People ask us all the time what we have in our packs. And I usually tell them, “too much”. The fact is that we are often on the move or so unpacked (or not so unpacked) that it is hard to take a photo and inventory. But this week I was determined to at least show you what our travel wardrobes look like. So, after we did all our laundry this week, we laid it all out and cataloged it before we repacked.
I’ve always been a bit of a clothes horse and like to think that I have a good personal sense of style. And I didn’t really want to have to give that up when we started to live on the road. But we also both need practical pieces that will hold up to a beating, with sometimes unpredictable or infrequent wash schedules and often not a nice machine or good water. Also, we don’t usually do our laundry (I know, we’re spoiled.) as in many places there is no such thing as a self-serve laundromat. This means that, more often than not, we hand it over to a stranger and hope it comes back clean and the same size and color.
We have traveled a wide range of environments and temperatures in the last 8 months as well, including winter in Europe and the hot and rainy season in Asia. That means we had to dress for temps from below freezing to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. So our wardrobe has to meet a wide variety of needs. This means that everything needs to go with everything else and needs to be layerable to accomodate temperature differences. We’ve also tried to maintain some color schemes so that everything really goes with everything else. But, as you can imagine after 8 months on the road, that’s fallen apart a bit as we’ve added or replaced pieces. Kat’s original colors were black, grey, red, and blue. Kyle’s original colors were grey, blue, and a bit of black & green.
The bulk of our clothing is cotton or merino wool (we’re huge fans of Icebreaker clothing). Cotton and wool breathe. And merino wool can both help you stay warm and help you stay cool, while also being lightweight. We’ve learned the hard way that all those synthetic activewear fabrics just don’t work well. They get stinky and then stay that way. And they never really breathe, so when it’s 100+degrees with 90% humidity, you are just a huge ball of sweat.
And now, without further ado, here are our travel wardrobes.
1 pr jeans
1 pr khakis
1 pr canvas pants
merino wool hoodie
soft shell jacket
rain shell jacket
merino wool leggings
3 pr shorts
1 pr soccer shorts
1 dress shirt
Not pictured: 3 pr underwear, 7 pr socks, 3 hats (baseball, wool cap, sunhat) and gloves.
4 dresses (1 dressy)
2 pr jeans
2 pr shorts
rain shell jacket
faux leather jacket
wrap sweater (bought as a souvenir in Greece)
merino wool hoodie zip up
merino wool sweater
3 tank tops
And then we pack them into travel cubes. We each have three cubes that we then store in the bottom of our packs. Since both of our packs have access via a bottom opening as well as a top, that means we have easy access to our clothing without having to unpack the rest of our packs.
And here are the packs all packed up and ready to go. Our clothing and shoes takes up about half of each of our large backpacks.
So there you have it! Our way too large travel wardrobes. It’s about to get a massive overhaul when we are back in the states this week, as we reconfigure and repack for South America. My goal is to take my wardrobe back down to 20 mix and match pieces. I’ll be sure to post an update in mid-June, with pictures of the new slimmed down wardrobes.
What clothing would you pack if you had to pack for 8-12 months of traveling around the world? What item could you NOT live without?
Tell us in the comments below by June 7th and BE ENTERED TO WIN A 3-PACK OF THE EBAGS TRAVEL CUBES we use.
Anyone who comments by June 7th will be entered into a random drawing to win a 3 pack of eBags travel cubes. As always, we purchase all items for prizes or giveaways on this site and this drawing is neither affiliated with or sponsored by with eBags. We just like their stuff.
Clothing…for sure some “cozies”, i.e. comfy clothes I could just lounge in…soft jeans…a bra of course, undies… 🙂
I had an 8 month travel stint once in Europe a long while ago. We pared it way down to fit into a messenger bag. There were tanks, shorts & leggings. A dress that could pass for breezy dressy or beachy, too. The indespensible item was the long sleeve long johnish shirt. Having so little meant things wore out and part of the fun was what got to take its place!
I am planning for a similar trip (actually our honeymoon) and am in a panic about how to pack. I am a fashionist to say the least and I start to hyperventilate when I think about not having a pair of good heels to match an ridiculously fancy dress. How did you pair down on the clothes and what are the top three items you can’t live without?
Kat and Kyle says
First off, congratulations! A good rule of thumb for pairing down is to make sure that every item goes with at least two other items. Even a dress can be paired with a jacket and a sweater to do three different things. Having a color family makes this easier (mine is black, red, and grey/blue).
I also sometimes will plan out my outfits for the entire trip by day (when it is a short trip), making sure everything still falls into the “go with 2 other items” rule. That way I can see where there might be a gap or how things might fit together.
The three things I cannot live without:
1. a nice pair of black leather flats. I have a comfy patent leather pair by Born and they go equally well with my jeans, shorts, or a dressy outfit. If I’m going to a more beachy or warmer locale, I replace the flats with a comfortable pair of cute sandals that fill the same need.
2. a slightly dressy/casual jacket (or cardigan sweater) that is weather appropriate for wherever you are going. You can pair it with pretty much anything else to dress up an outfit, or keep you warm on a plane (this go around it was a blue & black faux leather jacket).
3. A beautiful large colorful scarf – you can dress an outfit up, you can tie it 35 different ways, it makes a good coverup or sunshade or to cover your hair in a church, it can be a blanket or a towel, if it is large enough you can tie it into a dress or coverup or use it as a sarong. I usually pick one in an accent color or something with a multicolor pattern so it goes with everything as well & provides a pop of color.
Jamie, I hope that helps! If you need any help or have any other questions, please let me know! Best wishes and good luck to you and give my love to your family!
David Anderson says
Hi Katie and Kyle. I would be interested in what other stuff you haul around – computer, camera, alarm clock, binoculars, headphones, power adapters skateboard, etc.
Whenever I travel, one thing that I always bring is a mini 3 plug power strip. It is great for the airport when somebody is hogging the one outlet and it means that I only need one converter in the room.
I think that my ipad Mini and my wifi canon s120 pocket camera would cover a lot of the electronics needs, although I might worry about losing or damaging the iPad too much. Would probably replace it with the cheapest mini. The phone generates it’s own wifi to send photos to the ipad (or my own wifi).
Kat and Kyle says
We actually have that post in the works and you should see it sometime next week. Since I work remotely for a company in the US & we also run a business on the road that is writing and photography related (including this blog), we are pretty electronics heavy and that makes up the bulk of what is in our packs other than clothing and toiletries. We do travel with a power strip (we used to have a mini one, but had too many occasions where we needed a longer cord due to the only outlet in the room being ten feet off the ground. Stay tuned!