When traveling with friends, I like to get together before the trip to talk about what kinds of attractions we’d like to visit and what our expectations are, just to make sure that we have a common ground. In the midst of all the excitement, the conversations would always eventually move towards packing – what to bring and, more importantly, what to leave behind. So, when Julie innocently asked whether she should bring her flat-iron to New York (to which I answered with a resounding “NO”), I knew I have to write this post.
The contents of my bag vary depending on where I’m going and for how long. Case in point: I’m not about to pack skirts if I’m going for a 3-week overland trip through African safaris, but I would totally take them to Paris. Along with the obvious ones, like underwear, toiletries, passport, and a camera (with its charger, obviously!), these are the things I ALWAYS pack whenever I go on a trip:
I admit I go overboard (WAY overboard) with the t-shirts. My rule of thumb is to pack 1 for each day for up to a week and add 1 more for good measure. So, if I’m going on a 21-days trip, I’d pack 8 of them and I’d just wear them in turns. They’re versatile and they look good with whatever bottoms you have, be it jeans, capris, shorts, or even skirts!
Cardigans or sweaters
I’m not one who can withstand the cold weather, so I always bring a cardigan or a sweater with me. I do this even when I travel during the summer since I never know how cool it will get during the evenings. They’re also very useful to have when you are taking long-distance trains or bus rides – I don’t know how they control the AC in there, but the temperature always feels like -10°C!
A Pashmina scarf
Those who have gone on trips with me know that I always have one (maybe 2, sometimes 3) scarf with me. They can do so many things – from being an extra blanket during those cold, cold nights on a train to a nifty accessory to spruce up your outfits.
A day bag
I don’t like wearing my backpack when I stroll through a city, so I make sure to have a smaller day bag that I can take with me. I usually just pack my purse in my backpack, so when I have to leave my luggage in a locker or at a hotel lobby, I can grab it quickly, put everything I need in there and be a happy camper (er, tourist).
See the comments about cardigans or sweaters above. Oh, and because I can’t sleep when my feet are cold.
A pair of good walking sandals/shoes
Flats, while cute and very fashionable, are NOT considered to be a good pair of walking shoes unless your trips involve you being chauffeured in a limousine from one place to another. If you are anything like most of the world’s travelers, you will end up with LOTS and LOTS of walking to see a city. Wear something comfortable and supportive during the day. Trust me, you (and your feet) will thank yourself when you don’t have to be nursing blisters at the end of the night. I wear a pair of Birkenstocks and they’re pretty awesome!
IPod (or any functioning mp3 player)
Your travel partners are annoying the crap out of you? Stuck on a train for 12 hours with 4 very, very loud Italian men? Listen to your music and tune them out! It’s also a bonus because when you come home and listen to those songs again, memories of your trips will come flooding back and no doubt, you’ll be grinning like a mad man (or woman) as you remember the silly things you’ve done.
This is definitely a must-have, especially when you are going on an extended trip. They’re perfect for doing a quick laundry in the sink: just sprinkle a little bit over your clothes, rub, rinse, and air them to dry. Voila! Clean clothes!
I should admit that I am somewhat of an over-packer (yes, it’s very ironic that I’m writing this), but I have managed to go on two separate 3-weeks trips through South East Asia and Europe just with my carry-on, so I think that somewhat validates my credibility. Also, don’t fret if you’ve forgotten to pack something – as long as it’s not your passport or your camera, you can always buy it when you reach your destination.
What do you pack when you travel?