Packing is an arduous task at the best of times; trying to squeeze in everything you think you will need for an extended stay overseas can be horrendous. But before we get into what to pack, you need to choose the appropriate luggage.
No matter what kind of travelling you do (a weekend away, two weeks on the beach or months backpacking) you will need your luggage to be easily manoeuvred in and out of your transport and be easy to carry around. So choosing the right luggage to suit your travels is important. Agree?
Most travellers heading overseas on working holidays and extended trips usually choose a backpack or rucksack or a suitcase on wheels that you can pull along for their travels. This is because they are easy to carry around and can be used for many adventures while on the road.
Choosing a backpack
A backpack or rucksack is an essential purchase for any traveller heading overseas. The backpack, once seen as the budget traveller’s best friend, has evolved making it the ideal companion for the modern traveller. Their biggest advantage is they are easy to carry around. So what do you look for in a pack?
Size: New travellers are notorious for filling their luggage with clothes they might wear and knick-knacks they might use and so purchase the largest pack possible. Big is not always best. The bigger the pack, the more likely you are to over pack and end up with a very heavy pack which can hinder your well-being while travelling. Most packs are measured by their litre capacity which, if you’re like most, doesn’t mean very much at all. Therefore, a visual evaluation and some guidance from an attendant in a specialist travel/adventure accessory store will be your best bet.
Comfort: Not everyone is the same height or size so try the pack on first. The only thing worse than a heavy pack is an uncomfortable heavy pack. Your pack should fit you like a glove because the more comfortable you are the better you travel.
Versatility: As well as being the right length straps should be adjustable and storable in a compartment in the pack. Most packs have straps and handles enabling you to carry the pack like a suitcase.
Style: A pack that unzips like a suitcase is much easier to pack and re-pack than top-opening ones mostly used by hikers. This is because people with top opening ones may have to dig deep or unpack their belongings to find what they are looking for.
Detachable day-pack: Many packs come with a detachable day-pack which will be handy for overnight stays and for carrying knick-knacks around. Some packs include a removable toiletries bag.
Quality: The quality of the pack will determine its strength and sturdiness. In particular, a lot of strain is exerted in the zip area. A pack with a heavy-duty lockable zip is a good investment.
Price: Packs can and do vary in price so it is really up to you to do your research and purchase a pack that will suit your needs. Speak to staff in adventure gear, camping and disposal stores.
What to pack
The following suggestions are just that, suggestions. Makeshift, already acquired or borrowed items may do the job just as effectively as new ones. A lot of things can be bought on the road when you need them. Even though it might be nice to have new things to take away, save your money for your travels. The suggestions have been categories into: clothes, toiletries, documents and useful items.
Thermals For extremely cold weather.
Shorts One or two pairs.
Swimwear For warmer months.
Hat A very good idea if you plan to follow the sun.
Pants/Trousers/Jeans One or two pairs that you can dress up or down. Loose cotton with a drawstring/elastic waist is good for warmer weather. Jeans can be heavy to carry and take ages to dry.
Track pants/leggings One or two pairs.
Jumpers One or two; try to avoid bulky ones as they can be cumbersome.
Coat A good, light waterproof (then you don’t need a raincoat) and/or windproof jacket (preferably with a hood).
Gloves A necessity in the winter months.
Thongs/jandals/flip-flops or sandals Very useful to wear to shower blocks in camping grounds and for walking in hot weather and/or down the beach or around the pool.
Joggers/hiking boots/walking shoes One pair with good thick soles.
‘Going out’ shoes One pair.
Work clothes Adapt these to the type of work you hope to be doing.
Sarong Very useful item which can be used as a skirt, beach mat, towel, sheet or scarf. It will provide instant modesty on beaches and in temples so you can adhere to religious requirements.
Passport with visas/entry clearances.
Bank statement (showing your balance if on a working holiday to show immigration officials at your point of entry).
Driving license home country and international.
Spare passport photos for student identification cards, bus/rail passes and other purposes.
Medical prescription details if required.
Bank reference You may need one of these to open a bank account unless you did this from home.
Personal references Some landlords require them for long-term accommodation.
Police clearance/Working with children check: Some employment sectors require them.
CV and references take electronically.
Address book To keep in contact with friends and to add new ones.
Receipts showing when and where you bought your computer or audio equipment to certify that the equipment is for your own use and that you will be taking it home with you when you leave.
Toiletries Toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, shaver/razor, hairbrush and comb, tampons, contact lenses (disposable or back up). Buy travel-sized items, like roll-on deodorant instead of a large can or two-in-one shampoo and conditioner. You can always revert later.
Toiletry bag Preferably waterproof and with handles so you can hang it up on hooks in the shower. Or use a plastic bag.
Plug Not always provided in shower blocks. If you like to wash your face in a basin, take one.
Toilet roll Don’t laugh, you will notice that a lot of countries do not supply toilet paper in public toilets.
Medicines Brands can differ overseas so obtain a supply and a note from your doctor advising why you need the medication.
First aid kit Constipation, diarrhea and upset tummy tablets, bandaids (plasters), headache tablets, travel sickness tablets, etc.
Sleeping bag Very handy for dossing on friends’ floors, travelling and staying at hostels (though most hostels provide sheets and blankets). It should withstand very cold weather and be light.
Money belt Although uncomfortable and making one look pregnant or have a beer gut, this is a safe way to carry money, tickets and other valuables.
Torch You will be surprised at how often a small one comes in handy.
Travel clothes line and pegs It is hard to find a clothes hoist when you need one.
Washing power Tubes of liquid wash are available from supermarkets and travel agents.
Plastic bags To hold dirty washing and stuff. Also for wearing over socks if ever caught without waterproof shoes.
Phone and/or other electronic devices and earphones
Camera and film
Travel iron Handy if you take clothes that need ironing.
Coat hangers A couple will be useful.
Travel clock or use alarm on your phone
Power point adaptor and plugs They are very useful if you are taking a hair dryer, electric shaver or other electrical equipment.
Blow up neck pillow
Insect repellent and/or portable mosquito net
Towel/s A chamois towel rather than the traditional type may be useful.
Hand towel For long journeys when you need to freshen up. It feels much better than paper towel or toilet paper.
Water bottle/water purifier/water purifying tables Or drink bottled water.
Plate, cup, knife and fork very handy if self-catering while travelling.
Flag To take to sporting events
What to leave behind
A copy of your itinerary, including flight details and booked accommodation
A copy of the important details in your passport
Credit and debit card numbers
Travel insurance details
Any contact details
Some money, in case you need some sent to you while on the road, and for your return as coming home is hard enough without being totally broke also