If the thought of packing for air travel fills you with dread, never fear you are not alone. It does after all, require a carefully choreographed balancing act – pack too little and you’ll spend a fortune shopping for essential items later on – pack too much and you’ll be forfeiting your children’s university education on baggage fees – and should you pack in a manner deemed to be suspicious, you’ll find yourself on the wrong end of a full body cavity search from a surly airport security officer.
To save yourself from a packing nightmare, read on for tips from true travel mavens:
Packing For An African Safari:
Opt for light, cotton clothing in neutral tones – These fabrics work best in a hot climate. Pack about 3 t-shirts and 3 pairs of shorts. Do not pack white shirts, they show the dirt up easily and make you highly visible to the animals.
Include a long sleeved shirt and trousers – The evenings can be chilly and they are also good for keeping mosquitoes and other insects at bay.
A lightweight waterproof jacket is essential – Temperatures can vary greatly. While morning and afternoon drives can be chilly, by midday you’ll be more than comfortable wearing shorts and a t-shirt. The secret is to wear several layers that you can take off or add to as needed.
Don’t forget to bring a good pair of trainers or hiking shoes – Unless you are doing a walking safari, there is no need to pack heavy-duty hiking boots. A good durable pair of trainers is all that is needed.
Embrace your inner Indiana Jones and include a wide brimmed hat – Choose a hat that has a wide enough brim to shade your eyes and the back of your neck (this is an area most people forget, and where they get sunburnt).
Don’t forget the sunscreen – Choose a sunscreen with a high SPF or sun protection factor of between 30 and 50. The last thing you want on holiday is a bad sunburn or sunstroke. Be sure that your sunscreen offers sufficient protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
Sunglasses aren’t just for looking cool – The glare from the sun during the middle of the day can hurt your eyes and give you a headache, especially if you are not used to it.
A camera, charger and spare memory cards are vital to capture this once in a lifetime experience – If you are leaving your home country, check whether the places you will be residing at will provide you with the necessary adapters or whether you need to bring your own along. If you’re going to a different country or overseas, odds are certain things will be different.
Medical kits aren’t only for hypochondriacs – Pack a small bag or medical kit with some pain killers, any chronic medications (enough for the trip), some insect repellent, lip balm, bandages, plasters, a sedative (if you are a nervous traveller), anti-nausea medication, chewing gum (for air pressure changes in the plane), tissues and any anti-malarial prophylaxis if you’re heading into a malaria zone.
Securing Your Luggage:
- Make your bag easy to recognise by tagging the outside with a colourful ribbon and by using a name tag. On your name tag include details such as name, contact details, destination address etc.
- Items to include in your hand luggage, rather than in check-in luggage, include laptops, cameras, legal documents i.e. passport, cash/cards, jewellery, and medication. It is also wise to include a spare change of clothes in your hand luggage, just in case the worst happens and your checked bag is lost/delayed.
- Always ensure that your bag is locked before check-in as this acts as a deterrent. Consider making use of the wrapping service provided at most airports as an additional preventative measure against damage and pilferage.
- Remember that liquids, aerosols and gels measuring more than 100ml are not allowed in hand luggage. For international travel, if they measure less than 100ml they must be secured in a re-sealable, plastic storage bag. Regulations may vary from airline to airline so double check the rules for your particular carrier.
- Scan your passport, passport photos and paper tickets. Store this in your web-based email account. You can also store the details of your emergency ‘lost card’ telephone numbers in your web-based email account so you know who to contact if your credit card or ATM card is lost or stolen. This way, even if you lose everything, you have immediate access your all important information.
- Also, consider writing your home and destination address (and mobile number if you have one) on a self-adhesive sticky label to stick INSIDE your luggage in a visible place. If your luggage is lost and the baggage label has come off, at least the airline can still figure out whose luggage it is.
How To Pack:
Think of your bag as being divided into three horizontal layers. Place your shoes and any other bulky or hard items in first for the bottom layer. Fill in the spaces between them with smaller items, like underwear and T-shirts.
The second layer is for larger clothing items—fold them as you would normally and lay them on top.
The third tier is anything you might want to access on your way from A to B—an extra layer if you’re traveling somewhere cold or a lighter one if you’re going somewhere warm. Your bag of liquids should be in this layer, too, as close as possible to where your bag opens to make it easy to grab for security. Also, anything that might break or spill should be in this top layer so that the other items in your bag don’t squish it.
Remember to roll rather than fold, somehow it seems that bags will hold more if the clothes are rolled rather than folded. An added benefit – they will crease less.
When it comes to packing, you need to make use of every little inch of suitcase space that you can. Roll tops, underwear, socks and other small items and stuff them into your shoes to make sure every possible space is filled.
Wear your heaviest clothing on the plane to save space in your luggage. You can always take off your jacket and use it as a pillow.
Pack your electronics together – this makes it easier for security to identify them when scanning.
As a rule of thumb, you probably don’t need more than three T-shirts, two pairs of pants, a sweater, a day-to-night dress and one or two seasonal items (like a bathing suit). For shoes, wear casual ones on the plane and pack nicer ones. Add underpants for every day—and ladies don’t forget bras or other foundation garments. if you are travelling for more than three weeks, plan to wash on the road and include detergent.
You’ve now been handed the knowledge so stop procrastinating and get packing!