The more you travel, the more packing comes naturally. The travel items you so frequently need have a specific place in your drawer at home and fit neatly into a specific part of your luggage. However, it can still be a bit of a headache pulling everything together and making sure it fits in your backpack or suitcase.
You may also need to add specialist items, depending on the nature of your next trip. The bottom line is that packing is a pain, so here are a few tips to help it go more smoothly.
If you leave packing until the last minute you are almost guaranteed to forget something. That’s not to say that you can’t purchase a replacement for most things overseas, but this will add unnecessary hassle to your trip. A great alternative is to start laying out your travel gear on the floor of your bedroom a few days before you pack. This way, you can get used to living from only the items you have prepared, and you will soon realise if something is missing. Do a practice pack too, so that you can make sure everything fits neatly into your luggage, and think hard about which items are best in your hand luggage. I would usually recommend that valuables stay on your person, along with adaptors, chargers that might be difficult to replace, and some extra layers in case the plane is cold.
MAKE A LIST AND STICK TO IT
Lists are a wonderful way to make sure you have everything you need. Plus, you can keep them in a safe place and reuse them the next time you go away. With so much information online these days, you’re sure to find inspiration online from other people’s packing lists, so download a few and amend them to suit your needs. I always keep a ‘to do’ list handy the day before I travel. This includes checking I’ve re-packed the items I needed that morning, such as my toothbrush, and doing last-minute tasks like unplugging electrics, checking in for my flight and locking the front door to my house.
It’s hard to get the balance right, but in many ways, packing backpacking light is less of an issue than over-packing. If you have too little stuff, you can almost always buy more overseas. In fact, it’s good to have the space available to pick up a few souvenir items along the way, whether these are practical for use on your trip or not. Over-packing will leave you with a tonne of regret and a bad back. You will either decide to throw some of your items away or you will lug them around without ever using them.
With a bit of forethought and organisation, you can usually fit enough clothes for a week into a hand luggage-sized case, and, if you’re set for a week, you will probably get by just as well on a longer-term timescale, as you can handwash your clothes every few days. Lighter luggage is less hassle and if you can avoid checking in items altogether, you will save time and money as well!
PACK THE READY-FOR-ANYTHING ESSENTIALS
Think carefully about where you pack everything as you’ll want easy access to your carry-on travel essentials. When it comes to more specialised items, the more you know about your upcoming itinerary, the better you can be prepared for the activities. The following items should be on your list, regardless of your plans.
Even if you are only going on a beach holiday it is well worth packing a pair of comfortable walking shoes. You may end up hiking along the coastline or exploring a local town for a whole day. It’s also great to have some comfortable closed shoes for the plane journey. Flip flops and sandals are easy to remove when you go through security, but your feet might get very cold on the plane, so if you choose the simple footwear option for transport, take a spare pair of warm socks in your hand luggage.
Even if you’re not planning to spend every day beside a pool or on a beach, you should always pack swimwear. You never know when an opportunity might arise to visit a spa or some natural thermal baths, for example. I would even go one step further and recommend wearing your swimming costume most days. As an active traveller, I pack a lot of sporty bikinis and/or sports bra tops and use them in place of underwear. This means I’m ready at the drop of a hat to get involved with anything!
Even if you’ve checked the weather forecasts, you’re never entirely sure what to expect when you visit a new destination. Overseas climates may have extremes in different kinds of weather that you’re not used to. Make sure you have strong factor sun cream, sun glasses and a hat, as well as waterproofs and additional layers if you’re heading to a wetter/colder climate.
In most foreign destinations, it isn’t too hard to track down a doctor or chemist, but finding the products you trust can be more challenging. You should always carry a basic first-aid kit with some pain killers, Imodium, insect repellant, bite-relief cream, plasters and antiseptic. Depending on your destination, altitude pills, seasickness tablets, pre-prescribed anti-malarials and water purification tablets might also come in handy.