Tag Archives: trip planning

Packing List – For Warm and Cold Weather

OK – well we’ve talked about packing for cold weather and packing for the beach so the obvious next post – is what if you are combining several distinct climates on one trip.  With some luck (or some planning) – you will have cold and then hot – or hot and then cold. This way you can ditch – or mail home the clothing you will no longer need, and/or buy the stuff you will need as you arrive in the new climate zone. You packing list doesn’t have to remain constant!

Photo: Jay Morrison via flickr.com

The cold weather gear is the expensive and heavier stuff to carry particularly a good pair of a walking shoes (you’ll wear sandals in the tropics), and good waterproof jacket (in the tropics you will get wetter under it with sweat than from the rain falling – use an umbrella instead).  If you are doing cold second and transiting through the same city twice – then leave your gear in an extra bag at the hotel and collect it when you return – most places in Asia will do this for free or next to nothing – if you stay with them of course.  If you are going on to hot weather after cold – consider mailing your warm gear home to yourself.

Items I almost always buy – and give away while travelling include:

  • sun hats – almost impossible to carry, and baseball caps don’t count – you need a hat which protects the back of your neck particularly;
  • umbrellas – these appear for sale as soon as it rains in the tropics – they are much more effective protection than a rain coat – and will stop you pack getting soaked through  – these can be useful in cold weather too so long as its not windy
  • warm hat and gloves – too limited a use and too cheap to buy as required
  • light weight shirts and shorts – available in any tourist area – cheap and usually will have fallen apart after a few weeks anyway – or bring old stuff and throw it as you leave the climate zone.

Ultra lightweight travellers almost always stick to warmer climates – so the reality is if you have to carry warm weather gear its going to take  up a bit more space – on the other hand if you are wearing it then it makes little difference to the size of your pack.

One other trick if the only cold weather you will get is on the way to the airport in your home country – or on the way home  – try to get friends to drop you. Then give them the heavy winter gear at the airport and ask them to pick you up with extra jackets on the way home!

Packing List for Europe in December

Yup – really – we are flying straight out of Malaysia and into Europe in early December. I already wrote about my warm weather packing list which is frankly the easy part – so how to pack for the cold and potential snow of Europe?


Louvre, Paris - under snow Photo: mireira via flickr.com


First I should probably point out that this is not a ski trip – and most of Europe doesn’t get that cold – the snow on the Louvre is pretty but hardly typical. I never managed a white Christmas in London. This list is for temperatures down to about 0C and rain – oh lots of rain!

As I mentioned before – I have stuff that is on my packing list for  every trip:

  • 3 pairs of cotton underwear, bras, swimsuit (lots of spas in Europe)
  • prescriptions and glasses (I’m blind without them so a spare too)
  • sarong – most multi-use device ever invented
  • traveller’s towel, shampoo (replaces soap and laundry powder too), travel clothes line,

For cold weather travel I obviously don’t need shorts or skirts.  I do however need a decent waterproof pair of light weight shoes or boots.  Wet cobbles, as featured on many European streets are slippery and hard – you need good shoes.

If you are going to a wet climate you need a decent waterproof coat – these are  often quite bulky – find the one that packs down the best – but is still genuinely waterproof.

The trick with packing light for a cold climate is to leave the bulk out. Sweatshirts and polar fleeces are a fail here because they are too bulky. Instead my extra outlayer is merino wool, fine warm, even when wet and expensive. Nothing else comes close though for warmth/bulk ratio.

The other half of keeping warm is thermal underwear – either the original polypro which can get a bit smelly – or newer (and more expensive) merino variations.

You will also need some warm socks – I take 2 pairs and they are usually wool or wool-blend for warmth.

I will probably need a hat and gloves and maybe a scarf –  I  tend to buy  those on the road.

Packing List – For The Beach or Warm Weather Vacation

Most people start their packing list with what clothing they want to take – to me its the least important part of my packing – I leave it to the end. Yup I’m a girl and I don’t think clothing is important – so shoot me! Frankly I don’t need to wear nice clothes to feel good about myself – I’ll settle for clean – on vacation or elsewhere.

The Author Makes a Fashion Statement, Angkor Wat, Cambodia

So what would my packing list check list look like? Something like this:

Every trip:

  • 3 pairs of panties – underwear – light weight cotton – doesn’t matter they won’t last the trip anyway. You can by super expensive, dry before you hang it up, survive for years stuff- or just use old ones and replace as required (every couple of months in my experience);
  • bras – two pairs – I hate underwired bras and this all you can get in most of the world so I sometimes take 3 if I don’t think they will last the distance;
  • sarong – can double as a sheet, towel, bag as well as be a skirt, a shawl, a dress
  • swimsuit – usually a 2-piece tankini as it can double as underwear or even as an dressy top.
  • prescription medicines, prescription glasses and a spare (because I am blind without them – or I’ll get another pair really cheap on arrival if I am flying to Asia).
  • shampoo (doubles as soap and laundry washer), toothbrush, toothpaste (small), travel clothes line, a micro fibre towel if I am travelling really, really cheap (many hotels provide them in Asia).

