One of the biggest stresses of preparing to go travel is not the visas, the tickets, the money or the itinerary. No, the biggest stress of travel preparation is the packing.
Whether you’re going away for a romantic city break for the weekend, or a 6 month long around the world trip, there are a lot of different elements to consider. What’s the weather going to be like? Am I going to be going anywhere remotely sophisticated? What am I going to be doing – hiking, walking, cycling, swimming… lounging by a pool? Is the destination particularly conservative? Am I going to hate every single item in my suitcase or rucksack that is weighing me down to and from hotels, hostels, airports, train stations or ferries? What do I need?!?!?!?! And commence mental breakdown.
When I travelled around the world on a four month trip, I completely overlooked that I would have to consider pretty much any of these elements, threw a bunch of stuff I liked into an overwhelming 80 litre rucksack, and went on my happy way. Happier in the illusion that I had done some preparation for the trip by packing a jazzy rain mac. Oh, I was so prepared. And so naive.
In fairness, it was a hard trip to pack for. From the 40 degree heat in Rome, to the rain in Dublin, then on to the freezing climes of the Norwegian fjords, the humidity of Beijing, the freezing camper van nights atop Australian cliff sides, then swiftly back into the scorching heat of Zambia. It was a whirlwind of a journey, but one that I certainly wished I had taken some packing advice on. So, without further ado, here is a comprehensive list of absolute essentials to take with you in a big ol’ trip. *Note – these are only the bare basics… and I wouldn’t recommend taking too much more. The ache of the 18kg+ luggage is just not worth that extra pair of shoes or your FAVOURITE EVER bulky jumper.
A pair of flip flops, some walking type shoes (for me, this was Converse. I’m no hardcore trekker…) and one pair of nice-ish shoes that you could get away with going somewhere classy in. You may think you need more, and you definitely may want to take more, but you will regret it.
Obviously you need to be clothed whilst away. Dependent on where you’re going, it’s always good to take a mix of warm and cold. You’d be surprised at how many people go to a hot country only to be shivering the cooler nights away. So, take a couple of t-shirts, a jumper, a cardigan, a rain jacket (I managed this one, at least), a pair of jeans, underwear, a pair of shorts, a skirt and a dress (gender permitting), swimming attire, one outfit that’s a little bit smarter, one more sporty type outfit if that’s you’re thing. Again, you may think you need more, and it’s always nice to have a selection, BUT… But, but, but, you’re probably going to buy stuff there anyway. Markets are cheap and cheerful and make for great souvenirs.
- Everything else
I cannot describe how much joy a microfibre travel towel has brought me when travelling. Light, compact and dries quickly. Perfect. Aside from that… Toiletries can be bought anywhere in the world, so don’t waste money and space, and potential spills on the way. No one wants a bag full of shampoo. And what else? Sunglasses, a little rucksack, a good book (or two), travel adapters and – the real secret of all travel – Germolene. Germolene is magical, and has saved me from days of pain and possible infections from various burns, bites, scratches and general wounds. Oh, and vaccuum packed bags. Shrinking your luggage down in a matter of seconds, a lifesaver if you’re taking anything like sleeping bags!
And that’s it. Always remember less is more, and don’t forget that it’s often not only your home country that sells that product you love or that style of clothing you wear.