The Ultimate Guide to Travel Packing

by Julia on February 8, 2010

Travel light next vacation!

You don’t need to cart all of your worldly possessions around the world on your next adventure vacation! Pack smart with our handy guide to what to take with you, and more importantly, what to leave behind!

Choose your gear wisely
Deciding on the right bag for your travels is so important. Make sure you consider how long you are going for and just how much stuff you will take with you. The traditional suitcase on wheels probably isn’t a very practical idea for serious travelers; they’re great on their wheels inside the airport terminal but pretty lame on those bumpy tracks. You’ll also need to be able to lift your luggage so again a backpack is probably a better option. Make sure you choose the right backpack for your journey with our tips and advice and don’t forget to check baggage allowances with your airlines. You will also need to think about what other gear to take; footwear, jackets, poles etc.

What not to pack
Start planning your travel packing ASAP, be it a comprehensive list, spreadsheet etc and also do a couple of practice packs, which will help you thin out your packing pile. Some items to definitely ditch include;

- Designer and expensive clothing which could get ruined or worse, stolen
- Ditto for valuable jewelry and trinkets
- Hairdryers and hair straighteners; get a low maintenance hair cut before you travel and save time in the mornings
- Same goes for the make-up ladies, don’t cart half of the make-up and perfume counter with you when you travel
- Clothes in unusual colors/patterns; plan a capsule wardrobe so that clothes can be combined to make several different outfits
- Travel iron; roll your clothes to minimize creasing, rent an iron at your destination or opt for the fashionable unkempt look!
- Electrical items; check you’ve got power where you’re heading to otherwise your latest gadgets aren’t going to work!

What to pack
Consider what you’ll need for where you’re going. Buy travel miniatures of items, like toiletries and stock up on the refillable plastic travel bottles to fill with your own products. Do also remember that most things can be bought where you’re heading to such as clothes, toiletries, food etc. As long as you have any prescribed medication and your credit card then you’re sorted! Some handy basics to pack;

- Toothbrush, toothpaste
- Shampoo
- Deodorant
- Tweezers (make sure these are not in your hand luggage though)
- Prescription medication for the duration of your journey
- Liquid soap, wash yourself and your clothes on the go
- Towel/wrap, which will come in handy as a blanket, sarong, pillow, wrap, headscarf, the list is endless!
- Toilet roll/tissues
- Sun protection and after sun
- Vaseline
- Hairbrush/comb
- Ladies, remember to pack your tampons as these can be difficult to get hold of in some countries
- Anti bacterial spray/wipes
- Disposable wipes, so handy and a great all-rounder

One essential to pack is a capsule holiday first aid kit which could prove invaluable.  Most of items will not be allowed in your hand luggage but make sure you pack;

- Basics such as plasters, antiseptic wipes, safety pins etc
- Indigestion and diarrhea remedies
- Dehydration sachets
- Painkillers
- Prescription medicines
- Contraceptives
- Water purification tablets
- Insect repellants and after bite
- Eye wash

What to wear
Travel light and you’ll save on aircraft excess baggage fees. And check the weather before you head off so you can be prepared. Pack some travel clothes wash and you can reduce the number of socks, underwear and t-shirts you take.

Pack a capsule bag with clothing that will mix and match to create outfits. A great color-combo is white, black and a color. Take clothing that can be layered up and take items that can be reversed or worn in different ways, such as wraps. Don’t forget to think about footwear too, flip flops can be worn anywhere and are very light.

If you’ll be visiting temples and other religious buildings don’t forget long trousers and a long sleeved top. This is also handy if you catch too much sun. Consider if your destination is smart, casual or business and pack accordingly. A set of smarter clothes is a good idea anyway as is packing your trekking gear if you’re planning a spot of trekking or hiking on your holiday.

Don’t forget though that clothes can be bought at your destination, often very cheaply and you’ll look less like a tourist!

Stay safe on your travels
Just because you’re off on holiday and letting your hair down, keep common sense about you and don’t make yourself vulnerable to thieves and scammers. Follow some basic safety advice and get home safely.

Do not leave home without…
So now you’re all packed and ready to head off. But make sure you don’t get stranded at the airport by having the right paperwork and documents;

- Passport; you’re not going anywhere without it! Many countries require it to be valid for six months upon your return but do check individual countries requirements.
- Tickets
- Visas; check if you need to get any visas in advance or on arrival
- Travel insurance documents or printed copies with emergency numbers
- Money; cash, traveler’s checks and debit and credit cards
- Driving license
- Emergency contacts, phone numbers and addresses

Ready, set, go!
Do your final pack, rolling clothes up rather than folding, to reduce the creases. Make sure that valuables are well hidden and protected. Ensure the weight is evenly distributed in your backpack and it’s comfortable to carry. Now you’re all set!

Add your travel packing tips and advice in the comments section below.

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