Experiencing an around the world voyage is on many peoples bucket lists. You try to squeeze in as many countries as you can on your airline ticket, making the most of your maximum mileage allowances and maximum permitted stops.
Combinations of an exotic South America, culturally rich Africa, the classical heritage of Europe, ancient worlds of the Middle East and the bursting flavours of Asia all in one trip are enough to tempt anyone of us!
But how do you pack for such a journey? Crossing seasons, regions, landscapes and altitudes. From sunny beaches with crystal skies, to dry sunburnt deserts and dramatic snow-capped peaks. Here is my advice.
1. Break down your itinerary into climatic regions
Work out how many climates you are expecting to experience on your travels. E.g. 20 days of hot beach weather, 28 days of snowy winter weather, 10 days of mild weather – not too hot and not too cold. This will help you work out which areas you should carry more gear for.
2. Create a pile of clothes for each climatic region
Sounds simple enough, but this is where most people struggle. Don’t worry about trying to cull too much at this stage but be sure to have a pen and paper handy. Using the above example, create a pile of the clothes you would LIKE to take for hot beach weather, another pile for freezing snow conditions and another for mild. Write down everything in each pile in separate columns.
3. Be Realistic
If you are planning on spending time in laid back coastal towns or trekking through mountain ranges, there is no need to carry glittery high heels and a toiletry bag full of make-up and hair products. Ensure the clothes in each pile suit your planned activities in each destination.
4. CULL, CULL, CULL!
This is the difficult part and this is where your newly created list comes in handy. Begin the challenge of removing two thirds of what is in each pile. Two thirds?!? I hear you say. Yes that’s right. Seriously… look at the pile in front of you. Do you really think that will all fit into your luggage? Try to stick with plain clothing that can mix and match and that can be used for layering across other piles. E.g. Singlets can be a great under layer for cooler weather. Do you really need 4 pairs of jeans? Just choose one and ensure you have a mixture of tops to combine it with. How many jackets do you actually need? Do you have a casual jacket that can be dressed up with a scarf or nice top instead of carrying something dressy for one or two evenings? Do you really need 10 long sleeve tops that are going to be hidden beneath layers and jackets? How often do we come home from our travels and as we are unpacking realise how many of our clothes we didn’t actually wear… I bet it happens to you on almost every trip! It happens to me too! Cross the items you remove from your piles off your list and use your list to help see what you can mix and match as you go.
5. Roll your clothes
I am not a believer that rolling your clothes saves room. I believe that this is a great way to avoid your clothes from being crushed. Anything being shoved into a bag for an extended period of time will end up crinkled and wrinkled, but rolling helps keeps things taut and firm reducing drag and minimising the ability for clothes to come unfolded which can lead to scrunching.
6. Shoes CAN be a blessing to pack
I know you are thinking I am crazy. Shoes are the worst to pack. My rule is that you should travel with no more than 3 pairs of shoes. The only pair allowed as a forth is a pair of thongs. Hiking shoes or sneakers are generally a must – but only take one – not both. Thongs are easy to pack because they bend and are light weight and durable. You can even throw them into your hand luggage. Take a pair of snazzy flats that can be used for casual wear during the day (if you don’t want to wear thongs) and they can be dressed up in the evening without having to lug around heels that may only be worn once or twice (unless you are going to a wedding!) The worst are the hefty snow boots for those arctic and heavy winter destinations. Not only are they weighty, but they are bulky too and unfortunately a necessity in these parts of the world. But don’t look at them as a negative. They may look like they are going to take up your whole suitcase, but think of the room INSIDE the boots. Sure, if they are well worn and a bit smelly, you may not want to shove your t-shirts inside, but pop your clothes in a plastic bag slide it into your boots. This is great storage space for those non-crush items like singlets, thermals or pj’s.
7. Minimise your toiletries and medical supplies
Remember, you are going on a holiday. Not to a beauty pageant (unless of course you are going to a beauty pageant!) There is no need to take every item of make-up, bottles of moisturisers, perfumes, loofers and grooming devices that you own. Take the bare minimum to save on space. The small bottles you receive as Gift with Purchase alongside your cosmetics are perfect for travel and are small in quantity. If you are heading to some of the more exotic and adventurous parts of the world, and have boxes of anti-malarial tablets, Imodium, travel calm, ‘just in case’ antibiotics etc, take them out of their boxes to save space. Take mini shampoos and top them up from your hotels as you travel. Purchase small travel sized deodorants and insect repellents to save space.
8. No hair dryers or straighteners!
This one speaks for itself. Unless you are going for a wedding, there is no need. You are on holidays. Relax and go a-la-naturale.
9. Think ahead
Why carry 60 pairs of undies and socks when you can hand wash along the way? Take only a week’s worth and wash as you go. A pegless clothesline is a great travel accessory and takes up almost no space. Travelling with bulky winter jackets? Take them as hand luggage and shove them in the overhead locker instead of having them take up three quarters of your main luggage. Or if you don’t need the jacket/pants etc until the end of your trip, put them in a vacuum sealed bag to save room. Perhaps you are using your bulky gear at the start of your trip and don’t want to lug it around through the rest of your holiday. Are you returning to the same airport you flew into before moving to your next destination? Store bulky things in airport lockers or look if you are not going to need them again for a little while, look into shipping them home by sea. It takes up to two months but is nice and cheap and will free you up.
10. Zip it shut and weight it!
If it doesn’t zip shut, you’ve over packed and not followed the above correctly. Revert to the above steps until your luggage comfortably closes. The last thing you want is for a zipper to burst or a wheel to break or even worse – a handle to snap or your bag to BURST! (Trust me. I have seen this happen to a poor girl walking to the ferry port in Mykonos with a mega bursting overfilled suitcase. Her luggage literally exploded.) If you can’t carry it, you’ve over packed and chances are you also over your airline luggage allowance. Keep in mind you also need space for those holidays trinkets and gifts you may purchase along the way.
If you have successfully completed the above, you are now set to jet around the world. Just don’t forget your passport!
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This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.