Pack like a pro – things I take everywhere

Although I’m not what you’d call a ‘hardened traveller’, I do typically get away 6+ times a year and I also used to do a fair amount of business travel, so I got pretty adept at packing quickly and neatly and not forgetting anything.

I’m dedicating a series of posts to everything I’ve learned from years of packing and unpacking.

Today I want to share some of the items I always pack for a holiday (not a business trip), no matter where I’m going.

  1. Ponchos

There’s nowhere that one of these won’t come in handy when you’re out and about sightseeing. Especially if you’re somewhere hot, you won’t want to be carrying a coat around in case it rains, or even an umbrella if you’re trying to travel light.

A poncho is great because it leaves your hands free and it covers your whole body as well as your bag, which is a perfect for keeping camera equipment and everything else dry. I’ve rarely had to use them, but it’s such a great back up and they’re so small and light to carry.

  1. Anti-itch cream

I try my hardest not to get bitten on holiday by using repellent, mosquito nets, etc. but it’s inevitable that one of those little critters is going to get you. Even if you don’t get bitten, there are plenty of things to get rashes or other allergic reactions from.

There is nothing more awful than being itchy, especially if you need to stop scratching to help it get better- I always take a couple of little tubes of anti itch cream, one a topical antihistamine and the other a tube of crotamiton.

  1. Resealable bags and one large bin liner

So this looks extreme to most people I travel with, but I always pack all my clothes into large resealable food bags (more on that in another post!).

I’ve been caught in rain showers with back packs that aren’t waterproof, had weird icky stuff get all over my luggage in the hold, and had luggage get soaked with rain while it’s waiting to be loaded onto the plane. Do I care? No (well, a little bit, because I hate mess)- all my clothes and shoes are safely packed away in bags to keep them clean and dry so nothing can upset my trip if my luggage gets wet or dirty.

When I’m coming home I pack all my dirty clothes into a large bin liner inside my case- it keeps the dirty clothes from making the clean things or the case dirty and means I have all my washing in one massive bag to speed things up when I’m home.

  1. Spare padlocks

Everyone’s dutifully packed the world’s smallest bag so they can take it free on a budget airline, only to have it confiscated at the gate and put in the hold because the flight’s full (and because you didn’t queue for an hour at the gate to get on first- so not how I roll).

But I don’t have to worry about my bag going in the hold because: a) I didn’t put anything valuable in it; b) I packed all my clothes in zip lock bags so it doesn’t matter if my bag stands on the tarmac in a rain storm, and: c) brought along a couple of spare padlocks so I can lock up my bag before I part with it.

See you on the carousel, impenetrable bag.

  1. Plasters and blister pads

Well this one is obvious, who wants to walk around on holiday with their shoes rubbing their feet? We often take new holiday clothes away with us that we haven’t worn in, or shoes that were comfortable at 15 degrees but not so at 30 degrees.

Make sure you have a plan B when you’re out and about and your shoes rub you so you don’t need to head home before you’re done exploring.

  1. Binoculars

I don’t take these everywhere, but I almost always take a very small pair of binoculars on holiday with me (free with National Trust membership!)

You can use them for lots of different things- safaris and zoo visits, seeing the detail on ceilings and walls (Sistine Chapel, anyone?), looking at details on temples or simply just admiring the landscape.

Sure, you can use your camera’s view finder and zoom, but you’ll run the battery down quickly and it’s not quite as satisfying as having a ‘proper’ look.

What are your holiday essentials?


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