Here are just a few ideas for all you ladies out there to help make your life a bit easier and more eco-friendly when you are travelling. They definitely help me!
1. I find the best hand luggage to have is a day pack with wheels. So when you have those long waits at airports you can just drag it around, and then when you need to go up some stairs, or rush for a train, you can put it on your back. It’s really the best!
2. Let’s face it, the less valuable things you take with you the less you have to worry about. Seems obvious but not everyone sticks to this. Leave all your jewellery at home, you’re bound to buy some new and wonderful local things along the way!
3. Take a small shopping bag with you and use it when you go out shopping! Refuse plastic bags, you don’t need them (well, only occasionally) and they are a burden on developing countries. I hate seeing plastic bags blowing around in beautiful places!
4. After you have bought your dutyfree bottle of gin in a thick plastic bag (yes, you are allowed ONE plastic bag), keep that with you in your luggage. Often you want to do some handwashing and there is no plug in your room – get your plastic bag out and wash or soak your things in that, it works like a bucket!
5. Plastic bags you are allowed: if you are camping and having to pee in the desert, please don’t leave your loo paper behind. Put it in a plastic bag and throw it away. Put all your toiletries in a plastic bag, you never know when they will leak on the plane, which is never a nice surprise when you open your bag!
5. Clean out your closet – take a few old clothes with you which you can wear and then throw away or even give away in developing countries. It leaves more room in your case for your shopping too!
6. If you are sharing a room, don’t talk to your room mate when you are packing. You are usually tired after all that travel and forgetting where you put things, so don’t talk, concentrate on what you are doing, do mental checks on where your passport and money is, and put everything back in the same place in your luggage. You need a system so that you don’t have to pull everything out of your bag looking for things.
7. Take some carabiners with you (available from outdoor shops). I always have one on the strap of my shoulder bag and clip my room keys onto it. Then you always have your keys handy and don’t have to search all your pockets. carabiners are very, very handy!
8. Make sure you take a few locks with you, preferably with codes and not keys. The less keys you have, the better. Always lock your bag when you leave your room. Don’t leave anything to chance…or the cleaning lady! I even have a small lock on my shoulderbag and lock it when I am out and about in dodgy places.
9. So you got your bottle of dutyfree gin, but don’t want to lug around a glass bottle? Drink a bottle of water in a plastic bottle and then decanter it into that. Make sure you don’t accidentally brush your teeth with it though!
10. Buy yourself several small purses, maybe even in the country you are in, which makes them more special. Use them for storing different things – your money, your phone, your credit cards in one (your money separate in another). Also useful for small cameras and small plugs.
11. If you are travelling in hot countries, take extra rehydration sachets. Take one or two a day in your water, you will be amazed how much they will perk you up. You are probably sweating more than you realize, which makes you tired when you are losing all those salts and minerals.
12. Take a photo of your passport and credit cards and email it to yourself. Keep a copy on your smartphone too. Take extra passport photos with you too.
13. Do you buy wetwipes and then never really use them? I just take a bandana and pour water on it if I need to wash something. It’s much better for the environment and they are handy for moping sweat from your brow, using as an emergency bandage and wiping away tears (of joy!). Always have it with you in your shoulder bag, with your small shopping bag and carabiners.
14. Save yourself some money. When you go into an outdoor shop they are full of wonderful, “innovative” things that you THINK you need. Think twice! Do you really need all those stuff sacks? You could just use some plastic bags from home. Do you really need that flash water bottle? It is is just another thing to worry about and takes up luggage space, you can just buy bottles of water along the way. Do you really need that washing line? Take a bit of thick string and some pegs – you can always leave them behind. The more you buy, the more you have to look after, the less you buy, the less you will be worried about it if you lose it.
15. Take a scarf or sarong, or buy one on the road. Great for those cold days to wrap up in, to lie on on the beach, to keep the sun off your head, or even use as a towel…they have many uses!
16. Tip! Tipping is especiallly important in developing countries. Don’t just see it as giving a tip, see it as helping them improve their lives when they often work hard for very little money. And don’t forget the people “behind the scenes” – not just the maid or guy who carried your luggage – it might be the gardener, or anyone else not serving you directly, but also helping to improve your stay!
17. And last but not least! Be a good human! Turn off lights in your room, save water in dry countries and dress respectfully – see what the locals are wearing and cover the same bits, ignore those ignorant tourists flaunting everything in the countries where they shouldn’t. You’ll be treated with much more respect yourself.
Happy travel ladies!
Julie – Director of fun and adventures at Venus Adventures – Global trips for Women who Love to Travel