How to pack for a trip overseas

I recently posted on social media recommending people start a packing list at least a week in advance, to which my mum responded “a week? I start well before that!”

Which got me thinking about how we pack and how we decide what to take when travelling to far away destinations with unknown climates.

Packing can be fraught with indecision and confusion. You want to look stylish, but you want to be comfortable. You don’t want to be too hot, or too cold and of course, you only have limited space, so your clothes need to work overtime.

And you don’t want to spend all your time in the Laundromat cleaning clothes when you could be out seeing amazing sites and experiencing local culture.

So how do you create a list and pack for a trip overseas?

I like to start thinking early about what I might want to take. I also have a standard packing list of all the essentials in the notes app on my phone so when it comes to packing for an upcoming tripI’ve already got a good start. I add and subtract from this list while I’m away, so it’s constantly evolving.

But as each destination is different, the actual items I take vary from trip to trip.

Here are just a few tips that may help you pack for your next trip:

  • Add your destination to your weather app a few weeks before you go so you’ll know what the weather will actually be like when you get there. I check in a few times just to see how the weather is changing.
  • Review your itinerary for the specific activities you’ll be taking part in –is there special equipment that you’ll need? Snow boots if you’re going to the snow, reef shoes if you’ll be in the water?
  • Can you group the different activities that will require similar types of outfits?
  • How many times will you be doing each activity? I.e.are there any special dinners and if so, how many? Will you be visiting farms, climbing mountains, trekking around ruins or swimming everyday? This is important because it will get you thinking about the primary activities and therefore the kinds of clothes you’ll be wearing the most.
  • I have heard of people who look at images from specific tours or destinations that they are travelling to so they can see what others are wearing. Far from being just about wanting to ‘fit in’ this can also help you know what the climate actually feels like –we all know that 25 degrees in one country can be far different in another country –or even part of the same country -depending on the intensity of the sun, altitude, climatic region etc.
  • Lay your clothes out at least a week before you go. This helps ensure none of the clothes you want to take are in the laundry basket –no one wants
    to be washing and drying clothes the night before a flight. But I also do this so I can see how well my clothes go together. I lay everything out by clothes type on the spare bed. If I’ve got a top that only goes with one other item, I remove it and add something that is more versatile.
  • I also lay out any equipment and toiletries I plan to take –camera gear, laptop, that way I can see how much I’m actually taking and can make sure I don’t forget chargers or power adapters.
  • Don’t pack too much. Don’t think you have to fill the space in your suitcase. You might want to buy items from your destination, i.e.local mementoes or even new clothes. And remember, you’ll often have to move your case around yourself –you don’t want to struggle lifting it on and off the conveyor belt at the airport. Laying it all out before you pack can help ensure you don’t just randomly throw items into your suitcase until it’s full.
  • If you’re still unsure, ask your tour operator, often they will have recommended packing lists for particular destinations. Then sit back and relax, knowing that you’ve got all the things you’ll need for your particular destination and activities.

*Diane Squires is tour host with Two’s a Crowd.

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