Top packing tips for a trip of a lifetime

Daunted by the thought of packing for that BIG trip? Experienced traveller and seasoned backpacker Jennifer Scott shares her tips...

7 mins

Jennifer Scott retraced Vasco da Gama’s famous discovery of a new route to India, on a journey that took her to seven countries – including the Canaries, South Africa, Cape Verde and Mozambique. 

Where do you start if you're packing for a trip like that? Here, Jennifer shares her hard-won tips...

1. Pack Ziploc bags

Never leave home without them! They’re cheap, light, and can be used in a multitude of ways – from a waterproof wallet to a bag for dirty clothes.

2. E-mail important documents to yourself

This sounds like a straightforward piece of advice, but it’s one that people rarely follow. In addition to things like booking confirmations, e-mail yourself a scanned copy of your passport just in case it gets lost, stolen or ruined.

3. Turn items into ‘double agents’ 

That is, an item that looks like it serves one purpose but can also be used for another. For example:


Let’s face it - shoes take up a lot of space. However, they can also save quite a bit of space if you use them as organisers and protectors. Wrap perfumes or bottles in socks and stick them in your shoes for protection. Or fill your shoes with loose cords and small electronics. Better yet, put your shoes into a shower cap before you pack them. It’ll allow them to breathe, while protecting your other clothes from the soles.

Wrist watch or belt

Ladies can keep earrings organised by putting the posts through the holes in a wrist watch and snapping the backs on the other side. Men can try the same with cufflinks in belt holes.

Water bottle

Slip your small toiletries into a hard, wide-mouthed water bottle and twist the lid closed. Your liquids won’t get squished out in transit, and if one of them springs a leak it’ll be contained in the bottle and things won’t get messy! When you arrive at your destination, simply wash out the water bottle and use it for drinking.

Rain jacket

This one’s simple but effective. If you’re going somewhere rainy and you need to bring a parka, lay it on top of everything at the top of your belongings and tuck it into the edges of your suitcase before you zip it closed. It’ll be nice and flat, saving room… and as an added bonus it will also add an extra layer of rain protection, in case your bag sits on the tarmac or gets lost in transit.

4. Stock up on gastro medication

Before embarking on your trip of a lifetime, be sure to purchase gastro and constipation tablets from the local pharmacist. Let’s be honest, it’s not something you want to be dealing with in a foreign country, with potential language barriers whilst you’re feeling unwell. Think of it as a pre-emptive strike!

5. Know where you’re headed...

To save yourself some time (and stress), research the location of where you’re staying before you leave home, so it’s a simple process to find your accommodation.

Also, research where the local train/bus stations are, as this will also cut down on wasted time and energy. See if you can download a map on your phone that you can use offline without being hit with expensive roaming charges.

6. Pack a universal adaptor

If you’re going to be travelling through numerous countries, packing a universal adaptor saves space and time. Some come with additional USB chargers, which is really useful and helps to save space.

7.  Look for lighter alternatives

If you intend to hike during your trip you may be able to save space by packing trainers instead of heavy hiking boots. Research any hiking opportunities before you leave home to make sure that trainers will be sufficient: for any serious routes, you'll need boots – or at least trail shoes.

8. Lots of light layers, depending on the climates

Rather than bringing super-warm jumpers that you will only wear a few times, try packing several lighter options. This way you can mix and match.

9. Pack travel wash

If you’re going to be traveling for a long period, or to lots of destinations, it can be hard to find laundries or the time to dry clothes. Being able to wash small items as you travel is a huge help.

10.  Respect local laws and customs

Pack clothes that are modest: especially important during religious occasions such as Ramadan and in mosques and temples. Ladies, scarves are essential: you can use them as cover-ups, veils, pillow-covers, sarongs – and more!

Jennifer travelled as part of Expedia’s UK Modern Explorer campaign.

Main image: Woman packing suitcase (Shutterstock)

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