What does one pack to move across the world for a year? How can you possibly cram your whole life into a single backpack? Well firstly, for such a journey, I suggest bringing 2 backpacks.
1 large (check in) and 1 medium (carry on)!
We all like to travel light, but trust me, you’ll get sick of wearing the same 7 shirts to work reallll quick. Will anyone remember that I wore this last Wednesday? And the Friday before that? It’s one thing if you’re backpacking and constantly on the road, but if you plan to settle in, 2 bags won’t kill you.
Especially in a place like New Zealand, where they have 4 seasons, you’ll need a variety of weather appropriate clothing. Coming from a country like Canada, (which claims to have 4 seasons but really just has 2; winter and not winter) you’ll already have a bunch of layers in your wardrobe that you can bring along!
“But you can buy everything you need when you’re there!”
Yeah, if you live in a world where money ain’t no thang. Why give away, or pack perfectly good clothing up in your parent’s basement (thanks fam), just to turn up across the world and spend your hard-earned travel dollars on more? Nah. We gotta be thriftier out here my friends.
Here’s my all-inclusive list of what I brought to New Zealand for a year
In my 80L backpack:
- 1 pair of sandals, flats, leather waterproof ankle boots, runners, heels. (All plain black)
- 1 versatile dress (can be worn casually or to a job interview)
- 1 pair of dress pants
- 2 pairs of jeans (1 light 1 black)
- 2 pairs of shorts (1 light 1 black)
- 1 pair of yoga pants
- 2 cardigans
- 2 lightweight summer shawls
- 12 fun tops and tanks for summer (some plain, some printed)
- 3 medium-weight sweaters for winter
- 1 denim jacket
- 2 bathing suits
- 3 week’s worth of undies
- 4 versatile and comfortable bras
- 10 pairs of socks (pro tip: all exactly the same so you don’t gotta worry ‘bout matching)
- quick-dry towel
- hair straightener
- travel sized blow dryer
- small portable bluetooth speaker (this one is easy to bring to the beach or the park!)
- 3 different sized purses/1 mini wallet – and my normal wallet (see below)
- compressible day pack (see below)
- small selection of jewelry (see below)
- toiletries bag (see below)
This backpack is epic. I’ve had it for 6 years and it’s been to 15 countries with me. Osprey has a life time warranty, but I have yet to need anything fixed. It has wheels, so it can act as a regular suitcase, or is easily converted into a backpack. In this case, it’s easy to roll around the airport with my smaller backpack on my back. Better than the double back/front backpack system. It also opens like a regular suitcase, which I find way easier to pack and retrieve stuff without making a huge mess.
In my 28L backpack:
- laptop (I’m obsessed with my MacBook because it weighs 2 pounds)
- reusable water bottle
- all necessary cords/chargers/adapters (see below)
- A book (I highly suggest A House in the Sky, a true story about a Canadian woman who was kidnapped in Somalia. It’s a heavy read but so well written.)
- A selection of some clothes listed above to change into once off the 14 and 5 hour stretches of flights
- A couple sweaters listed above, stuffed into the bottom of this bag for extra space
- Face cleansing cloths to refresh on/off the plane
- An inflatable neck pillow – ‘cause 19 hours is a hella long time and you need your beauty rest
This bag is great because it’s just small enough to be considered a carry-on, which saves you huge on the cost of checking a second bag, but big enough to carry a significant amount of extra stuff. Once you arrive, it’s the perfect size to bring with you on short trips away. A couple weeks in a camper van around the South Island? Fiji? Bali? Vanuatu? This bag’s got you. Another Osprey of course!
* It doesn’t seem like they carry this specific bag anymore, but it’s the size that counts… amirite?
Find some great Osprey bags here!
I also bring a regular purse with all the necessities:
- Passport/boarding pass
- Working Visa approval letter for when I reach the NZ border
- Wallet (with both currencies)
- Noise cancelling headphones (these Bose ones will change your life. You’ll forget you’re on a plane. They’re a pricey investment but I swear it’s worth it)
- Phone charging cord/power bank
- Gum for takeoff/landing to avoid uncomfortable ears
- Sunnies for when I leave this cold tundra and arrive in the sunshine
The only things you might want to buy on the other side are:
- NZ/Aussie wall plugs, so you don’t have to switch adapters between all your devices
- I found some for $10 at a convenience store when I got here. Let me know if you find cheaper!
- Large shampoo and conditioners etc. when you’re more settled
Now you’re prepared to take on anything! Get exploring! Get a job! Find a flat! Make friends! Drink wine! Have a blast!
*Disclosure: some of the links above are affiliate links. This means at no extra cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.