Packing for Four

As we were preparing to leave, a lot of people asked what we were planning to take with us for the next 17 months. We will be “following the sun”, as Robin likes to put it, so the whole time we’re traveling temperatures will range from the current 32-33 degrees Celsius we are experiencing, to daytime lows in the mid-teens (overnight low will be closer to 4-5 degrees C). Robin decided long ago that he and the boys will take carry-on sized 40L backpacks (the Osprey Farpoint40 for him and Caleb and the Fairview40 for Kieran). I was very unsure about how I could possibly fit everything I would need (ha, and want) for 17 months into a 40L backpack and even spent more time than was probably reasonable discussing this with my boss during some of our one-on-ones in the last months before the trip. In fact, it was those very conversations that finally helped me make the decision to go with a 36L wheeled conversion bag plus a 24L backpack. I was still a little skeptical about whether I could Marie Kondo my packed necessities enough to get everything into even this configuration of luggage.

Robin finished planning and acquiring everything he is going to need for the next 17 months quite some time ago and trial packed about a week in advance of the trip. Me, not so much – I packed my bags for the first time on Dec 30. 

Lots of people want to know what we finally brought with us…Robin is a minimalist by nature and I don’t think this was actually that difficult for him and indeed, I think he rather relishes the idea that he can live for a year and a half out of a pack that can be carried onto an aircraft.

The basics of Robin’s packing list includes:

  • 3 t-shirts
  • 1 tank top
  • 2 long sleeved shirts
  • 1 hoodie
  • 1 raincoat
  • 2 shorts
  • 2 pants
  • 4 pairs socks/underwear
  • 2 pairs of shoes (running shoes and sandals)
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 1 travel towel

Plus of course basic toiletries and electronics. All of Robin’s clothing (except the 2 pairs of pants) are Merino wool. He will be rigorously testing the claims about Merino wool’s antibacterial (and anti-stink) properties and I certainly hope for a successful outcome. He seems (to me) to have an inordinate amount of camera gear but that will really be his hobby as we are traveling.

We already have a difficult time getting the boys to change their clothes regularly, so having express permission to wear the same few articles of clothing over an over will certainly not be an issue for them. I got them some new t-shirts that they  were forbidden from wearing until we left and they each brought just what the really need for 5-7 days. I had packed them in their bags on several trips plus summer camp over the past year so I was very confident that everything they need would fit and that they were also both able to manage carrying their own packs.

As for me…I felt intimidated and overwhelmed by packing right up until the end. I had this little collection of things that I thought I might want to bring with me but it was way too much stuff. I had a real fear of not having something I might want, or being otherwise uncomfortable, that I needed to overcome. I think the best advice I received (from a follow global traveler) on this topic was: don’t plan to change your normal style too much when planning a travel wardrobe. So as I started to pare down my collection of possible items, I tried to keep this in mind. Outside of work I generally wear a variety of comfortable clothes that I feel good in and I spent some time looking back on some of the photos from past trips, noticing that my style hasn’t changed very much, if at all, over the course of nearly 2 decades. If that “Little Miss Bossy” t-shirt still fit me (Australia/New Zealand 2007), you better believe it would be coming along.

After several wardrobe reviews with Robin’s mom, Simon, and finally a group of friends at our going away party, I was able to narrow it down to a collection that I felt comfortable with and that would fit in my bags, including all the medication for all of us!

So finally, here’s what I ended up with:

  • 7 tank tops
  • 5 t-shirts
  • 2 blouses
  • 2 long sleeves tops
  • 2 zip hoodies
  • 3 dresses (2 casual, 1 little black dress)
  • 1 shorts
  • 2 capri tights
  • 1 quick-dry capris
  • 1 long cotton tights/1 athletic tights
  • 1 pair jeans
  • pajamas
  • 7 socks/14 underwear/4 bras
  • 3 sandals, 1 pair running shoes
  • raincoat
  • vest
  • travel towel

I did bring some make-up (very minimal), dry shampoo, hair gel, and a travel sized straightening iron in addition to the usual toiletries that you would expect. So you can see, I wasn’t exactly minimalist in my packing – at least relative to Robin and the boys – and yet, it still all fit without too much trouble. I even expect that eventually I will send some of this home to myself if I’m not using it after a few months.

Not the most exciting post but answers some questions that we were frequently asked. If you want to know anything else, drop a comment!

3 thoughts on “Packing for Four

  • Good to know! I was curious about it when I saw your family photo at the airport. We certainly become accustomed to our create comforts and variety, right?

    I hope you have chosen wisely grasshopper! Time will tell. Be well, my friends.


  • I am super curious to see how your choices go for you and whether or not you do end up sending items home.
    PS. Super impressive list for your not large bags!


  • I am so proud of you Wen! Your list of items makes me so proud and I know how hard it was to come to just that. When we traveld to the Galapagos, Kyle only brought 2 tshirts, one long sleeved shirt, one shorts, one track pant, 3 socks, 3 underwear in a backpack I thought he was mad but it worked out. You can always do laundry right! Love all of you and tell K to eat as many different things as he can xoxoxo p.s. you can NEVER have too much camera gear 😁

    Liked by 1 person

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