It’s a common horror story: you got to the beach without your towel and had to change with your family forming a human circle around you, or the hairdryer was in the bag you left by the bed and now your usually controlled locks are bursting free. We all have a story about when we forgot to pack that one thing and it ruined the day/week/holiday. Or when we had to lug that massive suitcase from hotel to hotel?
Thankfully, with a smart guide to packing, you probably won’t forget anything, pack the wrong thing or far too many things.
Tip 1. – Make a Couple of Lists
What do you need? What do you want? Put the needs in first, then if there is space, put the wants in.
Our general holiday list includes:
- Toothbrush and toothpaste (small tube*)
- Soap and flannel
- Plasters and alcohol wipes, especially if travelling with kids
- Sanitary products
- Sun cream, deodorant (roll on*), shampoo (small bottle*), insect repellent
- A towel big enough for the beach
- Swimming costume
A spare swimming costume
- 5 pairs of pants and socks
- A couple of shirts
- A couple of T-shirts
- Two pairs of shorts
- Warm jumper or hoodie
- Some comfy trousers
- Flip flops or sandals and a pair of comfy trainers
- A couple of good books or eBook reader
- Charger for phone and other devices
- Painkillers (check the legality in your destination country)
- Photocopies of travel documents
- A foldable bag
- Teddy bear
*there is a limit of 100ml of fluid permissible on flights to most countries.
Those are your needs. That’s probably your entire suitcase sorted out but that’s probably everything you’ll find you need.
Now, how about the wants? These things can improve a holiday no end and could be considered needs, depending on where you’re going.
Here’s a small selection to get you thinking:
- Hair dryer
- MP3 player
- Noise cancelling headphones
- IPad or laptop
- Memory card
- First aid kit (should be a need really)
- Hand sanitizer
- Water bottle
- Water treatment sachets
- The kitchen sink
The list goes on, it is very easy to add to. You know where you’re heading, so you make the decision as to what you need to pack and what you want.
Tip 2. – What Not to Take
There’s a long list of things you can get at your destination cheaply or simply have them provided. If you’re headed into the Okavango Delta to look for rare species of orchid, you’ll probably have to pack everything, but if you’re going to a hotel in Britain or a friend’s, what’s the point in lugging something you don’t need half way around the world?
The key question when it comes to valuables is this: could you bear to lose it or have it stolen?
- Towels – hotels provide them, they’re also cheap
- Hair dryers and straighteners
- Expensive or sentimentally valuable things
- Books – take an ereader
- Fluids over 100ml
- Drugs (obviously)
- Medication without a written prescription
- Explosives (that includes party poppers)
- Cigarette lighters or matches
If in doubt, check the airline’s rules.
Tip 3. – Pack, Pack, Repack
Pack it once, pack it twice, pack it three times. Each time pruning out what you don’t think you need. By the third pass you should be well on your way to having a suitcase or bag with the right stuff in it.
Tip 4 – Be Brutal
If you don’t quite think you’ll need it, or you don’t like it and don’t want to wear it, don’t pack it! You can buy a nice shirt where you go, do you need comical bunny ears? If you think you can get it there, leave it out.
Tip 5 – Roll Socks and Fold Shirts
Fold shirts, trousers, shorts and jumpers, lay them flat, then pack the rolled-up socks in the corners. Toiletries, books and other small things find a place at this point. Take your belt, wrap it round the edge of the clothes, stick a plastic bag on top and add your shoes. Sit on the suitcase and try get it shut. If it won’t close, go back to Tip 4.
Tip 6 – Bag it Up
Toiletries go in a sealable plastic bag, always.
Tip 7 – Bury It
If it’s worth a lot of money or has sentimental value, wrap it in some clothes and bury it as deeply as you can in the case. It won’t stop a determined thief but it will deter some.
Tip 8 – Insure it
Get comprehensive travel insurance for you, everybody you’re travelling with and all your stuff. Inventory and photograph your valuables before you go and if they do get stolen, report it to the police so you can claim.