Travel Comment
Ponderings on all aspects of travel - both at home and abroad.

Packing tips: Lighten up but don't forget the soap


I travel with one small suitcase so it's easy to get around and I keep my carry-on luggage to a minimum.

That means thinking about what I really need because I'm convinced most people hugely overpack. If I come back from a trip and there's something in the bag I haven't used - other than maybe my raincoat - that means I got my packing wrong.

I use a small, cheap bag on wheels - I've tried expensive bags and they seem to get damaged just as quickly - preferably in a colour other than black so it's easy to identify.

It's fastened with one of those locks that is appproved by the security authorities and I also use a lockable luggage strap covered in red tikis, to make it distinctively Kiwi, obtained through the Herald Reader Rewards programme (0800 633 377).

To reduce the number of clothes, I do a wash most nights. That requires carrying a no-pegs travel clothesline able to be fastened with hooks and suckers (US$9.95 from, a small cake of soap and an EzyDry inflatable hanger which dries shirts quickly and with few wrinkles (US$15.95 also at travelcomfortable).

If I'm going somehere warm, I'll usually take a couple of light polo shirts and a couple of smart light cotton shirts selected because they dry easily (a process greatly assisted by the old trick of rolling them up in a towel and walking on it) and wear a long-sleeved shirt on the plane.

Just in case it gets cool I prefer to take a jacket - my favourite is a nicely cut brown one - because they're more flexible and can help if you need to look a bit smart. Or, if it's likely to be really cold, I'll opt for a black windfleece I got from Kathmandu.

I take a pair of trek-pants which can be converted into shorts, and have lots of good pockets for hiding stuff, and a pair of smart trousers; a pair of running shoes for walking in and a smart pair for evening wear; half-a-dozen pairs of socks and underpants; and a hat to protect my bald head.

The extras I take include a Swiss Army Knife with scissors, a small bottle of tea tree oil which is a great general-purpose antiseptic, a universal sink plug, a universal power adaptor, a camera and notebook and, for writing, communicating and downloading my photos, my new EEE PC.

Oh, and books, several of them. Preferably a book about the place I'm visiting (for a forthcoming trip to Rome I'm taking Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel by Andrew Graham-Dixon), a couple of thrillers that can be left behind and a Lonely Planet guide. If it wasn't for the books, I'd be really light.

- Jim Eagles

Do you have any fool-proof packing tips?

- NZ Herald

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