Purpose of travel
Maybe you’re off to the beach for a fortnight’s sunbathing, or you’re going hiking, on an ocean cruise or perhaps even skiing – think carefully about why you are actually going on that journey before you leave. Then you will avoid taking all the stuff you don’t need.
- If you are going on an activity holiday, don’t bother with books or a laptop. Better to put in that extra pair of trainers or hiking boots.
- What about something smart for the evening, just in case? Stop right now! On a posh cruise or in a Michelin-starred restaurant, maybe, but 99% of the time that tuxedo and that evening gown will never leave the suitcase.
The weather forecast is very helpful when packing your suitcase. It’s not always right but in general it gives you a good enough idea of what to expect. If rain is forecast pack an umbrella, not another pair of sandals. If the forecast is cold, take a second sweatshirt instead of another swimsuit.
If the weather forecast is not making much sense, take what is most difficult or most expensive to get hold of when you are there.
Hold vs hand luggage
What you pack depends on how much space you have. If you have a large suitcase and a 30kg weight limit you can easily throw in several pairs of shoes and two or three outfits. But if all you have is a cabin-sized bag (and you do not plan to pay for excess weight), you will have to approach the task very differently.
Write everything down well in advance, go back to the list every few days and cross out what you don’t need. If you start working with the list at least a week before you leave, by the time comes to pack your suitcase you will only be left with what is really necessary.
There are things and there are Things
The contents of your luggage are divided into several categories of differing levels of importance. Without your passport and other essential paperwork, you won’t be flying anywhere. Leaving without essential medication would be dangerous. Comfortable shoes may not be essential, but you will know about it once you arrive if you don’t have any. Ditto if you don’t pack the right clothes – you would have to buy something when you get there and that’s just extra expense. Without your gadgets you can relax, but do you really want to be without your mobile or camera for two weeks?
Here are some suggestions so that you don’t forget anything really important, you won’t be weighed down by unnecessary items but you will avoid that pre-holiday stress.
1. Travel documentation
Have you packed
- Passport (make a copy)
- Bank cards
- Insurance policy
- Hotel reservation
- International driver’s license (if you plan to hire a car)
- Cash (if you are taking a lot, divide it up and pack in different places)
- Essential prescription medication
- Medicine for tummy upsets
- Antiseptic plasters
Never, repeat, never take new shoes on holiday!
- A pair of street shoes (in addition to the ones you wear whilst in transit)
- Indoor shoes
- Flip flops/sandals
- Underwear (take enough for emergencies, but don’t overdo it. Hotels normally have a laundry service and apartments usually have washing machines)
- T-shirts, shirts, dresses – one item for every two days
- Trousers and/or skirts – one item for every 3 to 4 days
- Swimsuit or swimming trunks (if swimming is a real possibility)
5. Cosmetics and personal hygiene items
Just take what you cannot get hold of locally or costs too much locally. The rest can be bought on site or is provided in hotels. But if you do not want to spend money or take risks, here are the essentials:
- Cotton Pads
- Razor and shaving foam
- Phone (charged and with credit)
Apps to the rescue
If you really want to make your life easier, why not download a travel checklist app? Here are a few we thought do a reasonable job:
- Packpoint – generates suggested packing checklists depending on the type of trip you are planning.
- Packr Travel Packing Checklist – helps you choose what to pack depending on the destination you’re planning to visit.
- TripList – helps you decide what to pack based on the kinds of activities you are planning to get involved in while you’re away.
Preparing for the off need not be a difficult undertaking. Arm yourself with patience and one or two tried and trusted master lists, and the night before you leave will be spent contemplating a lovely holiday rather than running around like a crazy thing looking for those vital necessities….