Packing for a holiday can be daunting, especially when you haven’t been to the destination before and are unsure what to expect. Even in tropical climates, you may need a cover-up and in winter locales, you might need a way to transport wet clothing. You also need to take into account airline baggage restrictions, ease of getting around and leaving enough space for souvenirs as well as trying to find everything in your bag once it’s packed. You’ll also have power needs, cameras and other varying accessories to manage.
Here are my top tips for packing that will cover you in (almost) all situations.
Packing cubes are light, soft fabric storage cubes of varying sizes that make it easier for you to pack like items and keep them together. It makes unpacking super easy as you can see where everything is and move it all to the draws or bathroom in your room easily of if living out of the suitcase, move things around without having to upend everything every time.
Generally, I put underwear in one, swim and beach clothes in another and then general clothes in a third (and maybe fourth) and then toiletries in a separate one. I also have a waterproof one for wet clothes and swimwear. If I’m traveling somewhere warm, will add a small cube with things ill need if the weather turns bad or am not likely to use that often and pack that at the bottom, out of the way.
A power board
This is especially handy if traveling somewhere that uses a different power outlet to your home country but can be just as useful if traveling locally. I find that hotels often don’t have a lot of outlets and it’s difficult to charge your phone, tablet, camera etc in one go. A power board really helps, you will only need one converter and you will be able to plug all of your powered devices in at once. You can keep the power board and all the associated chargers in a packing cube!
I always pack anything that could possibly spill in a Ziploc bag so I don’t end up with a soggy mess at the other end of my journey. I also keep a few on hand to use when I’m there. They are great for leftover meals, snacks and BYO lunches. They are also useful to separate out clean from dirty clothes (like socks!) if you don’t have access to laundry facilities.
Wind and a waterproof light jacket
Unless I’m positive I won’t need it, like staying in Waikiki in the middle of summer, I’ll always pack a light windproof and waterproof jacket. It folds into a small square and doesn’t take up much room but has been great for those days we have gone on rainforest walks or stayed somewhere that the weather can turn quickly. You can always layer up but having at least one waterproof item can be very handy.
I always try to pack items that I can layer. A tank that goes under a t-shirt that goes under a light long sleeve that goes under a sweatshirt that goes under a jacket. I also try to stick to basic darker colors that will go together and won’t show up dirt or wear easily. This means I can mix and match for any type of weather and keep the packing to a minimum.
Even without kids, baby wipes come in handy. They are good for freshening up during a long layover or flight, they make good cleaning wipes in a rental kitchen or bathroom, double as makeup wipes and wet ones after a messy meal. They will even take small stains out of clothes.
Toiletries and Medicine
A lot of holiday destinations will have stores where you will be able to buy what you need if you forget anything, but toiletries can be very personal to you and can also be very expensive in a foreign country. (e.g. sunscreen is super expensive in a lot of Asian countries). You also can’t assume that something you buy over the counter or on prescription will be available away from home. Always take enough medication along with you for the entire trip along with any prescriptions you may have. If you are traveling with large quantities of any medication (including non-prescription) it is advisable to also get a letter from your doctor. I pack these in a Ziploc bag or packing cube so they are easily accessible and I can produce them if required at the airport. If you have sensitive skin or use specific creams or lotions, don’t forget to pack those too!
Make a list
I’ll admit it, I do tend to over pack. But one trick I have learned is to make a list and to keep the list updated every time I travel. I’m not that organized normally but this has helped me reduce what I pack and to only pack the essentials.
We generally travel to warm climates so I pack similar things every time. I now know that the sweatshirts I packed ‘in case I get cold in the hotel room’ were never once used the last two times I traveled to Bali. Or that the dressed up dresses I packed never made it out of the packing cube the last time I was in Hawaii. I also have come to the realization that I rarely use one t-shirt per day, between swimming and my PJ’s at night, I can easily wear a t-shirt or tank for more than one day. I also stay often in HGVC properties that almost always have laundry facilities to wash if need be.