So you’re moving abroad for a year..or maybe more. There’s nothing quite like the anticipation of a big trip. Moving abroad is certainly BIG! Moving overseas is an exciting adventure. It is filled with the opportunity to explore places, meet new people and have unique experiences that you just can’t have at home. Be prepared for your big move by packing smart with these long term travel essentials.
DISCLOSURE: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means at no cost to you, I earn a commission.
Long term travel essentials that you must include
A long term packing list differs greatly from a holiday. You’ll need to think about the big picture. Whether you’re travelling solo, in a group or a couple, your suitcase needs to be packed with smart space saving, multi use items.
It can seem overwhelming to try and fit your whole life into a suitcase. It can be tricky to decide what an essential item is compared to a nice to have item and how do you best utilise your cabin bag for long term travel?
You can’t afford to have ‘never take it out of the case’ items when you are moving overseas, or off on a gap year. Postage is very expensive. It is better to pack smart than to have to send things home. Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered with our top 5 essentials that you MUST include in your minimalist travel backpack or suitcase.
#1 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Noise cancelling headphones are long term travel essentials . They’re number one for us because they meet so many needs. They are also very small. This is critical when packing for long term travel. Think modern bud style which can easily slip into a pocket. You’ll be reaching for them frequently when in transit.
Noise cancelling headphones make great stand in ear plugs when on a plane. Additionally they are a much better option than using airline headphones. They’ll provide great sound on an iPad, phone or plane screen. A good pair of noise cancelling earphones will also come with a jack so you can enjoy surround sound on an aircraft. Look for a pair that includes a splitter that allows two people to plug into one jack. This is one of those must have travel items when you need to share one device between two people.
Good quality earphones don’t come cheap. Don’t skimp on this purchase. They also make one of the best gifts for travellers. A good quality pair will fit comfortably into your ears, come with spare earbud inserts, a splitter and even an adapter for aircraft sockets. A zip up case is also essential. Wind them up alongside their accessories and have them on hand for your next journey. You’ll be using these long term travel essentials all of the time!
#2 A Power Board
Any working holiday or year abroad packing list should include a power board. Whilst a year overseas will pass quickly. Global travel means planning for different power outlets. It is a big and unnecessary expense to buy lots of power adaptors or even new appliances. A power board will allow you to charge multiple devices at once. This long term travel essential will mean that a solo power plug in a hostel will transform into many plugs. You’ll be guaranteed the chance to charge your devices.
A power board will also allow you to charge and use multiple devices at once with your original power cords. You to need one adaptor to plug the power board in. It is also possible to buy power boards that have a foreign plug but local sockets (i.e. a European plug but Australian sockets). It may just be the best thing you include when you are packing to move overseas!
#3 An iPad or Lightweight Laptop
Phones are great, but whilst you’re in the midst of setting up a new life in another country, they just don’t cut it. You will have lots of tasks to do such as contacting government agencies, setting up banking and searching for somewhere to live.
These tasks are much more easily undertaken with a larger screen and web rather than phone based browsers. This is why an iPad or lightweight laptop is an essential inclusion when you are packing to move overseas.
Long term travel essential - Macbook
We took both a MacBook and iPad when we moved overseas. The larger screen of the MacBook was great for Netflix and booking more involved travel itineraries. We used both the MacBook and iPad to Skype back home and found the flexibility and smaller size of the iPad a more flexible option for any trips that we took with a pack or involved hostel stays.
A full sized keyboard allowed us to email, blog and communicate more easily than a screen based keyboard. Our move was to work abroad for a year, so having our own laptop allowed us to keep up with any work required.
Long term travel essential - iPad
The iPad was also useful for watching movies or Netflix whilst enjoying some down time in the hostel or to Skype. It was small and easy to pack when taking shorter breaks. It also allowed us to keep the more expensive MacBook at our home base in England whilst one of us travelled.
We also found that the MacBook and iPad had much greater longevity than our phones. We both required new phones as we had burned through them from charging and using them so often whereas the iPad and the MacBook are still going strong. Cost per use has been far more economical in comparison.
#4 A Good Quality Hair Dryer
When you’re packing to move overseas you have totally different requirements compared to packing for a holiday. If you’re moving abroad for a year or more, chances are you are going to have a job and undertake normal day to day activities as well as travel and experience the world.
Comparatively, a holiday is far more carefree and usually much shorter. Windswept and beachy hair is fine on holidays, but not at work. It is also impractical to spend a long time drying your hair if you are in a cold climate, or have limited access to a bathroom.
I skimped and took a travel dryer initially however I wasn’t happy with how it dried my hair. It took a long time, my hair was frizzy and I really missed the power of my dryer back home. To purchase a new good quality dryer whilst abroad seemed like a waste of money. I already had a good quality hair dryer at home and I didn’t want to use a power adaptor on an international plug back in Australia.
Luckily, a family member brought my good quality hair dryer over when they visited me. Alternatively I would have had to purchase another cheap dryer or splurge on a good quality dryer. A long term packing list needs to think ahead and in this case, a travel dryer wasn’t a good short cut.
#5 A Power Bank
This long term travel essential is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. It’ll be a lifesaver the next time you just need that little bit of a power boost on your phone. A power bank got me back on track when I needed to use Google Maps in Lyon (I thought I could navigate by memory – no!), charge my phone up just enough that I could make an emergency call and provided a couple of hours of entertainment (on more than one occasion) at the airport.
A power bank is a small but mighty item that you’ll grow to rely on when you’re travelling. They can charge a device whilst they’re being charged themselves which allows you to make the most of power points and will allow you to rely on battery sucking apps like Google Maps or Instagram whilst you’re out exploring. They also make a fun travel gift. They’re also small and lightweight for your minimalist travel backpack.
Long term travel safety
Having back up power for your phone is essential for your safety. It is easy to use all of your battery when navigating your way around a city or using roaming. Additionally you may need to make an emergency call. Global travel can be unpredictable so a power bank is an essential safety item.
Recharge larger devices
If you’re moving abroad for a year or more make sure you buy a power bank that is powerful enough to charge a laptop or iPad as well as your phone. A quick charge model is worth the extra money. A model that allows for 3+ charges is advisable as a larger device like a MacBook may take two charge cycles to fully recharge. You will appreciate this if you’re on a longer flight and using your own device to watch movies. It is one of those must have travel items you don’t know how you’ll live without.
Packing smart for long term travel
Packing smart for long term travel doesn’t mean forgoing all of your creature comforts or having to repurchase everything again once you get to your destination. With a bit of forethought you can pack useful items in your minimalist travel backpack that economise on space and interconnect with each other. Including these long term travel essentials will take up minimal space in your case. They will also be practical items that are used frequently.
Focus quite heavily on tech as you’ll use it a lot whilst you’re overseas and many are used in conjunction with each other. You can’t possible pack EVERYTHING you’ll need to move abroad for a year, but you can pack the core essentials. They will make it easier for you to settle in, look good and save you the expense of shipping items from home or repurchasing expensive electronics