I don't like packing, but I love travelling, so to make things simpler, this is the list I print out and check off as I get ready to go.
A lot of things on this list can be deleted at the start, depending on the type of trip. I don't to bring a towel or a tent if I'm staying in a hotel, for example.
I usually travel with a money belt around my waist under my clothes, a day bag, and a main pack. If it's a short trip, I don't bring a main pack, I just use my day bag. I used to use a small backpack as a day bag, but it's too easy for pickpockets to nick things out of a backpack without me noticing. So now I use a cross-body messenger bag.
Money belt, containing:
- My passport.
- My tickets.
- Money (cash, credit cards, ATM cards). Traveller's cheques are obsolete.
- Insurance details (plus stick a photocopy in my pack).
- Driver's licence.
- Hostelling card, if hostelling.
- Camping club card, if camping.
Daypack/messenger bag, containing:
- Sunglasses in a strong case.
- Wallet. (Take out any unnecessary or local things, such as library and loyalty cards.)
- Tissues, baby wipes, a small bottle of liquid soap and/or hand sanitizer.
- A notebook/journal with the number to ring if the credit card is stolen, photocopies of important documents, reservation details, addresses of family and friends, bus timetables, etc.
- Makeup bag with lipstick, eye pencil, and pencil sharpener.
- Water bottle and food, such as some nuts or an energy bar.
Main pack. I use a bag that has wheels and a telescopic handle, plus it has tuck-away backpack straps and a detachable shoulder strap. I like having several different ways to transport my stuff, depending on the terrain and how tired I am. I plan to launder things while I'm away so I only bring enough clothes for a week. The main pack also contains my washbag, my first aid kit, and my practical kit.
- 7 T-shirts, shirts, or tops.
- 7 skirts or pairs of trousers.
- 7 bras.
- 14 pairs of knickers.
- A swimsuit.
- Nightclothes, including a sweater and socks if camping.
- A wrap for cool weather.
- A pair of flip flops for showers and beaches.
- Washbag, containing:
- Toothbrush in a container, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash.
- Shower gel to use as soap, face wash, shampoo, and laundry detergent.
- SPF15+ UVA5* fragrance-free moisturizer.
- Menstrual supplies.
- Body lotion.
- Disposable razor.
- Foot and nail files.
- First aid kit, containing:
- Anti-malarials, if applicable.
- Spare pair of glasses in a strong case, and a copy of the prescription.
- Bottles of tea tree and lavender essential oil.
- Ibuprofen and disprin or paracetamol painkillers. Ibuprofen is better for period pain and muscle problems like sprains; disprin or paracetamol is for reducing fevers; both work on headaches.
- Multi-vitamins in a plastic bottle.
- Anti-histamine cream and/or tablets for insect bites or allergic reactions.
- Medicine for quick treatment of diarrhea.
- A few plasters.
- Antiseptic cream, such as Germolene which has painkilling properties.
- Anti-fungal cream, such as Daktarin.
- Cold sore cream.
- An elastic bandage to brace sprains.
- Practical kit, deleted from or added to depending on the trip, containing:
- Swiss Army knife.
- A towel if staying somewhere other than a hotel.
- Laundry kit, if staying somewhere other than a hotel: A big plastic bag for grubby clothes, braided rubber clothes line, a rubber one-size-fits-all sink stopper, and a nail brush.
- If camping: A sleeping bag, a sleeping bag liner, a pillow and case, a bed mat, a tent, cooker, saucepan with lid, lighter, and lantern.
- Mending kit: A needle and thread, replacement buttons/zips, and some safety pins. The scissors off the Swiss Army knife can be used.
- Food kit: A large shallow bowl, a mug, and a spoon. The Swiss Army knife can be used.
- A small combination lock and thin steel cable for locking the pack up.
- Head torch. Having once had to put up a tent by the light of a borrowed mobile phone, I now never forget a torch. Head torches keep one's hands free.
Things to leave behind:
- A note of the return transport details, such as flight/ferry number, its date and ETA (estimated time of arrival).
- A note of the reservations made, if any.
- Some kind of rough itinerary, hedged about with large disclaimers re: changes of plan that don't automatically mean one is dead in a ditch.
- Contact email address.
- Photocopies of important documents.
- Scans of same which should be sent to a web-based email account before leaving.
- Anything electrical, irreplaceable, breakable, expensive, borrowed, or of great sentimental value.
Things to do before going:
- Arrange for time off, and send an out of office email; or cut to the chase and resign!
- At home, chuck out perishables from the fridge, cancel deliveries, tell the neighbours, etc.
- Arrange for pets/plants/bills and rent to be fed/watered/paid.
- Leave keys, car, documents, and money with family and friends.
- Read the guidebook.
- Agree a vague schedule of when to email/phone/send carrier pigeons.