After traveling together as a family for seven years and visiting over 32 countries, one of the most common questions we get asked is this: How do we pack for long-term world travel?
In this week’s video, we provide a glimpse into our luggage, and offer some packing tips.
I share my favorite travel backpack, as well as what’s inside my suitcase. Jennifer struggles with what to pack after going through our small storage in Bali, while Emily offers insight into staying stress-free while packing (hint: don’t wait until the last minute). Marie talks about how she keeps in touch with friends when traveling and Aysia shares her thoughts on our upcoming trip.
Listen to the audio:Download audio file (open link, right click and select “Save as…”)
Hi, I’m Brandon Pearce!
My family and I have been traveling for the past seven years to over 32 countries. We often get asked what kind of things we pack when we travel.
How do we fill our suitcases?
What do we bring?
Typically we each have one carry-on suitcase and then one backpack each or a purse (or something like that).
Today, I just want to go over a little bit about my luggage. We’re taking a trip today, a long trip—from Bali, where we have a homebase, over to Victoria, Canada, where we plan to be for the next six months while we travel to several conferences and things in the States.
I’m going to show you a little bit about what’s in my luggage here and give you an idea of the kind of stuff that we carry.
Items Staying Behind
This is a bag that I’ve had for quite a while. I think I got it at Target. It’s a really nice bag with lots of different compartments. I’m just leaving this one here in Bali. It’s got a few things in it—boxes that are for the routers set up around the house. I’m not going to show all the stuff inside because I’m just leaving that.
We don’t have a lot of stuff, but the stuff that we do have we keep in two or three suitcases that stay here in Bali.
Inside My Carry-On Suitcase
This is a really fancy suitcase. It’s called Bluesmart and it has a lot of really geeky features. I thought it would be really cool to get when I bought it on Indiegogo (or something like that) and it was really expensive. It was like $400 (it’s a little cheaper now on Amazon).
But it has a GPS built into it. You can pick this up and it tells you how much it weighs. It has chargers, so you can plug your phone in and charge it. It’s a really cool, geeky suitcase.
This opens up which is really cool, and it’s really nice quality in there. You’re supposed to be able to put your laptop in there.
The thing is, I found that it is so heavy and so small that I can’t really put a lot in it before it starts getting too packed. It’s great as a carry-on if you’re going on a short trip, or if you have other bags that you’re taking along with it. Otherwise it’s kind of tough if it’s the only bag you’ve got.
But let me show you a little bit about what I’ve got inside of here.
Most of this is kind of junk. You’re going to laugh. This is my little toiletry bag. I’ve got my electric razor here, which I really like. It’s a Philips Norelco. It’s got the shaver here, but then also on this side a beard trimmer, which I can increase the size of. All of that in one, which is great if you’re a guy with a beard. All rechargeable. I use that, of course, everyday.
And I have a toothbrush, deodorant, and different things in this bag. I like to keep that separate from the rest of my stuff just to keep it easy to organize.
This is actually a bag I am going to be checking because we’re flying on China Southern Airlines. Normally, we would just carry on everything. That’s really what we prefer to do because we don’t like the risk of having our bags lost or stolen if we check them, or getting damaged. We also don’t like the waiting for them when you get to the other end. It’s kind of a pain
So we prefer to just carry everything on, but some airlines now are not allowing that. China Southern Airlines, for example, gives us two free bags to check, up to 23kgs. But for carry-ons they only allow 5kgs. I can hardly carry on even our electronics! That’s a little bit frustrating.
I’ll go through a little bit more of what’s in this bag just to give you an idea of the junk that I carry these days. I try to be really minimalistic, but not all the time.
Here’s what’s inside:
- An old tripod that I want to get rid of. I’ll be selling this probably when we get to Canada.
- An old phone that I am going to be giving to my daughter, because she’s going to take her first solo trip. She’s 12 years old and in a couple of weeks she’s going to be flying to another part of Canada to stay with a friend for three weeks. She’s really excited about that. I’ll give her this old phone to keep in touch with us.
- An Android Watch that I thought would be a really good thing to have. I do enjoy this one when we’re out in certain places. It has a little GPS on my wrist so for walking places, I love to have that rather have than pulling my phone out and seeing where we are. I can just look at my wrist for that.
- Cords and some documents—birth certificates and things that we’ve needed.
