We think trips are always a tad too short—wouldn’t it be nice to be on vacation forever? Whether you’re between jobs, degrees, apartments or relationships, transitions are the perfect time for a “gap year” abroad.
Live like a local by relocating to another city, or take a sip of wanderlust-infused water and bounce around the globe with nothing but a backpack. There are a million ways to travel once time constraints are removed…your one-way ticket may become the first of many new best friends!
Consider this: while the trip’s duration is longer, your baggage allowance is the same. Packing for an extended trip is like packing for living, not for traveling. Here’s a handy checklist so you bring only items that will either significantly enhance your travel experience or that you can’t find abroad (some of our favorite things are digital, BTW!). Now blast Africa by Toto and get packing—after all, sabbaticals are the new spring break.
Passport, camera, phone, jewelry…isn’t it funny how all of your most valuable possessions can fit into one bag? Protect your belongings and protect yourself with travel insurance—an absolute must. We love World Nomads insurance for longer trips since it’s geared towards backpackers. This is an affordable service that keeps you covered across multiple continents, with the option to further extend your coverage as needed. It covers everything from lost baggage to theft to adventure-related injuries.
iPhones and other American mobiles can be hard to come by in other countries, so protect your precious device with a waterproof, shockproof Lifeproof phone case. If you prefer a slimmer option, keep your phone or tablet from shattering with a barely-there Zagg screen protector.
Back It Up
What’s even more precious than your phone or camera? The photos they hold. If you care about these invaluable memories, stop what you’re doing and download Google Photos right now. No, it’s not just for Android devices. This app automatically syncs to your pre-existing photo library, uploading everything instantly to the cloud. Google Photos are quite smart—they use artificial intelligence to recognize faces and places…so if you’re shutter happy and somehow amass 40,000 photos over eight months, they’re all keyword searchable.
If you prefer shooting on a camera rather than on an iPhone keep these professional pics safe on the go with an SD to iPhone converter—this will enable you to easily add them to your Google Photos and hard drive.
Travel Light (and Smart)
Backpacks and gap years are like peanut butter and jelly. A match made in heaven for good reason—you never know what terrain you’ll encounter, from rocky trails to cobblestone streets to wobbly boat. Leave the roller bag at home, instead of carrying the eBags Mother Lode Weekender Junior Backpack. It opens like a traditional suitcase and boasts thoughtful pockets to keep you organized while mobilized.
On an extended trip, your backpack is your closet! And you wouldn’t leave your clothes in a pile in the middle of your closet—you’d hang them, stow them and sort them, to some degree. Packing cubes are like drawers for your backpack, and we’re obsessed with these eBags Packing Cubes…an absolute must-have when unpacking and repacking countless times. You can even use one as a laundry bag!
Room to Move
Long trips are the perfect time to tap into the magic that is packing a bag within a bag. Like a Russian nesting doll, this Gobi Gear duffel condenses into almost nothing when empty, waiting inside your big bag to be of service. Let’s say you’re in Hanoi and want to journey to Ha Long Bay or Sapa for a few days—simply stowing your heavy bag at a hotel or hostel, then stuff the bare necessities into a smaller, lighter bag.
Your phone is a lifeline to maps, music, reservation confirmations and so much more. Your dead phone is trash! A charging Mophie case will keep your phone alive and useful—versus plug-in backup batteries, this case is fairly incognito and particularly useful when snapping photos.
No matter where you are in the world, you are in control of your mood. Comfort food isn’t always available, but comfort tunes are! These wireless Jaybird headphones let you keep your phone stowed safe or plugged-in while listening to your favorite jams. And if you’re ever feeling particularly homesick or anxious, the Headspace meditation app has sessions just for travelers, guiding listeners through air travel and more.
Whether you’re traveling solo or with friends, the Tripr app will help you meet like-minded travelers from all over the world. Like a mash-up of Facebook, MeetUp, and TripAdvisor, Tripr syncs with social accounts and lets you enter details about upcoming and past trips. If someone is going to be in Buenos Aires when you are, Tripr alerts you and gives you the option to chat with them…without exchanging numbers or sensitive information.
Find a Bed
The HostelWorld website and app has thousands of properties, including both and affordable hotels—worldwide. It includes reviews from travelers with scores for each place’s cleanliness, sociability, location and more. This app rules for easy booking in advance or last-minute, requiring only the smallest of deposits to hold reservations.
Any trip is memorable, but a year abroad is absolutely life-changing. Succumb to your inner #wanderlove, gear up with eBags…and stay on the road as long as you like.
Annie’s based in Los Angeles but hails from Portland, Oregon. Sort of. She moved to six states by the time she reached middle school, and continues to move around the US and abroad – call her a nomad, but she prefers “Location ADHD.” After studying abroad in New Zealand, Annie circled the globe, graduated from USC, and circled the world once again. For one year she lived out of a backpack everywhere from The Philippines to Nepal to Slovenia to Norway. She’s a curry connoisseur and passionate explorer, taking the road less traveled, the “trail” covered in vines and swarmed in exotic bugs. Foreign lands feel like home, and Annie loves encouraging more and more people to utilize their passports and experience a new culture.