Travel is fun and for this article on what to pack, I am introducing you to a prolific traveller called PaDi – you can find out more about PaDi in the following story YELLOW DUCK DIARIES – International Icebreaker
I am not sure if PaDi could give us much advice on what to pack. From the above photo, it looks as if PaDi has the following motto: “I haven’t worn these since I bought them. I should definitely pack them for my 3-day vacation. Just in case.”
When looking for advice on what to pack, some people will tell you that you should lay out all your clothes you intend taking and all the money you intend to take, then simply pack half of the clothes and take twice the money. In the ideal world, I could tell you to book the ticket and take only your credit card with you, but we do not live in the ideal world. I will try to get as practical as possible in this article.
Checked-in is defined as Suitcases and bags that are too big to be carry-on luggage.
Never overpack your luggage, leave space for things you may buy and other souvenirs you gather along the way. Pretend you are packing into a smaller suitcase as this will ensure you don’t overpack.
Your choice of luggage should also suit your type of travel. Holdalls are light and because they are flexible you will be able to pack in the most, but moving around with a fully packed holdall can be challenging. Backpacks are great if you are going to be doing a lot of walking to your accommodation or if you plan on doing a bit of hiking and you need to be very mobile.
Unless you plan on using taxi’s or you will use the hotel shuttle you may need to walk a block or sometimes a few kilometres to your booked accommodation. It was during these walks between stations and hotels that I discovered the reason why some suitcases cost more than $500 and others are simply cheap. Expensive suitcases have decent wheels with ball bearings which move along smoothly, whilst the cheaper alternatives tend to fight you every step of the way. You don’t need to take my word for it, but the cobblestones in Europe may convince you to think about what I have experienced.
Some travellers try to pack so light that all they take is carry-on luggage, they pack the minimum and they never need to wait for luggage.
For most of us, we will have our checked-in luggage and carry-on luggage. As I need to travel with my laptop most of the time, I got the smallest lightest laptop possible.
In my laptop backpack, I always pack the following items:
- Laptop and cables, together with adaptor plugs
- Powerbank and USB charging cables for my phone
- Notebook, pens and pencils
- Sunglasses (in a crushproof container)
- A pair of gloves, beanie and a neck gaiter
- A lightweight raincoat with hood
- Lightweight down jacket
- Cable ties of varying sizes
- A rain cover for my backpack
- Hand sanitizer and tissues
- Basic medication – e.g. headache tablets and plasters
- Snacks and sweets
- Water (which I buy at the duty-free after going through security, where possible)
Let’s look at specific items that you will need for your travels:
Shoes and Boots
Shoes take up a big portion of your luggage so deciding what to take should be carefully planned. In the warmer months, I travel in slip-on shoes (this makes the security checks easier) that are also good walking shoes, and I will generally take a pair of smart shoes to wear on smarter occasions. For longer trips, I will also pack a pair of training shoes so that I have an alternative should my other shoes get wet. Shoes getting wet is often a big challenge so you may want to consider opting for shoes that are waterproof.
In the colder months, I wear Chelsea boots which can often also double up as smart shoes. When choosing your boots make sure they have a good grip so that you don’t slip when things get wet. I have found these boots great for air travel as they are easy to get on and off when going through security at the airport. You can wear thick socks when it is cold and I have even worn my Chelsea Boots in the snow.
If you will be doing a lot of walking you may want to consider hiking boots or walking shoes, there are many options to choose from and they don’t need to weigh a lot either. When going to the places that have a lot of snow you will probably want a good pair of snow boots, that not only keep the snow out but will also keep your feet dry and warm.
Shorts are great for really hot places, but I have found that jeans and cotton pants are the best for travel, as long as they are comfortable with somewhere to keep your wallet safe. When things get colder then consider lined pants and athletic or thermal tights which will usually fit under your normal pants.
My personal preference is to wear a technical t-shirt as a base layer unless a thermal base layer is required, with a normal cotton shirt over that. This way I always feel smart enough when we stop at a restaurant or some other place where some kind of dress code is required.
Layering is important when you travel, it will be freezing outside and as soon as you go indoors the heating will be turned up to 20 degrees more than outside. Choosing the correct layering method will always be a challenge.
A lightweight fleece or jersey is usually a good mid layer.
Windproof or water-resistant should be your first consideration, then how warm do you need the jacket to be? Waterproof is a tradeoff between breathability and water resistance, the more water resistant the less breathable something becomes. There are many different waterproof technologies out there, but a trusted name is Gortex. You will never find one jacket that does everything so you may need to have different jackets for different activities.
Ski-jackets which are usually designed for layering are quite versatile in the cold and will also keep you reasonably dry in the rain and snow.
The lightweight down jacket (pictured above) that I carry in my backpack is great when things get a little colder than expected in winter and occasionally in summer. The bonus is that it packs so small that it is a great everyday jacket and a backup in case of emergency.
Keeping warm is vital, scarves do the job well. Alternatives to this are the neck gaiter or Buff, which is made from a range of materials from microfiber to polar fleece. The original Buff is good for hot and cold conditions, has numerous uses including a face mask, headband, bandana and beanie.
I always carry gloves, with gloves you can also layer – starting with a pair of liners (get a black pair and they will also double as smart looking gloves) and then putting the heavier gloves for colder conditions over them. If you are going to be in the snow or rain, then getting a pair of water-resistant gloves made from Gortex would be a good investment.
Keeping the sun off your head and keeping the heat in is a challenge. Buy a hat that fits well and that keeps the sun away. Check the UV rating as you can still get sunburnt through the material.
When it comes to staying warm the best is a beanie and I have many from thin ones for cool evenings to polar fleece beanies. When it is really cold I will wear a thin beanie and a polar fleece beanie to ensure my head stays warm.
Keeping dry is important, getting soaked can really put a damper on your holiday spirit. Having a good raincoat with a hood and a pair of waterproof pants that you can quickly slip on will make all the difference. These lightweight items which easily fit in your backpack also come in handy as an additional layer when temperatures suddenly drop.
Many travellers have a neck pillow, I have a small duck down travel pillow that has its own stuff bag that fits into my backpack quite easily. This then also doubles up as my main pillow during hotel stays.
An exhaustive list of things would be impossible, but here are some things you may want to consider: washing powder, pegs, plastic bags and other types of bags that will help you find things easily or separate your clean items from the dirty ones.
Whatever you decide to take with you on your travels, make sure you have worn them and washed them recently. Some clothes things work and others seem to be more of an irritation, so only pack the things that work for you and leave the items you may not use at home.
Enjoy packing in the meantime, I look forward to having you join me for the next article when I look at the subject of Travel Photography.
Whether you are travelling for business or pleasure this series of posts will give you the necessary guidelines and assist you in finding the easiest and most cost-effective way of booking and planning your itinerary.
- Part One – Air Travel
- Part Two – Transport and Logistics
- Part Three – Accommodation
- Part Four – Food and Eating Out
- Part Five – Drinks and Snacks
- Part Six – Things to Do
- Part Seven – What to pack
- Part Eight – Photography
- Part Nine – Essential Travel Tips
Please follow my Blog and you will be updated when the other parts in this series are published. Feel free to send me comments and or any suggestions of topics you would like me to cover in future travel related articles.