How often have you started to pack for a weekend away or a holiday and thought ‘I have no idea what to take!’
It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned traveller or if this is your first time away from home. What you should be asking yourself is what do I really NEED to take? What you really need in this situation is a list, so I have come up with a comprehensive (but not exhaustive) packing list to help you on your way.
Depending on where you are travelling to, you may not get far without most of these essentials.
• Passport – your passport is legally valid from the date it is issued until the date it expires. You can use it freely during this time as long as you comply with the immigration and visa laws of the countries you are entering. Some countries require you to have at least 6 months validity on your passport past the date you are travelling plus one or more blank pages. You may be refused legal entry if you do not comply.
• Visa – Many countries require you to obtain a visa prior to entry. The intended type of travel will determine the visa required – work, visitor, study etc. Some countries will provide ‘visa on entry’ as long as you have a valid passport, sufficient funds and proof of onward or return flights. Please check the visa requirements of your destination as failure to do so may end up in disappointment and a holiday that ends before it has begun!
• Seniors Card/Pension Card/Student ID – You can get some great discounts simply by showing your card. It never hurts to ask.
• Cash/Debit Card/Credit Card – I like to take all three but generally carry a small amount of cash and my debit card in my wallet and carry the remaining cash and credit card securely with my spare travel documentation in case one gets lost or stolen.
• Loyalty/Rewards Cards – If you know you will be using these companies, don’t forget your cards.
• Travel Insurance – Make sure you have all relevant insurance documentation in case you have to make a claim.
• Tickets/E-Tickets (Plane, Bus, Ferry, etc.)
• Emergency Contact details.
Its also a great idea to make a couple of copies of all your documents, passport, visa etc. and leave a copy with your emergency contact at home and keep one in your luggage. If you have a smart phone or iPhone, you can also take advantage of the available wallet apps to store all your different card information in one place.
What Kind Of Luggage Should I Take?
Well, this will depend on where you might be travelling. Let’s take a look at the options.
• 2 Wheeled Suitcase – This is probably the most common luggage. It comes in all different sizes with 2 wheels and an extendable handle for ease of use. Great for pavements and hard floors. You can also get soft and lightweight or heavier and hard shell depending on your preferences.
• 4 Wheeled Suitcase – These are a delight to use. They literally glide along with the slightest guidance, no need to drag them. These also come in a range of exteriors.
• Duffel Bag – Generally made of a hardy, lightweight canvas or similar material. Great to have as an extra bag that you can roll up and pack it in your main suitcase. Can be a bit of a hassle to lug around when they’re heavy.
• Wheeled Duffel Bag – This is my personal favourite. I used to use a standard suitcase until I came across these. Really lightweight and easy to use. Carry it like a bag or if its really heavy just pull it on its wheels. I have two. I normally use one, with the other packed inside on my way to my destination and use both of on the way home full of all my souvenirs, gifts for the grandchildren etc.
• Backpack – This is really great for the seasoned traveller. Light, durable and convenient, especially when hiking, camping etc. You can get some high-end packs, complete with framework and shoulder support. And its surprising just how much you can fit in these guys.
• Hand Luggage or Carry-On – Its important to get this right. You need something lightweight but durable. Something that you can fit all the necessities in (especially if you are not taking checked baggage). But be aware that all airlines have set limits on size and weight of hand luggage. And they are not all the same. Many a time I have seen people packing and unpacking their bags on the airport floor because they were over the limit.
I Don’t Know What To Wear – Back To Basics
Be realistic. If you are travelling to the Bahamas, it’s doubtful that you will need your woollen jacket and Ugg boots. And you’re highly unlikely to need your bathing suit, snorkel and flippers if you’re snow boarding in Japan. You’ve no doubt heard the saying ‘she packed everything but the kitchen sink’? Well that was me. I used to pack almost my entire wardrobe – just in case. Most of the stuff never got used. Now I pack much more conservatively, or should I say realistically? Having said that I should point out that being a larger woman, like myself, you often have to take more than others would, simply because you won’t necessarily be able to grab something to throw on while you are on holiday.
So, take your destination into account when selecting your clothing. And also, the duration of your stay and if you will be doing laundry or not. I have drafted up a list of basics that you will most likely need regardless of where you go, predominantly aimed at women.
• Underwear/Bras/Socks – Believe me, no matter what else you take its always a good idea to take enough underwear to last until you can get some laundered or if not laundering then enough for the duration of your trip. Worse case scenario you can always hand wash them, but can you get them dry!
• Pyjamas/Sleepwear – Okay, maybe you sleep naked at home and don’t really need to take them? Might be perfectly acceptable if you have a private room in a resort or hotel but not ideal if you are staying in shared accommodation. In this instance, have a bit of modesty and spare a thought for your fellow travellers.
