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What to Pack: 15 Things You Must Have in Your Travel Bag

With your flights and hotel booked, the luggage is the last thing stopping you from that great holiday. We know it feels like a chore, but if you follow our expert packing tips you’ll never have to worry.
Travelling for a vacation or business trip is all fun and games until it just is not. Since the essence of travel requires you to move from your comfort zone to a different city or country, there are a few things that could make your travel experience much easier. While the trip may have been impromptu, not having one of these items could put you into some embarrassing situations. For that reason, we have compiled a list of 5 items that should always be in your travel bag, no matter how short the duration of your trip.

1. Make a list

Ok, so it sounds a little boring, but idiot-proof lists are the gateway to a stress-free holiday. Separate your essentials from your desirables, and be realistic with your luggage limitations. If you need list inspiration – the following might be a good place to start…

2. Don’t forget the first aid kit

We’re not asking you to prepare for ER, just a small bag with the most necessary pills and medicine you might need. After all, nobody wants to suffer a punishing headache, high-climate fever, upset stomach or all three during a holiday. It might be easy enough to pick up a domestic remedy for your ailments at home, but medicines in the country you are visiting may be limited to prescription only. The same goes for allergy meds and asthma remedies – bring them on board!

3. Limit your liquids

We all know about it by now, and yet there’s still a mass confusion and hold-up when some chancer tries to sneak a bottle of water past airport security. Much to everybody’s chagrin, pan-European baggage restrictions state that all liquids carried in hand luggage must be no more than 100 ml per item, and must fit into one small and resealable transparent bag (usually available at the airport for a nominal fee). If you’re carrying anything larger, stow it with your checked-in suitcase.

4. Name tags are there to help

Unless you’re an international man of mystery, you shouldn’t have to worry about travelling incognito. Most suitcases come with name tags fitted as standard, so be sure to fill them in just in case you – or the airline – lose your luggage!

5. Observe restrictions on baggage

If your airline says: “23kg”, then they mean 23kg! Weigh your bags before you get to the airport and make sure you are within the restrictions, otherwise you’ll be forced to cough up extra cash at the airport or, even worse, have to say goodbye to that lovely hand-knitted cardigan your grandmother spent so long slaving over. We’ve all tried to squeeze that extra pair of pants in the already overstuffed suitcase, but the restrictions are there for a reason, and that reason is your safety. Which reminds us…

6. Save bag space for all your holiday purchases

Whether it’s duty free goods or holiday mementos, it’s inevitable that you’ll be bringing more back home with you than when you left – so make sure you have room for it!

7. Skip the shoes

The biggest and most frustrating item of luggage. How many pairs of shoes you should take is very much dependent on how long your vacation might be, but we’d suggest that three pairs is a reasonable average for a 1-2 week getaway. More important than volume is versatility, so make sure you’re not stuck hiking in stilettos by bringing a pair of shoes for every realistic occasion of your trip. Wear your most cumbersome pair on the plane – plus, stuff your socks in the rest – and you’ll save even more space.


8. Cosmetics – at a minimum!

Unless you plan on travelling to a desert island, it’s likely that you’ll be able to pick up popular shampoo or sun lotion brands in almost any corner of the world. Fewer cosmetics also mean that you’ll be less likely to find an explosion of nondescript gooey liquids spoiling everything in your suitcase when you arrive at your destination. If you really can’t live without that special face cream, try to take only as much as you’ll need for your trip and nothing more. That way you can discard the empties and save extra luggage room for your trip back home.

9. Keep on rolling…

This tip is certainly up for debate, but we think that rolling your clothes really is the only way to go. Not only will it reduce those pesky wrinkles and creases in your gear, it’ll save you some much needed suitcase space.

10. Notepad and pen
A notepad and a pen is always required for any trip.  Even though many have resorted to making notes and reminders on their smart phones and electronic devices, a physical notepad and pen is a great backup as it does not run out of battery or memory. It goes with you anywhere and helps you keep track of important names, places, numbers, and important happenings, acting as a personal diary.

11. Change of clothes and underwear
Spare clothes and underwear are two very important travel items. Even in situations where you do not plan to stay past a day, it is advisable to have extras available for contingency’s sake. You may need to stay past the required period, your flight may be canceled or delayed, or you may even have coffee spilled on you. While these may not seem to be dreadful occurrences, being unprepared for them can leave you embarrassed or uncomfortable all the same, wrecking the trip in its entirety.

12. Travel toothbrush and toothpaste
Bad breath or mouth odor can be extremely embarrassing; simple tasks like asking for directions or flagging a cab driver can become a burden if you are conscious of the stench coming from your mouth. A travel toothbrush and toothpaste or even just floss, is a travel necessity. Since you are not your primary location, finding a place to purchase them can also be a hassle. Better safe than sorry; ensure that you always move with a pair.

13. Device chargers and power banks
These can never be overemphasized. Being in a different location means you will need as much help as you can get to navigate your way. Since our phone logs are almost always in our mobile devices and we may need to make calls on the go, it is necessary to keep them fully charged and loaded with airtime. Maps and other applications can also be optimized with our devices. None of these helpful aids are useful with a drained battery.

14. Basic ID, documents, and cards
Finally, your carry-on travel bag must always contain basic means of identification. While this may seem obvious, it is surprisingly easy to accidentally pack them in your checked luggage. Keep your international passport, documents for the required trip, ATM cards, credit cards, and business cards  close at all times. In emergency cases, these would often come in handy

15. Don’t leave home without the essentials

This penultimate tip is a big one as, without these necessities, you won’t be heading anywhere but home: check and check again that you have your monies, a valid passport and – for the sake of your holiday companions – a toothbrush. Keep these all on hand and then you’ll be able to remember the most important thing…

Enjoy your vacation!


Written by How Africa

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