This is what we do.
We trundle behind us a suitcase as we make our way to various housesits. Our clothing needs to be diverse to cope with temperatures that can range from -14C to 46C. That was our the reality for 2016/17.
Hopefully, 2018 won’t be so dramatic. To counteract that we decided the best plan of attack was to choose a warmer destination to spend our next winter.
We chose Spain. We are fortunate to have a few resits for people we have housesat for before [in a different country] and some new people/animals to meet.
We are used to changing in the middle of one season to another. In October, we headed back for a few weeks to see family and friends, due to being on the arse-end of the world, it was spring. Which won’t be too much of a drastic change from London in Autumn. Famous last words, as evidently, we are always proven wrong when it comes to working out what the temperature will be in the country of arrival. The day we arrived last year it was freezing!
Going back to New Zealand always means the sorting out of suitcases, NOT to mention the storage unit [where all those unmatched socks are stored]. The reason, of course, is due to the location of our housesits, the whole year is usually never entirely organised, just a few, to plan flights and other transport that is required.
So how do we do it?
Before reassessing what goes into our suitcases, we have one important rule:
If we didn’t wear an item that year, out, it goes.
Our most used brands are Kathmandu and Icebreaker, mainly due to their wearability overlapping a few seasons. UPDATE October 2018: We are now using these less and taking advance of sales in Europe for warmer clothing.
Here is what goes into our principal suitcases:
- 4 pairs of trousers/jeans [lightweight] – thermal longjohns for those colder days
- 4 pairs of shorts
- 1 dress [Me not the Squire]
- Socks – various colours, maybe the odd pattern up to 5 couples.
- Underwear – more than 5 less than 15. Remove any with holes. An absolute standard needs to be upheld.
- 5-6 tops/shirts
- 2 Jackets
- 3 cardigans [Me] 2 jumpers [Squire]
- Swimwear – 1 item each
- 3 Thermal and Merino tops
- 3 pairs of comfortable shoes/boots – no jandals [are we Kiwis?]
- Personal care items – bare essentials- one small bag each
- Travel hair dryer
- A couple of non-fiction books and notebooks – time away from screens!
Some clothes [light summer clothing] are folded, and placed on the bottom of the suitcase, with our current clothing on the top. This may seem obvious, though it is incredible how many people we know that mix their clothing up. We are always able to find what we need very quickly without stress, any ways of reducing it, is still a good option in our lifestyle.
Simplicity, not complicated. Comfort before Fashion! Or both if we get it right!
Other points to consider are:
- Be culturally sensitive by wearing appropriate clothing, churches/mosques all have rules that we think should be adhered to with respect. Even walking around a country that is predominately Muslim, be conservative in your choice of clothing.
- All valuables are placed in our carry-on bags and the odd purchased item.
- A change of clothing in our carry on
- Tops and pants are interchangeable – no purple with pink, thank you!
- SCARVES are a must, though have not convinced the Squire of this fact!
- Love the neutral colours, White/Grey/Black. No, I am not a follower of Fashion.
- Clothes for the plane are always BLACK – it hides the food stains!
- Layers! I can’t mention this enough times as I found it reduces the amount of clothing needed.
- Merino wool t-shirts are excellent for winter with other layers and usable in different seasons such as a UK summer/spring. Usually, wool can be reused without washing more than most other fabrics.
- Lightweight materials are easily washable and dry quickly [reducing the need to have so many clothes]
- A small first aid box.
- The computers we use are window 10 tablets, lightweight and robust.
- We both have smartphones with a selection of sim cards
- In our carry-on, we always have portable battery devices, various external hard-drives, power adapters [we each have our own, saves frustration when wanting to charge more than one device!]
- Photocopies of all travel plans, insurance papers, valuable items, e.g. jewellery, computers
- Have copies of your bank accounts to show immigration officers you do indeed have an income to support yourself.
- IMPORTANT – check up on each individual EU country regulations via their Embassy websites to check on rules regarding entering as they do change regularly. Breaking that 90-day rule will blow the budget.
- Credit cards/Cash cards – more than one way of accessing funds. Only have one account available through the money machines. Access to other accounts through online banking
- Our smartphones and computers run through a Virtual Private Network – best overall for 2017 – this is important when using them at airports and other public areas
- A particular bag to hold an assortment of currencies. This saves having to find a cash machine as soon as you arrive at your destination when tired from travelling.
Final Notes on Packing
The positive and the negative of packing light
Pros: Our life fits into one carry-on and a suitcase [on wheels], the larger one never going over 18kgs. It’s pretty simple, everything we need as a full-time traveller is right there, and we can pack up and go in
minutes half an hour if the truth is to be told!. We enjoy the sense of freedom that goes with having few possessions with us and having that ability to move around without having to think of what to do with excess luggage.
Cons: On the other hand, sometimes we wouldn’t mind some extra clothing. Like winter coats that are much warmer though are too bulky to pack, or another shirt or another pair of shoes, for example. What is particularly tiresome more days is not having a large selection of clothes to choose from in our suitcases. We do on occasion see something that we would like to purchase, something that would look great in our next home, I have to remind myself that we are full-time travellers that live out of suitcases and that there is no room in there for cool Moroccan lamps or a handwoven Turkish mat. Or the energy to carry the extra weight around for months on end. Before you say it, posting it back is not always possible, and the expense can be eye-watering. Though never say never, we might one day get carried away and buy something special.
Now getting back to the dilemma about whether I need to include another warmer jacket in my luggage. Though as I have mentioned above, we hope not to repeat the -14C this northern winter. We will be in Southern Spain where it doesn’t get too cold.
Yes, I can see the headlines now,
On a side note, as I wrote this update in October 2018, Spain did have a cold spell which broke previous records!