One of the things I love most about travelling is the sense of freedom it gives me. Breaking free of the shackles of my daily grind and experiencing new surroundings and cultures is such a tonic for my soul. Every time I return from an overseas vacation, even short ones, I think to myself “I should do this more often!”
I like to be ready to go at short notice if a special travel deal pops up that I can take advantage of, even if it’s just a spontaneous weekend away.
Here are a few of my packing tips for last minute trips.
1. Always keep your passport, immunisation booklet and foreign cash in one special place so you can find it easily. There’s nothing worse than hunting around for your passport when the taxi is waiting outside to take you to the airport! I keep all my travel documents in my bedside drawer and I can rely on them being there when I need them. It’s a good idea to return these items to their designated home as soon as you get back from a trip so they don’t get scattered.
I also recommend that at the beginning of each year you check the expiry date of your passport. Remember that many countries will not allow you to enter unless you have a minimum of 6 months left on your passport!
2. Along the same lines I always keep my regularly used holiday items in the same place so I can find them easily. Things like my blow-up neck pillow for the plane, snorkel equipment, suntan lotion, sun hat, insect repellent, plug adaptors etc. It makes it so much quicker when you want to pack and dash! One idea for where store your favourite travel gear between trips is to simply keep it in your carry on bag.
3. Have a packing list “template” that you can refer to each time you pack for a vacation. This will ensure that you don’t forget anything important. Have different headings e.g toiletries, beach gear, entertainment and electronics and of course clothes and footwear.
4. If you are only travelling for a few days or a long weekend, seriously consider taking carry on luggage only. It is so liberating to be able to walk off the plane at your destination without having to wait for the luggage carousel or schlep heavy suitcases across town. Speaking of walking, if you are just taking carry on, that means you need to limit yourself to 2 pairs of shoes! I might let you take flip-flops
Check out your airline’s carry-on regulations and stick to them. Most airlines allow you to take a personal item as well as a handbag (but check first) so take advantage of that. We’ve written a post on the best suitcase sizes for different trips that includes a lot of useful airline information on luggage restrictions.
5. I have always been guilty of packing too many clothes. Once I get to my holiday destination I inevitably wear the same old favourite, comfortable travel clothes and the rest never get worn. I think the old adage “pack your clothes and then remove half of them” is so true. For a trip of less than a week take one smart outfit (unless you’re “going bush” only) but other than that, try and keep it simple. Be honest. If you’re like me, you’ll wear the same comfy pants and top several days in a row, so take 2 tops and 2 pairs of pants, not 4 of each! I’m getting better at it but I still make slip-ups.
Historically most of my overseas trips have been planned well in advance because I come from New Zealand where any destinations other than Australia and the Pacific Islands are half a world away. Because of the expense involved in travelling to Asia or the northern hemisphere we Kiwis tend to save up our leave and go for extended vacations that require considerable planning.
When Kate was living in the UK I visited her there for a month. During this time we realised how spoilt Britains are, being so close to Europe, north Africa and Asia. There are so many destinations to choose from and most of them are only a few hours away by plane. Last minute online flight deals pop up all the time if you’re in a position to be spontaneous and take advantage of them. Kate took a last minute trip to NYC one Christmas from the UK for a ridiculously low price. On a spontaneous whim you can literally pack your carry on bag and take off somewhere for a long weekend. We did it a couple of times, visiting Rome and Berlin. It was liberating and so much fun.