Come the summer holidays, a lot of us will be planning on getting away, heading somewhere nice on holiday. I’ll be doing that myself, heading to Spain to see my partner. But before you’re on the plane, there’s always a chore to get out of the way – the packing. What should you pack, what should you leave, and how do you make sure you’ve got everything you need? I’ll run you through my process briefly, and explain some of my own personal essentials.
Before I even start packing, I’ll write a list (I’m a very list-centric sort of man). I’ll do this at least a few days before I start loading the suitcase, although it’ll likely be as early as I possibly can – I’m going abroad in about three weeks, but I started the list a couple of weeks ago. It’s a process of helping me determine what I’m going to need, and the longer I have between writing the list, double-checking it and eventually packing my bags, the less likely I am to leave something behind. There’s nothing worse than arriving wherever you’re going, and realising something essential is still sitting on the bed at home.
I break this down into different sections. Most immediately, I need to plan the amount of clothes I need. The actual outfits are simple enough – I wear an identical variant of shirt-jeans-boots wherever I go – but how many shirts will I need to take? And, importantly, how much underwear? I like to travel light, so I’d opt for the bare minimum with a view to reusing – for a week trip, I’d pack two pairs of socks and then have the ones I wear on the journey (take a carrier bag, too, for the dirty laundry). It may sound like a risky proposal, but I don’t double-up too often – I’ll generally only take the shoes on my feet without a second pair, for example, and a second pair of trousers feels like overkill.
2. Pack essentials
Often, I’m going to places that already have most of the toiletries you’d need, so I can generally avoid packing too much – my toothbrush is essential, and I may have toothpaste depending on when I’m travelling. The thing that definitely appears, though, is sun cream – I burn fast and badly, and I need copious amounts of protection to actually live through the trip. On that note, my sunglasses and my hat are also key things to pop on the list (not that I’d ever forget them, but still).
3. Don’t forget the legal documents
If you’re travelling, you need all your documents. Writing them down is absolutely necessary, especially given that Covid has led to an exponential increase in all the forms and checks you require to get through the airport. Your passport, your ticket and some money used to be the standard, but now you need a vaccine passport, and a host of documents from whatever country you’d heading to. To go to Spain now, I also need proof of where I’m staying and that I’ve got enough money for the trip in case the border guards ask. It’s getting to the point where half the suitcase will be documents, I tell you.
4. The fun stuff
The last thing on the list is the fun stuff. I’ll have my computer and charger, and a lot of reading material, because I get through books fast. For a week’s trip, I’ll normally take two or three, and then pick up an extra two at the airport bookstore. Some snacks for the airport and the plane are a must – a cheap bar of chocolate normally does the job. Typically, my trips now are to Spain to see my partner, so I’ll take her a small gift or something to make her smile, as well as a little thank you present for her family for putting me up. And lastly, my good luck charm – I’m not telling you what it is, but I don’t like travel and having this thing in my pocket really helps calm me down (I’m bad – it even comes with me on the ten-minute drive to the uni).
5. Time to actually pack !
Then, I eventually pack. Sometimes I have a second bag or a suitcase (I will do on my trip to Spain), but often everything must be limited to one and then my coat and my pockets. I never really have enough to trouble the weight limits, so it’s just a matter of making everything fit and getting on my way!