Tips to keep you ahead of the pack
If you’re flying between safari camps on small planes you may be subject to strict weight restrictions of as little as 10-15kg. In this case, a soft duffel bag is better than a heavier wheeled case. Most safari camps offer a laundry service, so you’ll be able to wash clothes on the go.
When it comes to clothing, colour is important: khaki, beige and other muted tones will help you blend in on game drives and walks; avoid bright colours including white as they’ll make you stand out. Blue and black attract biting tsetse flies.
Safari camps tend to be casual and loose cotton clothing will help you to stay cool while keeping the sun off. Sunglasses and a hat are essential — look for a hat with a chin strap that will stay on in open-topped safari vehicles.
If, like the majority of travellers, you've timed your safari for the dry season — winter — bring a warm jumper or jacket as mornings can be chilly.
For game walks and drives, bring comfortable sneakers or hiking boots and plenty of thick socks.
It might sound odd but a sports bra is a good idea for female travellers — game drives can be very bumpy.
For evenings, long sleeves and pants will help you avoid mosquito bites. Don’t forget mosquito repellent, particularly if you’re visiting a malarial area, but note DEET-based insect repellents can reduce the effectiveness of sunscreen — don’t forget to reapply regularly during daylight hours.
Good-quality binoculars are an absolute essential for spotting game. Similarly, if you’re taking photographs, you’ll want a long lens for your camera — a 400mm lens with a 1.4x converter (to give 560mm) would be ideal but a Tamron 28-300mm lens with your DSLR is a good option. For a more affordable alternative, try a Canon SX60 HS, which has a 60x optical zoom.
Safaris can get dusty, particularly during the dry season. Bring a dry bag to keep dust out of your camera and a light, pale-coloured scarf to wrap around your mouth if drives get dusty. Some contact lens wearers may find glasses more comfortable in dusty conditions and a stash of antihistamines may come in handy for hay fever sufferers.
If you’re moving around a lot and catching local transport such as buses and ferries, packing light is a must. To lighten your load, wash your clothes on the go. Don’t bother bringing laundry detergent — shampoo or handwash will do the trick. Avoid packing clothing that wrinkles easily or requires special care in the wash.
Do your research and be mindful of local sensitivities and customs when choosing clothing, particularly if you’re visiting places of worship and rural or out-of-the-way areas, which can be more conservative. At a pinch, a sarong or light scarf is useful as a cover-up.
Tropical climates mean dampness, even outside monsoon season, so don’t forget dry bags for cameras and other electronic equipment, and lightweight rain protection.
If you’re visiting large South-East Asian cities such as Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, bring a light jacket or jumper to guard against the often- freezing air-conditioning inside shopping centres, hotels and other public buildings.
Be smart about security if you’re staying in hostels and other budget accommodation. Avoid bringing jewellery, unnecessary electronics and other valuables, and if you’re staying in a dorm, bring a big spare padlock for luggage lockers.
If you’re likely to use communal bathrooms, don’t forget a pair of rubber thongs to wear in the shower to guard against athlete’s foot and other nasties.
You’ll want to be vigilant about hygiene to avoid picking up stomach bugs, so hand sanitiser is a must — although washing your hands frequently in warm water with soap is the best protection against germs. Pack some Gastro-Stop, Imodium or similar, just in the case.
If you’re travelling on an organised tour by coach, you can get away with packing a little more, but if you’re travelling independently or moving around a lot by multiple modes of transport (trains, buses and so on), try to pack light.
If you’re catching flights within Europe, particularly on budget or regional carriers, check your luggage allowance — it may be significantly less than on long-haul flights to and from Australia. Pack accordingly, or pre-purchase extra baggage in advance.
If you’re moving around a lot, use packing cubes (from luggage and camping shops) to group similar items — all T-shirts together, for example, or all of your underwear and socks. This will help you find what you need without having to completely unpack at each stop.
Even in the height of summer, the weather in many European destinations can be changeable — as anyone who has experienced an English summer can attest. Bring layers of lightweight clothing so you can easily adjust to temperature fluctuations.
It’s often suggested you can save on luggage by strictly limiting your footwear options, but if you’ll be doing lots of walking it’s worth having more than one pair of comfortable, well-broken-in shoes. Being able to alternate between pairs should help to avoid blisters and rubbing. Take blister packs and bandaids as a backup.
