Woo hoo! Maybe you’ve just decided to make that gut-churning leap into the abyss that is the commitment to long-term exploration of the globe. Maybe you’ve been travelling for a while and tired of the aches and pains that come after every shift to a new spot. Maybe, you’re sick of not being able to get a coffee because the café is too small to take all your gear in.
Ta da! Here I am, the girl who has made ALL the mistakes and done it all the wrong way. Here’s the great news – I’ve cracked the system. And it’s super logical (when I take control of my shiny-thing syndrome and decide to have a happy body and mind instead!).
In preparation for reading this post, I want you to do 3 things: Be brave. Be fearless. And be ruthless.
The more stuff we have, the more stuff we have to take care of. And you’re travelling to take care of yourself, not your stuff, right?
Here’s my best wing-woman tips for awesome travel without the stuff-drama.
COMMIT TO A SINGLE BAG + HANDBAG
Having a bag or two that you can easily manage does two things for you: 1 – Makes you much less of a target for thieves, pickpockets and other scammers (yes I have experienced this!). If you can manage your bags with one hand, you can protect yourself and your important things with the other. It’s a no brainer.
2: It leaves you free to eat, drink and shop with your spare arm. Thank you! You can also wheel it all into the bathroom with you, so you don’t have to worry what’s happening to it while you do your business. Phew!
- Small suitcase that fits an empty day bag inside (can check it in, then leave in your accommodation while taking the day bag out for trips)
- Handbag that can hold laptop for flights
HAVE A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING
This may seem OCD, but it will save your nerves a million times over. Group like things with like, and always put them in that same spot. It makes packing like a sped-up version of Tetris, and means you can grab exactly what you need when you need it. It also means if anything goes missing, it’s immediately obvious and you won’t realise your passport is in Rome (when you are in Munich!)
Choose a bag that is easy to segment
Technology pocket – (all chargers, cameras and electrical gear goes here).
Toiletries pocket – make it easy to get to if you want to freshen up in bathrooms or a plane.
Medication/essentials pocket – make this inside so others can’t get to it for safety, but reachable enough that you can access it when needed.
CONSCIOUSLY CHOOSE ITEMS
There really are an awful lot of pretty things in the world, especially obvious when we travel. But falling victim to their siren call can mean we end up dragging around things that just don’t benefit our long term plans.
Before buying clothing, ask this question – will I wear it more than 20 times? Can I wear it forever?
Choose items with multiple purposes – e.g. a scarf that can be skirt, dress, sarong, scarf and towel.
Look for items that are wrinkle free, layerable, sweat-friendly. No, there probably won’t be an iron where you are going. Yes, it might be hot and you will sweat. Probably it will get chilly at nights. If the item you are packing is not 2 out of 3, don’t take it!
MAKE SHOES A PRIORITY
If you need to choose just one item to spend decent money on, make it shoes. The health of your entire body can rely on this decision, and therefore your enjoyment of travel.
On top of that, shoes can be a contentious issue in different places. I’ll never forget my first trip where I wore under-the knee black boots over jeans, and our stopover was in Qatar. At home, my boots were totally in fashion. In Qatar, they were highly offensive – and the machine gun toting staff at the airport made that abundantly clear to me!
Be smart with shoes – respect your body and respect your destination.
Choose flats that are neat enough for fancy places, but robust enough for long days of walking with good soles. Make sure they are breathable and stretchable for flights. Check out what is appropriate in the country you are travelling to.
(For some examples, see my post on Cute But Supportive Travel Shoes)
And now you are ready for the adventure of a lifetime!
For more tips on packing, see my post 4 Essential Things for Travelling Carry On Only