 2-3kg lighter than my gap year, and it made such a difference.

My Choice of Luggage

Choosing what to pack is one thing, but what do I put it in?

Deciding between a backpack and a suitcase for your travels can be a real game-changer, and each has its perks.

A backpack is your best mate for adventure-packed trips, offering hands-free mobility and easy access to your essentials.

It is easier to navigate through markets or use public transport with everything you need comfortably strapped to your back.

On the other hand, a suitcase is better for those more relaxed, urban escapes. It rolls effortlessly through airport terminals and hotel lobbies, keeping your clothes neatly organised and wrinkle-free.

Personally, I tend to lean towards my backpack. So long as I keep it light, then it is so much easier to get around than dragging a suitcase behind me.

I have this Osprey pack, bought for my gap year and used many times since.

(When I bought it, it was called a Farpoint, in size small. Since then they’ve changed the smaller one to the Fairview and marketed it just for women)

I did find some of the straps frayed, so I took it back to a local supplier, and it came back not only with all the straps changed (not just the frayed one) but they had also patched a small hole I had made in it – all free. Love that service.

When I use a checked suitcase, I use this Samsonite one. My husband also has the larger size, so I have that available if I need it – but I prefer the smaller one.

I do have an older Samsonite I’ve had forever I absolutely love, but sadly it has seen better days and is now cracked so it only gets used on road trips. It’s only a matter of time before I have to retire it completely.

For carry-on, well, I don’t really have a set option at the moment. If I am taking my backpack, I will use the smaller backpack as my carry-on. If I am taking the suitcase, I use this Nordace backpack for my carry-on.

If I am only taking carry-on, well, at the moment I would borrow Simon’s carry-on suitcase which is the smaller version of the Samsonite I linked to above.

My really cheap K-Mart suitcase I bought about 15 years ago recently died, and I am yet to get around to replacing it. This one is my dream, but I’m having a hard time justifying it 😂

And there you have it – the ultimate guide to packing for your next adventure!

Packing doesn’t have to be a nightmare, and with a little planning and some clever tips, you can make sure you’re prepared for anything without lugging around an overstuffed bag.

Want more practical travel tips? Read these next
How to get Foreign Currency for your Travels
A Step-by-Step Guide to Planning Your Trip
6 Ways to Save Money on Travel

TRAVEL PLANNING ESSENTIALS

Find flights – I always use Skyscanner as my starting point when searching for flights. One search will give many options including airlines I may not have thought of. This means I can find the best possible flights to suit my needs

Book accommodation – my go to is always Booking.com for the best places to stay. It’s not just hotels anymore, but hostels, apartments, B&Bs and more. I love that the bookings are usually cancellable, and that I can book now and pay later.

Hire a rental carRentalCars.com is my go to here. It allows me to do just one search and it finds cars from many of the different supplies, so no checking multiple websites to compare.

Get travel insurance – you would have heard by now that saying “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel”. If we’ve learnt anything from the last couple of years it should be how essential travel insurance is. I use CoverMore for my insurance.

Pick up an eSIM – I tried an eSIM on my last trip and it was fantastic. I set it up before I went so it was ready as soon as I landed, and I still had access to my home number for emergencies. Get your own eSIM at Airalo.

Book activities, tours & attractions – I use a few different websites for this. Viator and Get Your Guide tend to be the first places I look. In Asia, Klook often has more options, and in Australia it’s Experience Oz.

Manage your money – the best way to manage your different currencies is with an account from Wise. You can hold money in many different currencies, and use them with the ATM card or from your phone.