Five things you should always pack when travelling

Living out of a suitcase is actually harder than you might think if you’re a novice traveller. When you’re at home, everything is in easy reach, even the things you don’t think you actually need. However, the moment you have several thousand miles between you and your bedroom, then packing your suitcase becomes an art worth perfecting.

But fear not, Grasshopper. Here are a few tips to ensure perfect packing and a great trip.

Like the title of this post, I’ll start with the 5 things you should never leave behind.

  1. Shoes. Sure, you can buy an emergency pair of flip flops at the airport, but do you really want your first travel story to begin with, “Well I had no shoes in an airport. And that, kids, is how I met your mother”? As a general rule of thumb, comfy walking shoes, flip flops for the pool and some going out shoes are the minimum. Build from there.
  2. Clothes. See above. Only this one is so much worse if you leave behind!
  3. Passport/visa requirements. Good luck getting out of the airport without one!
  4. Small change in the currency of your destination – you might not want to carry a huge amount of cash, but a small amount can get you a cab, a snack and tip the bellman between airport and hotel and will make the first hour off a long flight a little more pleasant.
  5. Phone/laptop chargers – put them in carry on so if your suitcase goes onwards to a more exotic location without you, you will at least have the means to phone the airport!
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Other packing tips that have served me well…

Pack items lightest to heaviest – no really, put all clothes folded on the bottom then put shoes, books, toiletries on top. The weight will stop the clothes from moving and you can maximise the space in your suitcase by stuffing your shoes with socks and underwear. You can also wear any bulky coats on the plane instead of sucking up space.

Bring a pillow – this is if you are really attached to your pillow, maybe for neck problems or just a small comfort of home, but it can make a real difference to the sleep you’ll get in a strange hotel and on the plane.

Travel sized bottles – decant your shampoo, conditioner and cleansers into smaller bottles. You won’t take up too much weight in the suitcase and you can just chuck them the final day of your trip and have more room for souvenirs. Also, a travel sized medical kit is good to slip into your bag for any scrapes or blisters.

Carry on – losing a suitcase can be a nightmare if you’re not prepared properly. (On return to Australia once, my case went to Argentina. I mean, I’ve always wanted to go there, so I was pretty annoyed the case went there without me!). In a small carry on bag have chargers, small toiletries, cash/cards/passport, and a change of clothes.

Guidebooks – a guide book with a map can stop you walking in circles and point out cool things you might not see otherwise. A language guide can also be a godsend. Even if your pronunciation is a little sketchy, being able to ask for a cab or a drink in the local language will be a real help.

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And finally… don’t fret too much. Generally you can buy whatever you’ve forgotten when you get to your travel destination!

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