Searching everywhere online, I found it impossible to find a comprehensive guide for what was required when going travelling.
There were a number of little tips, recommending sun tan lotion and some extra socks, but no walkthrough to lean back on as we began preparing our big trip across America.
I would therefore like to offer my best attempt at listing everything you need before you go travelling and realistically what you must pack.
Before you leave:
Check your passport!! I can’t emphasis this enough. If you don’t have one at the moment, don’t delay ordering it, get it as soon as possible. When re-ordering mine, there were issues with their side, then the post office, and in the end it took 6 months to arrive! Fortunately, it was 6 months and 2 weeks till I went on holiday, so a close shave despite over half a year spare!
If you do have a passport, check the expiry date. make sure it is valid for the entire time you will be away for. Some countries have an odd rule where it must have at least 6 months on it, so if it is getting close to expiring, maybe consider renewing it anyway.
Work out what the VISA details are for the countries you’re visiting. From the UK to America you can get a 3 month waiver visa, but you have to prepare this beforehand, while to Egypt you can just buy it in the airport for £11.
Every mum and dad around the world will badger you to get travel insurance before you go away, but more than anything, I like to base it on how long I am away for, what activities I will be doing and where I am going to.
For example, when I went to Egypt, I went quad biking, parasailing, camel riding etc, therefore I needed to opt for an Insurance that covered for all these activities, so look through the small print. On the other hand, the 4 day trip to Cologne for my cousin’s wedding I assumed wouldn’t get me into (much) trouble, therefore I went for a much cheaper option.
When buying insurance, one of the most important things to note is how much you pay in excess to claim the insurance. You don’t want to pick a cheap insurance policy, then to realise you would have to pay out the cost of a laptop to reclaim the money from an old lost laptop.
You also want to check what is covered under activities, as most won’t cover for activities such as horse riding, quad biking etc. If you plan on doing these activities then you will have to look through all the competition and find the insurance company that can offer this.
Travel and transport:
Unless you plan on guessing what you are doing when you arrive, you can sometimes benefit from laying out your travel plans. We hired a car for the first three weeks of America, yet we did that 4 months beforehand in Brighton.
This meant there was very little confusion, while we also knew the price straight away, rather than getting hustled or having to pay way more than we had budgeted for.
Paying for a month pass on the greyhound also saved us a bundle, as it came to the cost of 3 journeys, yet we used it to travel across the states, visiting about 20 different locations.
First rule, make sure you pack your toiletries in your main baggage, not your hand luggage, otherwise all the effort of getting it right will be wasted when the staff at the airport remove them
Sun tan lotion is a mandatory item to bring for most countries (depending on the country and the season), however you can buy this once you get there if you want to save some room in the bags. Make sure to read my guide of the cost of sun tan lotion abroad.
Buying at home or abroad would once again be dependent on the country, therefore I would do a quick check online beforehand, for example, sun tan lotion was double the price in Sharm El Sheikh than back home in England, as they realised it was an opportunity to make some extra money from tourists who aren’t used to the unbearable heat.
Spray: Whether you bring eau de toilette, perfume or a can of lynx, you will appreciate the odour disguiser as your t-shirt turns see through with sweat.
Baby Wipes: I probably should think of a more eco-friendly option to baby wipes, but the reality is they are the most useful item when travelling. Whether it’s wiping your hands, cleaning your skin, wiping down something dirty such as your laptop or even giving your armpits a quick rub when you haven’t showered in a while, they are gems.
When you pack for travelling, you will always bring more than you need. With a massive bag on your back, you will quickly regret this and many clothes will be left along the way.
I’d also be careful about bringing your favourite clothing, as by the end of the trip half my clothes had gone missing/destroyed along the way.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t bring anything smart, but you have to consider how you would feel if you lost that piece of clothing and could you get something similar abroad.
My personal optimal amount was 5 t-shirts, 7 pairs of socks and 7 boxers, as this allowed just enough time for the ones you wore at the start of the week to be washed and dried, especially if you’re in a hot country.
Shoes should be kept to an absolute minimum, you could get away with one smart and one rugged, and some extra flip flops if they can fit in, but that’s it.
Whatever you decide on shoes, make sure they are built to last, converses would be in tiny pieces within a fortnight! You may end up on a fair few long walks, so make sure you don’t pick something that rubs.
Also, instead of bringing tonnes of books, you’re better of having a device where you can read e-books. Make sure to have a read of my list of the best travel ebooks.
If you can think of anything else which should be considered, leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!