• Swim Wear – Underwear might be the done thing for your pool at home, but most resorts frown on regular clothing worn in the pool.
• 4 x T-Shirts (or combination of blouse/shirt/T-Shirt).
• 1 x Long sleeved shirt or lightweight jacket/cardigan.
• 1 x Sweater/Jumper.
• 2 x Singlets.
• 2 x Long Pants.
• 2 x Shorts.
• 1 x Belt.
• 1 x Dress.
• 1 x Sarong/Skirt.
• 2 x Shoes – athletic or walking shoes and sandals or flip flops. Leave the dress shoes at home unless you are going on a cruise or specific function that requires formal wear.
Additional items that might be necessary depending on your anticipated activities –
• Hat and/or sun visor.
• Jewellery – I generally wear the same jewellery every day. My rings which I never take off and a simple pair of earrings and a watch. If you do take expensive jewellery, please be sure to put them in the safe or somewhere secure when you are not wearing them.
• Rain Coat/Wind Breaker/Umbrella.
What Toiletries Should I Pack?
Keep it simple. You’re going on vacation, right? So, you don’t want to take the whole bathroom cabinet with you, just the bare essentials. Its also a great idea to get yourself these items in travel size instead of weighing yourself down with family size editions.
• Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and mouthwash. *
• Feminine Hygiene Products.
• Shampoo, Conditioner and Body Wash. *
• Body Lotion. *
• Sunscreen and After Sun Lotion.
• Moisturiser. *
• Contact Solution and Extra Contacts.
• Hair Brush/Comb. *
• Q-Tips/Cotton Balls. *
• Tissues. *
• Lip Balm.
Other desirable items –
• Hair Products – Spray/Gel/Mouse/Bobby Pins/Hair Lackeys.
• Tweezers/Scissors/Nail Clippers*
• Razor/Shaving foam. *
• Make Up.
* Please note – many hotels provide and replenish these items on a daily basis.
Do I Need A Medical Or First Aid Kit?
As they say in the Boy Scouts – Be Prepared. I’m not suggesting you should take a full-sized medical kit but definitely be ready for any mishaps that come your way. It also a great idea to keep any prescription medicines in your medical kit rather than with your toiletries.
• Prescription Medications – Unless dispensed in Webster Packs (individualised blister packs) prescription medications should always be kept in their original packaging with full patient, dosage and prescribing doctor information on it. Its always a good idea to have a Doctors letter with a full list of all your medications and dosage on it as this may be requested on arrival in a foreign country.
• Diarrhea Tablets.
• Anti-Nausea Tablets.
• Non-Drowsy Antihistamines.
• Travel Sickness Tablets.
• Personal Insect Repellent.
• Band-Aids – Multi Size Pack.
• Antiseptic Wipes.
• Eye Drops.
If you’re going off the beaten track, you may also wish to take these additional items –
• Antibacterial Ointment.
• Small Scissors.
• Medical tape.
• Safety Pins.
• Mini Sewing Kit.
• Anti-Inflammatory Gel.
• Hand Sanitizer.
• Toilet Paper/Tissues.
What Other Items WillI Need To Take?
You’re on the home stretch now. Your packing list is almost complete. Now all we have to do is decide what other items you absolutely NEED to take with you. While the following are not all necessarily essential, they can make your stay much more enjoyable.
• Cell Phone/Charger.
• Camera/Go-Pro/Charger/Batteries – Most smart phones these days have amazing photo capabilities so unless you are a professional photographer you may prefer to forego all the technical equipment and just use your phone.
• Lap Top/Tablet/Kindle/Charger – Once again, unless it is 100% necessary you could probably whittle this down and just take the tablet.
• Headphones – If you have the noise cancelling kind these can also be great if you just want to block out your surroundings.
• Electric Adaptors/Power Board – I like to take one adaptor and one power board. That way I can plug all my devices into one outlet.
• Travel Pillow/Blanket/Eye Mask – I have stopped taking these except on budget airlines or long trips. Some airlines provide these free of charge and some have them available for an additional cost.
• Pen/Note Pad – You always need a pen, even if it’s only to complete the customs and immigration forms. A notepad can be handy to jot down things you want to remember, or you could always use the note book app on your smart phone.
• Book/Magazine – I don’t often get a chance to just sit and read so this is the perfect opportunity for me. Many resorts also have book swapping libraries so when you’ve finished yours you can swap it for something else.
• Travel Games – These are a must when travelling with children to keep the boredom at bay.
• Guide Books/Maps/Language Guides – Use your time on the plane to plan your activities, brush up on your language skills or checkout the tourist hot spots.
• Money Belt.
• Luggage Locks.
Before You Go…
As Santa said, I’m making a list and checking it twice. This is a great idea to ensure you have everything you need before you leave the house. Its also a smart idea to keep a copy of the list in your luggage so you don’t leave anything behind when you pack to come home.