Packing for a holiday can be a stressful task – there’s a lot to remember! That’s why having a travel checklist you can tick off as you go can be a lifesaver… because no one wants to be stuck on a two-week holiday without a single bra.
How to make sure you’re packing the right stuff:
Location is key!
Make sure you know what season it will be in the country you’ll be travelling to (and remember, some African countries are in the northern hemisphere). Same goes for the weather, even in nearby cities.
Don’t forget to look up what currency you’ll be using and plan accordingly – depending on where you’re going, the best bet is to exchange some rands for foreign exchange at your bank before leaving (you’ll need to bring your passport with and proof of itinerary), and put the rest on a cash passport card.
You’ll need some hard cash when you arrive, but it’s safer to keep the bulk of your budget on a cash passport card – all you need to do is set it up prior to departure, and preload it with a fixed amount and currency of your choice (usually the major ones like dollars, pounds, or euros). A cash passport works just like a debit card, and they’re accepted at many ATMs worldwide.
You can, of course, use most credit cards overseas, but just make sure you let your bank know beforehand, otherwise your transactions may be blocked. Credit cards will land you with massive charges, though, but it’s always advisable to take one with when travelling, in case you land yourself in an emergency. Plus, if you buy your international plane tickets with your credit card, you’ll most likely qualify for free comprehensive travel insurance (check with your bank if they offer this).
Days = the size of your suitcase
It’s a bit of a no-brainer, but how long you’ll be away for will determine how much you’ll need to pack. But try to limit yourself even if it’s a two-week holiday. Remember that most hotels have a laundry service, so it’s not necessary to pack an outfit for every day – you can wash your clothes on holiday too.
If you’re heading on a short holiday somewhere in South Africa, but are flying to your destination, try to travel with carry-on luggage only. It is possible! Most domestic flights allow passengers to bring two carry-on bags on the plane. So, pack your underwear, clothes and shoes in a small suitcase. Then, trade in your handbag for a small backpack, and you’ll have space for your toiletries, chargers, and laptop. A small body sling-bag can hold your essentials like your wallet and phone.
Check your itinerary
What activities have you booked or planning to do while on holiday? If a hiking trail is on the cards, don’t forget to pack hiking boots, for example. Checking out the best restaurants around town? Pack one or two smart outfits. If it’s summertime a high-SPF sunblock is essential, as well as mozzie repellent.
Read more: How to keep children busy while travelling
If you’ve booked a Contiki tour or something similar, be sure to make copies of the tour details and keep the tour company’s contact numbers on hand. Packing in a guidebook and downloading a language app, like TripLingo, is also advisable when heading to a foreign country.
Pro tip: Before leaving, print out your hotel’s details, like their phone number and address, so that if a shuttle doesn’t arrive, you’ll be able to contact them, or easily catch a taxi. You can also screenshot this information. If you’ll be going to a country with a different alphabet (China, for example), it’s a must to get the hotel reception to write down the name of the hotel in the local language – that way, if you get lost, you can simply pull out the piece of paper and show it to a taxi driver.
What can’t you live without?
We’re talking about allergy medication, repeat prescriptions, feminine hygiene products, and important toiletries. For example, if you wear contacts, pack in extra, and if you wear glasses, bring an old spare pair, just in case (or a copy of your prescription). And yes, in this digital age, we also mean phone chargers and universal adapters so that your portable devices are always charged.
Guidelines for international flights
Remember, international boarding times work differently to domestic flights so make sure you’re at the airport a lot earlier than usual. Plus, make sure your carry-on luggage adheres to the below guidelines for international flights:
- No liquids in containers bigger than 100ml (some people tend to forget that this even includes bottles of alcohol and aerosol cans like insect repellent)
- Pack your toiletries and liquids in a clear zip-lock bag so that it can be checked easily
- No sharp objects – this includes less obvious items like nail clippers and tweezers
- No flammable items – matches, lighters, bleach
- If you do pack in snacks, try to eat it all on the plane (some nibbles might not be allowed into the country you’re travelling to – this especially applies to animal products like biltong).
Read more: 6 ways to save on your next overseas holiday