If you have been keeping up with my movements around the world, you will realise that I must have become expert at packing. I think that I have, at last, perfected the art of packing and regularly manage to get by with only 18kg of luggage and a handbag (although it must be said that it is rather a large handbag). If you are going away and want to know how and what I pack for a vacation, please read on. My article has also been used here.
What you pack for your vacation depends on your destination. Are you going to enjoy fun in the sun, traveling to the Antarctic or going somewhere temperate? Wherever your destination, how exactly do you decide what you will need?
* Decision 1
Will you need only casual clothes or will there be times when more formal attire is called for? If there are no planned formal events, but you are hoping for something to crop up on the off chance, then allow ONE evening top/shirt that can be teamed with smart pants/skirt (or a non-crease dress that can be rolled up into a corner of your case). If there are formal events, consider using the same outfit, but change it by adding accessories like a scarf or jacket.
* Decision 2
Look at your wardrobe and only take out items that coordinate. You want all your tops/shirts to go with all your pants/skirts. Take nothing that is for one wear only, every item of clothing should have multiple uses. For example, a t-shirt can be worn alone with pants or under a dress or jacket for a different look.
* Decision 3
How many days is your vacation? That's how many outfits you will need. However, as all your items are coordinated, you can ring the changes with mix-and-match, so you need fewer pants/skirts than tops. If there are no laundry facilities, will you have enough underwear? Will you be able to hand wash and allow to dry overnight?
* Decision 4
What specialist clothing do you need? Will you be swimming, hiking, skiing, sightseeing or enjoying a spa? Include the minimum clothing for your activity.
* Decision 5
What toiletries do you need? If you are staying in a hotel, you usually don't need anything in the way of basic toiletries, apart from your toothbrush and toothpaste. If you need to take toiletries, then consider buying travel sized ones. The same goes for makeup. Clean out your makeup bag and only take the bare minimum to keep you feeling good about your appearance. Check ahead with your accommodation to see if hairdryers are provided.
* Decision 6
Shoes. Realistically, what is the MINIMUM number of pairs you can manage with? Think carefully about this. Very few people on vacation will notice that you are wearing the same shoes to a restaurant or nightclub as you did the night before. You need three types of shoes at the most, activity shoes, beach shoes and evening shoes.
* Decision 7
What will you carry in your hand luggage? Always carry valuable items with you. Never pack jewelery, iPods, mp3 players, hand-held games or cameras in your suitcase. Do not carry liquids in your hand luggage. Many travelers have had their mouthwash confiscated at the airport because they shoved it in their carry-on bag at the last minute.
* Decision 8
Ask yourself, "Have I got my passport/ID/Driver's License, tickets and money? Am I going to enjoy this vacation?" Answer, a resounding, "Yes!"