There’s nothing more unsettling than setting off for a trip abroad and having that sinking feeling you’ve forgotten something. Unless maybe you actually forgot something important. To make sure it doesn’t happen on your next getaway, have a squiz at this little packing breakdown for tips and peace of mind.
The crucial things
Tickets, money, passport! Eddie knows what’s up. Don’t forget to triple check before you leave the house. And you should probably check a few months in advance that your passport is valid too. I am going overseas in eight days and as I write this I’m having a mild anxiety attack that perhaps mine isn’t valid. You don’t want this. Some countries require visas even if you’re just passing through the airport, and some are harder to obtain than others. Also something you want to do well in advance. It’s a good idea to register with Smart Traveller and give someone back home a copy of your itinerary before you go – better to be super safe than sorry.
I find it handy to have some money converted before taking off so that when I arrive I can buy food. But it’s also handy to have some on you for a taxi or unforeseen circumstances like a pair of earrings at a shop that only takes cash. Some people swear by pre-loaded travel cards but I have had nothing but heartache from them, so I take a Visa debit card and get money out from the ATM’s over there in chunks. This is ideal so that you’re never carrying too much money on you at once and don’t have to pay conversion fees too many times.
Books and magazines are essential, especially if access to WiFi is uncertain and you’re going to have to learn how to be a human again. Take some of the great wandering classics like Eat, Pray, Love (who are you to judge me?), On the Road, Into the Wild, or my personal favourite: Hell’s Angels. As for magazines, tuck the latest issue of your favourite magazine which is obviously Holidays for Couples into your hand luggage and the flight will… fly by.
How much is too much or not enough? This is something that absolutely stumps me every time I travel and it of course depends on how long you’re going for. I once read that you should lay out everything you’re taking with you and halve it. Be ruthless because you’re more than likely going to be bringing things home with you and want to save as much space as possible. Plus, no one is going to notice or care that you’re an outfit repeater. I find a light scarf a very handy item to take travelling. They're perfect for inclement weather or covering hair that should have been washed two days ago. A $2 rain poncho is also a great item to take because it takes up virtually zero room and may save you if the weather makes a turn for the worse.
My grandma’s advice for packing underwear is that you only really need to take a few pairs because you can wash them in the shower of an evening at the hotel, whereas my best friend recommends taking every single item you own unless you want to start turning them inside out. I am probably a happy medium of these two and always hand wash my clothes when I can. For those staying in luxury accommodation it’s not really a problem because you’re more than likely going to have a laundry service at the hotel, but for some, you might not feel the sweet kiss of machine-washed clothing for a while. Embrace it.
Take it easy on the shoes. I like to go for a general rule of taking around three pairs of shoes that I know can stand the test of time and will be suitable for the kind of activities I plan on doing while I’m away. I think one pair of sneakers or at least a pair of comfortable shoes you could happily spend a good amount of time exploring your new destination in is essential. As for the other two pairs, I always take one pair of sandals and a nice pair of closed-in flats. You may want to also include a pair of pumps if you’re a heels girl – I usually won’t bother but it also depends on where you’re travelling to and what you normally wear.
While a camera needs no introduction, its accessories require noting. Charge it before you go and take the charger with you. Take a spare battery if you have one and take a spare memory card, especially if you’re a bit of a pro and plan on shooting in RAW format. Depending on how serious you want to get, you can take a laptop and hard drive to transfer pictures onto but you will then have to worry about the laptop being damaged/lost/weighing you down. If you’re worried about losing your phone (in my case because it's on a fairly expensive plan) or getting a big bill when you get back (you can avoid this by switching to airplane mode for the duration of the trip) a tablet is handy to take for occasionally connecting to WiFi or putting a local SIM in. Of course you’ll need to charge all of your tech so don’t forget to check what power points are in your destination and bring the right adaptor.
Now that that’s all said and done, it’s a big world out there, go and discover something about it and yourself, and always be kind.
The essential checklist
- visas (if required)
- travel insurance documents
- rough itinerary / hotel information
- clothes (don’t forget pj’s)
- underwear & socks
- a towel
- toothbrush & toothpaste
- mini versions of everything in your bathroom
- make-up remover wipes / wet wipes
- camera & charger
- phone or tablet (if necessary)
- medications (and prescriptions)
Related article: 14 Suitcase Essentials for an Island Honeymoon
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