Photo credit: MowT via Visual hunt / CC BY-ND
In actuality, I began my preparations for my 19 day trip to Australia and New Zealand several weeks ago. I alerted my bank and credit card companies, signed up to have my mail held, informed neighbors, sent an itinerary to my family, made copies of important forms, set up a pet sitter and a ride to and from the airport. I gathered the necessary items for my comfort on the plane and tour in compact travel size. Some I already had from previous trips and others I had to buy. There were also some things I needed on a day-to-day basis such as medications, eye drops, dental, and beauty supplies I had to purchase or repackage in small bottles and pack in baggies. I always take along extra baggies to store things I purchase like food or liquid items that could break or leak while being transported in a pressurized aircraft. I’ve a plastic packing bag for bulky clothes that rolls up, squeezing out air to create more space. Some things can be purchased when you arrive with plans to use all of it before you leave.
I’ll need a variety of clothes for my trip ranging from a swimsuit to a moderately heavy waterproof jacket. To take care of the latter I’ve a lightweight down vest I can layer with a fleece hoody and a fairly waterproof jacket with a hood you can roll and store in a bag the size of a drink can. To be on the safe side, I’m bringing a collapsible umbrella. I plan to wear the hoody and use it as a blanket on the plane. I’m taking 2 pairs of shoes, comfortable black flats and running shoes. Both are light-weight and I’ll wear the heaviest and warmest one on the plane with a pair of socks, so I won’t have to go through security barefoot or get cold feet inflight. Donna Hull, the writer of the blog “My Itchy Travel Feet” recommends bringing pewter colored shoes since they go with any color. I was advised to bring waterproof boots, but a plastic bag inside my shoes should work even if it isn’t fashionable. This trip isn’t about fashion. It’s an adventure into parts unknown, at least by me.
My carry-on will be a backpack and a light purse. I also have a watch and passport carrier to wear around my neck for my passport, money, and credit cards. In the past, don’t laugh, I’ve worn a fanny pack. I may again as it keeps things I use safe and close to my body, so I can avoid getting items out of my bag under the seat. This isn’t completely foolproof, since a pickpocket was able to open the front zipper pocket by going through my turn style in the opposite direction at a subway station in Paris.
Below is a list of items to consider. It’s taken from my experience, the Grand Circle Travel Handbook that’s provided for each trip, and two informative websites, “My Itchy Travel Feet”, http://myitchytravelfeet.com/ and “Women on the Road”, http://www.women-on-the-road.com/. They both offer an even more extensive list that covers any eventuality.
In my backpack and purse, I’ll make sure I have my:
- airline tickets, itinerary, insurance card, and emergency contacts (I’ll also have a copy of my passport and credit cards.)
- all medications for the trip and nasal spray to be used before the flights to ward off inflight germs
- cosmetics, a comb, deodorant, lip balm, lotion, eye drops, toothbrushes infused with toothpaste, dental floss, tissues, adhesive bandages, and moleskin
- earplugs, inflatable pillow, and sleep mask (Some of these things are supplied by the airlines, but with cutbacks, I’m not taking any chances.)
- noise canceling earphones
- camera equipment (The airline tells you to put these in your carry-on because of the batteries. Also, it may be stolen in checked luggage.)
- extra batteries and portable device charger for my phone etc.
- Smartphone with downloaded tunes and audio books, a tablet, and chargers
- a book, the journal GAC sent me, pens, and pencil
- extra undies, P.J.s, and a set of clothes
- antibacterial wipes and liquid to wipe off tray tables, arm rests, remotes and other places germs multiply both on the plane and in hotel rooms
- stain remover (Seltzer water works on some stains.)
- compact size Febreze
- nutritious snacks (Make sure your destination country allows the ingredients.)
For this trip, I’m allowed to take a large suitcase that weighs up to 50 lbs. I’ve gone overseas with a carry-on, but since they’ll be toting this around for me most of the time, I’m opting for the larger one. Black will be the base of my clothing color palate. I’ve a long-sleeved black dress that can be converted into several different styles, worn in any climate, and washed and dried in my hotel room. My closet also holds a brown dress/skirt, a colorful skirt/top that can be transformed into a variety of styles, and a black jacket that can be worn over any of them. Pashminas and scarves can be used as skirts, cover-ups, belts, and just for a splash of color. I’ll throw in some tops, leggings, a swimsuit, hat, gloves, P.J.s, undies, and a few additional items. Everything will be folded and rolled. Some of the clothes may wrinkle, but there’ll be an iron most places. Anything that can do double duty is a space saver. Of course, if you’re a man, your clothes will be different and you may not want anything that gives you a splash of color.
Other items to pack in my large suitcase will include:
- a copy of airline tickets, itinerary, insurance card, and emergency contacts
- battery operated alarm clock, flashlight, and currency converter. (My Smartphone has all of these, but I’m bringing an extra alarm clock, flashlight, and a sound machine, so I can sleep if the hotel is noisy. Smartphones batteries may drain with no place to recharge, so you may want an extra battery. If not, then battery operated devices can be used as a back-up.)
- Universal multi-plug adapter converter and USB charger
- sunscreen and sunglasses with a neck strap
- additional cosmetics, dental care items, personal products, razor, manicure set, tweezers, cotton swabs, antibiotic cream
- small sewing kit with safety pins and scissors
- multi-purpose bottle opener with a corkscrew for my drinking needs. You can pack sporks for food. Dental floss can slice soft foods, be used as thread, and tie things together.
- doorstop (Mine is a battery operated alarm too. It can block an intruder and enable a siren.)
On this trip the hotel will provide soap, shampoo, conditioner, a hair dryer, and iron. I’ll use shampoo to wash my clothes. If you need additional personal items, the hotel will usually provide them at no charge or for a minimal fee. This is common in most places, but you may want to check to make sure. If all else fails, there are always stores where I’m going. I could’ve taken a trip extension to the Outback, but finances and guilt over my cat prevented that.
Before I retired I didn’t have extra time, so I just packed my bags and bought what I needed when I got there. It worked, but I’m hoping that the extra planning will pay off. I know one thing for sure, I won’t over pack. This is my longest trip, except for the year in Japan, so I hope I’m prepared. I’ll let you know when I return.
When my carry-ons and bag are packed, labeled, and the suitcase marked with a ribbon to make it easier to spot, I’ll feel ready. Right now, I’ve some cleaning to do. I don’t want my friend and pet sitter to come into a messy apartment. The cat has ample food, dental treats, and litter, but I still feel guilty even though my pet sitter loves her too. The advantages of being single are no one is telling me I can’t afford this and I can’t leave them alone with no one to take care of them. I’ve been there, done that, and now I’m free. Would I like a friend with whom to travel? Maybe-it’s nice to have someone you know share the adventure, but I’ll have many tales to tell my friends and you upon my return. Since I’m on a tour, I’ll meet new people from all over the world and have no worries about my safety. The tour group will take me to places I may not have found on my own and give me experiences they’ve discovered through their years of experience. The final countdown has begun.
I’m continuing my adventure.