For sightseeing in cities, a compact, lightweight camera will be more comfortable to carry around all day and will be less obtrusive than a bulky DSLR — this can also help you avoid the attentions of pickpockets. I like my Panasonic Lumix LX-5 (it has a Leica lens), and another good option is the new Lumix DMC-TZ70.
If you’re combining the UK and Europe in a single trip, be aware that you’ll need separate electric adaptors for each. If you’re opting for a universal adaptor, get one with an extended socket that will fit into recessed power points. Either way, if you have a fair few items to keep charged, take a power board with four sockets to plug into your adaptor so you can charge more than one thing at a time.
The “unpack once” nature of cruising means you have a bit more leeway in terms of how much you can pack, although most cruise lines will encourage you to limit your baggage and some have specific guidelines. Check this well in advance and don’t forget, it will all need to fit in your room — you can save space by bringing a case that will slide under the bed. Also be aware of luggage restrictions on any flights you're taking as part of your holiday.
As with planes, some items are not allowed on to cruise ships — these might include your own alcohol, flowers and plants, candles and travel irons. Check with your cruise line for specifics.
If you plan to shop during port stops or on board, leave space in your suitcase for new purchases or pack a soft, lightweight second bag to accommodate them — make it small enough that you can take it as carry-on on the flight home.
On your first day aboard, there may be a delay before your checked bags arrive in your cabin. Pack a small carry-on bag with your travel documents, a change of clothes, bathers, medications and anything else you'll want straight away so you don’t have to wait for your luggage to start enjoying the ship.
Dress on cruise ships tends to be fairly casual, but bring smart-casual attire for evening dining and take note of dress codes for formal evenings and other on-board events such as theme evenings — these will vary by cruise line, so check the website in advance. However, even on cruise lines with a more formal reputation such as Cunard you’re unlikely to need a ball gown or tuxedo unless you particularly want to frock up. Some cruise lines hire formal wear aboard.
For warm-weather cruises, bring a second pair of bathers — no one likes putting on wet togs. And don’t forget a pair of thongs or sandals and a cover-up for getting from your cabin to the pool.
Cruises are notorious for weight gain, so if you plan to take advantage of the on-board fitness facilities to work off your indulgences, don’t forget workout gear, including sneakers.
Take a small, lightweight day bag for carrying a bottle of water, your camera, wallet and other essentials on shore excursions.
Cruise ships can occasionally be noisy, so earplugs are a reasonable precaution.
Travel Essentials. Picture: Iain Gillespie
Ski Holidays. Decide whether you’re bringing your own gear such as skis, boots and snowboards, or whether you’re happy to rent. If you are bringing your own, check your airline’s sporting goods allowance. Note that helmets are mandatory for children at some resorts.
In terms of outerwear, you’ll want waterproof ski pants and a jacket — if you’re a first-time or beginner skier, it’s worth borrowing these from friends. Alternatively, you can hire them at many resorts.
Wear layers of thin clothing underneath your pants and jacket so you can take things off if you get too warm. Choose thermals in a fabric that will wick moisture away from your skin, and take at least two sets as you’ll get sweaty and will want to wash them. A fleece is also a good idea — it will come in handy off the slopes. If you’re going somewhere very cold, you may need a face protector, hooded top and additional layers.
Take at least two pairs of thick socks to wear under your boots — one to wear while the other pair is drying. Sore feet are one of the most common complaints among beginner skiers, so specialised ski socks with strategically placed padding are best.
Gloves should be waterproof with a good grip. If you’re headed somewhere very cold or get chilly fingers, glove liners can help. A scarf or tube-style neck-warmer will provide additional warmth. And look for a beanie, warm headband or hat that will cover your ears.
Poor-quality or scratched goggles can spoil your fun, so it’s worth buying a pair of your own even if you’re a first-timer. Take sunglasses for fine, sunny conditions.
Apres ski is part of the fun, so bring appropriate clothing for off the slopes, particularly if you’ll head out to restaurants and bars. For footwear, boots with decent grip are a good idea.
Heading down the slopes with a bulky DSLR camera around your neck is risky, so opt for a compact point-and-shoot or a mirrorless camera which can neatly slip down the front of your suit, or get a GoPro — adventure sports are their raison d’etre.
Don’t forget sunscreen and a lip balm with a high SPF, as the light reflecting off the snow can be harsh.
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