Packing Tips For Long Term Travel

After two years of nonstop travel, we've figured out the best ways to pack and what to look for when choosing your luggage. Here's a few of our tips!


It’s hard to believe that we have been traveling non- stop for two years now. We’ve seen glaciers in Iceland, swam with manta rays in the Maldives, trekked the jungles of Chiang Mai on elephants and have sipped coffee in countless European cafes. Needless to say, our destinations change frequently and when you have to pack light, it can be a bit frustrating.  So we found the answer to a travelers toughest question - Do you carry on or check in?

For the first year in a half of traveling, we carried small backpacks, that could be carried on flights and never had to be checked in. Although I had a love/hate relationship with my backpack at the end of the day, it really was a great option for short term travel. We didn’t have to worry about checking in bags, we could carry it around everywhere and there is something liberating about carrying all you own on your back.

Yet we found ourselves slowing growing out of our 46 liters of space. Trying to pack winter coats, boots and bathing suits in a small amount of space isn’t easy or fun. So we decided to upgrade! About 5 months ago, we ditched the backpacks and upgraded to an actual piece of luggage. We are now the proud owners of two roller bags, that we proudly check in.

We might have to check in our bags now, but being able to carry winter and summer clothes simultaneously and have a few special extras, is worth it!

The Luggage We Carry

A few years ago, Chris bought a Tumi side bag to use for our computers and electronics. After years of use, it still looks great and has been perfect for our traveling needs. So when we were looking to upgrade our luggage, we immediately looked to Tumi.

After carrying a backpack for awhile I wanted something sleek and a bit stylish, so I went with a hard sided piece, from their Tegra Lite collection. Chris prefers a more classic look so he went for a roller bag from their Alpha 2 collection…I think he just liked it because it’s bullet proof and looks cool.

Navigating airports is now extremely easy, as we no longer have to carry our heavy backpacks, we can just roll our bags along. The telescoping handles on both bags are made from aircraft grade aluminum, which makes them extremely durable and perfect for attaching our side bags. We each have plenty of space to pack all the necessities, plus other items that are just nice to have!


  • Expands from 33cm to 38cm
  • Holds 73L
  • Weights 5.99kg
  • The bag is made from a durable plastic-like material used in lifesaving armor, like Nascar race cars and protective gear for NFL players
  • Inside the bag are two large compartments, a garment sleeve and several small interior pockets
  • Outside the bag, is one large pocket
  • Expands from 33cm to 38 cm
  • Holds 76L
  • Weights 6.67kg
  • The bag is made from bullet proof material and resistant to most scratches and scrape
  • Inside the bag, there are two large compartments, a garment sleeve and two smaller pouches
  • Outside the bag is a clip for adding another piece of luggage as well as 2 additional pockets

How to Stay Organized

Even when I was confined to packing a backpack, I somehow always managed to overpack and my bag constantly looked like something exploded inside of it.   Chris on the other hand, has always been a bit more organized and  a lot more methodical. So I took a few cues from his packing style and utilized the components of our new bags. I still might overpack, but I’m a lot more organized now!


Packing Cubes are Essential

Packing cubes are an absolute must! They help me differentiate between summer and winter clothes and just keep everything organized. When I start to unpack, I only pull out what cubes I need and that makes re-packing a total breeze! I no longer have to rummage through my bag!

We use two large packing cubes from Tumi, which are great for delicates and undergarments. Since they don’t compress, it keeps my nicer items wrinkle free and the mesh top makes it easy to see what is what. The rest of our packing cubes are a mixture of sizes from Eagle Creek and they are the best we’ve found! They compress a bit, so you have even more room and the cubes themselves are incredibly lightweight and easy to stuff into extra space.  


Eagle Creek Packing Cubes help us group different types of clothes together for better organization


Keep Your Clothes Wrinkle Free With Garment Bags

At first, we thought the garment bag section of our suitcases was unpractical and a bit useless, however it is now one of our favorite aspects of our bags. If you are tired of unpacking your bag and finding all of your shirts or dress wrinkled, then a garment bag is just what you need. Chris is able to hang his shirts and keep them wrinkle free, and I’m able to hang my dresses and leather jacket. It also makes unpacking a cinch!


More Compartments = More Organized

Although our suitcases are different from each other, they both a have 2 large compartments, which is essential for separating out clothes. 

In my bag, one side is for all my clothes, while the other acts like a junk drawer. I’m able to line up my shoes, include my toiletry bags and put in random souvenirs. Chris keeps his bag organized by season. So one side might have summer clothes while the other has his winter shoes and a coat. 


Organize Your Clothing with Pouches

Inside our bag, are little pouches for smaller items. My bag comes with one and Chris’s comes with two. I put our medication and important documents in my pouch and Chris uses his for organizing camera gear and miscellaneous cords. I also have a variety of small travel bags, that I use to put makeup and other toiletries. We now always know where everything is and so far nothing has gotten lost!


I keep my makeup and toiletries organized in this bag from Jessica Russell Flint



We’ve had our Tumi roller bags for about 5 months now and we are still completely happy and satisfied! They’ve circled the globe with us, have been through 16 airports and over  30 destinations and they still look pretty good!

Aside for a broken zipper on Chris’s bag, his still looks brand new! It must be that bullet proof material! Mine looks great on the inside, but is showing a lot of wear and tear on the exterior. Airports aren’t the most gentle with luggage and the smooth finishing of my hard sided shell has taken quite a beating! As much as I love my hard sided piece, I would probably go with Chris’s bullet proof soft sided next time. Not because I don’t like it or can’t take care of it, but with all the use we give it, it just doesn't hold up as well.


So the  Bottom Line

If you travel often and need clothes and accessories to accomodate various climates, having a large suitcase, that you can check in is really convenient. We love our Tumi pieces and are really happy we made the switch from backpack to a suitcase. Being able to check in our bags, makes navigating the airport easier, and we no longer have to stick to just packing the essentials...we can bring a few extras with us.

Sometimes we’re moving every 2-3 days and being able to easily unpack and pack, makes travel a lot easier. Our bags have held up fantastically (minus the scrapes and bruises on my bag) and they make us feel a bit more put together.


Now the downside to our bags, is that we usually have to pay for excess baggage at the airport.  We typically carry around 17 kilos worth of clothes, electronics and random stuff, but added to the weight of the bags, we always go over and have to pay extra baggage weight. Now we know to expect the extra charges and it’s more of an annoyance than an inconvenience, so we just go with it.

Do you have any tips & tricks when it comes to packing? Let us know in the comments!