What you really need to take with you when travelling (and it’s not what you think)

Packing you think is always going to be the easiest thing to do (well, we are all wrong as we learned very early on) 

It’s the same whether your going on holiday for a week, or packing up and going travelling for a year, everyone will have the same argument when your packing up to go. Everyone falls into a certain category; 

  • Packs too much packer 
  • Packs too little packer 
  • Doesn’t pack at all packer
  • Leaves it until last minute packer 
  • Packs months in advance packer 

No matter which one you are, there are going to be things that you forget and also things that you really didn’t need, so this is a list of things we brought and shouldn’t have, but also things we should have got but didn’t. 

Clothes 

When packing, we really thought we had condensed it down and because we weren’t going to have a house we got rid of a lot of our clothes! I mean we had about five bin bags full of clothes! 

We started packing it and at first it was going well, everything seemed to be fitting into our two suitcase (one small and one large one) and I had a plan to where it was going to go. Then I would be finding clothes that we weren’t getting rid of and the pile got higher and higher. So we discussed it and decided we could get another small suitcase in the car. So we packed everything up and in the car it went. 

We quickly discovered you don’t need a dozen t-shirts and jeans, along with skirts and dresses, it’s just not practical (your travelling now – getting a new set of clothes out everyday isn’t always going to be possible). 

When we had our mini break in Spain, we re evaluated and stored some clothes away and managed to loose a suitcase. After travelling for a month we probably still have too much but it’s about being practical. Take clothes that you can mix and match and are easy to wash, but out of everything don’t forget your socks and underwear!! 

Accessories 

Personally, I love my accessories. I have a million scarves (ok maybe not a million but alot of them), along with my hats and gloves I keep. Deciding what to keep was difficult but I dropped it down as much as I could and packed them up in the car. Simon: Let’s get this straight, I packed them in the car! I find it difficult to comment too much about this because, so far, we have had pure sunshine, so sure, I’ve not needed any of my scarves or hats, but now winter is approaching, I am hoping to utilise all of my accessories but i will keep you updated…..

Health and beauty 

Taking health and beauty is obviously an important thing to take with you, but you can still take too much with you. Most things you can buy when abroad like shampoos and deodorant etc, so I would pack up a small amount and then buy it as your going along, this way you don’t have a shops worth in your car with you. You only need the basics to keep clean on the road, we made the mistake of fetching moisturisers and other fancy products with us…I mean when have we had chance to moisturise? Never! Simon: Again, beauty products got nothing to do with me. 

In terms of medicines, I can be fussy having worked in a pharmacy previously, so I would always say take the top items with you and research the countries for any extras. Whilst you will able to buy some drugs abroad, some countries are stricter with what they sell and some are not. If there not as strict, and your not knowledgeable about medicines, you could be taking a much higher dose than your use to, which is never a good thing. And if they are strict and ask questions, you have to be confident in speaking the language to answer, or hope they speak enough English. So out of everything I have packed, I believe my medicine box is the best packed of them all, and hopefully if I do need something, I have the right medicines to help. 

Cooking 

When we started planning, we said we won’t have takeouts and will cook on the road. So we bought and packed two foldable chairs, a foldable table, along with a stove and any food we had left in our cupboards that could be cooked on the road (rice, pasta, tinned, etc).

Out of everything we bought, this was prob the biggest mistake. It all sounds great, and a couple of times we have found a nice spot that we have been able to cook and have a nice meal. The problem is, these are few and far between, and if there is nowhere to stop, you can’t cook and if you can’t cook that’s when you have the naughty foods (in our case McDonald’s or Burger King). 

We tried to make it work, but sometimes your too hungry and tired to search anymore, so a takeout is the easiest option. Plus we started to think what about in the winter? There isn’t enough daylight, the elements may prevent you from getting out of your car, never mind start cooking in it, and in the end it’s too much hassle. 

At this point, we were in Italy when we really thought it through, so we decided rather than spend hours looking for a spot to cook, that we could buy a car kettle (yes you can get one!). It’s basically a kettle that plugs into the cigarette lighter. This is perfect – we can get noodles or anything else that only needs hot water (plus a cup of tea every morning – bliss), and you can do it in the comfort of your own car. We saw one of these a while back but thought, no we don’t need one of these we have a stove. Nooooooo!! Why did past natasha and Simon have to be so stupid! Now we spend our time looking for somewhere to do them because Italy don’t seem to have any (hopefully we find one soon) instead of just enjoying a cup of tea every morning. So moral of the story, when you see something that is easier and more convenient, then get it! Don’t make the same mistake as us. 

Essential car supplies 

If your planning on travelling abroad, always check the country your travelling to, as they have different driving laws than the uk. Many countries need extra things in your car, such as a first aid kit and a warning triangle to name but a few. The aa European pack is full of everything you need when going to Europe. Laws can change and you may need more than one of a certain items so get a list and tick it off. Simon: The AA website is very helpful and has a checklist you can use.

Depending on the time of year, you may also need to equip yourself for the winter (they get a lot more snow than the uk so be prepared). This involves having winter tyres or all weather tyres (which uk don’t tend to be fitted with) and/or snow chains. Each country will have different dates to enforce this and signs will be clear to indicate this.

So I’m a person who loves lists and I think this is the perfect opportunity to do one for things you need when travelling. 

  • Clothes (varies depending on how long your travelling but analyse how often you are going to be changing, plus take into account whether your going to be in summer or winter)
  • Medicines 
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Cooking essentials (varies again depending on travel and whether you take the advice above) 
  • AA kit for your car (each country differs so always check) 
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