So you’ve picked your tour and your flights, and booked time off work. That means there’s one thing left to do before your trip – pack! Whether you love it or dread it, packing for your holiday is never simple. But our Travel Directors are here to help. We talked to the experts of travel to get all their best packing tips and what to pack on your next trip. Avoid any mishaps, get organised, and make your trip run smoothly with these smart packing tips.
Electronics – and the chargers
You’ve probably got your phone and your camera on your packing list. But there are a lot of other gadgets and electronics that can enhance your travels. If you’ve got a smartphone, you probably won’t need a separate camera, but you might want to take a GoPro or another type of sturdy camera. Just remember to bring extra memory cards!
You might also like to bring noise-cancelling headphones (to get some peace and quiet), an e-Reader (instead of lugging around books), and a portable battery pack (so you’re never without a charge). Speaking of chargers – our Europe Travel Director Amanda highly recommends you don’t forget all the various chargers and find local adaptors for your electronics, particularly if you want to take advantage of the Wi-Fi on our coaches. Remember to look up which adaptors and plugs you’ll need for your specific destination. Another tip is to bring protective, waterproof cases for all your gadgets.
In this age of technology, there are also lots of things you can do with your smartphone so you don’t have to pack cumbersome items like alarm clocks and guidebooks. Use the alarm app on your phone to help you wake up in the morning, download language and destination guides, and get a map app like Google maps to help you get around.
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The type and amount of clothing you take on your trip can vary a lot depending on the length of your trip, and the local culture and weather you’ll encounter. Kate, one of our Scotland Travel Directors, recommends bringing layers and a variety of clothing so you’ll be comfortable no matter what the weather.
Invest in multi-purpose clothing like scarves and wraps, foldable hats, wrinkle-resistant shirts, quick-drying clothing, and warming or cooling fabrics. There’s no hard and fast rule, but most people bring about four or five days’ worth of clothing for trips that are a week or longer. If you do laundry once a week, you’ll always have some clean clothes ready to go.
It’s also best to bring mostly casual clothes. Many of our guests ask how smartly they need to dress for the evenings, but Jill, one of our Ireland Travel Directors says there’s no need to dress up. For most nights, all you need is a quick freshen-up, a clean top and something slightly warmer to cover up if it gets chilly at night. Of course, if you’re planning a night at the opera or a similar occasion, you’ll need to bring at least one formal outfit.
Clothing and accessories for the weather
If you’re travelling to a summer destination, you’ll always need to bring suncream, sunglasses, a hat, insect repellent, sandals or flip-flops, swimwear, and a small tote or wet bag if you’re heading to the beach a lot. Also, bring a microfibre towel as these are lightweight and dry quickly in your hotel room.
If you’re travelling to a cooler destination, you’ll likely want to bring waterproof clothing, fleece or thermal layers, and a scarf and gloves. If you’ll be in the snow, don’t forget your UV sunglasses, hat and suncream, as you still need major sun protection in the reflective snow.
Amanda always tells her guests to carry a waterproof jacket or a travel umbrella, just in case! Even if it’s summer, never underestimate how quickly that can change, no matter what the forecast says when you leave home.
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There’s so much to see during your trip so Marie, our France Travel Director, says that comfortable shoes are essential. For most trips, a pair of comfortable joggers or sturdy sandals are suitable. If you plan to go out in the evenings, you might like to bring a nicer pair of sandals, dress shoes or sneakers to mix things up. For more active trips, consider a strong pair of hiking boots and quick-drying hiking socks.
While the type and amount of toiletries you travel with is completely up to you, our Travel Directors all recommend trying solid toiletries. From shampoo, body wash, moisturiser and deodorant bars to toothpaste tabs, there are dozens of different options. Not only are solid toiletries better for the environment, but they’re also easier to carry in your bag and skirt around the airport liquids rule! You also won’t have to worry about any liquids exploding in your bag. If you prefer to go with your liquid toiletries, another tip is to decanter your soaps and shampoos into smaller travel-sized bottles, to save space.
Tip: If you’re bringing items like tweezers, scissors and clippers, pack them in your checked luggage as most airlines won’t allow them in your carry-on bags.
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Health and medical items
Most travellers should bring some form of a first-aid kit, with essentials like pain relievers, bandaids, antiseptic ointment and wipes, aftersun gel, eye drops, hand sanitiser, and potentially motion sickness and diarrhoea tablets. Some travellers may also need to travel with prescription medication, so be sure to carry it in its original packaging and bring a doctor’s certificate outlining your medication.
Tip: If you are taking prescribed medication, make sure to bring enough to last longer than your planned trip. It’s always best to have more than enough in case you encounter delays or get stuck overseas.
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If you bring one thing – make sure it’s your documents. Keep your important documents like your passport, visas and credit cards on your person in a handbag or cross-body bag. You may also like to bring photocopies of your important documents, but you should also keep an electronic copy in online storage like Google Drive or email yourself and a friend or family member a copy.
You should keep handy your travel insurance documents, booking confirmations and itineraries, bank contacts, emergency contacts, and list of medications, along with your passport, visas, credit cards, ID cards, vaccination cards, and COVID-19 documentation.
Here are some extra items our Travel Directors have recommended for any traveller:
Reusable water bottle: Take this with you on the plane so you can stay hydrated.
Scarf or sarong: Whether you use it as a blanket on the plane, a wrap for when the weather gets a little chilly, or as a modesty scarf to cover your shoulders or hair at temples and mosques, a scarf is one of the most useful items you can pack.
Travel pillow or blanket: Whatever you need to make your travels as comfy as possible.
Eye mask and ear plugs: Sleep is important even more so when you’re travelling.
Snacks: No one wants to get hangry while travelling, so pick up or pack emergency snacks.
COVID-19 safety items: Protect your health with COVID-19 safety items like masks, sanitiser, tissues, and disinfecting wipes.
Change of clothes: We always recommend bringing a change of clothes and extra underwear plus all your valuables in your carry-on luggage, in case you unexpectedly get separated from your checked luggage.
Packing cubes: This nifty little tool is a fantastic way to make packing simple and keep your suitcase or bag organised.
Final tip – Don’t bring too much
Of course, the essentials are important, but Travel Director Colette, says her best packing tip is not to bring too much. If you need anything extra, you can almost always buy it on your trip – and your Travel Director will likely know exactly where to find it!
One thing you can’t bring too much of is an open mind and a whole heap of enthusiasm for your holiday! Our Travel Directors can’t wait to see you on your next trip.
Do you have any great tips on what to pack for a holiday? Let us know in the comments below!
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2013. It was updated in January 2023 to reflect the most current information.