Over the course of my career in the corporate world, I travelled around Australia on a weekly basis. At one point I had over 600 staff based across Australia. My life reminded me of the movie “Up in the Air”. I remember distinctly one grueling month of travel where I took 29 flights in 30 days.
I also remember my very first long haul flight to Los Angeles – no those beautiful above the knee boots and slightly too short dress were not the brightest of ideas I have had. It was not long after 9/11 and the United States was on high alert. Having cleared Customs at the Thomas Bradley international terminal, I had to run for a connecting flight in one of the domestic terminals. I’d never heard of having to take your shoes off before going through security – overkill I thought! Of course I was then chosen to be searched by security – Oh my goodness these people carry guns. My boots had no zips, they were hard to pull up so I ran to my gate boots in hand. I reached my gate and sat down to put on my oh so lovely but now less loved boots back on, trying in vain not to show my underwear to the world. Damn – What had I been thinking!
I’m pleased to say I’ve learnt my lessons and over the years I have become a very savvy packer. In fact packing my bags for my journeys has now become something of an artform. I’ve learnt what to pack and how to pack it to leave me plenty of room to bring home that lovely bottle of wine and a few little things for the wonderful people in my life.
Deciding what to pack for your adventure can be a daunting task, but a very important one. Depending on your destination, there will be a number of things to consider when you are choosing what to pack. The sporty look, shorts or jeans and a t-shirt might be okay to travel around Australia or the USA, but a definite no no in many other places like Europe or the Middle East. As a not so young woman travelling solo it’s really important to look like you fit in to the place you are visiting, in fact as a solo woman travelling this is a priority. Looking like a tourist in many places will mean you stand out like a sore thumb and become the target of thieves, unwanted attention and risk being overcharged for everything you buy. So pack accordingly.
Here are my top ten tips for packing for your adventure:
Research your destination. Are there any traditions or customs you need to be aware of? What’s not okay to wear at your destination?
A nice light bag with wheels. I use a multipurpose duffle bag that converts into a backpack with handles and wheels. It’s lightweight and has plenty of soft handles so I can get it on a bus or a train with ease.
Think layers. A few nice dresses, a few pairs of tights, a jumper, coat and scarf will go a long way in cooler climates. Tights are my number 1 must have. Comfortable and warm they are very suitable for travelling in countries where covering your legs is a norm for a not so young woman.
Pack 1 pair of panties for each day of your journey plus 2 spare pairs just in case.
Roll up your clothes. Not only can you fit more into your suitcase, there’s no need to iron your clothes while travelling.
Less is more. Don’t overdo it – why carry more than you need, besides you can always pick up a lovely something in the place you are visiting.
Pack 2 bras. Those pesky things have the habit of breaking. I had this happen to me recently in Rome. Apparently Italian women don’t wear bras bigger than a B cup. It took me hours to find a shop that stocked my size.
Pack 2 pairs of shoes. 1 pair of comfortable walking shoes (not sport shoes) and one more dressy pair for special outings. I also carry a pair of fold up ballerina shoes in my handbag.
Pack every toiletry that isn’t needed on the plane in your checked baggage. Use a good waterproof bag for these. Don’t forget sunscreen.
Pack two kitchen tidy bags. Not only are they useful for your dirty washing, they weigh next to nothing and are often infused with a nice smell like lavender or lemon. A great way to keep your dirty clothes away from your clean clothes. It’s also a good idea to wrap your toiletries bags in one of these.
Oh and last but not least, pour yourself your favourite drink and pack those bags!