How to Pack for Your Travels: A Girl’s Perspective
Tanya is a 20 something primary school teacher currently living and teaching in Taiwan. Using her long breaks from school to galavant around the world, Tanya’s past trips include South America, Europe and Tibet. Seeing as neither Johnny nor I are in a position to talk about all things girly such as make up, hair straighteners and the sort, Tanya has agreed to write a girls guide to the ‘DO’s’ of packing:
I understand ladies that we always want to look our very best all the time, but speaking from experience and from learning the hard way, we can do this without lugging around all the extra weight. This guide will provide you with the DO’S of packing and get you started on your fabulous adventures.
1) DO ditch the suitcase and invest in a backpack. Not all hotels/hostels have lifts and not every station has elevators. When traveling on public transport, it is a burden not only to you but everyone else when trying to lug a big suitcase on board. Weather is always unpredictable when traveling too, the last thing you want to do is drag your suitcase through the water only to have soaking wet clothes. Easy solution, get a back pack.
2) DO pack and then half it again. Don’t have the attitude I’ll take this ‘just in case’, as you will more than likely not wear it. Try and pack your backpack to 12-13kg. This figure a few years ago would have scared me, I was guilty of packing to maximum capacity 23 kg AND a 6kg carry on bag! But, you don’t want to be carrying this much weight on your shoulders thinking my back hurts, instead of wow look at the Great Wall.
3) DO bring a small shoulder bag (day bag). I personally prefer shoulder bags to backpacks as they are in your sight at all times, therefore keeping prying hands away.
4) DO pack essential clothing, clothing that you are going to wear and need. Make sure that your clothing is durable, as don’t forget you will be wearing it all the time day in and day out. It’s important to also carry clothes that are comfortable, (think of those long trips on the bus), breathable garments and clothes that do not require ironing. The last thing you want to be doing is ironing on your fabulous trip.
5) DO follow this recommended list of clothing that you should take when backpacking:
-1 pair of convertible pants-These zip off pants are great as they can act as shorts, ¾ pants or long pants. Great to also keep those nasty mosquitoes away when needed or to use when entering conservative places i.e. Temples. In some Buddhist temples the display of knees is unacceptable. Don’t suffer the humidity the whole day, only cover up when needed!
-2 pairs of shorts
-3-4 T-shirts- T shirts can be worn purely on their own or layered with a long sleeve tee when needed.
-3 casual dresses- I can’t get enough of casual dresses when traveling. They came in particularly handy especially when I was in Tibet and had to share a communal OPEN toilet with a large group of women. Privacy what privacy? To add more favor to the dress, dresses are lightweight, can be rolled to the size of a sock, can be dressed up or down and most importantly LOOK GOOD!
NB: If you are not a dress girl, perhaps pack 1-2 nice going out tops for those special evenings.
-Tights/leggings/Jeans- I am not a big jean lover and find jeans to be heavy when traveling. But I know to most women a good pair of jeans is a heaven send. Make sure you pack dark denim jeans as they can be worn day/night and are less susceptible to stains. As for tights/leggings, I always carry 2 pairs to layer with. They can go under summer dresses, shorts or skirts for those cooler nights and are lightweight.
-1 Water proof/wind proof jacket -Don’t go without one of these, you will thank me you really will.
-Good comfortable trainers - Water proof is not a necessity but will no doubt come in handy.
-1 pair of flip flops-is essential to have as well as some daytime sandals that can be worn during a night out. My personal favorite is a pair of sandals with a mini wedge, great for day and even better for night. If this does not appeal to you, a pair of flat ballerinas are comfortable and versatile.
-3-4 pairs of socks-(socks can be easily washed in the basin as needed and dried under an air conditioner)
-10 pairs of underwear- you don’t want to be buying underwear in Asia, you just don’t. Also, remember to pack cotton, dark colors, and leave the g strings and lacy underwear at home.
-6-7 Bras- Again no room for pretty lacy bras, just think comfort. A convertible bra may come in handy as well as sports bras for extra support when trekking and engaging in physical activities.
-2 Singlet/tank tops- great to wear under your t-shirt, dress or on their own.
-1-2 long sleeved tees- ideal for wearing under a t-shirt or dress in cooler weather. If you are going to a colder climate, and I mean freezing cold, a thermal would be an asset.
-2 cotton headbands- great for keeping hair out of your face and covering up oily roots.
-A decent cardigan-just to throw on when needed, or alternatively a hoodie to lounge about it.
6) DO DO DO take tissues. Bring a packet to start you off and you can buy more along the way. Be sure to carry them with you at all times, as you don’t want to be stuck in a toilet without them.
7) DO bring hand sanitizer – boys laugh when I tell them this (editor: yes I do ) but its hygiene. The last thing you want to do is pick up any unwanted germs to ruin your trip, not only that it will be your savior as you exit many of the toilets on a backpackers trail.
8) DO carry an ample amount of tampons. In some countries Tampons are not always readily available, so if that’s what you wear bring it. Pads are of course easily accessible and available everywhere.
9) DO Only take sample sized toiletries. You will only need a little to get you started and you can buy the rest on route from any convenient store or local grocer. Remember, you don’t need the expensive brands when traveling.
10) DO bring a moisturizer that combines sunscreen, it’s 1 bottle and therefore convenient. A lip balm will also be handy too to prevent dry chapped lips.
11) DO take Mosquito repellent with you – it is an essential. But don’t buy repellent that is 80% deet – let me just say I sat on a chair and my legs removed a big chunk of varnish, oh and my brown legs went to a chalky shade of white- enough said.
Finally, my golden tip. Don’t feel you have to ‘dress’ like a backpacker would. There is no need to go out and buy a dozen new clothes for you to travel in. Wear what you usually wear, but make sure it is sensible for the context you are in. Remember, we all want to look our best but traveling is not a fashion parade!
Enjoy every second of your travels girls
Big thanks to Tanya for this, hope it helps girls! Happy travels!