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Top 10 Things to Pack for Your Next Holiday

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Top 10 Things to Pack for Your Next Holiday

How to Make the Most of Limited Space and to Pack Sensibly for Your Trip!

Most of us tend to carry a lot more stuff than we need when we go on holidays. Ever noticed how quickly the overhead cabin baggage compartments get filled up on a plane? Or how some people who visit a campsite seem to have half the contents of their house crammed into their vehicle?

Travelling is all about freedom, so bringing less makes sense. The first rule of travel is to pack light, and the second is to make a checklist and tick items off as you pack them. That way, you won’t end up in Ecuador without your malaria tablets or in Sweden during winter without your thermals.

Put a padlock on all checked-in baggage, and use luggage tags; many a traveller have been reunited with their lost luggage because their name and contact details were easy to find.

Baggage weight restrictions are getting tighter all the time, and each airline (or cruise ship, bus, or train) is different. Know how many bags you’re allowed to take and the maximum permissible weight for each. Be aware of restrictions on size/dimensions as well.

Items of value should always be taken with you in your hand luggage. Don’t trust your camera, jewellery, laptop or other expensive goodies to your checked-in luggage – it’s not worth the risk. Put a padlock on all checked-in baggage, and use luggage tags; many a traveller have been reunited with their lost luggage because their name and contact details were easy to find.

Is packing your least favourite activity when it comes to holidays? No problem – here are some handy tips to help you decide on what you might want to pack for your next travelling adventure:

Sensible clothing

If clothing seems to be taking up most of your luggage space, you’re probably packing more than you need. Many holiday-makers take more clothing than necessary because they have concerns about laundry facilities in far-flung parts of the world. But in most cases, this is a non-issue.

If you want to pack light, adhere to the ‘three of each’ rule: pack no more than three sets of any one type of clothing item. For smaller items like socks and underwear, you can stretch this to five if you must, but there’s really no need to be carting seven skirts, five pairs of trousers or nine different t-shirts around in your luggage. With 3 shirts, for example, you can wear one, wash the second and have the third drying, ready for action.

Lightweight, quick-drying clothing packs down smaller as opposed to heavier items like cotton jeans, flannel shirts and big beach towels. A microfibre towel takes up about a quarter of the space of a conventional cotton towel, and will dry at least twice as fast.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should always be taking three of everything – you can certainly get by with one warm, long-sleeved shirt, a single rain jacket and one or two pairs of shorts (or skirts) in many parts of the world. And of course, one of the fun things about travelling is buying clothing overseas.

It’s simpler to take an extra $200-300 dollars with you for spur-of-the-moment clothing purchases, rather than cram your suitcase with excessive clothing.

Lightweight, quick-drying clothing packs down smaller as opposed to heavier items like cotton jeans, flannel shirts and big beach towels. A microfibre towel takes up about a quarter of the space of a conventional cotton towel, and will dry at least twice as fast.

Merino wool is a wonderful fabric for colder climates – it gives great warmth for weight and is naturally antimicrobial: you can wear it for days without offending your companions. Artificial fabrics like nylon, however, will need more frequent washing to be ‘socially acceptable’.

If you’re heading to a tropical beach destination, a sarong can be incredibly useful – it’s lightweight, cheap, versatile and a cinch to wash. Sarongs are ideal for adding the necessary level of modesty when you’re heading from your hotel to the beach for a swim – and they can even double as a towel.

For most holidays, two or three pairs of shoes are plenty. Take a dressier ‘going out’ pair, some sensible and supportive walking shoes and perhaps a pair of comfortable sandals. If you have concerns about the cleanliness of hotel shower stalls, pack flip-flops/thongs too. Shoes are hard to pack and take up a lot of room, so go minimalist with your holiday footwear.

Everyone seems to have their own ideas about the best way to pack clothing into a bag: some people fold, some people roll and others do a fold and then a roll. Either way, one of the best ways to cut down on space in your luggage is by using vacuum storage bags that let you remove all the air.

If you pack all your socks in one place, all your shirts in another, etc., you’ll not only find it easier to locate things, but you’ll also know when you’re about to run out of clean clothing and need to get some washing done immediately. And speaking of washing, don’t forget to pack one of those handy travelling clotheslines that don’t need pegs as they’re twisty and flexible – they’re great for ‘emergency washes’ in hotel bathrooms.

Personal prescriptions and medicines

Make sure you’ve packed whatever personal medications you need for the duration of your journey. A basic first aid kit won’t go astray either, especially if you’re travelling to less civilised places on your travels.

It pays to see a travel doctor before you go overseas. They can advise you on any special medications or vaccinations you might need and give useful advice on things like insect protection, food and water safety and specific health hazards in the countries you’re visiting.

It pays to see a travel doctor before you go overseas. They can advise you on any special medications or vaccinations you might need and give useful advice on things like insect protection, food and water safety and specific health hazards in the countries you’re visiting. Stomach upsets (both minor and serious) often affect travellers at some point, so you should have some medication to deal with this.

Your doctor can give you a formal letter that lists the medications you require a script for; this can make life easier at border crossings. The last thing you need is to get into trouble because you’re carrying prescription medication but have no written evidence that it’s prescribed for you. Some countries can be pedantic about this, so don’t take the chance – if your medication doesn’t have a label, bring a letter from a doctor.

