A few notes on packing...

Posted by  Brooke Tower on Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Many people have asked, "How do you pack to be gone for a year?"  My short answer is, "Good question--we're figuring it out as we go along."

My longer answer is that we are continuing to figure it out as we go along, but have been keeping certain things in mind as we consider the space and weight we have to work with.  It will be interesting to see what we will end up fitting, bringing, and using.  There are plenty of lists online and on Pinterest to consider.  I have looked at many of them and am a little overwhelmed by the possibilities at the moment.  J. and I have different priorities and approaches to packing.  I have found in planning for shorter trips that the more time I take to think through and plan, the better I pack.  If I pack at the last minute, I find that I am either over or under-prepared, and have trouble finding the things I need.

My sophomore year of college, I got to spend a semester in Kenya.  I was allowed to take 2 suitcases and a carryon for everything I thought I would need for 5 months.  Lessons learned before and after this packing experience:

  • Bring clothes that you love and feel good in, because you will wear them a lot, whether you like them or not.  And you will see them in all of your pictures.
  • Rolling up clothes and putting them in a Ziploc bag, squeezing out the air to vacuum-seal them is a great way to save space.
  • Bringing some comfort foods like macaroni and cheese and Country Time Lemonade mix were well worth the effort.
  • Having a good backpack for classes, short outings or weekends makes life much more enjoyable.

Obviously, this time of packing for a family of 4, for a year in an RV, in the US, looks very different than just me packing for a semester.  I didn't have to worry about meals or anything outside of the dorm room I shared with 3 African students.  So far, we've bought pots and pans with removable handles to fit in a small space.  We decided that lighter, but still microwavable plastic plates and cups would be much better than heavier, breakable dishes.  We bought a collapsible colander, mixing bowl, and lunch containers.  I love containers and *may* have a tendency to go overboard in getting the right ones for the right spaces :). In my desire to be well-prepared, but not over-prepared, I am comforted by the fact that our first major stop will be near the Twin Cities with my mom and sister--two of the best shoppers I know.  Just in case :).

Our rough categories for packing include: things needed for cooking, cleaning, showering, wearing, food storing, home-schooling, technomadic working, playing outside, hiking, reading, playing games, entertaining, campfire and outdoor living.  With smaller categories like first aid, beach gear, and school supplies.  And added bonus packing logistics for flying to Florida for a 4-day Disney Cruise with J.'s company, his backpacking trip with college friends when we are at Glacier National Park, and business travel, (which will hopefully be needed much less than it has been recently).

We have 18 days before we leave and I am very curious to see how and what we are able to fit in our new home.  We plan to mostly live out of the RV in our driveway in our last week to see what things we may have forgotten, or decide we don't need.  There just may be another blog post about that.  We'll see :).


  • JesseLiberty

    6/10/2014 at 2:55 PM

    We bought bags that you put clothing in and then vacuum out the air. It saved an incredible amount of space. Just a thought. :-)