I suspect that there is little in this world more subject to personal preferences than what gets packed for an overseas or extended trip. Our individual sense of ‘priority’ is as precisely different as we are.
About now, I suspect a whole bunch of my friends are rolling their eyes as our all-too-infrequent weekends away together, highlight our contrasting packing styles. Me with my small, light, carry-on-style suitcase….and their steamer trunks!
Anyway, here are my top ten bare necessities…
Note how I emphasize the word ‘camera’, not mobile phone. If I can avoid it, I never travel internationally with a phone. I am not that important that I need to be in constant connection with anyone and the mobile phone I do have is steam-powered! Say no more.
Instead my compact Canon SX720HS is at the ready at all times.
Just so you don’t think I am a complete antique and anti-social individual, I always travel with my simple 8” Asus tablet. It is pretty much bombproof (although to date I haven’t tried to blow it up) and is perfect for emails, internet access, and reading e-books. I do prefer reading physical books, but 17 of them won’t fit in my backpack!
- Travel Journal
I NEVER set out on any extended journeys without a travel journal. I select just the ‘right’ one before I leave home, give it a nice title page, stick in a calendar, and perhaps a map of where I will be traveling. I record all my travel expenses, glue in receipts, tickets, and pictures and write in roughly the same format everyday:
- Distance Travelled
Yes, perhaps I am a little too organised and should relax a little, but I love sitting at the end of each day and letting the words pour out. I record the good, bad and ugly of all that I have seen and it helps me remember the minutiae that makes a day interesting. It is amazing how often I refer back to the journal post-trip to check a detail or share a hotel recommendation.
- Lip Balm
Pack multiple lip balms to weather the climate as you travel. One in the satchel to cope with the moisture-zapping air conditioning on the airplane, one in the hip belt of my backpack if I am out walking, and one in the bathroom bag to repair at the end of the day.
Too much? Probably, but they are small and light sticks of pure relief.
- Sleeping Kit
A simple fabric eye mask and some high quality ear plugs can make the difference between a solid sleep and a nightmare.
Recycle the eye masks that you are given on international flights and invest in the best set, or multiple sets, of ear plugs. My tip is to buy the denser, stiffer foam ear plugs, as the soft squishable ones do not seem to dull the noise in the same way. If only I could be one of those people who are able to fall asleep at the drop of a hat or sleep through a force ten hurricane.
- Water Bottle
I am a lousy camel and drink litres of water each day. I take a 750ml water bottle (plus 2 litre Camelbak water bladder if I am walking) and this rarely leaves my side. Make sure it is empty before you go through customs and security at the airport, and then refill on the other side. You will be set for the start of a long plane ride and will save yourself a fortune not buying bottles of water, plus it is much better for the enviroment to refill the same bottle.
- Sun Protection
A hat and sunscreen are always near the top of the packing pile. I go for a broad-brimmed hat, possibly unstylish, but most definitely practical.
Depending on how I travel, I carry a small tube/bottle of sunscreen that is easily accessible and obvious/visible enough to remind me to reapply. You can buy bottles that have carabiner-type hooks and they are perfect for hanging off your pack or satchel.
- Satchel or Cross-Body Bag
Even when I am backpacking, I take a small satchel. I love that it is in front of your body for enhanced security and you can dip in and out of it whenever you want. With a backpack you have to take it off, rummage around until you find what you want and then sling it back on your back or over your shoulder. In the meantime you may have missed the perfect photo opportunity.
This is my one big indulgence. When I am on a walking holiday, my skin really gets a hammering from the elements. I am conscious that it does add extra weight to my luggage, but small bottles of everything, especially all those little hotel bottles of moisturiser (and shampoos and conditioners etc), go a long way.
- Washing Line and Pegs
My final vital packing item is ye olde piece of string and a dozen small plastic pegs. Yes, it looks damn ordinary turning your hotel room into a laundry, but oh so practical. Again, it saves me a fortune in time, not having to track down a laundromat at every turn, and a fortune in cash.
By now you may have twigged that I am quite a daggy (as we say in Australia) or unfashionable traveller. To me travel is about what is around me, not necessarily the way I look. If there is space in my luggage, I will include some make up, perfume and other niceties, but mainly I pack for functionality not style.
What was I saying about personal preferences and each to their own?
What would you not leave home without?