Warm weather trip

  • 1 pair shorts, loose, cotton not too short;
  • 1 skirt either knee length in less conservative countries or calf length for countries that are a) conservative and b) don’t provide much more than a ladies side of the bus for conveniences.
  • a lightweight pair of trousers for flying and when the mosquitoes are out in force
  • a light sweatshirt or similar for planes and if I am going up any hills – often surprisingly cool even in the tropics
  • soft light T-shirt which is mainly for sleeping but could also be a top if I need it to be., and is often sun protection over the swim suit.
  • a couple of short-sleeved shirts – silk or light weight cotton.
  • Teva or similar sports sandals.
  • suntan lotion, insect repellant (tend to be cheaper at home)

I’ll probably buy on location

  • sarong as above if I don’t already have one
  • a sunhat – the good ones are rarely packable
  • an umbrella – a great deal more useful that a waterproof coat in the tropics
  • mosquito coils and matches

So by my count that gives me 4 bottoms (including the sarong) and 4 tops (including the tankini) – if you are clever with the colours and patterns they should all go together.   Black is not ideal for warm climates so I avoid it, and white for obvious reasons. I generally go for patterns on the top – to hide the dirt and khaki or mid blues on the bottom. One of the shirts will nicely coordinate with the tankini – for the whole beach to resort fancy restaurant look – trust me it works (and you don’t need a bra that day either!). Packing light is really quite easy – if you remember that almost every location will have shops.

Should I Take A Laptop Traveling?

As I work online for a living I need a laptop when traveling – but your mileage may vary. You need to step back though and work out what you’d actually use the laptop for? The world is full of Internet cafes – so they may be a reasonable alternative if all you want to do is check your email and update Facebook once a week.

Asus EEEPC Netbook is Going On My Next Trip

Why Do You Want a Laptop When You Travel

Common answers are:

  • a bit of web surfing, update my travel blog, write some emails

I’d suggest you consider going without one, frankly for ease of writing a diary – its hard to go past pen and paper, never needs recharging, resistant to moisture (within reason), can operate out of range – of everything including power

  • heavy duty video editing and photo graphic work
  • Ouch – you are going to need a decent machine – probably a Macbook or a high end lightweight Sony Vaio or similar. Frankly you are going to be spending quite a lot of time and muscle looking after it.  You will probably want to spend a bit more on higher priced private rooms and consider taking taxis rather than buses depending on where you are travelling.

  • running a business online or remotely
  • To be this is the only real reason why you’d need to be carrying your own netbook or laptop. I need to regularly check in with contractors, update documents, manage websites and correspond with clients. Although I could all of this from public machines its more secure and easier for me to have my own machine running my own password remembering app, it also makes it easier to work in quieter areas when I can get wireless in my room rather than competing with the teenage gamers in the Internet cafes.

    Most people ask – should I take a laptop/netbook/iphone – the question is as unanswerable as “how much does it cost to travel” – it all depends.

    Deciding to travel with any gadget because everyone else does, your mother wants you too, or you think it vaguely might be a good idea without actually knowing – sounds like a good reason for leaving that item home.

    Can You Afford To Loose Your Laptop?

    Never, ever take anything with you that will upset you i you lose it, have it stolen or drop it in the sea when boarding a speedboat in Thailand. If its very valuable double check that you have insurance for it – don’t just assume you are covered. But remember too you will still be seriously out of pocket even if the company believes your story.

    Remember too – the data on your laptop is the really irreplaceable stuff – especially if it includes losing all your travel photos.  This really needs you probably need both a second drive and a cloud backup option such as SugarSync that allows you to backup as many directories as you want and is also handy for sharing files between computers.

    You Can’t Just Travel With a Laptop

    Part of the problem is that you need more than just a laptop. At a minimum you also need:

    • power cable/transformer (and some of them are heavier than the flipping laptop – check that if you are buying);
    • plug adapter assuming you are leaving your home country;
    • an external hard drive, or pen drive to backup your laptop which should NEVER be in the same bag as the laptop;
    • some decent case to protect the fairly delicate electronics (closed cell foam is best );
    • a plastic bag to keep it  all dry;

    So should a laptop or netbook be on your packing list – to be honest I don’t know – only you can form a rational answer to the question.

