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Travel packing tips

25 Aug

Picking what to bring on a long overseas trip is probably the hardest part of the whole pre-takeoff travel task list. Knowing the general weather to expect as well as having a basic idea of what items can be easily found and purchased on the road are important.

Travel packing tip #1: The lighter your bag, the happier you’ll be.

Unless you’re going to one place and staying there for a month or more, there is no reason to pack more than a few outfits. Wherever you go, there will always be a place to wash your clothes, and undoubtedly your smile will have a bigger impact on anyone you meet than your outfit will. Don’t let a big bag get you down! Most necessities can be easily purchased anywhere in the world. And if you’re really worried you’ll get sick of your clothes while you’re traveling, bring old clothes that you can trade or give away, then enjoy a fun foreign shopping experience. Traveling with a companion who wears the same size can also effectively double your wardrobe.

Of course, what you pack depends on where you are going, when, and for how long, how you are traveling: are you going first class or roughing it? We’re going to assume here that you’re trying to make every dollar count and will not be coddled by five star luxury and convenience.

So, we’ll start with the basics that you’ll want to have with you regardless of season.

Assuming you are an independent traveler on a budget, there are a handful of very useful things you will want to have with you throughout all of your travels. Some can be scrounged out of your kitchen drawers (or mom’s). Others you will need to buy.

Packing for your trip

Of course, what you pack depends on where you are going, when (meaning what season) and for how long, how you are traveling (and we’re going to assume here that you’re trying to make every dollar count and will not be coddled by five star luxury and convenience).

So, we’ll start with the basics that you’ll want to have with you regardless of season.

Assuming you are an independent traveler on a budget, there are a handful of very useful things you will want to have with you throughout all of your travels. Some can be scrounged out of your kitchen drawers (or mom’s). Others you will need to buy.

Stuff you probably have lying around the house

First Aid Kit:
  • band-aids/plasters
  • antiseptic ointment
  • anti-mosquito spray with DEET
  • after-bite cream
  • muscle and joint pain cream
  • rehydration salts
  • tablets for headaches, nausea, diarrhea and
  • seasickness
Sewing Kit:
  • cube of sponge (for needles)
  • needles
  • safety pins
  • small scissors
  • thread
  • a couple of buttons
  • Toiletries:
    • shampoo and conditioner
    • razors
    • toothbrush
    • toothpaste
    • dental floss
    • deodorant
  • moisturizer
  • sun cream
  • Q-tips
  • hair elastics
  • tampons (can be difficult to find)
  • condoms
  • Travel Packing Tips: Special Mention

    tweezers (very important for eyebrows but also useful in other situations such as retrieving painful splinters)
    nail clippers (PLEASE don’t be one of those disgusting travelers with Shrek feet. It only takes two minutes, once a week… how hard is that?)

    Travel Tip #2 Bring stuff you WON’T be able to find on the road

    money belt (the kind with wire inside the waistband so pickpockets can’t slash it)
    travel towel (the bigger the better, in case you have to run down the hallway in it)
    sleepsack (the silk ones protect against bedbugs, dry fast, and scrunch down to the size of a water bottle)
    nalgene bottles (small bottles of toiletries are impossible to find in many countries, and anyway these won’t make a mess in your bag)
    toiletries bag with hook utterly useful when there is no countertop around for miles
    recycled bags. I’m talking about the soft ones made of recycled plastic that feel like fabric here…¬†you’ll always have stuff that needs its own little bag; you could definitely get by with plastic bags, but not only are these more durable and noise-free (you’ll appreciate this when you have a 5am train to catch!), bright colored ones can help you find what you need more quickly
    electrical adapters (most electrical devices have a built in converter, so you should be fine with the smallest plug adapters you can find)
    inflatable neck pillow the kind fabric kind you inflate with two puffs makes those long bus journeys snoozable
    sink stopper The flat kind is great and works in any sink. Alternatively, get a rubber ball and cut it in half and shove it into the drain.
    clothesline The braided rubber ones are fantastic, tuck your stuff into the braids and even a strong wind won’t take them down.
    head torch You’ll really be glad you have this when you need to make a midnight bathroom run!
    compass Worth its weight in gold, really. Of course, if you’re more high tech, you’ll just opt for a GPS.

    More useful things you may want to consider bringing

    Whether you’re in five star hotels or hostels you will want to have:

    flash drive Makes backing up, easily sharing or accessing your files, on your own machine or at internet cafes a breeze.
    sarong. Probably the single most useful item in your bag, a sarong can be a coverup, a beach blanket, a pillow, a fast-drying towel, a blanket… never underestimate the sarong!
    balloons and postcards balloons for kids, postcards or miniature flags of your home country to give to new friends. It’s also nice to print some cards with your contact details to hand out.
    a deck of cards Games can transcend language barriers and make time pass… especially useful on long bus rides or camping nights.
    duct tape Can be very useful in emergencies, such as a backpack splitting at the seams. For a very small roll, wrap a few layers around a pencil or popsicle stick).
    TIP Pack an extra mini toiletries kit, as well as a change of clothes or at least underwear, in your carryon bag, just in case the airlines lose your luggage. If this hasn’t happened to you yet, consider yourself lucky, and probably due, and trust me, it’s no fun. At least this way you can be reasonably fresh in the meantime.

    Travel packing lists

    So, putting it all together, we have two basic lists:

    winter travel packing list|summer travel packing list

    Resources

    Bundle packing your clothes can not only maximize every centimeter of space but also keep your cllothes pretty amazingly wrinkle free. Check out a diagram and instructions to learn how to bundle pack.

    One Bag offers great tips for packing light, with the ultimate goal of not being weighed down with stuff you don’t need, and the convenience of having carryon luggage only.