Part 2 of the series ’16 travel tips for your next big (or little) holiday’
- Before You Go
- Border Crossings: Two Ways to Fail
- At Your Destination
- Psychology of Travel: 3 Reality Checks to Remember
There’s a thousand lists out there of what to pack for a holiday, and how to pack it. And the above photo shows I can’t claim to have learned much about travelling light (“but what if we don’t feel like playing any of the other five board games?”). Here’s my take on a couple of other points.
Should I take a backpack or suitcase?
I’ve burned up plenty of pre-trip time agonising over this decision. Suitcase pros:
- More comfortable in airports, hotels, and anywhere else you can easily wheel it.
- Bigger capacity – unless you’re a commando or sherpa, the biggest suitcases exceed what you can carry on your back.
- Easier to find items in the main compartment.
- Less clothes creasing.
- Hard-shell suitcases are more secure and protective. Soft-shell are probably little different to a backpack for a motivated thief. Or reckless baggage handler.
- If you’re prone to a bad back, you may end up walking many kilometres as slowly and painfully as an arthritic geriatric. Which, I can say from experience, can make getting to the check-in counter on time much more character-building and exciting.
- As soon as you’re off a smooth surface, dragging a suitcase is a real chore. And in many parts of the world there aren’t a lot of smooth surfaces. That said, in these countries transport is usually cheap enough that you won’t be walking far.
- The structure of a suitcase is often quite heavy, putting a dint in your effective baggage allowance.
- More pockets, for convenient external access to smaller items.
- Arguably less likely to break than a suitcase.
- No obnoxious noise. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever dragged wheeled luggage up a cobblestone street late on an otherwise quiet night.
Personally, I think the ideal would be a large backpack that has enough big zips to offer easy access to the main compartment, plus has wheels and an extendable handle for pulling. You might also consider the Modobag. It’s quick, and any Segway-riding airport security will appreciate no longer being the airport’s dorkiest sight.
Will my electrical devices work?
Check this list to make sure you have the right adapters, and whether voltage will be an issue.
I’ll just buy all my clothes once there
But before you depart with a single change of clothes rattling inside a mostly empty suitcase, consider how keen you will be to shop once on holiday. While I enjoy the occasional bargain, there’s plenty else I could be doing. Is shopping a chore for you at home? It probably will be overseas too.
One overlooked ‘must pack’ item
For me, there’s one item that can’t be beat for usefulness vs size and cost. I always pack it, and it’s the subject of this article.
Learn from my mistakes and make sure you actually get into the country by avoiding these two immigration fails