Top Travel Tips for Packing - Part 1
Packing can be a double edged sword can’t it? On one hand it means that your trip away is imminent - it’s exciting! As you think about what to pack, you have to imagine what you’ll be doing on your trip to determine what to take with you. On the other hand, it’s a laborious task of washing, cleaning, ironing, folding and piling up clothes, shoes, toiletries, electrical items and whatever else you feel you can’t live without while you’re on the road, and then you have to fit it all into one case and make sure you haven’t exceeded your airline’s luggage allowance. Well, Roam the Earth is here to help! Here are our top tips for your travel packing!
1) Start writing a list of what you need to pack at least a week before you travel
Do this and you limit the chances of forgetting something important. Have your list somewhere handy so that you can add to it as and when you think of things and especially as you are getting ready in the mornings as this is the time that you will be using most of the things you will need to take with you. What were you wearing when you woke up? What products did you use in the shower? What products or electrical items did you use after your shower? Was your phone connected to a charger when you woke up? At some point, mentally walk through your trip and decide what kind of clothing you will need. Are you going to a beach destination? Will you need a swimsuit or sunscreen? Will you be attending any parties? Will you need black tie or a party dress?
We also tend to overpack! Brits in particular are often accused of taking the kitchen sink! Making a list well in advance of your trip will give you time not to panic pack. On some days you may even realise that you don’t really need three pairs of high heels for your trek through the rainforest or even five pairs of trainers!
Speaking of heels…. flip-flops are a genius invention. If you buy sensibly, they are comfortable, they are durable, they are versatile, they go with any outfit and more importantly, they hardly take up any space in your suitcase or backpack and they are ultra-lightweight. Girls, if you shop hard enough, you can always find stylish and embellished flip-flops that will go with your evening wear! If you’re not keen on flip-flops as evening wear, opt for a pretty pair of flat sandals that will pack just as well.
3) If there are two of you travelling, split your packing between your luggage
I am very fortunate and can honestly say (touch wood) that I have never had my luggage lost by an airline. However, not every traveller is as lucky! In 2014, 24.1 million bags were mishandled according to SITA; 7.3 out of 1000 passengers lost their luggage. If your plane has 200 people on it, it is statistically likely that at least one passenger’s bag will not make the conveyor belt. That one person could be you! So, if there are two of you travelling and you have two bags between you, split your packing. That way if one of your bags doesn’t make it to your destination, you will both have some clothes until the airline finds your missing bag.
4) Spread your cash
I would not recommend that you put any of your hard earned cash into your hold luggage for the very reason I have mentioned above. In the past there have also been a number of reports of passengers being reunited with their luggage only to find that items of value have been misplaced. But, if you do carry a lot of cash and foreign currency with you when you travel, don’t store it all in one place. Put some in your purse or wallet, some in your carry on bag, some in your pocket; be creative. That way, if you lose one stash, you won’t be completely out of pocket! Some travellers have suggested hiding some cash under the insert of your shoe, or sewing an extra hidden pocket into your trousers.
5) Waterproof your luggage
I got caught out earlier this year when my suitcase was soaked by a leaky air-conditioning unit on a coach in Canada leaving half of my clothes wet through. If you are on a budget or simply don’t have the time to go out and buy waterproof bags or vacuum pack bags, there are other solutions you can try. Pack your belongings into large zip lock bags; not only will this keep your clothes dry but it will help to organise your packing too. Dry cleaning clothes bags are also useful if you have them. Failing that, pack everything into a large bin liner inside your case or bag which will cost you next to nothing and may save you a laundry cost when you get to your destination.
6) Pack a sarong or a long scarf
This is probably more of a tip for the ladies among us, although gentlemen, if you are partial to a sarong, this will be relevant to you too! A sarong is an incredibly versatile piece of clothing and may help you in a few sticky situations. It can be used as a skirt or beach cover of course, but how about a room divider if you need to change in a public place. If you are staying in a dorm room it can be a useful tool for some privacy should you need it. Your shoulders are burning? Hang your sarong around your shoulders to protect them. You want to visit a place of worship but you are wearing inappropriate clothing? A sarong should fix that! An unexpected dip in the sea? A sarong could be your makeshift towel. You picked up some souvenirs at a little market you happened across? Turn your sarong into a bag! There are many more uses for a sarong which is also lightweight and won’t take up a lot of room. What uses can you come up with?
7) Use tumble dryer sheets between your clothes
Do you ever spend hours washing and drying your clothes before your trip to find that they smell a little stale after travelling? Tumble dryer sheets are fantastic for keeping your clothes smelling fresh. If you are backpacking for an extended time and you have limited access to a washing machine, pack a small box of these sheets to use if your clothes need a freshen up!
8) Invest in a microfibre travel towel
Towels are bulky and heavy. If you definitely need to pack one, invest in one of these. They are lightweight and they fold into a compact size. They are super absorbent and fast drying and they often come with their own protective bag should it not be 100% dry when you come to pack it. Microfibre is hypoallergenic, so kind on your skin and many brands come with an antibacterial coating which prevent mould and odours.
9) Dry shampoo and wet wipes
When I travelled around New Zealand, I spent a day hiking around Franz Josef and up to the mouth of the famous glacier in the heat of the New Zealand summer. When I returned to my hostel, I went to the shower room only to find that Franz Josef had literally run out of water due to an unusally long dry spell for the area. That was possibly the most uncomfortable night of my life. I was hot, sweaty, sticky, dirty and itchy. I barely slept and I had a 12 hour bus journey the next day. If only I had packed dry shampoo and wet wipes! I could also have done with these items while camping in Tongariro National Park where we had no showers or toilets, just long drops! Never underestimate the fact that you could be caught without running water!
10) Hand sanitiser
This really falls under the same category as the dry shampoo and the wet wipes, except that this is a product that you should carry around with you every day. Several times, I have been caught out in a dirty Beijing restaurant with holes in the floor toilets and no running water. Sometimes, even if there is running water to wash your hands, the sink and the taps are so dirty that you wouldn’t feel clean after washing your hands anyway. Err on the cautious side and use hand sanitiser when you need to.
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