At certain times of the year you will see all kinds of videos about how you can cram your stuff as conveniently as possible in your suitcase when you fly. We have been regular travelers for many years now and it is our experience to take less and less on our journeys. So cramming is not the solution, but sorting, sorting and sorting again! And the nice thing about that is that you have to drag less and it is also good for the wallet nowadays, because extra kilos of luggage means extra cost incurred because of the luggage charges of the airlines.
On our first joint 3-week round trip of Florida, one of us took along a large overflowing red suitcase and the other one took a bulging green bag on wheels. We had to drag them with us the whole trip and after the holiday we noticed that a number of clothing items had not even been worn and many other things were still unused. Now, years later, for a 5-week trip, we carry one suitcase as checked baggage and some hand luggage. We even have room to bring back home some nice souvenirs. Experience shows that we together can suffice with about 20 kilos of checked baggage.
We took the dust comb drastically through our “What do we need to travel” list. We used to have an A4 size paper full of items to take along with us! Over the years, heavy items were replaced by lighter ones and of things we both use, we now take only one and one as small as possible.
A very small toilet bag is too big for us nowadays. We only take the most necessary products in the smallest possible packaging and the things that fit into the category “we possibly may need it” remain at home, because there is always a store on you holiday destination where you can buy it .
In terms of food, we take almost nothing with us except some licorice or candy to ease our ears during ascent and descent of the plane and possibly some dry cookies. After all, mostly you can buy food in abundance on your destination and traveling also includes enjoying local products. In addition, if you go to the USA, for example, you are not allowed to import any food.
What DO we take with us on our travels?
The paper works and related matters
Indispensable are passport and visa if necessary. You will not get far without valid travel documents. Money, debit and credit cards also belong to the standard equipment of a traveler.
Our mobile phones with chargers (and adapter if necessary) we can not miss and also a small 6-port usb charger. Our phones are not only useful for emergency situations, maintaining contact with our loved ones back home, to access the internet and just for fun, but also for determining routes and reading associated tourist information. And not to mention we make loads of photos and videos with these devices.
We put everything we can digitize into the cloud and on our mobile phones. Examples include tickets, hotel reservations, tourist information and travel books. You might expect we will take a power bank with us and yes, you are correct. Especially when you consider that we also like to pick up a geocache along the way, because they often indicate nice and interesting places. We always write a diary on our journeys and we usually use an iPad for that.
When we make use of a rental car on our travels, we take our own separate navigation equipment with us on which we have installed the maps of the countries concerned and also pre-recorded the probable routes. On our phones and iPad we put a map app that can also be used offline, because we do not have a data bundle outside of Europe.
Since we both do not have the best of eyes, spare glasses are standard equipment. Such a shame, if you see little and it is life-threatening if you should drive a car without sharp vision. In some countries it is even mandatory for spectacle wearers to have a spare copy with them. Also sunglasses are not missing.
Clothing and footwear
As a rule we use as basis: 1 piece to wear, 1 piece in the laundry and 1 piece as reserve. This means that you have at least 3 pieces of each type of clothing. Depending on the space, weight, destination and preference, we extend this slightly. We usually take 1 or 2 extra items with underwear and shirts, so you do not have to go to the laundry every day, because that is just nog always possible. Especially when there are several climates in a holiday, we work as much as possible with layers of clothing. Zip pants are multi-functional. We also pay attention to the fact that all items of clothing can be combined, so that if an item fails you will not be left with a number of items of clothing that can no longer be worn properly without looking like a clown.
A compact lightweight jacket is also ideal for a traveler.
For each of us we take one piece of swim wear or two pieces if we go to a hot destination where beach and swimming pools are abundant.
A pair of sturdy lightweight shoes is absolutely essential. A pair of simple comfortable shoes and a pair of (bath) slippers for the room and the pool are standard for us. The heaviest and / or most difficult to pack pair we wear during the outward and return journeys.
To defy the rain we each have a small folding umbrella and a thin poncho.
A hairbrush, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a small piece of soap, nail scissors and tweezers is the minimum we do have with us. A small amount of care products and a very small amount of make-up we find luxurious.
We often use hotel shampoo for washing our clothing. We bring a piece of rope and some small plastic clothespins to dry our washing.
Just to be sure, we always have a small bandage box in our luggage, supplemented with some paracetamol and a tick pen. After all, accidents do happen.
We take with us protection from the sun and mosquitoes if the travel destination gives any reason to do so.
A plastic knife, fork, spoon and plate for both of us we find useful when we occasionally want to eat something along the way, just like a plastic mug. We regularly have a a picnic for lunch on our round trips. For this we take a cooling bag that is as compact as possible and two small cooling elements to protect milk among others from spoiling.
You do not really need towels. For hot destinations we still take a thin bath towel for on the beach and a small towel for our faces. If you stay longer at a destination, you usually end up using the hotel towels. Sometimes the hoteliers or managers of accommodations even provide beach towels and that is very handy.
Furthermore, if we are going to make a car trip or a trip where beaches are part of, we take 2 lightweight beach mats with us. Not only useful if you want to stretch out on the beach, but also in the car. We have already experienced several times that the rear window shelf is missing and then the mats are particularly suitable to cover your luggage and keep cooler, because one is equipped with a silver reflective layer.
Then the rest remains to be packed …..
The beach mats serve as protection. We cover the bag / suitcase with them and place the rest of our stuff between them.
We put the outer clothing neatly on a pile and put it in a plastic bag per person. We do the same with our underwear, so that everything stays clean and dry in case the bag / suitcase does not turn out to be waterproof. Everyone has their own packages with clean clothes, so you do not have to mess up a whole suitcase when looking for a clean piece of clothing.
We always wrap shoes, possibly filled with socks, in plastic, because nothing is as gross as the soles with which you walk on the street. We always place the shoes with the soles to the outside of the suitcase / bag and thus protect the contents of the suitcase / bag.
And then our system is … big packs first. Toiletry bag, bandage box and other fragile items in the middle and the other packages serve to fill up the remaining spaces. The (bath) towels are the final piece.
Passports, money, cards, medication and all electronics go into a backpack that we carry as hand luggage.
Then we close our luggage and then we our on our way!