Packing

Think logically about what you intend to take.  It is normal these days to tote your own bags.  Finding porters at airports, railway stations and bus terminals (and even at some hotels) is difficult in these days of mass travel.

It is bad enough for anyone but I have witnessed women trying to drag suitcases up stairs into railway carriages and then, inside the train, into the baggage bins. (Sometimes this involves lifting a suitcase up and over a baggage bin railing).

Helpful travellers might help but what will you do if they don’t?

You might have to lift or drag your baggage:

  • along crowded city streets to railway stations, boat terminals, taxi ranks (Venice is a nightmare)
  • across railway concourses and down long railway platforms
  • up sloping ramps onto inter-island ferry ships
  • up and down hotel /apartment staircases
  • through massive airport terminals
  • on and off tour buses
  • in and out of taxi trunks.

 

Consider:

Suitcases

  • Can you lift your own suitcase? Even though it’s got wheels, you might be lifting it a lot.
  • How much heavier will it be after your holiday shopping?
  • Can you  lock and unlock it quickly (if requested by airport security)
  • Do you have unlocked compartments that can be easily accessed by strangers? Remember you are responsible for what customs finds in your bags.
  • Do you have a baggage label with your name and address securely attached?
  • Does it have any identifying marks so you can distinguish it at baggage carousels? Keep in mind that most suitcases are black. (Coloured straps and stickers can be attached but they easily come off due to handling so make sure they are secure.)

Hand luggage

  • Do you really need it?  Remember, you have to cart this around as well as the suitcase.
  • I am confounded by the huge hand luggage that some travellers lug around with them. I can’t imagine what they have inside.  Groaning under the weight of fully loaded back packs, some people look like miserable beasts of burden rather than happy travellers. Why wreck your back and shoulders?  From the check in desk through security to the departure gate can be a very long way.
  • It is bad enough to have to deal with the extra weight but at security checkpoints, you can be held up even longer if you are asked to open it.
  • I usually travel with a medium cross body bag with zip compartments.
  • Oh, you might say – it is not possible to travel with a just medium size handbag because I need –
    • a warm coat for my arrival
    • make up
    • water bottle
    • spare clothing in case the airline loses my bag
    • a book
    • laptop or iPad
    • a back pack for when I arrive to do my tourist activities

I have travelled across the world from summer to winter destinations and vice versa; for periods ranging from 2 days to 2 months; for extensive touring across several countries or one destination stays but my travel packing is always the same.

 

My recommendations for air travel.

Carry-on bag

  • A medium hand bag with:
    • cross body straps that allow you to have both hands free (This is more secure than a shoulder bag as it is in front of your body.)
    • a separate document compartment. (It is safer than a backpack that anyone can unzip from behind.)
  • If it is cold at the destination, I fold up my coat into a shopping bag (and throw the shopping bag away when I arrive) – or I just carry the coat and fold up into the overhead compartment.
  • 2/3 snack bars (You can’t take these off the aircraft so how many can you eat?)
  • No bottles. You’re not usually allowed to bring drinks on board and they give you water on the aircraft anyway.
  • No spare clothes – really. How many times have you had to use them?  It’s is easy to find cheap underwear anywhere and souvenir shops and street markets sell really cheap T shirts.  (I  have heard of someone who buys a pack of 5 for $25 for a wear and throw holiday.  Well it is cheaper than hotel laundry.)
  • Airport and hotel shops sell all essentials if you are caught out – but this hasn’t happened to me yet.
  • Everything else you need is on board. Most airlines supply toothbrush and toothpaste sets. But these don’t take up much room if you need to bring your own.
  • Books – really? Who reads when there is an entertainment system with dozens of movies, games and music channels? Use your IPad if your airline doesn’t supply on-board entertainment.
  • If you must read, get a new paperback at the airport book store, or bring your own (and put it into the cross body bag).

Checked bag

  • 1 suitcase with wheels with zip opening, combination and key lock, colourful identifying strap
  • 1 spare soft bag folded flat into the outside compartment (It doesn’t hurt to be prepared.)
  • Clothes: Pack for 1 week (This doesn’t change even if I am travelling for 2 months).  Colour- coordinate so everything goes with everything. For example, black with white – tops and bottoms. This makes it easier to match shoes and no one remembers what you wore if it is mostly the same colour.  Buy accessories like scarfs and caps as souvenirs.
  • Shoes: 2 to 3 pairs. If you are walking a lot, make sure you have two varieties of comfortable walking shoes in case one pair gets wet or your feet need a break. One pair must be interchangeable for evening/day wear – suggest black leather boots for cold climates or black leather slip-ons for summer.
  • Women: You will get more wear out of a pair of flat or low heel shoes than high heel shoes unless you intend to wear high heels more than a couple of times.  Shoes take up a lot of space and weigh more.
  • Old clothes:  For bus tours, I save up my old clothes and keep them ready to take away as throw always.  I dispose of them while away and bring back new clothes in their place.