Portugal packing…

Although we had the option to take hold luggage along with us to Portugal as we’d booked our flights with TAP Portugal rather than a low cost airline, we opted to travel hand luggage only.

Yes, we got a look of surprise from the lady behind the desk at Manchester Airport when we checked in, but it didn’t take long to realise that we’d made the right decision, especially when we got to Lisbon.

All we did was get the bags out of the locker, shoulder them once out of the plane and then hit the way through Passport Control and Customs. Once through, we found the nearest ATM to get cash before getting the only taxi used on our trip. Now the taxi driver wasn’t too happy about us not putting bags in the boot, but we were happy that we weren’t paying additional charges for putting the bags in the boot.

One thing we did notice – we had the smallest bags of anyone in the queue on the taxi rank – one couple had hand luggage each, hold luggage each and a bag of golf clubs each (and were holding the queue up as the bloke wasn’t doing a very good job of steering the fully laden trolley in the general direction of the line of taxis!).

Farpoint 40 Lagoon Blue

Caroline and I both use Osprey Farpoint 40 packs. These take what we want to take, have a full rucksack harness under a zipped back panel and a couple of grab handles that allow for picking the bag up quickly in order to run for a bus, Metro or train. Caroline’s also has the provision to use a clip-on carrying strap, mine doesn’t – the joys of buying our bags separately from two different suppliers (mine’s the slightly older version!).

There’s also a decent size pocket at the top of the bag which is great for stashing away the obligatory clear plastic toiletries bag and my prescription meds.

Why was I packing toiletries? Because of the guide book comments regarding shops closing at 1pm on a Saturday afternoon – it was only when we got to Lisbon that we found out they didn’t! The toiletries bag also contained a full bottle of Lifeventure Fabric Wash for wash & wear use.

So what was in the main bag? A plastic file containing the paperwork, my Kindle in a Rohan neoprene pouch, a set of Rohan packing cubes containing clothing and travel towels plus a pair of Crocs, the charger for my compact camera, a small LED torch, a Moleskine notebook and a comb.

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Rohan Core Silver t-shirt

Inside the packing cubes were three Rohan t-shirts (one white and one blue Element shirts and one red Core Silver shirt), a couple of Rohan dress shirts (one Envoy, one Worldview) as we were spending some time in a Pousada, one pair of Rohan Grand Tour Chinos, and three pairs each of Rohan Core Silver trunks and Rohan Hot and Temperate socks.

Yes, those last couple of paragraphs sound like an advert for Rohan, but they’re not – Rohan just happened to have the clothing that I wanted to take along with me. None of it was new and a fair amount had been bought in a couple of sales the company had been running in the year or so before we flew off to Portugal. Years as a retailer, instructor and gear tester have taught me to go for the best I can afford at the time and make it last rather than buy cheaper stuff and replace it more often.

The clothing choices matched the climate and had the necessary wash and wear qualities to enable using hand luggage. Another consideration was the ability to mix and match the items, the ability to layer if the weather changed and accommodation dress codes.

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Rohan Trailblazer trousers (top) and Rohan Grand Tour Chinos (bottom)

Which is why I was wearing more Rohan in the shape of another Core Silver shirt, a pair of Trailblazer trousers and a Stronghold shirt on the flight out. The pocketing arrangements on the last two were useful means of carrying my wallet, passport, camera, UK change for the cafe, pens and keys plus mints and a small packet of Wet Wipes.

Everything was easily accessible, especially when it came to placing stuff in the tray at the security check station and putting it back into the clothing once it had all been scanned or inspected. The Trailblazers also have a plastic belt buckle, which meant that there was no need to remove it at airport security on the way out…

My shoes? A pair of now discontinued Rohan by brasher approach shoes with a silver lining – non-waterproof given the temperatures that were likely to be encountered.

Caroline was also using a fair selection of wash and wear travel clothing with Rohan jeans being worn alongside Travel Linen trousers and an oldish pair of capri pants. Tops were a mix of Rohan Essence vest tops and a couple of Royal Robbins sleeved and sleeveless tops that she’s had for a few years now. Footwear? A pair of Merrell sandals and some Ecco Blom Lite Mary Jane shoes.

My wash kit was minimalist  – toothbrush, toothpaste/mouthwash combination, mini shower gel and a part-used roll-on antiperspirant. Larger bottles of toiletries were bought when the little ones ran out – Caroline and I share shower gel and sun creams, so it’s a bottle of each to save money.

Travel towels worked a treat for drying ourselves in hostels and on the beach and to roll washed clothing in before drying. A small first aid kit was packed alongside my post-stroke meds, the all-important copies of my prescriptions and hospital discharge papers that explain everything.

When everything was packed, our bags were around the 7kg mark for me and 6kg for Caroline for the two week trip. We could easily have done it by packing less clothing and doing more washing and wearing, but this was a treat trip after a rough year and we’d added the nights in the Pousada at Sagres as a bit of luxury halfway through. We’d also packed a full guide book – it will be a cannibalised version next time!

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About Keith Rickaby

Fiftysomething writer and occasional photographer who has worked in 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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