Electric plug adapters

These days, we travel with more digital devices than ever, and they all need recharging. If you’re heading overseas, make sure you’ve got the right adapter for the electrical outlets in your destination countries.

Keep in mind that in some countries, more than one adapter type might be necessary, so you might have to bring one of each to be covered.

Resealable plastic bags

Clear zip-lock bags are a traveller’s best friend. You can find a range of sizes at any supermarket, and use them in your luggage to help keep smaller packed items clean and dry.

Clear zip-lock bags are a traveller’s best friend. You can find a range of sizes at any supermarket, and use them in your luggage to help keep smaller packed items clean and dry.

Any spillages (toothpaste, cologne, etc.) also tend to stay contained within the bag so they don’t contaminate the rest of your belongings. These bags will also come in handy when going through customs as all toiletries need to be placed in clear bags. These will do the trick!

A digital camera with charger and accessories

There are some excellent digital cameras on the market that can take professional-looking stills and video, whatever your level of photographic skill.
If blurry snapshots are a problem for you, try a camera with a built-in image stabiliser. Whenever possible, get as close to your subject as you can instead of relying on the zoom. The best solution to blurry photography is to pack a lightweight, collapsible tripod (some of these are quite compact).

You’ll be amazed at how much better your holiday snaps turn out when you get into the tripod habit. For the ultimate in non-shaky photography, you can even use a remote control to click the shutter without physically touching it.

You’ll be amazed at how much better your holiday snaps turn out when you get into the tripod habit. For the ultimate in non-shaky photography, you can even use a remote control to click the shutter without physically touching it.

Carry your camera in a protective case that has plenty of room to store accessories like batteries, power cords, cables and lens-cleaning tissue. It only takes a tiny bit of dust, grit or moisture to completely ruin a camera, so keep yours out of the elements when not in use.

Most cameras these days can take both stills and video, but the sound quality on typical compact cameras is often pretty average. If you want better sound, invest in a camera that allows for the attachment of a small external microphone – this can really make a difference.

Sun protection

If you’ve ever had serious sunburn, you know how painful and debilitating it can be. Aside from the immediate discomfort that sunburn can cause, there is the long-term danger from skin cancer to think about too.

According to the World Health Organisation, a third of all diagnosed cancers are skin cancer. Over 130,000 melanoma skin cancers (and between 2 and 3 million non-melanoma skin cancers) occur each year globally. Despite constant publicity campaigns to get people to embrace sun protection, skin cancer has actually increased in the past few decades. 1

Staying sun-safe isn’t that hard – it’s just a matter of adopting good habits. Wear sunglasses. Wear a broad-brimmed hat: a baseball cap does nothing to protect your neck or the vulnerable tops of your ears. Use quality sunscreen liberally, and re-apply it when needed – if you’re sweating a lot or swimming. Areas like your nose, cheeks, lips and even the backs of your hands are well served with an application of zinc cream for extra protection. And whatever you do, don’t forget about the tops of your feet.

Hand sanitiser and towelette wipes

Moist towelettes (wipes) aren’t merely for tidying the chins of messy babies – they’re perfect for freshening up when you’re on the move as well. A quick cleanse of the hands, face and neck and you’re ready for another dusty, 6-hour bus ride through the Namibian desert.

There are all sorts of ways to catch nasty germs when you travel, and one of the easiest is by not washing your hands enough. Good old soap and water is the way to go, but sometimes you may not have that option.

A small bottle of hand sanitiser can be just the thing, especially if you’re about to have a meal or you have doubts about something you’ve just touched in a public place. Hand sanitiser is not a substitute for soap and water, but it can provide some peace of mind in destinations and situations where hygiene conditions are suspect.

Moist towelettes (wipes) aren’t merely for tidying the chins of messy babies – they’re perfect for freshening up when you’re on the move as well. A quick cleanse of the hands, face and neck and you’re ready for another dusty, 6-hour bus ride through the Namibian desert.

An e-book reader

Travel isn’t all hustle and bustle; sometimes you have to cool your heels in a hotel room, at a train station or on a long flight. That’s when you really appreciate the value of a Kindle or other type of e-reader.

The old days of carting 5 paperbacks with you on long journeys are gone forever – now you can load as many eBooks onto your device as you think you’ll read, charge it up and have heaps of reading pleasure until the battery needs recharging.

The convenience is undeniable, the weight is negligible and the privacy is satisfying – there’s nobody checking out your book cover while you’re reading.

Travel Insurance

A range of interesting experiences can occur when you travel. You can lose your luggage, get seriously ill, need medical evacuation, get robbed in the street or see your whole trip cancelled for any number of reasons.

With travel insurance, you have some protection against these kinds of calamities. Without it, you can end up having to pay large sums of money out of your own pocket to deal with the unexpected. Travel insurance isn’t just a ‘nice-to-have’ – it’s an ‘absolute essential’. Look for the insurance that best meets your needs and read the fine print – know exactly what’s covered and what isn’t.

Patience and a sense of humour

These are the two most vital things to bring along on any holiday: as long as you’ve got these, what’s in your luggage doesn’t matter so much.

Still need help deciding what to take on your next holiday? Check out our handy what-to-pack page now!

[1] http://www.who.int/uv/faq/skincancer/en/index1.html