Packing essentials for every eventuality (so far!)

We’ve learnt a lot about what not to forget to pack over the years by forgetting it!  I  never seem to have space for half of what I travel with (and never use/wear half of it anyway) and so it always amazes me that I can forget anything…  my husband has set up in Evernote his ‘ultimate packing list’ for different types of holiday – hotel/self-catering/camping – as well as for business trips.  We still seem to forget to check the list on some trips, but we’re getting better.  Here’s a few tips which work on all sorts of different holidays.  Hopefully this doesn’t sound like things from the @Pippatips Twitter feed, but just things that if we didn’t write them down, we’d end up forgetting every time we went away. Suitcase Maps Obvious really, but the amount of times we’ve assumed that either the car satnav will be right or that 3G service will be available.  We used to drive out to Lake Garda every other year for a regatta and invested in a European map, but I know of lots of our friends that winged it with print outs of AutoRoute or an equivalent!  What was particularly funny was that there was a brand new tunnel through a mountain that wasn’t on these maps which completely threw them off the route – fortunately they were towing another dinghy like ours and so it was easy for us to spot them and help with the route.  A friend recently suggested an app called ‘Pocket Earth’ which lets you download maps and routes in high detail (Google Maps style) so that you don’t need 3G – I will be trying that next time.  Exploring the city of Kingston and the mountains nearby in the dark without that detail is an experience I will fondly look back on knowing I now have a solution to avoid doing it again! A 4 bar plug charger/extension lead and plug adaptor Plug all the plugs in before you go (computer, toothbrush, Blackberry/Apple, computer) and then you just need one travel adaptor and one plug socket and you’re sorted (and also less likely to lose different chargers. Until we started doing this we seemed to leave a charger behind on each trip – it’s so much easier and you are much less likely to forget to take any plugs with you or bring them home.  Travel with it in hand luggage then you can plug in at the lounge and annoy minimal people by only needing one plug.  I was in America for a few weeks with work and took my toothbrush charger, but the hotel didn’t have the charger sockets, and I had forgotten the plug, so always remember the plug just in case.  Would have expected Hilton to be set up for these sorts of chargers?! Bottle-opener or Leatherman Hotels that want you to only drink their wine won’t think to leave this in your room, so it is an absolute essential.  Much fun as it is opening a bottle of wine with a knife by pushing the cork into the wine bottle, this is definitely easier! Leatherman Long sleeved “rash vest” Easier than ladling on the suncream if you have water sports planned and tend to burn quickly.  In the same vein, little wetsuit booties so you can go in the sea even if the beach is rocky or covered with jelly fish. Deet – or equivalent fly repellent The stuff you can buy overseas is normally pretty ‘effective’ in a toxic kind of way that dries skin nicely, but then you are more likely to get bitten straight off the plane on that first evening of sun-downers. Currency So much easier to get at the airport than after you’ve arrived. Bank securID dongle Better still, tell them you are going abroad before you go.  If you don’t then get your account blocked and you will need the dongle for getting in touch with them. Our UK holidays are normally self-catering and based around sailing/walking/cycling and so the kit list to pack is normally pretty extensive, but we have almost got packing down to a fine art – with a slightly ‘impractical’ A5 convertible, this is key! Picnic set We received the rucksack version that John Lewis sells for a wedding present and it goes everywhere with us – glasses, cutlery, plates etc. etc. (the glasses have been upgraded to bigger ones!).  We’ve also added to it with a little box for tea bags, coffee, sugar, butter and oil and also a tea towel and some ice packs!  We normally take a flask too and have also got a plastic flask type pot that is great for keeping soup warm.  Our thermal mugs always come with us too – feels a bit like the work commute but actually rather nice for a morning stroll!  A little cycling Camelback rucksack is also useful as if you take out the bladder, you can fit 2 or 3 bottles of beer in which is nice for a sunset stroll to the beach. Water bottles and/or a Camelback bladder and a Le Creuset cooking dish.  A rug and one of those quick dry towels is also useful to pop in just in case, and a rug for sitting underneath outside when logic says it is really too cold to! Toilet paper Not all self-catering places provide – always better to play it safe – same with toiletries and washing up liquid.  We’ve got a small Bose iPad docking station that often comes on self-drive trips with us – hotels seem to have come round to the way of providing these in all rooms now but not everywhere and few and far between in self-catering. Would much appreciate more tips from elsewhere as I’m pretty sure this list isn’t as extensive as it could be – if there is something we have forgotten, then I’d like to know what else I could pack so that I don’t find myself needing it in future…

Anna Parker

I am happiest when travelling in style with my husband, enjoying the outdoors and taking photos to keep the memories! On the lookout for luxury and unique stays. Based in the UK. Find me on twitter @aeparker81 or at www.travelwithpenelopeandparker.com

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  1. Great list! I always take an four way plug with me as have a ridiculous amount of things to charge! Also a corkscrew and a wine bottle stopper. Being a photographer, I never go away without a tripod and spare batteries and even a spare camera. I recently went on a press trip and one of the bloggers forgot the battery for her camera, let alone a spare. I’d have been devastated but she soldiered on with her phone camera which did surprisingly well. A credit card for unexpected emergencies is essential too but always good idea to check which ones are commonly accepted where you are travelling to, as it can vary.

  2. I swear by my mophie charger nowadays, Anna. It allows me to charge up my iPhone wherever I may be and can do about two full charges of the phone. With the way the phone seems to eat through the battery life – particularly if you’re using it a lot – I find it’s a godsend…

  3. I am sure everyone that reads this post will have very different opinions on their essential items when traveling. For us, I would have to say that charging cables for our iPhones and laptops are crucial along with extra batteries for our camera.

    What’s all this have in common? Yes, it’s a sad state of affairs when everything for us is technology related to ensure that we can keep updated with the latest social media offerings but you know for us it’s more than that.

    You correctly indicated ‘maps’ as a critical item and I certainly agree with you but having our iPhones handy with GPS maps is a life-saver. Can we legitimately say that paper maps will still be around in 10-20 years? I am sure they probably will given that there are still a plethora of places that have weak phone signals but just look at how far we have advanced in the last decade.

    This post has me thinking about what we ALWAYS take with us when we go on a trip and beyond those aforementioned tech products, I am struggling to highlight something we can’t do without. Our tendencies though are to purchase when we arrive at our destination (beyond clothing and tech of course) such as toiletries, snacks etc. Maybe not the most cost-effective approach but it helps with our concept of traveling light.

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