Travelling Light

The worst part of travelling has to be packing and unpacking and I’m not sure which I hate most.  I have spent many years trying to learn the knack of travelling light but, while I have improved I have never quite seemed to achieve the ideal.  At the end of a trip, whether business or holiday, I have always tended to end up with a number of items at the bottom of the case that I haven’t used.

Packing has also become a little bit more complicated in recent years and goes beyond the standard holiday wardrobe.   It used to be a matter of throwing in the instamatic camera, a roll of film and some sun cream.  Now it’s about iPhone chargers, memory cards, laptops, extra lenses, plug adaptors and a myriad other gadgets to keep us connected while we are away.  And more than that, the intrepid traveller nowadays has to come to grips with strictly enforced baggage allowances,  security restrictions on hand baggage and different limits on cabin bags depending on the airline and class of travel.  It’s a nightmare.

I have learned over the years that there is usually very little that cannot be bought at your destination so sometimes it can be better to reduce weight and space requirements by leaving certain items behind and buying locally.  Why cart a heavy tub of sun cream and bottles of shower gel and shampoo half way around the world when the stuff is probably available in a holiday supermarket at half the price anyway?  So relax; no need for panic if
you leave something behind.  There are of course exceptions to this rule such as, for example, essential medicines.  And the rule might not always apply anyway.

As a case in point, I suspect there may be a lot of life’s little luxuries that are not available in a place like Antarctica.  So this trip presents a whole new challenge and most things will have to be packed before we leave.  We fly British Airways to Argentina and we have a relatively generous baggage allowance.  And our tour operator has no weight restriction on the ship which is all to the good.  However we have a 3 hour charter flight between Buenos Aries and Ushuaia with a strictly enforced 23kg allowance.   This common denominator rules all and puts us back to square one. Not an unusual problem, I know.

Then there is the added complication of the weather.  Apart from the freezing temperatures that we can expect in Antarctica – which means packing things I wouldn’t normally bring on holiday – we can expect temperatures in the region of 30°C in Buenos Aries.  And we will probably experience variations in between both these extremes as well.  It’s like packing for two holidays in one but the obvious answer is to plan to dress in layers.  What I wear in the sweltering heat of Buenos Aries can serve as a base layer for later in the trip. And zip-off pants can double as a pair of shorts. That’s one problem solved.

Two little tips that have served me in good stead in the past.  With all the gadgets that now
accompany me on my travels come the chargers.  Rather than bring a plug adaptor for each of these, I bring a standard (but lightweight) extension lead and one adaptor.  That way I can usually plug in multiple devices at the same time.  A Power Monkey for use in emergencies is also an excellent investment.

And I always, but always, use the hotel safe. A stolen credit card can ruin a holiday.  And in
the safe I always place a spare credit card and bank debit card.  That way if my wallet is stolen I will still be able to afford dinner while I arrange replacements.  And I also bring a photocopy of my passport (and keep it separate to the passport itself).

Less than a week to go so I’m off to start packing now.  Happy travels.