The trip I'm currently packing will take in seven countries, three continents and two extremes in weather, so I understand what a nightmare it can be. What I have learnt over the years, however, is that unless you are travelling with your own personal bag carrier, less is definitely more! So here are my best tips and hints for what you really need to pack for a holiday.
General tips and hints
Clothes: When it comes to clothes choose natural fabrics like cotton which breathe or microfibres which don't wrinkle. Also try to keep your clothing in the same colour scheme in case you have to layer up for warmth. What's more, by mixing and matching you'll fool everyone into thinking you have more clothes than you really do.
Shoes: For women, a pair of sandals and comfy espadrilles or wedges will cover all dressing needs from casual to evening. For men, a good pair of leather rubber-soled shoes can easily make the transition from day to night. I'd also recommend bringing a good pair of solid walking shoes as well as a pair of flip-flops/thongs for wearing in showers in case you end up staying in a scummy dive.
Underwear: When it comes to underwear my rule of thumb is to take enough for one week, or for the length of the trip plus two days, whichever is shortest. Again, ensure your underwear is made from natural fabrics – there's nothing worse than getting prickly heat on holiday!
Towel: Unless you're staying in hotels and resorts for the duration of your trip, it pays to pack a towel. Whatever you do, don't get sucked into buying one of those chamois towels or one that resembles a hand towel. I can tell you from experience that it won't dry your hair, it won't cover your modesty, and, if you're in a cold climate, you'll freeze before you dry yourself!
Packing: I can't explain it, but somehow bags seem to hold more if you roll your clothes rather than fold them. It also helps minimise creases. Try it, I guarantee it works!
If you're travelling with all your earthly possessions on your back then the key is to keep everything to a minimum. Bear in mind that you can easily, and cheaply, replace worn out items along the way at local markets. Also, while jeans may be a wardrobe staple at home when you're backpacking you'll quickly discover they're hot to wear, heavy to carry and slow to dry. So you might want to reconsider taking the old faithfuls.
When it comes to packing your backpack, place the lighter items at the bottom and the heavier ones on top. Your backpack will feel lighter this way as the pack rests on your lower back. It's also wise to place the things you use the most on top. Dirty clothes are perfect to pack at the bottom of a backpack.
My essential packing list
Well, it's back to packing for me. Happy travels!
An edited version of this article is on MSN NZ Travel
Image sourced from FreeFoto.com