Tips to Help You Pack for a Trip
We have compiled a great deal of packing tips after years of travelling and together with some members suggestions, we thought we should share them with other travellers setting out.
1. Security and Keeping Details Safe
Scan your passport, passport photos and paper tickets (if not the e type) in. Store this (in an email for e.g.) in your web based email account.
You can also store the details of your emergency ‘lost card’ telephone numbers in your web based email account so you know who to contact if your credit card or ATM card is lost or stolen.
This way, even if you lose everything, you have immediate access your all important information. You can even email the details page of your passport to the embassy or consulate when applying for a new one. (Tip from a member)
2. Split up your valuables
Split up your bank cards, cash, travellers’ cheques and credit cards as much as possible in different pockets, your bags and wallet when packing. In case you do get robbed, at least you won’t be strapped for cash (unless you have all your bags AND your wallet stolen of course!).
3. Nalgene/Small Bottles
Use nalgene/small bottles to pack toiletries and other small items. There are several sturdy and (very nearly) waterproof ones, with clear/see through ones being preferable (easier for security purposes post August 2006). You can also use small bottles to repack shampoo or lotions so that you don’t have to always carry a big bottle with you. This is especially useful if you normally take these items in your carry-on luggage, which as of early 2007 is much more restricted than before.
4. Backpack Tips
When you are packing things into a backpack, place the lighter items at the bottom and the heavier ones on top. Your bag will feel lighter this way as the pack rests on your lower back. It is also smart to place the things you use the most on top. Dirty clothes are perfect to pack at the bottom of a backpack.
5. Plastic Bags
It is always handy to have a few plastic bags around certain items, especially toiletries. Not only does it counter any leaking, the bags can also come in useful to keep dirty clothes in, as garbage bags or even as a makeshift umbrella. Ziplock or other airtight plastic bags are the best.
6. Pack in Plastic
Pack everything in clear plastic bags (preferably zip lock), divided into items e.g. underwear, t-shirts, shorts etc. before packing in your suitcase or backpack. One plastic bag for each type of clothing. This is extremely useful in various ways. When you unpack your bag you just take out a series of bags and you can see immediately what you want. So an overnight stay somewhere just means taking 1 item out of a bag – no rummaging!! In addition, if you have to unpack at customs etc, instead of having to disgorge all your clothing etc out in front of everybody, you can calmly take maybe 5/6 bags out, the contents of which can be clearly seen by the officials. To repack then is also dead easy. Just be sure not to leave your plastic bags lying around if you are travelling in nature! (Tip from a member)
Pack only what you know you will use and if you are travelling for more than three weeks, plan to wash on the road.
8. Split up clothes when travelling with others
When you are flying somewhere and especially if you have a few stopovers, divide the clothes between different suitcases/backpacks/bags etc. If one persons luggage doesn’t arrive at the destination, they’ll still have clean clothes available. Airlines generally don’t compensate lost luggage for the first 24-48 hours so this will save you money if it happens to you. (Tip from a member)
9. Separate Beach Bag
When packing to head to the beach consider pre-packing whatever you might need at the beach into a beachbag inside your backpack or suitcase. Especially if travelling with kids, this will prove a timesaver!
10. Suitcase lovers
For those using suitcases without a divider. A piece of cardboard makes an excellent divider and helps keep your clothes organized and neat as you are able to lay them out flat on the cardboard. It also makes airport inspections a lot less of a hassle as you can lift out your divider with clothes on top easily.
While it is a good idea to take some small gifts with you while travelling, pre-wrapping them can be a waste of time if you are flying and your bags are opened. (Tip from a member)
12. Flashlights or Torches
When packing a flashlight or torch (or any other item with batteries for that matter), turn the batteries around so that if the item is accidentally turned on, you won’t empty the batteries. Don’t forget to turn the batteries back around when using the flashlight.
13. Diaper Bag
If you are travelling with babies, then the diaper bag is an excellent place to hide your valuables. This most likely will not be the first thing to be stolen. It’s also a great to use as a waste bag (even when not travelling with a child!), especially at places that do not allow you to flush toilet paper. (Tip from a member)
If you want to make sure everything else in your bags stays clean and odor free, place the shoes inside old socks and then inside airtight plastic bags (ziplock).
Keep any medication and important papers in your carry-on bag. On long flights with multiple stopovers (especially if flying via London, LA or other major airports), packing a fresh change of clothes is a good idea as bags tend to get delayed or lost on long haul, multiple stop flights. You don’t want to end up stuck without medication, clothes or your important papers even if it is just for a few days.
16. Roll Technique
Somehow it seems that bags will hold more if the clothes are rolled rather than folded. If you roll in tissue paper, the clothes will also get less wrinkled.
17. Travelling to warm destinations?
If you appreciate cold drinks think of using a six-pack cooler as a toiletry bag. Once you arrive at your destination and unload your toiletries your ‘toiletry bag’ guarantees cheap cold drinks on the beach, no matter how remote.
18. Local Tourism Offices
The best source of information is usually local. Check out Tourism Offices to find unbiased feedback on the best accommodation to suit your needs. Excercise caution in countries where you feel the information might not be so unbiased!
