Love it or hate it, packing is an unavoidable part of travelling. And despite it being such a common part of our lives, there are still those select band of items which have a knack of not quite making it to the suitcase. Based on the stories of our TCs and customers, here is a list of some of the most frequently forgotten travel essentials!
How did we manage to survive before smartphones, laptops and e-readers? Leave your charger at home, and you could be in for a cruel reminder! From navigation to photography to contacting family and friends back home, these devices have revolutionised the way we manage our travel experiences. We often take it for granted that there’s a charger plugged in by our bedside, or next to the living room coffee table, but they won’t pack themselves. Behind your passport and your tickets, there’s an argument for the humble USB charger being the next thing you pack! But even this might be useless without…
A universal plug adapter
In this modern world, what could be more annoying than arriving at your destination to the realisation that you’re not going to be able to plug in your laptop, phone or hairdryer because the wall sockets don’t match your plugs. Your Travel Counsellor can advise you of the sort of plug sockets you can expect, but also the power supply, so you’ll never be left powerless while on your travels. Many rely on the reception or concierge at the hotel having a set of spares for absent-minded travellers, but do you really want to rely on that being the case?
Don’t risk the consequences of missing doses of prescribed medication while you’re on holiday – that’s a no brainer. But just as important could be the preparation of a rescue pack of over-the-counter essentials, to keep you in peak condition for the duration of your holiday. Even if it’s just a few paracetamol, antacids and an anti-diarrheal, this could prevent your dream trip turning into a temporary nightmare. Most simple medicines will of course be available in country, but it could save you the worries of having to find a pharmacy in a strange town, not to mention find what you’re looking for in a strange tongue.
Plenty of items can transform an ok flight into a good one – and a strong set of headphones is one of the big ones. Not the flimsy earphones they tend to offer to you on the plane, but a pair of the proper ones which can making you feel like the only person flying, even if the plane is full of sleeping snorers and infant screamers. Plus, the range of entertainment onboard most major airlines is phenomenal, so don’t allow yourself to miss out.
Books, or Kindles for the gadgeteers among us, can make a joyous experience out of the mundanity of passenger lounges and airport transfers. The ability to transport yourself into another world with the flick of a page can’t be undervalued, particularly when it comes to long haul travel. But even just a half hour escape from airport boredom can make all the difference to your mood. Just remember to keep any reading material among the most easily reachable sections of your luggage – few things are more undignified than a public rummage through toiletries and unwashed clothing!
Sandra Robinson, Travel Counsellor.
You really can’t go wrong with a Bill Bryson Novel and “Notes From a Small Island” is a captivating and amusing read about his travels around Britain on public transport. I liked it so much I have read it about six times now!
Travel documents and photocopies
The number of people who still manage to arrive at the airport without a passport (“I put it on the mantelpiece so I wouldn’t forget to pick it up”). So there’s your passport to remember – and if you’ve got forgetful tendencies, put it on top of your door keys. Now you surely can’t leave home without it! Your Travel Counsellor will be able to keep you notified of whether your passport is in date, as well as any visa requirements you might need. Last but certainly not least, take photocopies of your documents and store them in a safe place about your luggage – with the originals ideally in the safe. This way, if the worst happens, you’ll have a smoother route back home via the embassies.
Small travel bag
How many times have you reached an airport departure gate, cashier or security checkpoint and fumbled around in a rucksack for your documents? It needn’t be one of air travel’s biggest frustrations – all you need is a small bag within your carry bag. In this bag is nothing except your essential travel documents, your phone and your wallet or purse. It means that everything you need for a smooth airport experience is easily accessible. It just saves you a few minutes of tapping every possible pocket to find a boarding pass you could’ve sworn was in your coat a second ago.
Show some respect to your destination and do your homework before you arrive. Guidebooks are available for virtually every spot on the face of the Earth, and with online resources too, you’re never too far from some reliable restaurant recommendations or ideas for things to do once you get there. The plane is a great time to immerse yourself in the place you’ll shortly be arriving in – and you could even get some last minute practice for your ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘good mornings’ in the local language.
Bonus: The family survival kit
If you’re flying with younger children, it can be a whole other ball game! Of course, don’t forget the essentials – bring plenty of nappies, bottles of milk or formula, a disposable changing mat, blankets for both soothing your baby and keeping them warm, and spare clothes for both you and your child. If you’d take it for a picnic in the park, don’t forget it for your holiday!
Don’t worry about this taking valuable ‘carry on’ space – children under two years are permitted a bag for items they will require throughout the flight.
Here’s some top tips from a couple of our Travel Counsellors family travel experts…
To keep the kids entertained on the flight, take little presents on board. Every hour or so if they get bored, they can unwrap one and it will keep them busy. It’s especially good on long flights – keep the presents small though, you really don’t have to spend a fortune.
The greatest thing you can take – whether at the airport, sightseeing or getting from A to B – is extra time. Toddlers love to explore and don’t care for the time pressures of travel, so you’re more likely to all retain your cool if you factor the faffing, gawping, stalling, toilet stops and tantrums into your timeframe.
Have we missed something? We’d love to hear what you consider to be travel essentials or if you have packing tips you’d like to share.