    Starting to Plan a RTW Trip

    One of my most popular pages is my Travel FAQ which I think reflects people’s confusion as to where to start with all the information bombarding them when they start to plan an extended trip. The amount of information out there is just too over the too and although the Internet is great for research tool you can end up going down endless dead ends.

    Step 1: Brainstorm where you want to go

    I’d suggest that you don’t initially hit the big travel forums and the airline sites. Instead turn the computer off and get out a blank bit of paper and a pen (quaint eh!) Write down the places or countries that you’ve always wanted to see, think about the activities you’ve always wanted to do! Don’t worry about whether its possible, whether you can afford it on any other practical detail – just brainstorm your ideal places to go. You won’t be able to do it all but it gets you focussed on what you want to do – not what everyone else thinks you should do! If more than one of you are going on the trip – why not both do this exercise, separately and then compare notes – the overlap should be a good starting point, if there isn’t an overlap maybe you have some other discussions to have! Rank your lists to see what is more important than others.


    Step 2: Join the dots

    So taking the list you created from step one – lets add the countries to it.

    • Taj Mahal (India)
    • Everest (Nepal)
    • St Peters, Rome (Italy)
    • Antarctica
    • Easter Island (Pacific)
    • New Zealand’s South Island
    • learn to cook Thai (Thailand)
    • Mandalay (Burma)
    • Timbucktoo (Mali)
    • Ayers Rock(Australia)

    For the purposes of this exercise lets decide that you live in the UK.

    To cover the above wish list we are looking at Europe-Africa-Indian Sub-continent- SE Asia-Australia-New Zealand-Easter Island-Chile-Antarctica-South America-UK

    Where did South America come into it – well that’s the only way to get to land anywhere near Antarctica, actually South Georgia, is by cruise ships which depart southern Chile or Argentina. You happily go off to price this routing from your friendly travel agent, I hope you are sitting down because between the expensive Antarctica trip and including Africa and South America in a RTW airfare its not going to be cheap! You also discover that flying into Mali is a bit problematical and the only options most RTW airline tickets offer are via southern or western African countries.

    Step 3: Check the weather!

    Yes the weather can be a problem in some places of the world – for our itinerary:

    • Rajasthan best time to visit is considered December – February
    • Antarctica ships can only run in the southern hemisphere’s summer: December – February.
    • Australia’s deserts are best between season when its neither very hot or very cold – March – May would be good time to visit
    • You will only get views trekking in the Everest region from December to April avoiding the monsoon.

    Step 4: Fit your budget to your destinations.

    Is it important to see what you want regardless of the cost? Can you only afford the cheapest destinations? Or like most people are you somewhere in between?

    Lets do some research on the prices involved on our wish list :

    • Antarctica – is going to be expensive – we have to go on an organised trip and the cruise is at least 10 days because of how far south we have to go.
    • Australia and New Zealand will be cheaper than Italy especially if we have £ to spend.
    • India and Thailand are very cheap destinations and great value for money too. You could stay in an ex-Maharajah’s Palace hotel for less than a 3 star hotel in Italy – that appeals! Burma is cheap too – a quick flight from Bangkok and train from Rangoon will get you to Mandalay.
    • Mali is going to be expensive because of the lack of tourist infra-structure.


    • Drop Antarctica – it can be a once-in-a-lifetime trip some other time;
    • Drop Mali – it just seems too difficult and you have some safetly concerns too.
    • Drop Italy – its close enough to home to do another time

    Step 5: Fit your time-frame to your Itinerary

    Now how long do you have to do the trip – for this exercise lets assume you have 6 month’s leave of absence from your job and you have to be back home by August for a family wedding – so you are traveling February to July. The logical order of countries that you have left, flying east, or the reverse flying west, is:

    • Taj Mahal (India)
    • Everest (Nepal)
    • learn to cook Thai (Thailand)
    • Mandalay (Burma)
    • Ayers Rock(Australia)
    • New Zealand’s South Island
    • Easter Island (Pacific)

    Unfortunately February is the ideal time to be in New Zealand as well as northern India – so you have a conflict! What to do – you are probably going to have to choose one. You realise too that you want to spend at least 1 month walking to Everest base camp, a month in India, 6 weeks in Burma and Thailand, and a month in New Zealand so that would only leave 6 weeks for Australia which seems too little – again you need to drop something!

    The final itinerary – well that’s up to you – its the process which is important not the final result! Leave me a comment and let me know how you did with your itinerary? Was this post helpful?