19. Minimize on toiletries
Take only half a tube of toothpaste rolled up tight, store shampoo in small containers, only take half a roll of toilet paper (for emergencies only) and crush it so the middle is folded.
20. Take solid shampoo bars and tooth powder
Solid shampoo bars and tooth powder (instead of tooth paste) can be easily located on the internet and make carry-on travel in this age of liquid restriction possible. Places like Beijing now bar all liquids in carry-on bags, and you’ll still be able to breeze through without checking. (Tip from a member)
21. Planning on carrying a lot of luggage?
While carrying a lot of luggage is not recommendable, sometimes it is necessary in the case of relocations and so on. If you have the possibility, fly via the US as airlines will allow you 64kg (two 32kg bags) instead of the 20kg in the rest of the world. Even if it is just a stopover in the US, you will be allowed to carry the extra weight. Check with your local travel agent for the details.
- Address list and list of important contacts or numbers
- Backpack, suitcase, sports bag (something to pack everything in)
- Paper or Notebook
- Passport (check validity!)
- Pencils, Pens
- Tickets and itinerary (airline, train, bus etc.)
- Travel Insurance
- ATM card (Maestro or Cirrus logos on the back are most widely accepted)
- Calculator or currency converter
- Cash in the local currency of your arrival destination
- Credit card (Visa or Mastercard are most widely accepted)
- Money belt (You can’t be too safe in some places)
- Sufficient Travellers’ cheques (and receipts for travellers’ cheques)
- Bra (sports and regular)
- Dress shirts
- Jumper, sweater or fleece
- Light jacket
- Long or thermal underwear
- Long sleeve shirts
- Pants or trousers
- Pyjamas/Sleepwear (Member’s tip)
- Sandals, shower shoes, thongs or jandals
- Sarong or Lava lava
- Ski clothes
- Swimming gear
- T-shirts, singlets
- A good hat
- Cotton handkerchief or tissues
- Gloves or mittens
- Knitted (woollen) hat
- Raincoat or poncho
- Safety pins
- Sewing kit
- Ski glasses
- Suit bag
- Anti-bacterial cream
- Comb or brush
- Condoms and/or contraceptive pills
- Contact lens equipment or glasses
- Cotton buds
- Dental floss (also great for fixing things!)
- Fingernail clippers
- Hair products (gel, spray etc.)
- Lip balm
- Moisturiser (face and body)
- Nail file
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Shaving cream
- Sleeping pills
- Sunscreen and after sun cream
- Talcum/baby powder – Useful against prickley heat, in shoes, on sticky zippers and more (Member’s tip)
- Tampons and pads
- Toothbrush, toothpaste
First Aid Kit
- Band aids
- Compression bandages
- Diarrhoea tablets
- Insect and/or mosquito repellent
- Iodine/hydrogen peroxide
- Medicines/prescription Drugs (Member’s tip)
- Motion sickness tablets
- Paracetemol, Tylenol etc.
- Replacement/rehydration salts sachets
- Small scissors
- Vitamin pills
- Water purifying tablets
- Yellow Fever certificate or International Certificate of Vaccination (Member’s tip)
- Backpack rain cover
- Bottled water
- Camera, film and batteries – Spare flash cards or memory for digital
- Carbohydrate snacks
- Chewing gum or mints – Especially if you are flying chewing something will help your ears
- Combo or key locks
- Diary or organiser
- Duct tape – Fixes everything! (Member’s tip)
- Eating utensils
- Electrical adapter and plug converter
- Fishing line – Strongest string in the world! (Member’s tip)
- Flashlight or torch – Don’t forget the batteries
- Frisbee, hackey sack, ball, pack of cards or other recreational items
- Gifts are always appreciated while travelling (Member’s tip)
- Inflatable travel pillow
- International driving license – If driving overseas, have your driving license translated
- International Student Identification Card – For discounts worldwide
- iPod, MP3 player, Discman etc. – Including music and batteries
- Laptop – Especially for the business travellers
- Laundry detergent
- Maps (incl. small map of the world to show where you are from) (Member’s tip)
- Mini camera tripod – Big is better if you have the space!
- Mobile phone or SIM card
- Mosquito net
- Passport photos
- Phone card – Both for local and international calls
- Photocopies of important documents in case they are stolen (Member’s tip)
- Phrase books or dictionaries
- Pillow or pillowcase to stuff with clothes
- Plastic bags
- Recharger for electrical items – Save some money on batteries
- Resume and work references – Don’t forget these if you are planning to work while travelling
- Skis, ski shoes, ski poles or a snowboard – If you are planning a winter holiday, you want to remember these!
- Sleep sheet
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping mat
- Swiss Army knife or Leatherman tool – Don’t keep in your carry on as it will be removed
- Toilet paper (Member’s tip)
- Towels, beach and otherwise – the quick drying versions are very handy!
- Travel alarm clock
- Universal sink plug – Squash ball can double as one (Member’s tip)
- Walkman speakers
- Wet wipes/Baby wipes – Handy for cleaning hands or washing yourself in absense of a shower (Member’s tip)
- Ziplock bags – The freezer ones are usually the best