How to Pack for a Six Month Trip


One of the most challenging decisions we’re forced to make before we depart on a trip for longer than a few weeks is how to pack.There’s a lot to consider when deciding what you’ll need to sustain you’re daily existence while on the road. Understandably everyone’s different when it comes to what they’ll need, but this article should help give you a general idea about the nuts and bolts of packing.

Trading Luxury for a Mobile Existence

When it comes to packing your objective should be efficiency. To accomplish this goal you’re going to have to scale it down. Bringing all of your favorite things from home would be nice, but the reality is that there’s only so much you’ll actually be able to handle once you have to carry it. Eventually you’ll discover that you’re carrying around a lot of things that you don’t have any use for. If you’re on the fence about any certain item, a good way to make the determination is to take your backpack on a test run. Give yourself a two week pre departure window to live as if you would be if you were already on your trip. Strap on your backpack and get a feel for what it will be like to lug it around. Odds are you’ll probably discover a few things you could do without. Now it’s time to decide what you’re going to bring.

The following section is an example representing what I’ll personally be bringing on my next trip to write for Latin Hostel Guide. It’s important to note that I’ll only be visiting the tropical countries of Central America and Southern Mexico on this trip.

Backpackers Checklist

Clothing & Packs

  • 2 pairs of shorts, cargo style with utility pockets
  • 1 pair of light weight trekking pants with convertible shorts option
  • 1 pair of quick dry board shorts
  • 4 T-shirts, 50% cotton, 50% nylon (they’re thinner and more breathable)
  • 3 pairs of socks (2 no show, 1 Crew Cut)
  • 3 pairs of underwear
  • 1 baseball cap
  • Targus laptop day bag
  • LowPro top loading camera bag
  • PacSafe eXomesh bag protector


  • 1 pair of Asics trail runners
  • 1 pair of Rainbow sandals
  • 1 pair of Rip Curl rubber sole reef booties (keeps my feet from getting cut up on the reef)


  • Dental floss
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste


  • 2oz bottle of liquid shower soap
  • Insect Repellant
  • Small canister of shaving cream
  • Sunscreen


  • 1 extra thin sarong style beach blanket
  • 1 quick dry shower towel

First Aid Kit

-Adventure Medical Kits

  • Aspirin
  • Band aids
  • Diamode (controls symptoms of travelers diarrhea)
  • Diotame (upset stomach, heartburn, diarrhea)
  • Gauze
  • Ibuprofen
  • Rehydration salts
  • Safety pins
  • Sterile tweezers
  • Tape
  • Triple Antibiotic Ointment


  • (2) 16gb memory cards
  • 400 GB external hard drive
  • BlackBerry
  • Canon SLR digital camera
  • Corresponding battery chargers
  • Handheld HD waterproof Kodak camera
  • Laptop computer
  • Removable flash drive
  • Ultra-light mini tripod
  • Wireless mouse


  • 1 trade able fun read (Slaughter House Five)
  • Lonely Planet Central America Guide book
  • Small Spanish-English dictionary

Misc. Items

  • 1 camping spork (durable, spoon-fork combo with serrated edge)
  • 1 pair Spy Optical sunglasses
  • 1 ceramic travel gnome (he’s my good buddy… we take photos together)
  • 1 deck of cards
  • 1 elastic rubber resistance band with handles (awesome for a quick on the go workout)
  • 1 flask (who could leave home without one?)
  • 1 headlamp flashlight (extremely handy)
  • 1 money Belt
  • 1 pair of fingernail Clippers
  • 1 small notebook
  • 1 small pair of underwater goggles (I like seeing the fish)
  • 2 carabineers
  • 2 combination locks
  • 2 extra AA batteries
  • 2 small empty zip lock bags (for loose items)
  • 4 clothes pins
  • 4 rubber bands (handy for organization and keeping power chords wound)
  • 5 feet of string (for hanging laundry)
  • Umbrella (optional… some airports will confiscate)

Documents and Money

  • $300 cash
  • 2 debit cards
  • 250 Latin Hostel Guide business cards
  • 8 extra passport photos
  • Driver’s License
  • Passport
  • Print out of return plane ticket
  • Print out of travel insurance policy
  • WHO Immunization card

Total Weight- 25 lbs

Proficient Packing

One of the best ways to stay Organized is to develop a system. Practice packing your backpack a few times to figure out the best place to store things. Once you figure out what works, stick to it and commit it to memory so you’ll always know where things are stashed. One of the best space saving methods involves pairing like items into durable storage bags. Once you have your stuff in the bags you can remove the air to reduce volume. This also gives you the ability to efficiently unpack certain parts of your backpack while leaving other items in their place.

I personally like to use rubber bands to keep chords wound neatly, and socks rolled tightly. I keep all loose items in smaller zip lock bags so I can pull the whole bag out of the storage compartment and inspect it at eye level instead of trying to dig through a dark pocket. I keep important items like passports and documents in easily accessible pockets where I can retrieve them at a moment’s notice. Immigration checks are common on Latin American roads, so you should be prepared to have to identification readily available. And don’t forget about the possibility of using carabineers to secure things like shoes and water bottles to the exterior of your backpack if you start running short on storage space.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding about the art of packing. You can use my list as a starting point and branch off from there. Luckily for us, there’s a lot of sweet travel gear out there that can make your life a lot easier. Leave a comment if you have an essential travel item that you think we should know about. Best of luck on your next adventure!!

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Author:Barry Hackett

Barry is a wedding & lifestyle photographer with a passion for environmental and philanthropic issues. He currently resides in Long Beach, CA. You can view his other work at and

2 Responses to “How to Pack for a Six Month Trip”

  1. March 2, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    Great stuff! The carabiners are definitely making my packinglist now, thanks for the suggestion! Happy travels! My trip starts in about a month’s time…

  2. June 26, 2013 at 9:16 pm #


    Funny I did a similar article as I’m about to leave to India to ride a motorcycle in the Himalayas. Check it at

    I don’t take as much stuff but as I carry films and cameras (photographer) I end up having about 15 kilos (32lbs).

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