I’ve taken my fair share of trips and learned a few things along the way about packing for vacation. This list isn’t complete. These are just points I’ve encountered that I’ve never seen covered in other travel tip lists.
- Plan what you’re going to wear. Pick a color palette. That way you’ll be able to assemble more outfits with fewer pieces of clothing because everything will coordinate with everything else. For example, for my next vacation, I have a palette of black, tan and red. I’m only packing black bottoms, a pair of red walking shoes and a pair of black ones and a pair of black dress shoes. All my tops will coordinate with each other and all tops work with all the bottoms. A few scarves will change up the look and yes, I will wear items more than once.
- Think through your entire outfit and your entire day/itinerary. I forgot to pack socks once and had to spend the entire first day of a business trip wearing boots and bare feet. Disastrous? No. But not ideal either. Similarly, I showed up at a resort with no pajamas. At home I sleep in the nude, but on this trip I was sharing a room with my gal pal, Cheryl, who luckily had brought extra pajamas.
- Wheeled suitcases are great and take the lug out of luggage. But you better be able to carry your suitcase, if necessary. Wheels fall off. Stairs and landings happen and sometimes – it’s happened to me – you will be required to hoist your luggage over your head and through a bus window. Besides, airlines charge extortionist rates for overweight luggage and who wants to start a vacation being slapped with a fee?
- As a solo traveller, I recommend you travel lightly enough that you and your suitcase will fit in a bathroom stall together. You cannot leave your luggage out unattended and do you really want to leave it with a stranger?
- Forgot trying to de-wrinkle clothes in a steamy bathroom. I make wrinkle releaser. Put 15 ml (1 tablespoon) of liquid fabric softener in a clean 500 ml (approximately 2 cup) spray bottle. When you arrive at your destination, fill the bottle with water. Spray this mixture on any wrinkled, washable clothing and hang. The wrinkles will fall right out. I haven’t ironed anything in years!
- Pack a few plastic bags. They’re great for your return trip when you’ll have dirty or wet clothing you want to store and possibly bottles of liquids (perfume, wine from a prince’s vineyard) that you don’t want leaking onto your gear.
After a long and frigid winter, I realized I needed some rest and relaxation. I had tendonitis in my hands from typing and mousing all day. My ever-aching feet were calloused and swollen. I was having constant migraines. I longed to swim in a big body of water and feel the sun on my skin. I wanted to be care free, with no schedules, alarm clocks, chores or even shoes. I just needed a few days of unadulterated summertime. And dammit! I wanted it now.
I asked my sister, who is a school teacher, if she wanted to go with me on a quick trip down south. We’d wait until she was done the school year and then fly out. But our schedules and vacation goals didn’t jibe and she ended up declining.
My mother had always said that if I wanted to do something, to not wait for others to be ready to come along. Just go!
So I went to Cuba for five days.
And I’m so glad I did. It was exactly the vacation I wanted and when I wanted it. I played in the water all day. Ate when I was hungry. Slept when I was tired and woke up only when the sun told me to. I came back to Canada refreshed, relaxed and raring to go!
Don’t wait for other people to come along on your journey. No one will ever be as invested in you and your dreams as you are. Go follow them when and how it’s right for you.
Brenda, this one is for you.
A friend and I were venting about the affront of being asked as single travellers to either pay a whopping single supplement* or bunk up with a complete stranger that the tour company offers to find. The incredible thing is solo travellers accept this treatment.
It struck me how much society is biased against single people and how bought in to this bias single people are. Please note that I use the term “single” to mean both unmarried people and people out in public on their own.
Here’s a quick list of common activities many people are uncomfortable doing solo:
- Eating in a restaurant
- Going to a movie, concert, gallery etc.
- Attending a wedding or other social event
- Having a drink in a bar.
It is fun to share experiences with others, but it’s also fun, or sometimes just necessary, to get out on your own.
To not live your life and do the things you want to because you are “just one” is cruelly self-limiting. To let society or business dictate what you are allowed to do and enjoy as one person is egregious.
This is not the ark. We do not need to go forth two by two. We are whole just as we are. We don’t need an “other half” or ~eesh~ a “better half.” And we certainly don’t need anyone’s permission or approval to be in public and do whatever we like on our own.
In Europe and North America there are now more single people (and single-person households) than married/partnered people. The world is seeing a social and economic shift. We can all help speed up that shift and make the world a more inclusive place for everyONE by venturing out solo (but en masse!) and claiming our space in the world.
*Single supplement. Isn’t that an interesting term? What’s actually getting supplemented isn’t the single traveller’s vacation experience but the travel industry’s coffers.