Travel Packing: The What and the How
You have found the ideal destination, booked your flight and it’s about time you packed your bag. Everything within reach in your room seems absolutely necessary. Wanna know something? It really ISN’T. “To travel is to live”, said once Hans Christian Andersen. But the real essence of this special kind of living lies not in things, but in the memories you create along the way. This is also the rationale, according to which one should pack his/her stuff before departure. A widely disseminated stereotype says that women are the ones facing a real trouble when it comes to picking just the essentials out of their “stuffocating” wardrobes, a term created by the author James Wallman. However, men are also facing problems as far as packing is concerned. Most of them lack organizational skills and tend to forget items which are indispensable for their everyday survival during their vacation. In our attempt to eliminate these well-established notions weighing on people, here we are, trying to give you some useful advice on how (light) you should pack, in order to make the most out of your experience.
Luggage - Your Useful Co-Traveller
An important decision you have to make before you leave home, heading towards your destination, is your luggage. There are several types of luggage, each one fulfilling its own purposes. What you have to do is consider your overall trip. Are you going camping? Or are you staying at a luxurious hotel? Are you planning a road trip or flying by plane? The destination along with the specific nature of your trip and your personal goals will determine to a large extent the type of luggage you are going to opt for. Let us briefly present and discuss some luggage types:
4-Wheels: this kind of luggage enables you to roll your bag by your side while you roam around the streets of your destination. It requires less effort on your part, as the weight is equally distributed in the four wheels and, consequently, you avoid overloading your wrists. However, this bag is usually not adaptable, it takes up much space and it is generally not recommended to campers and road-trippers.
Carry-on: this one is the ideal luggage for those who travel by plane, as it is a hand luggage, which you can carry with you in the aircraft cabin. This alone acts as a time-and-money saver, if you take into account that it gives you the opportunity to skip long queues at the airport and save on check-in fees. It also minimizes the possibilities of your bag getting lost, possibly as a result of the airline’s fault.
Duffel bag: these are usually easily adaptable, versatile bags, which you can carry on your shoulders. Most commonly, they are lightweight, while simultaneously they are spacious and comfortable and they do not create any problems when you have to run in order to catch your train.
Backpack: the ideal luggage for campers and road-trippers. A backpack guarantees ultimate mobility and versatility. If you opt for it, you know beforehand that you will enjoy a hands-free trip with fewer concerns. Another advantage is that its space restricts your mighty will to carry redundant stuff with you on your trip. The only disadvantage I could possibly detect is the fact that you cannot have absolute control of a backpack, which could easily “lure” pilferers in various means of transport or in public spaces.
After choosing your luggage, you have to contemplate about its content. First step? Clothes! The weather conditions of your destination and the expected lifestyle there will determine your clothing choices. However, you have to take into consideration that weather conditions and moods change rapidly. As a result, you should pack smart, choosing clothes that can be easily paired to fit various circumstances. It may sound insane, but three T-shirts and two pairs of trousers will suffice. The key issue is to pick out these pieces that can be adapted to both formal and informal situations. For example, you need not take your jeans, as they are not usually correlated with formal situations and they are often not comfortable. Simple cotton pants and chinos will do the job. They provide comfort and simultaneously make you look more fashionable while you drink your cocktail at a local bar. Another important aspect you should consider is the material of your clothes. You should avoid clothes that wrinkle easily or dry slow. Ideally, the fabric of your clothes should be such that it will guarantee that your washed clothes will dry overnight. A small, but useful, list would look like this:
2 pairs of trousers
A (rain) jacket or a cardigan
3+ pairs of socks
3+ pairs of underwear (made of polypropylene and speed drying)
One cap/gloves/scarf- if you travel during winter
In the vast majority of cases, travelling almost equates with long-distance walking. Comfort, namely, should override style. Most types of shoes are bulky and take up much space in your luggage. Again, you can survive through your vacation with just two pairs of shoes- one on your feet and one packed in your bag. It would be smart to store the lighter and more compact pair of shoes in your bag, while you should wear the bulkier and heavier pair on your feet. A comfortable pair of running shoes will get you through your everyday walks until late evening. If at night you plan to visit a restaurant or a cool bar, you can resort to your stored sandals (if summertime) or to your oxfords (if winter). In general, you should take into account the following:
Shoes like high-heels, big hiking boots, and flip -flops are totally unnecessary when you travel.
Do not wear or pack your brand new shoes; they may either hurt you or they will be quickly blemished.
If you have limited space in your luggage, you can also hang your footwear on the outside of your bag.
