Global Volunteer- The Art of Packing

Hello my fellow wanderers! Today is the day where I reluctantly breakdown the packing situation for volunteering abroad.

I say “reluctantly” because this is not a post I am making just for fun, this is a post that reflects a current task I must tackle on schedule.

I have learned from Studying Abroad  how to pack my life into a suitcase or two so I feel as though I have ample experience to propel me forward in my packing endeavors.

The reality is, no matter how talented you maybe at cramming things into a small space, most of your success depends on the vessel its self.

The Perfect Vessel

I am not quite sure why, but I have always had an affliction for purchasing fun accessories, and suitcases are no exception.

In addition to having a mild shopping addiction, I love the thrill of a good bargain hunt. Honestly, the thrifting mindset is what allows me to travel on such a minimal budget and that includes getting all the right materials.

In the future I would love to do a post on the Oregon Coast and the Columbia Gorge because Brady and I are down there almost every weekend, but that is a post for a different day. Conveniently, Oregon does not have sales tax and on our many trips down to Oregon we find ourselves stopping at their numerous outlet malls.

I truly believe I scored the deal of a lifetime on my 70 liter backpack purchased at the Helly Hansen Outlet store in Cannon Beach. I wish I could insert a heart eye emoji!

I paid $80 for the coolest backpack ever guys! It gives me such a rush just typing that.

Backpacks in my opinion are the best option if you are going to be volunteering. Usually volunteering includes potential treks into some lesser traveled areas or maybe some weekend adventures. Backpacks just feel the most practical to me and often offer more space and lighter facilities so you can stuff that baby full.

Also, you don’t wanna be that American that shows up rolling their LV luggage through the village and down the gravel roadways…

In my case I really needed something that was water proof or at least water resistant! The reason for this is because I will be staying in the jungle, so I want to protect my stuff from all the moisture as well as all the creepy crawlies.


My bag looks much like this one above. Mine is just different colors.

Basically, it is a duffle style bag that also doubles as a backpack. Maybe I am partial because Helly Hansen is a Norwegian brand but, I think it is the best backpack ever and it is extremely comfortable on my little frame which is hard to come by. I hate when big backpacks hit me in the back of the thighs…. #smalgirlprobs.

Obviously everyone is different and wants different things out of their suitcase. However, this here is my recommendation. I am not even sponsored by Helly Hansen but I should be!

Regardless of the vessel you choose, just make sure it is the best and most comfortable option for you. But if you do want to check out the back packs by Helly, just click here.

Content is King

The title of this section is a pun for my fellow bloggers out there. Much like a blog, a suitcase requires necessary and relevant content in order to be useful and functional.

Before you start packing, really consider the terrain of the place you are headed to. Think about the climate and do ample research on the current seasonal conditions so you can pack accordingly.

I keep dropping hints in this post but I still haven’t revealed my Voluntourism destination. But, do know that I will be in some extreme conditions.

For me, it wasn’t just a matter of climate but also being culturally respectful. I have definitely had to invest in some new wardrobe items that would not usually be on the docket.

Understanding the environment, the climate, and the culture is crucial when packing because you want to make sure that you are adequately prepared when you get there. Obviously, you could go to a store or market and get stuff once you are there but that is a tentative plan dependent on a lot of unknowns. I like to be more assured than that.

I would love to offer some specific items you might need but that is really all circumstantial to where you’re going.

While on my trip I am going to do my best to blog (if I have wifi) and then I can do a post about what I find has been most useful clothing wise for my specific location.

Perfecting The Technique 

When it comes to the way you should pack your clothes and shoes, everyone always swears they have the BEST method. Well let me let you in on a little secret, there is NO right way.

To be real with ya’ll, packing entails some serious problem solving skills. You can go about it anyway you want and I promise at some point you are gonna hit a bump in the road. You are going to want to tear every item out of that bag and curl up in a ball on the floor.

It is just stressful period. There is always the haunting feeling like you forgot something or didn’t pack enough. All the woes of having an awesome life.

Here is my method:

  • Rolling is your friend. Roll everything that will let you roll it and line the sides of your bag with those items.
  • All shoes go on the bottom! Lay all of your shoes on the side and match them toe to heel like so:


this allows multiple pairs to sit fairly flat at the bottom of your bag.

  • Bulky bits go over your shoes. If you have to pack jackets or sweaters, anything kinda chunky really, lay them as flat as possible over your shoes. I have tried rolling items like this in the past and it only takes up more space.
  • Keep on rollin. Whatever is left clothes wise, roll em up and shove them anywhere you have space!
  • Toiletries in the center and on the top. I hate traveling and needing something out of my suitcase and not being able to get to it. It honestly drives me insane. If you have toiletries that are going in your big suit case, I suggest leaving a little space for them in the middle of your bag and towards the top so you can easily access it.
  • Pocket full of purpose. There is a reason why suitcases and backpacks have so many pockets and it isn’t to look cool. I am always shoving my last minute items in all the random little side pockets. Though, there is not much of a technique for pocket packing, I do recommend putting non-fragile items in the outside pockets. And of course there is my favorite pocket on the inside for all your unmentionables! this is the best place for your chonies because it keeps them separated and easily accessible.

Now that you are all packed, I guess it is time to start adventuring. I’ll be honest, I spent more time writing this than I have packing so I should probably hop to it.

It is pretty wild to think that in two weeks I will be on a plane getting ready to embark on another crazy adventure. I can’t wait to share it with all of you.

A HUGE thank you to all of my readers who come back and support me every week. I hit 50 subscribers this past week! I know that is not much but it means a lot that 50 people want to read my posts every week. You guys are truly amazing! As always, please like and comment so I know what ya’ll like to read and what you’d like to read next time. xoxo

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