As few of us are lucky enough to do this on a regular basis, the task of packing for even a short period away can be daunting. Most people manage to pack the majority of their possessions just in case the unforeseen occurs. Of course, it usually does, but it is rare that anything in the mountain you have brought with you from the other side of the world is of any use at all. Aside from the obvious tickets, passports and so on, here is a list of the top ten things to pack to ensure that you get the most out of your next trip without having to hire a porter.
1. Passport Wallet
Your passport is your lifeline when outside your own country, so you need to be vigilant of its whereabouts at all times. However, you don’t want your holiday fun to be ruined by passport paranoia either. Unless you’re going to a location where swimsuits are the attire of choice, day and night, some type of concealed passport wallet is indispensable. My design of choice is a leather zip-up pouch that is looped over the belt and worn inside the trouser. This provides a comfortable solution, while keeping your passport and other important items such as credit cards hidden from view, but reasonably easily accessible.
2. Digital Camera – Pocket Sized
How many times have you missed the best photo of your holiday because you’ve gone out to dinner and didn’t want to carry a heavy camera around? These days, technology affords us the ability to carry great photographic power with minimal weight and dimensions. Even if you prefer your SLR, a compact digital may just capture the winning moment when you least expect it.
3. Hello, Thank You, and Goodbye in 101 Languages
Nothing warms the heart more than hearing someone who clearly has no grasp of your own language trying to utter a friendly greeting. Even though it won’t lead to a meaningful conversation, being able to stumble through a few words in the language of your destination may endear you to the locals more than just speaking louder and more slowly in English and wondering why no one understands you.
4. Your Common Sense
Many of us suffer from some form of invincibility complex as soon as we get on that plane. Remember that not all countries observe the same safety obsession that we do, and just because the locals or other tourists are doing it, doesn’t mean you should too. While I’m all for a spirit of adventure, I’m also a big supporter of making it home in one piece, so have fun by all means, but if you wouldn’t do it at home, it’s probably best just to watch.
5. A Diary
We’d all like to think that we’ll never forget that moment. Problem is that with all the moments that happen when we’re overseas, sometimes these memories on returning home is a little blurred. A year or so down the track, blurry might be only on a good day. It doesn’t take long to jot down a few notes at the end of each day’s adventures. A few minutes spent now may mean a lifetime of clarity (it helps with all those photos too).
You’d think that going on holiday meant a brief hiatus from domestic chores. However, when you’re onto your last pair of socks with a week left in your trip, you’ll be glad you packed those pegs. The designers of international hotels didn’t really have hand-washing in mind when they designed their suites, but a small number of pegs may be the difference between an enjoyable ending to your holiday and being all alone on the trip home.
7. All Your Important Numbers on a Single Handy Card
Even though we like to think we have every possible eventuality covered, few of us can recite our credit card numbers off by heart, never mind our passport number. Keeping a record of the numbers of all of your important cards, your passport, hotels, flight details, insurance providers, and so on can mean the difference between a quick phone call to sort everything out and being stranded in the middle of a foreign country with no form of identification. Of course, don’t forget to keep it in a place well removed from the actual documents themselves.
8. Playing Cards
You’d be surprised how creative you can get with a couple of decks of cards and an eleven-hour stopover in an international airport. After browsing the shops for a whole hour, then realizing you still have ten hours to wait, get out those cards and start inventing your own games. You never know, it might even be fun!
9. Fold-Up Poncho
Not sure if these exist in your part of the world, but where I come from you can buy a fold-up plastic raincoat with a hood for about $1. Essentially a large plastic bag with three holes in it (for your head and arms), this could save you from a sudden drenching if you’re headed for tropical parts.
10. Your Sense of Humor
I know it was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime, but an international holiday without some type of unplanned incident seems to be a rarity. However, armed with your sense of humor, most of the time you can turn a close call into an adventure you’ll be telling your grandchildren about.
So, next time you’re madly preparing for your early morning flight, remember these ten things and have a great holiday.