When traveling, it can be unnerving not knowing what to pack for the duration of your trip. This is especially so if you don’t have any experience in the place of your destination. Having been in the same situation before, it’s a good thing I now have the hindsight and knowledge of what to pack when traveling to most places except for Antarctica.
Read on for a list of tried and tested methods and products that have proven to be road-worthy. Adapt the list to your own needs, and most importantly, read till the end!
1 Toiletries for the road
It is relatively easy to find and purchase the basics such as shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, or soap and perfumes regardless of where you are. A word of advice is to pack great travel makeup mirrors in your bag because they will come in handy when you least expect it.
Unless the destination you are headed to is remote, most places will readily have Pantene and Dove products available. However, if you are headed into the mountains, poor villages, or smaller islands where tourists are uncommon, then it’s best to pack your toiletries along.
As a general rule of thumb, it is good to pack the following:
A hanging toiletry pouch that comes with its own hook or hanger
Moisturizer for your face
Razors and refills
Contact lens, lens casing, and cleaning solution
Birth control that will last the length of your trip
Personal medications such as Ibuprofen or Panadol
A toothbrush and toothpaste
Sunscreen (especially if you are headed to Africa or the Middle East)
If you are on prescribed medications, it is best to seek your doctor’s advice and bring as much as you are legally allowed along with you. Not all medications can be found overseas, or it may be costly to procure medication as a foreigner.
2 Choice of bag
Deciding between a backpack or luggage? Perhaps you’ve decided but are now deciding if the smaller or larger backpack makes more sense? It all boils down to the length of your trip and your intended destination.
Backpacks are great if mobility is what you are looking for. This is especially so if you are traveling in Europe, where the cobbled pavements and lack of lifts are not exactly the most suitcase friendly. Furthermore, it saves you time at the airport since you can simply whiz out and to your destination after clearing customs since you don’t have to wait at the luggage carousel.
While opponents of bringing a backpack on travels say that carrying it for long takes a toll on their back and causes aches and pains, the key is finding a backpack that suits your body. This helps to ensure that weight is evenly distributed rather than being concentrated on a specific area.
3 Choice of clothing
If you are visiting Southeast Asia or India, don’t sweat over not bringing enough clothes since clothing is cheap there, and almost every traveler will buy items there. It suits their hot humid climate better and usually costs less than ten dollars. Save yourself the weight and hassle, and just pack the bare minimum. Purchase whatever else you may need there instead.
If you are visiting Europe, Australia, or anywhere far-flung, the above does not apply. Instead, you should pack sufficiently according to the type of climate that your destination country has.
For colder climates, here is a good reference:
Three or four long-sleeved shirts that can be used for layering
At least two sets of thermal wear including underwear
A pair of jeans or cargo pants
One set of loungewear that is long-sleeved
Thick wooly socks
A waterproof coat
Woolen winter hat or beanie
For hotter climates, here is a good reference:
Around seven tops which can be sleeved or sleeveless
Two or three pairs of shorts
A long skirt or dress for more formal venues
One set of loungewear
Hiking socks if you intend to go hiking
A pair of sandals
A wide-brimmed hat to keep your face in the shade
A pair of sunglasses
A sweater for breezier evenings
4 Miscellaneous items of importance
If you are going to stay in a hotel or hostel, most basic items such as linens and pillows will be provided. Hence, you should only consider bringing along the extras which these places are unlikely to offer.
A travel line is essential if your destination is in Europe or Australia, where laundromats are widely known to be costly
A microfibre towel, as many hostels may not provide one or charge extra for it
A sleeping bag liner to lay atop dirty linens
A sarong is essential if you are visiting temples or places of religious worship—especially so in conservative countries such as Indonesia or Bhutan
A torchlight in case the electricity goes out
Items to keep you and your stuff safe
The last thing you would want during your travels is for your belongings to get stolen. A good tip to prevent this from happening is to watch over your items like a hawk and keep the important items on your person. It is also wise to use products meant for traveling such as Pacsafe bags and pouches which are equipped with RFID blockers to prevent your credit card information from being stolen, and which are made with fishing lines that are hard to cut through.
Consider also bringing along a personal safety alarm, if your destination country does not allow for mace or pepper sprays. Many countries deem these items illegal and you might get into trouble with the authorities for having these items in your possession. A personal safety alarm is small and discreet but makes loud noises when pressed in emergencies.
With COVID having been around for a while now, it is also a no-brainer to pack along sufficient masks to last you throughout your trip. If you are eco-conscious, consider a cloth mask with reusable filters over one-use surgical masks.
Now that you are well-prepared for the trip, you can pack your bags and have fun on your travels!