Sure as eggs the quickest way to jinx your packing mojo is to tell people what you’ve put in your bags – before you’ve actually had time to work out if what you’ve actually put the right things in your bags. So despite your askings and your messaging and your down right annoying harping on at me for the past five months to release details of my packing list there was no way I was going to jinx it – way too risky!
Only now, less than a week out from departure (or is it return?), hanging out in Sweden where it’s -20C, wearing my friends clothes do I feel quietly confident there is limited risk in releasing the information for public consumption. Short of the bags going missing all together I think we’re safe!
So if you’ve ever wondered (which you probably haven’t) what a Packing Ninja, allergic to ‘quick dry travel wear’ packs to cover five people for six months in six different countries over about six different weather patterns, with some farms and some Winter and some trips to the theatre and some Festive Season festivities thrown in for good measure.
Wonder no longer!
Clothes for the kids
2 summer t-shirts
5 long sleeve t-shirts
1 pair jeans 0r cargo pants
4 pairs leggings
1 pair tracksuit pants
1 skirt (3 skirts for Peach as she is in a jeans / trousers refusal stage)
1 ‘going out’ outfit
1 set thermals (leggings and top)
1 thick wool jumper
1 fleece or hoodie
1 thin cardigan
2 pair PJs
Underwear: 5 socks, 7 undies, 2 singlets, 2 pair tights
Runners / sandshoes
1 winter coat
Gloves, hat, scarf & sunhat
Bed time lovey
We purchased a rain jacket and wellies for each child, plus at least 4 pair of replacement leggings for the smaller two kids (one put holes in every single pair and returns home with none, the other outgrew literally everything), going-out shoes for all three and last week new jeans for all three. A new coat for Pea and pair of winter boots for Peach were gladly inherited from a friend.
Clothes for Her
2 tank tops
5 long sleeve tops
1 turtle neck
1 wool cardigan / jacket
1 wool jumper (batwing sleeves + caravan gas cook top = swiftly dispatched)
1 light weight cardigan
1 tunic dress (worn once – bad packing decision)
1 long skirt (suitable for winter and summer – worn at every outing)
1 short black tube skirt (worn constantly)
1 pair black legging pants (that got lost in the caravan and thus not worn)
1 pair denim jeans
1 pair grey jeans (ruined with bleach & swiftly deemed too uncomfortable for farm work)
1 pair cotton elastic waist pants (packed at the last minute and worn constantly!)
1 pair patterned summer pants (the #1 ‘why on earth did I pack this’ item of the trip)
1 pair super thick black tights + 1 pair black tights + socks and undies for 7 days.
1 set thermals (top and pants)
Puffer coat (which got donated to Wally)
3 light weight fashion scarves
2 thick wool scarves (+ 1 knitted whilst road tripping), gloves and hat
Black knee high boots
Silver sandshoes (dead and buried somewhere in Italy)
I purchased an all weather winter coat, wellies, cream brogues (to replace the dead sandshoes), Converse high tops, a pair of high waist totally practical but extremely ugly work jeans (mmmm!), a t-shirt and second cotton cardigan, another pair of boots (feeling a bit of buyers regret about those), more scarves than necessary and a couple of dresses picked up in the sales that I didn’t need but wore none the less!
Could have left behind the summer pants, tunic dress, my ruined jeans (so they didn’t get ruined) and gone easy on the scarves.
Wish I’d bought more t-shirts than tank tops as they would have been more practical and when debating the jeans that were slightly too small or the ones slightly too big, I should have gone with the too small option!
Clothes for Him
8 short sleeve t-shirts
3 long sleeve t-shirts
2 button down dress shirts
2 cotton cardigans
2 pair jeans (both and buried by France!)
2 pair work pants
Lightweight windbreaker coat
Set thermals (top and pants)
Socks & undies for 7 days
He purchased two super warm thermal tops, jeans, wellies and a flannel shirt plus inherited my puffer coat.
Wish he’d bought a pair of smart trousers and a second pair of new jeans.
