Essential Packing List
For Your Next Vacation
You are about to head off on your next vacation and you aren’t quite sure what to pack. So let us assist you with an essential packing list you should refer to.
We know, because as world travel experts we have now visited over seventy countries in the past six years – now that is a lot of packing. Plus, we have learned what not to be bothered to pack, and some simple things that might get forgotten.
So before you head off, make sure you check this Packing List.
10 Things you pack for your next vacation
Deciding on what to pack is one of the hardest things to do while planning a trip so time to refer to the details below when making your essential packing list. With no packing list, this is a decision that might take hours to make. It is for this reason that we have made you a list of 10 essentials you should pack for any trip.
Unless you have an extra bag for shoes, you might want to limit what you pack. As might have noticed, shoes occupy so much space in travel bags and luggage. Some of you might wish to travel with just carry on luggage, whilst others might have the luxury or 20 to 40 kg checked baggage. However, pack too much, and you will end up with more shoes than clothes in your bag. So you better pack up just what you need depending on the purpose of your trip.
I cannot stress enough that comfort must be the number one priority, and it starts with your feet. Shoes must be comfortable and fit well. Feet can puff up on airplanes, shoes can leak in the wet, and blisters can form when shoes rub. Climbing and walking for hours on end means that it is vital that you have the right sized shoes. Give room for expansion of your feet in the heat, or to wear with thicker socks in the cold. Plus, thinner socks or stockings on warmer days.
Ensure you purchase the right sized shoes for your trip, especially if ordering online. Keep in mind that UK, USA and Australia sizes, in particular, all are different and say a size 8 USA is NOT the same as a size 8 UK. So do use a shoe size conversion chart to ensure you order the right size for you. Your feet will thank you!
Closed in shoes are very important for walking. They protect your feet from the weather, they should have a good grip so you don’t slip. You must protect yourself in places such as walking through shrub and bushes or insect-infected areas – since they keep your feet safe from the bites which are always uncomfortable and can also be dangerous.
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My son once accidentally stepped on a snake in the Amazon jungle, but as he had correct hiking boots, he remained safe. He also tripped on the large steps at the Great Wall of China but was saved from hurting his toes thanks to his enclosed shoes.
Remember those moments you just want to get your feet off those enclosed shoes and feel them breathe? These are the moments you most need open shoes. However, don’t wear them to official meetings or fancy restaurants. You will look like a ‘joker’!
Some of the activities that require open shoes include:
- a visit to the beach
- swimming pool
- community showers in camping grounds
- the local supermarket
- casual restaurant
Clothes for the Night
‘Pyjamas’ or ‘Pajamas’
Some people choose not to add to their Packing List clothing for the night. They forget their pyjamas since these items always seem to be replaceable with loose-fitting clothes. However, if you are used to your pyjamas, don’t think you will have a peaceful night in anything else. It is important that you get them packed as you plan your trip. I personally recommend a pair as you can get caught having to answer a door, or you might be sharing your hotel room with family or friends. Plus they are that extra protection from insects at night. In countries where malaria is rife, it is important to be covered up so add these into your essential packing list.
After a long day sightseeing, or even a day at the beach or hanging around the pool, it is lovely to have a quick shower and dress up for the evening.
Pack at least one outfit that is perfect for dinner time. I’d suggest a short sleeve shirt and jacket for men, and a dress for ladies with a shawl/scarf or jacket. I personally like a lace jacket. It takes up virtually no weight or space, it doesn’t crease and it can dress up my day clothes sufficiently for an evening outfit if need be.
They are also perfect for night events such as fashion shows, or an international travel event that requires you to look classy or to add a touch of luxury and style. The worst thing you want to happen to you is to miss a very nice opportunity just because you didn’t have that perfect outfit for the night. It is embarrassing to feel ‘underdressed’. Pack something that is elegant and that you are comfortable in.
Categories of clothes to add to your essential packing list
For a luxury holiday, a cruise or business trips it is best to dress to impress. Try to add to your Packing List some decent looking or official clothing that will make the trip rewarding. If you are a lady, you might need a few nice looking dresses, skirts, shirts and a jacket for the trip and several lovely scarves can turn a casual outfit into one of style and class. Men, on the other hand, should think of carrying lightweight and non-crease trousers, a nice shirt, and if the need calls for it, and even a tie. Remember ties and scarves take up very little space and can be popped in a pocket or handbag if need requires you to add or remove from your dress-code on any occasion.
