We are on the downhill run now. We have successfully packed up and cleaned our home of 15 years, no easy task. For weeks, I have been slowly putting stuff into storage, a little at a time. It might have been easier to just schedule the last week and do it all in a blitz. The way I did it, gave me precious moments to consider what I wanted to see again and what needed to find a new home.

In the end, all our stuff fit into a rather small space. Which is strange. You would think that in the lifetime of my oldest child, we would have decided to keep more precious items. Instead, I think we gathered memories. I suppose that is a good habit for the year ahead.

The biggest area of concern for all of us is, ‘what will we take with us for a year’? It shouldn’t be too much, otherwise we will be lugging around unnecessary weight. As well, we don’t need the clutter of having too many things floating around our travel bags. Of course, we can continue to donate as we move along. There is also shopping, which can be done, as required. But I have this romantic notion that I should be able to select just what I need, from what I have and be good with that for a year. Although, maybe that is more of a perfectionist idea, which is something I need to move past!

What I wanted to avoid at all costs, is the frantic pack up, the night before we leave. Generally, packing for a trip has been a process of throwing stuff in a bag, making sure it is not overweight and hoping for the best. I’ve travelled extensively using that method. Somehow, I feel like this trip requires a bit more strategic planning. Maybe I’m not keen to discover what I have accidentally forgotten with my go-to packing method of old.

I’ve done a bunch of research on packing lists, (something I’ve never done before). Most of what I have found, has not detailed a year of travel. Although, there are a few young people who have made videos, which have been quite helpful. I’ve often wondered why families travelling with teens don’t put up their packing lists? Maybe their gear is not that different from anyone else. Or my other suspicion is that they are not many parents who travel extensively with their teens. Because, so far, the only benefit I have seen in the run up to our travel, is that my teens can manage a full-sized luggage set on their own. Which is good, because there are whole categories of essentials which can go into their bags, spreading the weight around. 

Which leads me to the test pack. I guess this is a thing which normal people do, right? I suppose it doesn’t matter, I think it is a good idea, for my piece of mind. Because I’ve learned some very important things about weight, in my test packing process. Stuff is heavy! At least my stuff is much heavier than I realized. Makes me more keen than ever to do my upper body workouts. It takes some muscles to move about in the world, with 20 pounds on your back!

Speaking of weight, here are the top-line statistics from my test packing experiment:

Personal ItemDerek Alexander shoulder handbag

  • Dimensions – 14x11x3″
  • Full weight – 3.2 pounds

Carry On Pacsafe, Vibe 30 backpack

  • Dimensions – (H x W x D): 20.5 x 12.2 x 7.9 inches
  • Capacity – 28L
  • Empty weight – 2.34 pounds
  • Full weight – 18 pounds

Checked Herschel Supply Company, Parcel Luggage

  • Dimensions – 29.5″(H) x 16.75″(W) x 11.5″(D) = 57.75 liner inches
  • Capacity – 107L
  • Empty weight – 11.4 pounds
  • Full weight – 44.8 pounds

Weight distribution and accessibility to my essential items, is key. The only time I am going to have this exact set-up is on travel days. Most of our flights are going to be long hauls, or at least long days. We are not going to be taking easy, short, non-stop flights very often. Having what you need on hand is important for comfort and sanity over multiple time zones. (This I know from years of experience). 

The piece of luggage I am most excited about is, my new backpack from Pacsafe. Beyond the obvious features of keeping the bag itself, and all its contents safe in places like Barcelona, where pick pocketing and drive-by theft are a real concern, this bag is the most comfortable I have ever worn. When my husband put it on my back, in the store, I instantly knew that was the one for me. Even empty, I could tell. Probably this is what a good quality backpack is supposed to feel like. I’ve suffered, up until now, with loaded backpacks which are horribly uncomfortable, where I feel like the walking dead by the end of my trip. No longer!

But even with the Rolls Royce of backpacks, it won’t do me any good to over stuff it. Not only is it physically hard on me, but it puts wear and tear on the bag itself. And what I know for sure is, I am guilty of not using everything I have brought in my luggage. Or at least not needing said item in proportion to how heavy it is. A few things were ditched from my packing list as a result of the test.

  • iPad, will have to use my computer for everything, entertainment-wise
  • tripod, if I really want one, I need to find a pack version, lighter and smaller
  • umbrella, I have never used the one I have, my raincoat has a hood!
  • various pieces of clothing
  • extra jewelry
  • supplies for doing my own pedicures, will have to find a salon as needed along the way
  • extra journal, already know of a great stationery store in Barcelona
  • coins!

Here is the video, where I have detailed my packing experiment. Have a look and see what you think. This process has made me quite a bit more comfortable with idea of leaving everything else I own behind. 

Stuff I am taking in my purse:

passport inside a Ziploc bag
wallet
lip balm, gum, ear buds, adapter
tissues, pain reliever, antacids
iPhone + charger
pen/pencil
hand sanitizer

Stuff I am taking in my backpack:

water bottle
coffee mug
important papers packet
travel pillow
pen + paper/journal
ear plugs + eye mask
sunglasses/glasses
macbook + charger
camera + batteries + charger
travel headphones
USB battery charger
electricity adapters
external hard drive

Stuff I am taking in my check in bag:

1 Clothing – tops (8) tops
1 Clothing – tops (2) camis/tanks
1 Clothing – tops sweater
1 Clothing – tops (3) LS tops
2 Clothing – bottoms (2) leggings
2 Clothing – bottoms (2) shorts
2 Clothing – bottoms skirt
2 Clothing – bottoms colored jeans
2 Clothing – bottoms (2) basic denim
3 Clothing – dresses (6) dresses formal/casual
4 Clothing – other (7) underwear
4 Clothing – other (3) bras
4 Clothing – other (2) pajamas
4 Clothing – other travel towel
5 Clothing – jacket lightweight jacket/puffy
5 Clothing – jacket rainjacket
6 Clothing – athletic (2) swimsuits
6 Clothing – athletic (2) work out tops
6 Clothing – athletic (2) sports bras
6 Clothing – athletic work out shorts
6 Clothing – athletic (2) running tights
6 Clothing – athletic wireless headphones & charger
6 Clothing – athletic (3) athletic socks & underwear
6 Clothing – athletic workout band
6 Clothing – athletic running shoes
7 Clothing – shoes (7) socks
7 Clothing – shoes flip flops
7 Clothing – shoes flats
7 Clothing – shoes walking shoes
8 Clothing – accessories belt
8 Clothing – accessories jewelry
8 Clothing – accessories hat
8 Clothing – accessories scarf
Misc cloth bags, 2 per person
Misc packable daypack
Personal personal toiletries
Personal hobby materials
Personal adventure bands

My son had extra room and weight, so he is taking the sunscreen, bug spray and the first aid kit.

The following are the branded items I am using, besides the luggage itself, with relevant links:

There are a few other branded items which I have had so long, they are not being made anymore. Even some of what I have listed above, are the new versions, where mine are old. The only corrections to the video are for the last 2 items on the list, which I purchased after the video was made. I have also decided to swap out the second HH Wash bag, where I was keeping my workout stuff, for a much lighter MEC packing cube.

I think this will be a work in process, right up to the final days before we leave for Europe. Luckily, we have about 5 weeks to get it right, while travelling in Western Canada. Stay tuned for the final updates!

I welcome:

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Christine Westermark

I am working on a movement to empower women to practice creativity everyday, in every way we can. I believe this will be able us to realize our full potential in all facets of our lives. Be bold! Join, start or share in this social movement.
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