Basic toiletries in small bottles for use on arrival (shampoo, conditioner, body wash)
First aid kit – some inclusions were an asthma puffer, epi pen, hydrolite, bandaids, worm treatment, headlice treatment, diarrhoea medication, sudafed, zyertec, paracetamol for kids and adults, basic antibiotics. Did I say bandaids? Pack the bandaids!
Hair clippers for Him
Hair straighteners for Her (pass absolutely NO judgement)
Sharp hair dressing scissors
Hair elastics and clips
2 x hair brushes
2 x nail clippers
We purchased bandaids!
Wish we’d bought a hairdryer which would have been more practical for drying socks than straighteners!
General stuff to make caravan life easier
10 turkish towels (glad I packed double as they often took a while to dry)
1 QS quilt + cover
2 single bed fitted sheets
1 king single fitted sheet
1 QS fitted sheet (a waste because our van beds were only king singles!)
1 lunch box & small thermal bag (for snacks on the plane and picnics)
3 drink bottles
4 cakes of Tuff Stuff Soap (because man that stuff is THE BOMB)
1 picnic rug (which we used all the time and was especially handy on the plane)
3 Stuff-sacks – for packing the quilts and coats in smaller spaces
5 PUL wetbags (for storing everything from underwear, to kindles, to dirty clothes)
We purchased a double bed quilt + cover, single bed quilt + cover (we always planned to purchase these in the UK as they are better quality than available in Aus), five pillows, basic kitchenware (cups, plates, bowls, cutlery, utensils, sharp knife, fry pan, casserole pan, coffee pot, clothes pegs, over door hooks), fire blanket, first aid kit and small electric oil heater.
2 iPhones with international SIM cards (frustratingly we needed to buy UK SIM cards too)
European plug converter (NB Italy requires a different plug to the standard European plug)
UK plug converter
Point and shoot camera + battery charger
1 iPhone chargers
Cigarette lighter USB charger
Good quality small torch
We purchased a better quality torch (partly because we forgot we packed the other one)
Toys & activities
Small bag of Lego
Pencils & felt tips for each child
Animal bingo for Peach
2 Activity books for Peach
One huge bag of school work
We purchased colouring books, plasticine and three small sets of Lego (at Legoland), a skipping rope, a soccer ball and some craft things. There were a few additional things added at Birthdays and Christmas to spice things up a bit but for the most part the girls fared pretty well with the basics and playing with toys that were at the places we stayed.
If you’re planning your own long trip and want some packing advice, beyond the standard pack and then halve what you have and then take half of that (which I actually always do!) the best tip I got was from my sister who did a trip around Australia for a year:
“Pack things that balance between being something you love because you’re going to be hanging out with that stuff for a loooooong time and being something you dislike enough to throw away, because sure as eggs you will be SICK TO DEATH of them when you return (or in our case they will have fallen apart from over use!)”
I think we found the balance there just fine. Though if the cool weather sets in soon after arriving back in Adelaide I will have been wearing the same clothes continuously for an entire year. And that could, ever so slightly tip me over the edge!
Before we left I was worried the girls would miss things from home and wondered about how many ‘creature comforts’ I should pack to help them feel settled and secure. I received some great advice from the mum of a family currently traveling the world and following her advice to leave all the ‘stuff’ at home I bought only their pillow cases, their favourite lovies and let them choose what clothes they would bring (the ‘do you want the blue or the red socks’ kind of choosing). I’m super pleased we bypassed the hooplah of toys, pictures, books etc that I’ve read about other families carting around the world because they were more than ok with those few reminders of home.
When all our stuff is piled up some people are incredulous that we could fit our lives (plus school) into three suitcases and a duffel bag. Others are shocked at the pile of stuff we’re carting around with us – interestingly it’s only when we precariously balance the car seat on top of everything that anyone ever makes that comment!
Even this self confessed Packing Ninja is looking forward to taking a break from packing for a while. But I’m quietly chuffed I managed to nail the packing list as successfully as I did!
What would you add or take away from the list?!