Opt for shoes which are appropriate to the climate of your destination.
Now that we have covered all about clothes and shoes, it is high time we discussed a matter of equal importance: the toiletry kit. I would recommend that you buy a toiletry kit which includes a mirror, as it will be more convenient for you on your way or in case you go camping, where mirrors and stuff like these are considered a luxury. Search the market and find little travel size bottles of shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant. Generally, you should include no item greater than 100ml in your toiletry kit for two main reasons: first, they will overburden your luggage and, second, if you plan to travel by plane and use a carry-on luggage, you cannot pack items exceeding the 100ml limitation, according to the regulations in force. As regards your perfume, you can always buy a smaller, maybe plastic, bottle and transfer a satisfactory amount of your perfume from its initial, heavy, breakable bottle into it. Make sure you also create your own, small medical kit and include it in your toiletry stuff. Don’t exaggerate. Get what you need for an emergency, before you head towards the closest pharmacy. Some pain killers, cold/flu pills, and above everything some stomach and diarrhea relievers will be enough. It is often the case that another culture’s eating habits negatively affect our body with unpleasant consequences. You have to be ready to cope with them as soon as possible, in order not to ruin your holidays.
Let us create a list of the toiletry kit essentials:
Make-up products/Make-up remover/Face wash
Travel size shampoo/shower gel
Feminine hygiene products- you can also buy them from local stores
Medicine- painkillers, allergy medicines, personal prescriptions, sting relievers, motion sickness pills, hand sanitizers/wet wipes
When you travel for purposes other than business, I would recommend that you leave your laptop at home. Being on vacation means enjoying every single moment of the new experience. You need not be preoccupied with and absorbed by your routine. Furthermore, your valuable device may either be lost, stolen or destroyed as you maximize its exposure. Stick to your mobile phone; it can offer you everything you need during your stay at a foreign place: you can use maps, search for worthwhile sightseeing spots, exchange messages, make phone calls, take pictures. As far as back-up is concerned, you do not need a device other than your smart phone, as well. You can easily upload your files either to yourself or to a friend, or you can upload them to a file-sending site. Following this mindset, the only device you need except for your smart phone is its battery charger and a power bank, which will guarantee that you will not run out of battery while you are taking a picture of Taj Mahal, let’s say. If you are a professional or amateur, but obsessed, photographer, you can also carry your DSLR with you.
Books are in many cases great friends with globetrotters. They keep them busy during the long hours of traveling in trains, buses, airplanes, etc. But most books are heavy and occupy a great deal of your limited space. You could opt for an E-reader. There is no doubt that you will economize on space and load, but an E-reader is also an electronic device which needs to be taken care of. You also have to charge its battery and pay attention not to lose it. The ideal solution would be to opt for a book of small or medium size. Besides, its feel cannot be compared to the feel a cold, electronic device gives you, and traditionalists cannot help but agree with this belief.
Besides reading a book, when you do not travel on your own, you can take a deck of cards or other travel games with you. In this way, you and your fellow travelers will be kept entertained and the traveling/waiting hours will seem less painful. Through these games, you can also make acquaintances with other travelers and get to know new people, which is one of the most fascinating parts of traveling.
All the above summed up in a list:
Camera - if a potent photographer
A medium-size book/E-reader
Deck of cards/Travel games
What NOT to Forget to Pack
Do not forget to collect all your important travel documents. They are the ones guaranteeing that you will travel without any possible impediments. Everything you need is included in the checklist below:
Personal ID/Student ID card
Cash/Credit cards; keep an extra stash of money, do not collect all your money in the same place
Health insurance documents
Consider emailing yourself copies of the above-mentioned documents, in case they get lost on the way.
Keep a Daypack
Of course, you are not going to carry all you stuff in your everyday walks and explorations. All you need to do is prepare a smaller, ideally shoulder bag with all the necessary items, such as:
Wallet, including money (not all!), credit card, personal documents
A bottle of water
This bag will allow you to roam around your destination without burdening your back. You know you have succeeded in this matter, only if you can pack your day bag in less than 2’, you can lift it unproblematically and you can access its content really quickly while you are on the move, which is also its utmost purpose.
Feel Ready for Your Next Travel?
Following our advice will enable you to pack your stuff quickly and easily, without scratching your head, in your effort to remember what you have forgotten or what you should not forget to include in your bag. Just stick to this tip: do not overpack; pack smart. And always remember: you will be able to buy almost anything you need en route. Leave all the anxieties behind and prepare your next trip (read: How to Plan a Road Trip). Travel well!
Edited by Elena Dimitriadou
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