That’s pretty much all that’s here on this side. On the other side:
- More cords
- An audio cable, which I use sometimes to plug a speaker or a piano into different things.
- A USB charger.
- Extra shoe laces that came with these shoes I bought.
- These are just hair clips to pull my hair back. I couldn’t buy like three, I had to buy 20 of them.
- A power adapter for Indonesia and Europe. And an adapter to go on an iPod charger.
- A beautiful cleaning cloth (my mom gave that to me) that I can use to wipe the camera, computer screen, etc.
Here: This is the meat of the bag.
I love these little packing kits because they’re really nice and tight. This is an Eagle Creek packing cube. You press all the air out and it makes it nice and small.
My underwear and socks are all in this one, and all my shirts, pants, sweaters, and my jacket are in this one. That’s all my clothes right here, everything I own.
I have a microphone. A very high-quality (well kind of high-quality) Samson CO1U. This is great if I’m recording a video. Emily likes to use it for her music recording. It’s a USB, so it plugs right into the computer.
This bag, as I mentioned, is kind of electronic so it has a battery here that you plug in to charge it. There are some really funky features, but I think they just add to the weight and it’s unnecessary. I don’t think I’ll buy another geeky bag like this for a while, unless something really stands out to me.
So that is my typical carry-on.
Inside My Backpack
Now I want to show another bag that I am going to be bringing. The previous bag is going to be my checked bag for this trip (although it’s really a carry-on size. Typically, I travel with one carry-on bag and one backpack).
Let me grab my backpack.
This is a really cool backpack—the Upptäcka from Ikea. I love this one. It looks just like a regular suitcase and it rolls on wheels. But the back here unzips, folds down over the wheels, attaches with velcro, and you can then wear it as a backpack.
It’s a little heavy with the wheels, but it’s not that bad. It’s actually quite lightweight, just heavier than it would be without the wheels.
There are a few other things that I really like about this bag. If I’m just traveling on a short trip or even a longer trip, this is often all I really need in this bag. I can fit everything in here—I’ve traveled just with this bag before, and with less even.
Let me show you another thing I really like about it.
Sometimes in some airlines, especially if they’re small planes, if you try to carry on a bag like this they’ll say it’s fine. But sometimes they’ll say, “No, it’s too big.” So what I like to do is unzip this section and it separates into two separate bags. So then I have this backpack.
So if an airline doesn’t like one big backpack then I can break it into two. Even though the weight is the same and it will fit in the overhead either way.
This is a very small, lightweight backpack. I usually put my laptop in here. Right now I have some documents I printed to review for a speech I’m giving at a conference. I put my passports in here, my earphones. Some more chargers, essential oils. (I found this Mom, thanks! I thought I’d lost it, but I found it.) My Kindle.
I really like backpacks or luggage that have this feature: where you have pen holders and all these little pockets. It is so hard to find just a regular piece of carry-on luggage that has this. It’s usually just a plain, empty thing. Small business luggage will have this feature, but not big carry-ons. And that’s why I love this backpack!
This backpack can fit so much, like a regular size carry-on, but also allows me to organize my stuff a little bit more and it has plenty of pockets. In this big pocket I have my Bose speakers, which I showed in another video. I have an envelope of money and this has like, bank security code things, and other things.
Inside My Camera Bag
I’m doing something different this trip. I recently purchased a third bag for my camera. I’ve really enjoyed photography and I’ve upgraded my photography equipment quite a bit—I now have three lenses. So this is my camera backpack.
What I’m doing now is sticking my camera backpack inside of my regular backpack, and then wearing it as one bag (since they only let you carry one backpack on). It’s looks like one backpack even though it’s really three.
Here I have my sunglasses, prescription sunglasses, really. This is where I would normally keep my tripod, which the video camera is standing on, and a few other camera supplies.
If you haven’t seen this backpack, this is a Mindshift Backpack. It is so cool.
I’ll show you how it works. You can buckle this part here. And then all I have to do if I want to access my lenses when I’m out and about is just swing it around to the front.
You can see that it doesn’t look like I have a camera or that I’m carrying this expensive equipment. It looks like I’m just wearing a backpack. But if I go like this, I can flip it around, pull out my camera, and all my lenses are here. I can take pictures galore, close it up, swing it back around, buckle it up, and tada!
