Last updated 1 March 2021
Sharing my Top Ten Travel Packing Tips
This is something I’ve been contemplating blogging about for a while – friends often ask what they should take when travelling to ……. destination.
So here are my top 10 Travel Packing Tips – which contribute to making this travel bug’s trips stress-free and memorable!
Tools to help you sleep
I don’t care what anyone tells you – sleep is not overrated. Adequate sleep ensures we arrive at a destination in a happy state and maintaining that sleep during our travels, allows us to have better travel experiences in general. I’m sure we can recall whenever we’re sleep-deprived we’re not the best people to hang around with!
Much to my disappointment, I am a light sleeper. And bacsue of that, my philosophy is whatever is available to help provide a decent sleep, toss it in your bag. When travelling on planes, trains, buses, ships, or staying in hotels these are my must-haves to grab some shut-eye AND they take up minimal space:-
- a good eye mask to block out any annoying light
- a decent set of earplugs to cancel the snorer dropping some persistent zzzzz’s near me or across the aisle or to reduce the traffic noises from the street below, or the people staying next door doing not what you are doing which is trying to sleep!
- a few temazepam sleeping pills. These allow me to nod off at 1 am when my body clock is still in a different time zone. (Taking one of these, gently knocks you out for up to three hours – no longer – and I never feel drowsy or dopey upon awakening. Only available by script, so see your GP before departure to discuss if you can take them. (Note: According to DR. Google,Temazepam may cause a severe allergic reaction – – I am fine with it – but please check with your GP FIRST.)
Footwear – choose wisely
I love to discover a place on foot – walking the backstreets of a town or village is an essential part of my travel joy. Having the correct footwear can make or break this adventure. I love my Merrell shoes which double as a pair of runners if necessary and are more lightweight than a jogger.
Thongs (the footwear variety) or flip flops are the choice of footwear for dodgy shower recesses (depends on where you travel) and visits to the beach – hot sand is not my friend. Closed in shoes are essential for temple visits. Don’t forget separate shoe bags (plastic bags or cloth shoes bags) for each pair in the suitcase – no one wants mud or street debris next to their clothes!
If you’re going out at night maybe throw in one pair of heels or flats for nightwear – but remember cobblestones and heels are incompatible!
Weigh up how many nights you will be going out as carrying an extra pair of heels will only add weight to your suitcase/bag. If you have a pair of white sneakers these could be added to your nighttime dress/outfit and double as walking shoes during the day (only downside, white attracts the dirt.)
Sarong and swimmers
An obvious inclusion for anyone contemplating a beach holiday. The sarong is VERSATILE doubling as a shoulder warmer at night; coverage for temple visits, a towel if taking an impromptu dip without a beach towel.
The BEST use for a sarong – I discovered this gem when trying to sleep in the stiflingly, humid close heat of Zimbabwe one night – if soaked in water, squeezed out, and laid over your body – the sarong acts as an air-conditioner.
Swimmers – essential for the beach holiday but when travelling – handy for hotel pools and outdoor spas (if you are brave enough to try one.) Remember this little piece of motherly advice: never ever put your head under spa water – unless you are prepped for a middle ear infection (see Tip #6!)
Overseas adapters and charging cables
Another obvious inclusion – smartphones, iPads, tablets, cameras etc all need charging and preferably the night before you’re about to tour.
Chargers are often overlooked – check the country of destination and their outlets and what electrical plugs they require. Many Hotels sell adapters (or if they are a quality hotel will allow you to borrow one) – but if you BYO no need for that.
Carry a spare phone
In addition to your everyday phone you use at home an the one you’re likely to take overseas, pack a spare as it’s easy (and cheaper) in most countries to pick up a local sim card usually for very small $$$. You will connect to the country’s Telco provider (most countries there are many to choose from.)
Try and use this spare phone as your phone of choice when accepting calls/making calls, connecting to the internet (for maps and guides, etc.) My experience in Hong Kong with sim cards and the USA with a phone card is you can phone Australia for ridiculously cheap rates.
Ensure the phone you take is “UNLOCKED” ie. not still tied into a plan with your home phone carrier. If the phone is locked it will not accept a new sim card and you will have to buy an “el-cheapo” phone like the one I had to buy in Hong Kong as my old iphone was still locked to my Australian carrier.
Selection of pharmaceutical essentials
Maybe it’s the mother coming out in me – but after suffering from “Gypo” belly in Egypt and “Bali” belly in Indonesia and “Tokyo” belly in Japan – a couple of pharmaceutical products for those just in case moments will be gold. It was fun taking the phrasebook to the pharmacy in Tokyo and pointing to the Japanese equivalent of diarrhea and being given charcoal tablets as their remedy of choice. Let’s just say the charcoal tablets did not help!
And if you’re inclined to suffer from constipation, I recommend throwing in something to sort this out as well. (no shame in being perpared!) And a tube of paw-paw ointment is versatile in many situations – dry lips, sunburn, and insect bites.
Notebook and pen
The writer in me says this is another fundamental addition and I know smartphones do the job readily with the notes/memo app. But I love to write on a page using an old-fashioned pen. If the language differs in the country you are visiting, make sure you include a few words and phrases in the notebook (or even better buy a phrasebook or guidebook that has a few pages of the most commonly used phrases. These are so handy in a country like Japan where unless you speak the language it’s difficult to represent letters!)
There is nothing more friendly than being able to say to a local: hello/ bye/ thank-you / please and count a few numbers in their language.
Yes, there are plenty of translation apps that allow you to do this via your smartphone.
As an older traveler, I remember pre-smartphone days travelling on trains around Europe and using a multi-language phrasebook to start many interesting conversations with fellow passengers. Try to minimise immersing yourself in your phone or iPad – converse with those around you, it offers so many amazing memories and experiences.
Sustainable drink bottle, fan, and a skim ball
We all know plastic drink bottles are one of the worst for creating waste in the environment. Let’s all play our part and reduce that waste by carrying our own drink bottles and filling up with ‘clean’ water where possible. If the local water is not safe for drinking – and you need to check the list of countries that are not considered safe then you will need to purify the water purifier. This is when a water filter is not enough. Purifiers use additional methods, like chemical or UV treatment, to kill viruses that could flow right through a filter and into your water bottle.
The fan is lightweight and fits easily into the bottom of your handbag/daypack. Very useful for when you are visiting any stifling hot, humid countries where you wonder where your next breath is coming from. Having that movement of air in front of your face seems to make life more bearable and may stop you from passing out from the heat!
The skim ball is the perfect entertainer for kids or adults in a pool or at the beach – and can also be squeezed like a stress ball when you arrive at the airport to find your flight has been delayed!
Yes, you read this right a pillowslip! This is a new one for me and is for an upcoming trip to Vietnam. I have to overnight on a train where they “provide” bedding, but a friend told me about her train experience and how some in their group ended up with nits (head lice!)
Now I am not a precious princess – but after many years of dealing with my kid’s nit infestation from school and knowing what buggers they are to remove – I’m BYOing pillowcase. Besides I can dump my dirty clothes in it later. Love versatility.
The most important one and really the easiest as it requires no packing is free and readily available. A smile warms the heart on the coldest night and offers a connection to another human being. It has a universal meaning and requires no translation or explanation. Please use it regularly in your travels.
We all have our travel goodies/packing must-haves. These are a collection of my Travel Tips that have worked well for me over many decades of travel. We all seem to develop our own through our experiences.
Maybe they reveal our personalities too: are you ore carefree and adventurous, or reserved and cautious?
I’d love to hear your travel tips. The sharing of them is part of the traveler’s journey. Please share below.
Carpe Diem everyone and pack wisely!