I’ve been packing and preparing for my next trip to Nepal, so thought I’d talk about packing for a trip. Here’s my guidelines…
It’s time for your big overseas trip, but what to take???
First thing I do is look at where I’m going and decide on what I’ll take to wear. Is it going to be all the same temp, or mixed. How long am I going for? Can I purchase things easily where I’m going? If I don’t know the answers, I jump online and google it.
I have my backpack stored away, and keep in it a few things that only come on trips with me, like my Indian Kurtas and Salwars if I’m travelling to the subcontinent (traditional Indian clothing), sleep sheet, travel items such as multi adaptor plug, washing clothesline.
Then I get out my Master packing list and start to make a pile of things such as – toiletries bag, underwear, first aid kit, camera, camera case, extra memory cards and camera battery, swiss army knife and travel alarm clock, torch, spare batteries, washing clothes line, universal sink plug, adaptor plug, ear plugs, travel umbrella, travel clothes wash (a small bottle of handwashing powder in a travel sized all purpose bottle is ideal).
It’s a few weeks until you go.
It’s the perfect time to start planning what to take and what else you need to prepare.Keep a pen and paper by the bed if you’re like me and tend to wake up in the middle of the night thinking about something else you need to remember to take or organise.Get out the clothes you plan to take. Try them on and ensure they don’t need repairing/stitching. Make sure your shoes are in good nik. Get them repaired/resoled if necessary. You don’t want them falling apart on you while you’re walking through a local market or traipsing through an ancient site. If you plan to buy a new pair of shoes for the trip, ensure you do it early enough so that you get plenty of wearing in time before you leave. Make a list and update it as and when you think of new things and start finding/buying what you need. Regularly rewrite the list to refresh it as you add things and take others off.
Now comes time to work out specifics.
Clothes – take out half of what you’ve put aside. You have packed too much.
At most you’ll probably only need:
- 2 x Bottoms
- 3 x Tops
- 1 set Thermals (if you’re going somewhere that might be cold)
- 1 set Swimwear (unless you’re going on a beach/resort holiday, then pack a few – they’re only small)
- 1 x walking Shoes
- 1 x shoes that can be worn out with your evening wear and double as day time wear too.
- 1 x shower flipflops (the lightest pair you can find)
- 1 x set Evening wear – ideally a non-crushable light dress or shirt that packs away to nothing. It’s amazing how a scarf or throw can dress up an ordinary top.
- 1x Rainwear – jacket or even a plastic disposable raincoat1x warm jacket if required
- 2 x shawls/throws/scarfs – can double as warmth/modesty/evening wear. A couple of well chosen colours (I take cream and black), will go with just about everything.
Remember most things can probably be purchased where you’re going if you’ve forgotten anything, however I’m a fan of the travel bottles which have lids that don’t leak/break and leave you with hair shampoo oozed throughout your luggage. You can buy different sizes depending on the length of time you’re away. Only fill up the size that will cover you for the time you’re gone.That way you’ll have less space taken up and less weight. All important to allow for more room for the SHOPPING!
Do you need your laptop? Ipad? No doubt there’ll be at least a camera, and perhaps your phone.You’ll need converter plugs, backup batteries, spare data cards and of course, make sure you don’t forget to bring the charger leads. As I travel with at least 3 electronic items, I also carry a 3 or 4 plug power board, so then you can plug all your items in for using/charging while only using one adaptor plug, and only needing one power socket in the room.
Bringing your phone with you and plan to get a local Sim card? You might require passport photos in some countries to obtain a local phone connection. And don’t forget to ensure that your phone is UNLOCKED, otherwise a local Simcard will be useless.
- Airline Tickets
- Visa’s if any
- Travel Insurance
- ATM/Credit Cards/Money Cards
- Foreign currency
You won’t be going far without most of these, and a really good idea to ensure you’ve always got access to all your information on the road if something should happen to your luggage, or wherever you’ve stored the documents – scan everything and send an email to yourself at a webmail account (such as hotmail or yahoo). I also get extra photocopies of my passport/visa and keep them stashed in various places in my suitcase/backpack, in my laptop bag and in my day satchel. (And don’t forget to leave a copy with someone at home).
First Aid/Medicine Kit
Take basics like plasters/bandages/saline solution and a good antiseptic like Betadine lotion. I also take some Tea tree oil and some Tiger Balm. With these basics, you’ll be able to look after just about all minor cuts, scrapes and bites.
If you take a prescription medicine, ensure you take a copy of your prescription with you. It’s worth knowing that in many asian countries you can get most prescription medicines over the counter, however their effectiveness can be suspect. There are also some medicines that won’t be available. Take any vitamins and heat-desensitised probiotics if you wish.
- Books – travel guides and reading books
- Maps of where you’re going
- Writing paper
- List of addresses of friends/family back home if you like to send postcards.
- Photos of your family/friend/home/pets – a great tool to use to be able to communicate and share with locals you meet. Helps them to understand a little bit about your world as you come into and meet theirs.
THE MOST IMPORTANT LIST
What to leave behind
All the extra clothes you’re tempted to take ‘just in case’. You can buy it there. And in many countries it’ll be cheaper than at home, and you’ll be able to pick up local type clothing which will help you fit in and feel more part of it. This is especially true of somewhere like India where dressing in the local traditional clothing can help you feel less conspicuous and more comfortably accepted.
Heaps of foreign currency. Don’t be tempted to change up loads of cash before you leave home. You’ll get a far worse exchange rate.If you like travelling with a good stash of cash, leave it in your own currency, or change it to USD or EURO. A small amount of local currency in smallish denominations is handy for when you first arrive in a new country (for things like airport transfers/ a bottle of water at the airport/ tips, but you’ll rarely need more than the equivalent of $50. You can usually change money at your destination airport for a far better rate, and there may even be ATM’s at the airport on arrival.
A suitcase full of snack bars and food. Take a few for when you’re caught out without having managed to get a meal, but seriously, why are you travelling? One of the greatest pleasures in travelling to foreign locales is to try the local food. And don’t be scared about eating at road-side eateries if you’re after a quick snack. If the place is well frequented by locals and has a good turnover of food happening, you can be pretty sure that you’ll not get a dose of anything. (Of course if you have allergies or health issues and you need that stuff from home, bring it, but don’t if it’s just because you’re scared of the food. I meet plenty of people who say that they’re not sure about travelling to India cause they don’t like spicy food. You’d be amazing at how much of the food is not spicy. And the plethora of fresh fruits, and dried fruits and nuts available means that you can always grab a healthy, spice free snack.)
This is really just a start, but you’ll find that with a little bit of preparation and planning (most importantly, writing down a to do/to buy/to organise list) will help to ensure that you have packed smartly, correctly and efficiently and will allow you to sit back and enjoy the lead up to your big trip.