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 Sinclairification by Grant Sinclair

Packing for Long Trips: Fewer Changes of Clothes for a Lighter Load, or More Clothes for Less Laundry?

11 Feb 2009

Okay, fellow hardy travelers, this one’s for you.  Imagine you’re packing for a six-week trip across, well, anywhere (lucky).  You have your camera (of course), your batteries, chargers, memory cards, earplugs, digital photo dump, toiletries and lucky tuba.  It’s all ready to go, but there’s one issue; how much do you pack in the way of clothes?

For the sake of this article, we’ll assume you have to do laundry at a Laundromat – no hostel laundry services available – and one set of clothes includes shirt, socks and underwear.

That being said, you can pack fewer sets of clothes – maybe two or three changes – or you can pack more, like five or six changes.  Why pack only three changes of clothes?  Why pack as many as six?  Here’s why:

Packing two or three changes of clothes


- Lighter load
- Don’t need to decide what to wear before you go out for the day
- Less gear to keep track of


- Need to do laundry more often, particularly in warmer climates
- May get tired of the same clothes over and over during the trip
- More likely to wear dirty – and potential slightly stinky – clothes when you don’t do laundry

Packing five or six change of clothes


- Don’t need to spend sightseeing time doing laundry
- More variety: you won’t get tired of the same three shirts over and over
- If one shirt gets ruined or lost, you don’t really have to worry about it


- More to carry, slightly heavier load
- More to keep track of

These changes of clothes do not include clothes you sleep in at night, unless you want to go out in the shirt you slept in the night before, or sleep in the shirt you wore all day long.

Unless you have a hard and fast opinion on one of those choices (and if you do, we want to hear about it), this article may be a little confusing.  It’s supposed to make you think, of course, about how you pack now and encourage you to consider other opinions.  And that is one of the great things about travel; learning from other people.

In terms of packing for a trip, I pack the same for a weekend as I do for a month, the only wild card being cold weather gear.  Whether this is good or bad remains to be seen, though I do tend to pack more n the five-sets-of clothes side.  Yes, my load is a little heavier, but the extra two or three shirts don’t take up enough space or weight to be a major factor, particularly considering I only do laundry once a week when I travel, though it should probably be more often.

I carry more sets of clothes.  What do you do?  Does your system work or does it need improvement?  Share your methods with us so we can all learn from each other before we leave on our next trip.

© 2009

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