Love this bag! Sometimes—in fact, when I went on my silent retreat last week—this is the only bag I brought. I just brought an extra shirt and a few things in here, along with the camera and it was plenty.
I wear this often if we are just out and about. Almost everywhere we go I take it so I can have my camera with me.
That is pretty much all of the stuff that I’m taking with me. We have a few other things they we’re probably going to throw into a checked bag because we’re going to be so long in Canada. I’ve got a Mac keyboard and trackpad that we’ll check. As well as a few little books and things. I’ll show you some of that now.
Miscellaneous Checked Items
Here are some of the things that we’re still trying to figure out—what we want to bring with us and what we want to leave here.
These are some of Emily’s books and music. Here’s some of my stuff. A few little photography equipment pieces. Some business cards, the keyboard, the trackpad, an underwater camera
And books! I love these. I don’t know if I’ve shown you these yet. These are family travel books. I have put these photo books together. This was the first one that I did from years 2009 to 2013. And it’s just a whole bunch of photos from our travels. It’s been a really great way for us to kind of reminisce about our experiences. And now I’ve been doing one every year.
We really enjoy these. The kids love flipping through them, too and remembering where we’ve been—all the places that we’ve been and the people we’ve met through our travels.
Emily’s got some slippers there.
We’re still trying to figure out what we want to bring. We have a lot of suitcases here that we’ve kind of collected over the years. Some of them we’ll fill and just stick in the storage room while we’re gone, but I don’t know how many we’ll end up checking. They’re all carry-on size, but we’ll probably just stick with one carry-on each, a backpack each, and then maybe an extra bag. Maybe two if we needed to check.
Checking in on Emily
Ready to go to Victoria?
How’s packing going for you?
Perfect, I’m basically done.
Alright, got everything in that bag there?
Still got my electronics out.
So how’s your day been with the packing?
Pretty easy. In the morning it was stressful because everyone else was stressed, but I started packing three days in advance so I’m relaxed.
Checking in with Marie
And this is Marie’s bag, which she has stuffed a little bit full. We might need to have her get rid of some of this stuff or just check some of it this time since we’re actually taking more than we normally do.
I don’t want to leave Ayisha.
I know? How are you guys going to stay in touch?
Skype. We’re going to send each other pictures everyday.
Yeah, unless we can’t.
Checking in with Aysia
Are you getting ready to go to Victoria?
Are you excited?
What do you think about going on a plane? Are you ready to get on a plane today?
No. I do not want to go on a plane.
You’re not excited about the plane? Why don’t you like planes?
Because they make me plane sick sometimes.
Yeah, me too.
Tell me what do you have in your bag? What did you bring with you to Victoria?
Oh, well, I’m bringing My Littlest Pet Shops and lots of other toys, but I can’t remember them all.
Checking in with Jennifer
We usually pack earlier than the day of, but since our flight leaves late we thought that we didn’t really want to spread it over lots of days. We thought we can just hurry and do it, so we’ve been trying. It’s been a big job.
This is all the stuff we’re giving away.
I‘ve been organizing my purse. I get easily distracted when I’m trying to pack. So I’ve got to pack my bags, basically, and then the bags we’re checking.
And I have to sort through a few more things in one of the closets. I have a lot of essential oils and I don’t know which ones to bring and which ones to leave. I don’t want to bring too many because I don’t want to have to travel with a lot, but I want to bring a lot. So, dilemmas. But it’s going well.
I was sorting through artwork of the girls and organizing earlier, and I was finding things that I had in storage that I didn’t realize that I had. Even though we travel and are constantly getting rid of things, we still are finding things. Too many things that we can’t even keep track of what we have. We should go through our things more often than we do and we already go through them once every month or two.
Stuff is consuming.
Giving Away What We Don’t Need
Brandon: Every time we move, we end up collecting a few extra things that we end up not needing. Whether it’s clothes we’ve grown out of, toys the kids no longer want, or just somehow the things we collect.
Even if we’re just in a place for a month, somehow we end up collecting something. And when we’re in Bali, especially, we enjoy being able to give these things that we’ve collected, that we no longer need, to our staff. It’s fun watching them go through the bags and look for things that they want for their kids, or for themselves or for them to give away to their friends and relatives. It feels good to give back.
It’s our last day in Bali this year. We’ll be here again next year for maybe two or three months…maybe four. But now it’s on to new adventures. See you soon in Victoria!