Make sure you have some good looking official shoes to go with your options. You don’t want to wake up on the day of the meeting and realize that you just forgot to bring with you some formal shoes. I know of a gentleman that forgot to pack socks and shoes and had to go to dinner in flip-flops – he was extremely embarrassed as there was no place for him to purchase such last-minute items.
Add to your Packing List casual, stretch, reversible and relaxed clothes are perfect for vacations. You don’t have many restrictions on the type of casual clothes to carry. They can be short, long, tight or loose, depending on your preference and body type. You will need a variety of loose and tight-fitting clothes for different occasions. For instance, whilst travelling (car, train, bus, coach, and plane all require hours of sitting or sleeping in your clothing. Comfort is required when going to parks, museums, ancient ruins, you will need to have some loose-fitting pants, flat shoes, and a light shirt or t-shirt. These will help you feel more flexible while moving in them.
However, clothes restrictions on tight jeans, tight and revealing tops, bare shoulders, skimpy dresses, revealing knees etc can cause you a problem. You need to be dressed correctly for restaurants, churches and mosques visits and be respectful of religions and customs too.
Unpredictable Weather Patterns
Unpredictable weather can hit in any destination. Regardless of how hot it is, you might still want to carry along a jacket, cardigan and/or scarves.
Recently in China, we went from Spring weather to minus one degrees Celcius in a day, and fortunately, we were prepared.
You will many layers of clothing during various parts of your trip, and when the weather changes it can leave you wet and cold. Since warm clothes like jackets and wraps always take so much space in bags, try to find ones that compress, are lightweight, crease-resistant and plain coloured to use on all occasions. Others carry them on in their hand luggage to save on space and weight.
Other warm clothes include on your Packing List are: a jacket, gloves, long-sleeved shirts, pants, and sweaters that need to be packed. Don’t forget your socks! This is something countless people forget to pack.
Hiking and Sports Gear
If you are an avid hiker or plan to spend many hours walking, then please adapt your travel wardrobe accordingly and pack good quality hiking clothes. If you do hike or plan to go on safari, trousers, and shorts with pockets can be very handy. Paratrooper pants work well for zipping off the pants to shorts. Sports clothes are important for the daily or weekly exercises you might be involved in. However, even if you don’t hike, you will still want to go for some early morning runs or hit the gym. Some of the clothes for these include tracksuits to yoga pants, yoga shirts, vest, and if it is cold remember gloves.
If you are cycling be sure to have stretch clothing and the correct footwear. Some hire companies will not allow you to hire their equipment if you have flip-flops and not enclosed shoes.
You will need practical swimwear for the beach and swimming pool. Men have it easy on them since they can just dive into the waters in shorts, but be aware some hotels and pools will scrutinize this. Women don’t have such privileges though. There is, however, an endless list of swimsuits that women wear for the beach. They include one-piece swimsuits, bikinis, tankini, and bandeau. Make sure you have at least one set of those in your suitcase. Ladies also take a wrap as hotels, resorts, and cruises will not allow you to wander around in your swimwear – especially for meals.
Also, respect the local customs and be prepared. In China, for example, you CANNOT swim in the swimming pool in any hotel without a swimming cap as we found out in Beijing. To purchase may cost you $20 at the Gymnasium or Wellness centre, and some countries forbid bikinis to be worn, so pack alternatives.
Precautions when Making your Packing List
Depending on your destination, you might want to consider your choice of clothing colour when creating your Essential Packing List.
Colours like blue are always not safe to be worn in ‘Tsetse‘ fly-infested regions. This is because these flies are attracted to blue colours. You might, therefore, end up attracting them, in the process of acquiring sleeping sickness, which happens to a disease transmitted by ‘Tsetse’ flies.
Black attracts the sun and draws it into your clothing. Yellow and blue apparently attract the butterflies, and legends say red will have you as a target for a bull! However white repels the sun and is a cooler colour to wear.
Therefore, avoid certain colours if they are likely to expose you to harm.
Also, there are countries like Kenya that don’t allow anyone to walk around in military clothing. It is considered illegal by the government. So leave behind your camouflage attire.
In some countries, (the Middle East, Fiji etc) you cannot walk around in short skirts or crop tops as it can not only offend the local older population, but it can be illegal! Never wear a hat in a Pacific Island village as it is disrespectful to cover your head, most certainly if you are meeting the Chief, and NEVER, NEVER touch his head either.
It is therefore vital that you know the dos and don’ts of every country before you create your own Essential Packing List.
Questions and Comments
- Do you have any other ideas that you feel should have been included in an Essential Packing List?
- Why don’t you share it with us in the Comment Section below?
- Our readers would love to know of your experiences and you might save someone some embarrassment – or worse.
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