Packing lists…

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Durdle Door, Dorset

You can ponder the subject forevermore, but whilst there are many suggested packing lists out there on the internet and in guidebooks or ‘how to’ tomes, there is only one that counts.

And that’s the one you need to write for yourself as you plan any kind of visit, be it a night away from home, a couple of weeks in the sun, a trekking venture or a circuit of the globe.

If you’re booking a walking or an adventure travel holiday as a package deal, you will inevitably get a packing list sent to you, but in some cases, I’ve seen packing lists with less than helpful advice on footwear for example.

If on the other hand you’re heading off on an independent trip then the onus is on you to sort out what to take with you before you even book your travel ticket.

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Tavira, The Algarve

Do you need a big bag with you for the trip that you’re proposing?

Or will going hand luggage only be a better idea that will save you some cash which will pay for a couple of night’s accommodation, a couple of train journeys or a few meals out?

Keep the bag small and light enough and you may even avoid the departure gate pack-size crate of added charges or any weight penalties. It’s all about doing your homework and getting the balance right about what you need and what you think you need.

Even though I’ve been heading out for years, I still take time out to pull together a list of what I need to pack for most trips. A few things are taken into consideration when I start putting the list together…

What are the weather conditions likely to be – warm? Cold? Wet? Dry? Snow? Or teeming down? Or a mixture of just about anything you could mention…

Will it be t-shirt weather? SPF shirts? Base layers? Fleece? Down? Soft Shell? Waterproofs? An umbrella? Shorts? Jeans? Techno trousers? Soft Shells? Capri Pants? Ronhills?

Are there likely to be any local considerations about covering up in temples etc? Or dress codes in the kind of accommodation you’re likely to be using? Can you wash & wear in your digs as you go along or do you need a launderette?

Are you likely to be taking part in any specialist activity that you’re interested in? Can you hire any specialist kit locally? And will the clothing that you’re thinking of taking along be suitable for any activity?

What kind of terrain are you likely to be covering and will your footwear choices be appropriate for this kind of terrain? Boots? Shoes? Sandals? Flip Flops? Crocs?

Can you get shower gel, shampoo, contact lens solutions, paracetemol, aspirin, ibuprofen, deodorants, sun cream, after sun, razors, or batteries?

Or repeat prescriptions while you’re on the road (a potential minefield as what can be prescribed in one country may be frowned on in another). Or replacement specs when your best pair breaks and you’ve forgotten to pack a spare pair? Top tip? Always pack a spare pair (especially if you’re a contact lens user) and a copy of your most recent prescription.

And just how much tech are you taking with you? Interesting pointers came to my attention recently when I read a 2013 Wanderlust interview with esteemed travel writer Paul Theroux – ‘Never carry anything that needs a battery’ and ‘Leave the camera at home”.

Food for thought? Quite possibly…

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Evora after dark

Yes, it’s a big set of considerations to put into the melting pot, but doing the research and putting together a list helps you to make decisions that are appropriate to you and the trip that you’re undertaking. And that’s without mentioning any paperwork that needs to be taken with you on your journey.

There’s a few hints on older posts here on wisepacking that may give you some further pointers, but remember, it’s my opinions and hints that are on here and you may or may not agree with them.

Which is fine, because everyone’s different.

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About Keith Rickaby

Fiftysomething writer and occasional photographer who has worked in both the tailoring trade and the outdoor/travel clothing, equipment and footwear game. Past lives include working as an outdoor instructor, managing three bands and doing PR work through an agency or my own contacts. Was a student in the mid-90s and whilst I'm originally from the North East, I'm now firmly based in't Yorkshire...
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