The Travellers Checklist - Prepping and Packing
As someone who is addicted to travel I know only too well the high that comes with booking your next adventure. Once your flight is booked the next stage is to prep and pack. Sometimes, especially with a big trip, this can make you feel a bit anxious, but don’t be. It’s all part of the experience and gets you one step closer to your travelling adventure so get excited about it!
Having been through it so many times I've got my travel checklist down to a fine art. While everyones different I've put together this travelling checklist to cover the essentials and help you get travel ready.
So here's the my travelling essentials, if you have no idea where to start make sure you at least have these, there's handy links to click and but or check out the link to my shop page at the end of this post.
Passport - The most obvious thing you need but often people forget to check their passport is valid. You need 6 months remaining on your passport for many places so do bear this in mind. Remember, if you’re going on a long trip you need to think about when you plan to to finish not just when you set off.
Flights - I’m a bit fan of skyscanner especially for international and multi city trips, they search all the different sites so you can pick the cheapest or shortest route. I’d also suggest following airlines on social media and signing up to their newsletter for the best deals like Jetstar’s annual 2 for 1 sales.
Insurance - I have a tendency to forget about this til i'm on my way to the airport, fortunately its quick and easy to get your travel insurance these days. to make life easier and avoid the panic buying get this sorted early so you can print your insurance documents and take them with you.
Accommodation - I have 2 go-to sites I use for accommodation, for hostels and hotels i use hotels.com, the app is so easy to use and once you’ve built up 10 nights you get 1 night free. If i want somewhere a bit nicer or i’m staying a bit longer i opt for AirBNB - while it can be more expensive than hostels, you sometimes save money by staying in for some meals and sharing the cost between a group of you.
Visas - This should be one of the first things on your list, don't be complacent, some countries visa requirements are quite stringent. As someone who spent an entire day in the Indian Embassy, I can tell you it's best to get this organised in plenty of time!
Copies - it's always good to have printed copies of your documents. In many countries you can't rely on internet and you may be one of the unlucky people one day that has their bag stolen or lost. I tend to have copies of my passport, flight details, hotel/tour reservations, visas and diving certificate just to be on the safe side.
Currency - Check out the exchange rate and make sure you're getting a good deal, if you leave it to the airport you might not so shop around before you go. In Africa and South America it's good to have a decent amount of US dollars as these are often required for border crossings. Ask for new notes (I found in Africa they wouldn't accept older notes)
Cards - There are good deals on pre paid travel cards that help cut the costs of exchange rates, check out xxxxxxx. When it comes to cards I suggest you always have a back up card carried separately to your main card. I've had both a card eaten by an ATM and been robbed while travelling but I always had a back up so it didn't ruin my trip.
Guides - you can get loads of ideas and advice online these days, personally I love a mix of guides and user generated content. If I read about somewhere that sounds fantastic I tend to search it on instagram to see what it's actually like. I am however still a bit old school in that I love a lonely planet guide! Perhaps it's because I started backpacking before smart phones but it's become part of my routine for every trip!
Backpack - while I do own a suitcase it rarely gets used these days, I honestly find backpacks easier for most travel. My Kathmandu pack is big enough for a big trip but I only need to put in as much as I need so it's fine for shorter trips too. The back straps easily tidy away with a zip up flap so it can be hand held as well. It comes with a daypack that you can easily clip on so you don't need to do that front and back pack thing. The day pack is also a handy size for hand luggage so it's all you luggage in one.
Sleeping bag - If you plan to camp or stay in hostels you're going to want a decent sleeping bag. I like this multi season, small and lightweight bag. Don't worry Tepa king it becomes a fine art over time!
Sleeping bag liner - this will stop your bag getting stinky and also double up as a sheet in warmer climates. Don't scrimp or you will stink!
Water bottle - this life bottle is great for everyday use but also has an in built filter so you can drink water from anywhere. Handy when you're in countries where you can't drink the tap water or if you're camping or hiking and the only water is from rivers and lakes. It's a bit more expensive than your average water bottle bottle but saves you in the long run as you spend less on bottled water and purification tablets. Plus foreach LifeStraw you purchase, one school child in a developing community receives safe drinking water for an entire school year.
Travel adaptors - The last thing you want on your trip is for your camera to be low on battery and the last thing anyone else wants to do is lend you theirs so come prepared. Charge your electronics where you can because often you may go days without being able to.
Power bank - As above, make sure you have your own. Go Pros and phone batteries don't last long so this will be your saviour on so many occasions. Anyone that's endured a 12 hour bus journey with no music will understand the importance of this bad boy!
Alarm clock - Your not always going to have a fully charged phone and it’s best not to leave it on overnight and waste the battery an alarm clock will come in handy. This one from Kathmandu is great because you can easily change your time zone and it has a torch built in so if you need to get up in the middle of the night you can sneak out your hostel room without falling over your neighbours walking boots!
Money belt - It's better to be safe than sorry. Being a tourist in some places unfortunately makes you prey for muggers so keep your cards and cash hidden. Also sometimes it's nicer not to carry a bag if you don't need to so you can take advantage of this when you're spending a day hiking or at a festival too.
Toiletry bag - You only want to have one toilet bag, no girls this isn't in addition to your make up bag! Travel light and just take the essentials. This is big enough for the essentials so if it doesn't fit it doesn't come! Be sure to get one like this with a hanger as there's going to be times you won't have a clean surface to put it on.
Travel towel - When you’re moving around a lot you want a lightweight, quick drying towel. These travel towels are perfect for travelling and you can also use them regularly for the gym too so they’re a great investment.
Camera - I always have a camera of some sort with me. I know phone cameras are getting better my the day but i like to take quality photos and don’t trust my phone battery at the best of times. I have a Canon DSLR for most of my photography and a go pro action camera for diving, snorkelling and general beach fun. I’ve had both for years and honestly wouldn’t travel without them.
Memory cards - You’ll be surprised by how quickly you use up your memory cards when you go to travelling so be sure to take spares especially if you aren’t taking a laptop to back them up. Theres often not anywhere to buy things like this on the road so get these before you go.
First aid kit - Hopefully you won't need to use this too often so it should last you for years but you don't want to be without it.
Laundry kit - This can come in very handy especially if you’re going to be camping or staying in beach huts etc without any laundry facilities. Plugs and washing lines are a hot commodity in a lot of hosted too so bring your own so you can wash and dry your clothes anywhere.
Dry bag - Travel isn’t all 747s and taxi’s, you’ll often find yourself on boats either to get between islands or on day trips and a lot of the times getting soaked speeding through waves. Rather than worry about your camera gear and dry change of clothes getting soaked with you i highly recommend getting a dry bag. That way you can enjoy getting thoroughly soaked and just jump in with your gear and swim to shore!
Insect repellent - Not only are mozzie bites incredibly bloody itchy and ugly but Malaria and other diseases are a real issue in many countries so if you’re going anywhere hot or humid get yourself a good repellent with deet.
Head torch - A must have for camping a head torch often comes in handy too in more remote places especially islands where street lighting is sparse and you need to walk walk home after dinner or drinks.
Sewing kit - Yeah i’m serious! I’m not talking knitting or anything, just a basic sewing kit to fix up any tears or buttons. When you’re wearing the same few items for months on end it’s inevitable you’ll need it at some point.
So thats my travel checklist, did i miss something? Let me know in the comments and i’ll add it to the list so this gets bigger and better! Oh and obviously don't forget to add your clothes, sunnies and toiletries to this list!
You can view and buy all my recommended travel essentials here