Nitty Gritty Packing
As fun as it is to dream up a vacation and actually do it, there are a few things you need to consider in between those two steps – specifically, the planning stage. Obviously you need to book a flight and a place to stay, and it would be a real time-saver for you to figure out what you want to do and see before you get there. Obviously you shouldn’t over-plan – don’t be afraid to spend some time relaxing and exploring! Many a vacation has been ruined by itineraries that were too busy to have fun with.
But what about your packing? It can seem like you’ve got your packing down: clothes, toiletries, a book or two, some electronics and a book to occupy you on the flight over and back, and you’re good, right? But it often isn’t that simple; there are likely many mistakes you are making with your packing, but don’t fret, that isn’t uncommon. Packing smartly and packing safely are rare things, but they can save you time, money, and stress.
First comes the safety of your luggage. Make sure you’ve scanned your passport, passport photos, and paper tickets and stored them in an e-mail account on the web or some other cloud-based technology. In this way, your most vital information – the information and identification you need to get to your embassy as well as access your flights – is always safe and available so long as you can get to the web. The truth is that there are not that many safeguards between you and serious trouble were you to lose all of this vital documentation; it’s ultimately up to you to protect yourself.
When packing, you also want to make certain that all of your valuables have been divided among your baggage. Your bank and debit cards, your travellers’ cheques, your credit cards, your wallet, your cash – everything should be distributed (and hidden). This way, should anything become stolen – whether a pocket is picked or a whole bag is lost – you still have the majority of your resources at your disposal. When you lose everything, recovering can be extremely difficult, and your vacation will certainly be ruined.
Something else to consider is how you distribute the weight in your luggage, especially those bags that you intend to use as carry-ons; you’ll be wandering around several airports and onto the plane with those bags, and you may also be packing them for day trips and such while you are actually on vacation. For example, if you are wearing a backpack – an increasingly popular and versatile piece of luggage – make sure that you put the heavier items in the top of the bag, so that the pack rests on the lower back, making it feel lighter.
Another comfort issue is clothing. Don’t pack clothes that you definitely won’t need – beach shorts in the Arctic, for example – to save space, but do pack clothes that you may potentially need. For example, you may not have realized that in the Middle East and other desert areas, it can get very, very cold during the night, especially outside of summer. As such, it is important to have sufficient outerwear to avoid becoming too cold and potentially ill.
When it comes to your toiletries, you honestly don’t need much. A toothbrush, half a tube of toothpaste, and you can always buy mouthwash when you arrive. (It’s too easy for it to pop open by accident, and then you’ve got a real problem on your hands!) Toiletries that you do take should actually be solid if you can help it; instead of toothpaste, try tooth powder, and instead of body wash, bring a bar of soap. If worst comes to worst, you can spend a little more money than planned and buy the toiletries you absolutely need there.
Medication, on the other hand, should probably be brought with you as a carry-on; you don’t want to be without it when you need it. Bring your subscription with you, just in case you are questioned on the matter. Better to be safe than sorry! In fact, this is a great principle to apply to all of your packing: if given the choice to do something safely or conveniently, go with safe. You won’t regret it!