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Travelling without the kitchen sink
10 indispensable things to take on holiday with you
Member Name: beckyX
10 indispensable things to take on holiday with you
Advantages: Travel light, essentials
Disadvantages: No kitchen sink
As many of you know from reading my reviews, I love to travel. I go abroad to the other side of the world most years. Yet somehow, no matter how many times I do it, every time I am going away for more than a week, I get so worried that I have forgotten to pack something that I have to have a trusted friend on hand to physically escort me from my flat and frog-march me to the bus stop?
You can picture the barrage of questions now: Did I pack my inhaler? Did I remember my passport? How about my tickets? Did I switch off the gas? Was the window open? It's nothing short of a miracle that my friends haven't murdered me yet, given the silly questions I ask en route!
What really helps me is list making. Then I can tick everything off the list with trusted friend, and then I know I've checked everything and packed everything I need. Or at least everything that would be disastrous to forget. I have to keep telling myself that they do actually sell most things in other countries too.
At New Year, on a trip to Russia, my luggage was delayed for three days, and I got to appreciate what things really are indispensible. These are all things that I would advise to pack in hand luggage, because you never can tell when your luggage will get there. Travel as light as you can do, and remember that you can buy things like clothes and toiletries if you need them.
Obviously, if you are going on a specialised hiking holiday in the Himalayas, you will need specific equipment that is not included here. This list is not exhaustive, and is intended for a typical holiday.
By the time I get to the airport, I have checked my passport at least a dozen times. Just in case it vanished into thin air since the last time. It never has. Yet.
2)Cashcards and cash
Always have at least one spare card kept out of your main wallet in case of emergencies. And try to have cards of several "flavours" (visa, mastercard, maestro) - I've lost the number of times I've had to try three or four cash machines to find one that has the type I need.
I've found that carrying notes of a strong currency is vital when travelling - for tips, in airports en route, and in countries where the local currency is weak, for everyday use. I found that in general, it mattered much less what the currency is (I've been fine with dollars, pounds and euros) and much more that the cash you have is in bills, because coins can't be changed at a bureau de change. Since the US dollar has the lowest value bill (the 1 dollar bill, equivalent to about 50-70p depending on exchange rates), it's generally the most useful. Even (I was surprised to find out) in Russia!
As a student, I made the mistake of taking travellers' cheques to Poland on the advice of my bank who assured me that there were no cash machines in Poland (this was 1999). Big mistake. Nowehere would change them; since I was an impoverished student, I had cleaned out my account to get them, so couldn't get cash from the ubiquitous cash machines (the banks were wrong). After trying over a dozen banks and information centres, my Polish travel buddy found somewhere to change it: a very... specialised... establishment located in a plush ballroom with chandeliers in the top of a hotel that looked nothing at all like a bank. It was full of people in very expensive suits and sunglasses who had briefcases of money. I thought it best to just change all my cheques and not ask too many questions.
3)Travel insurance documentation/tickets
Keep a photocopy of your travel insurance and all your other travel documents (passport, tickets) somewhere separate from your original. Ideally, email yourself a copy as well in case you get separated from your luggage.
4)Medicine (with doctor's letter and spare prescription)
Keep at least a small amount of your medicine on you at all times. And ensure that you have enough in your hand luggage to last your journey. Be very careful if travelling with codeine that you have a GP letter (and any other authorisation you may need from countries you visit or travel through), or you may find yourself in prison for drugs smuggling!
5)A Kindle (or other e-reader)
Books are heavy. Kindles are not. You can fit a lot of books on one kindle. I discovered on my holiday to Russia how great my kindle was: through it, I got free internet access! See my kindle review for more information on how fabulous I think my kindle is.
6)Spare change of clothing
In my hand luggage, I carry two spare sets of underwear, a clean t-shirt and a skirt/pair of trousers. You never can tell when your luggage will get lost. Russia at New Year with no luggage would have been a lot worse if I hadn't had the change of clothes. Plus I had the foresight to wear my merino layers and my down jacket on the plane.
7)Chargers with adapters
Nothing is more frustrating than losing power on your electronic equipment. Make sure you have the right kind of adapter with you, and at least one charger for everything.
8)Camera with spare memory cards and battery
One of the most important things when I travel is my camera. No matter how many memory cards I take, I always fill them all and beyond. I've had to buy extra cards in Queenstown, burned CDs with my pictures at tiny hotels in Darkest Peru, and previously come home with about 20 rolls of film from Switzerland (having taken 10 with me).
I always wear my hiking boots on the plane with me, because the thought of the pain of breaking in a new pair of boots when on holiday just does not appeal to me. Don't bother with too many sets of footwear - I've managed the world over with a sturdy pair of boots and a pair of sandals. Although I suspect I will never win any fashion contests when I'm out there.
Yes, they do sell it abroad. However, the last thing you need when you arrive in a sunny country is to have to track down the nearest pharmacy. Far better to take at least a small amount with you (remembering that you need little bottles if you are carrying it in your hand luggage).
So, there we go - my top ten. It was hard limiting it to only ten, but now I've managed it, next time I travel, I will be able to look at this and think "Do I really need to take this kitchen sink? No! Of course not! They sell kitchen sinks in $countryX don't they?".
Summary: My top ten tips to travelling light