Packing To Travel For A Year



Before we left on our trip, one of the first questions friends asked was “What will you bring with you?” – usually my (women) friends and usually incredulously.

This post is a long-overdue answer to that question and also because my friend Peter challenged me that even with all my careful shopping the contents of our packs will be completely different by the time we get back to Seattle. (Full pack lists are at the bottom of this post.)


We packed four days worth of clothes each. The boys each have four pairs of convertible pants, four t-shirts, undies and socks. Murph has a shirts rather than t-shirts. My wardrobe is a little more varied: I have one dress, one skirt and two pairs of convertible pants; I have three t-shirts and two light wool tops from Ibex. We each have a set of thermal undies, flip-flops, low hiking shoes, a fleece sweater and swimwear. In the specialized gear category we each have a silk sleep sack, a large travel towel and either a bandanna or a hat. We all have Petzl headlamps (extremely useful) and a light rain shell jacket.


We bought almost everything at either REI or ExOfficio – OK, except the Ibex tops I have which were a splurge. We did have some gear (such as long undies and rain jackets) already, but since both of the boys had grown a lot in the past twelve months, they needed new clothes and shoes anyway. Shoes were our largest single expense at about $100 each. It didn’t help that my kids are both in adult shoe sizes.

Even though I know that you can buy clothing in every country, I did go out of my way to research products in advance with two things in mind: CAM is notoriously difficulty to dress (this is a kid who has previously had year-long phases of wearing just one particular brand of jeans); specialty gear such as convertible pants are very handy when traveling but can be ridiculously expensive to buy outside the U.S.

One small fashion note: I a-g-o-n-i-z-e-d about wearing convertible pants. There’s just no way to make them look anything but dorky. In the end, I couldn’t justify packing both pants and shorts and so I went looking for the least offensive pair of convertibles that I could find.

The total approximate cost to kit us out for a year? $1500.

We also have a bunch of electronics – camera, netbook, kindles, iphone – most of which we had already. The kids started with a school packet each containing workbooks, paper, a fully-stocked pencilcase and a journal notebook. (Since BigB’s backpack was stolen in Arica, he’s skipping math until we can get a new copy of his math book but we’ve replaced everything else). We’re using backpacks that we had already. We have a basic medical kit which I re-stocked from our local drugstore before we left and basic toiletries.

So there you have it. We’ll see if Peter is right and we’re all wearing completely different clothes by the time we get home.

Full Packing Lists
BigB: 4x REI boy’s convertible pants, 2 cotton t-shirts, 2 technical t-shirts, 1 Eddie Bauer fleece sweater, 1 pair of REI boy’s thermal underwear, Lands’ End swimsuit + swimshirt, 1 Sierra Designs light rain jacket, 3x ExOfficio men’s briefs, 3x Thorlo hiking socks, 1x Merrell low hiking boots.
CAM: Almost identical to BigB except his pants are REI men’s small and the swimwear is Quicksilver.
Murph: 2x REI men’s convertible pants, 2x ExOffico pants, 2x ExOfficio long-sleeved shirts, 2x Columbia short-sleeved shirt, 1x North Face shell, 4x ExOfficio undies, 1x thermal undies (no clue what the brand is, we had these already), 3x Smartwool socks, 1x Merrell low hiking boots.
Me : 1x North Face convertible pants, 1x ExOfficio Amphi pants, 1x REI Pinyon Peak skirt (black), 1x ExOfficio travel dress (black), 1x North Face printed t-shirt, 1x REI OXT t-shirt, 1x ExOfficio ExO Dri t-shirt, 2x Ibex fine wool short-sleeved tops, 1x Lowe fleece, 1x REI rain shell, 1x Teva light hiking boots, 3x Smartwool socks, 4x ExOfficio undies, 1x Snow Angel thermal underwear.

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About wandermom

". . .life is short and the world is wide" - Simon Raven I'm not sure I've ever consciously planned a trip based on this sentiment, but it definitely influences my subconscious! I've been traveling as frequently and widely as possible since I finished school. And I love it. I love the research, the planning, the fervent packing and the curiosity of exploring somewhere I've never been before. My husband & I are both Irish - as in born-in-Ireland. But we live in Seattle. We have two boys: wild, boisterous, regular boys. So, since becoming a Mom, I've been a WanderMom. Given our slightly-unusual family situation, routine "visits-to-Grandma" are international trips requiring passports, 10hr-flights and (oh joy!) airport transfers. I have rants, raves and opinions about how, where & why to travel with kids (start them as young as you can, I say!). I hope to learn even more by researching topics which other wandermoms may be interested in reading about on this blog. Passports, pacifiers, diapers and gameboys at the ready - off we go! Contact Info: Email Michelle: michelle (at) murphnduff (dot) org

2 thoughts on “Packing To Travel For A Year

  1. GBK Gwyneth

    Great list — I love to hear what other people pack for their trips — especially one like yours!

    What a bummer about the stolen pack :(

  2. Pingback: Packing « Around the world

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