6 days or 6 weeks, probably doesn’t matter, I would pack the same amount of stuff any way. How much to pack is more related to what you do where, than for how long. After all laundry facilities and stores are almost everywhere.
Activity related gear
I’ll be spending quite a bit of time sitting in a car while on self-drive safari so will bring binoculars. But really, the camera is my most important gear, and all the stuff that goes with it which will be carefully packed in my carry-on. Still trying to decide whether to take the tripod. What do you think?
Plus all the other techie stuff like netbook, wireless mouse because I don’t like the built in pad, external hard drive to store photos, 12v/USB plug, and a power converter to reduce from 220 to 110.
I don’t plan any major hiking like last time so don’t need to bring a backpack or big clunky boots. However I will be prepared for some easy day hikes with my fanny-pack and tennis shoes. And because I’ll be car-camping the tiny backpacker’s stove (no fuel) and headlamp will get taken along. I can buy a tent and air mattress there.
Clothes & Accessories
I could live in the same clothes for a lot of days because I hate to do laundry. And what the heck I’m camping. Fortunately many caravan parks/campgrounds have laundry facilities. I’m no fashionista but do like color coordination which allows for mix-n-match. Having a skirt along means I could dress up a bit but they’ll be no heels. With Feb/March temperatures in the subtropics ranging H83/L64 F (29/18 C) light weight is needed and can always be layered for warmth.
Many travelers suggest cubes or space-bags to compress and organize clothing. I usually fold things and just look wrinkled. Maybe I’ll try rolling clothes this time and see if that works better. I’ll wear a fleece jacket and my bulky tennis shoes on the plane.
Yes, I’m a jewelry freak but I leave the bling at home. Because I don’t travel full luxury with a body guard one necklace, a ring and pair of earrings that I can wear all the time is my limit. And a colorful scarf can jazz up even a t-shirt. Plus then I have an excuse to buy something there.
Besides the bulk and weight plus the hassle with 4oz fluid limitations, shampoo, crème rinse, mouth wash, etc. are just easier to buy at the destination. Travel towels are small and dry quickly. I pack them in a plastic bag and then try not to forget about them when wet.
Hair bands are wrapped around the hair brush handle then I stick that in a shoe. I’ll take a spare pair of eye glasses and the prescription too. To reduce the bulk of containers I’ve packed daily vitamins in small zip-lock bags. The one prescription medication I take will stay in the original bottle with the script attached. Every country is different, but South Africa allows 30 days’ worth of medications.
I never go anywhere without a map, even if it’s just a few pages. Because my Smart phone isn’t global I won’t have access to immediate maps like at home. I’m also taking a guide book but I rarely find time to read anything beyond that.
This trip I’m adding a few spare batteries because I discovered the right size can be difficult to find. I’m throwing a spork and can opener in a coffee cup because I don’t need to collect any more of them. Plus a pillowcase for dirty laundry, or maybe two to cover questionable looking pillows. I could even use the laundry bag as a pillow, if the clothes aren’t too smelly.
And some gifts, small things for special people met along the way. I’m taking some hatpins from the Grand Canyon.
Suitcase or backpack
This is a very individual choice including whether to check bags or not. I used to carry a backpack but now have bum shoulders so it’s a suitcase on wheels for me. And I’ll be checking that and taking a carry-on too which will have at least one pair of clean underwear and my toothbrush along with the camera gear and netbook. I’ll be traveling in a private and rental car so thankfully won’t have to schlep my case in and out of busses.
Very Important Papers
I’m not paranoid but do have to consider all possibilities. I make Word files of important info like serial numbers for items of value, addresses, passwords, etc. Also scan copies of important documents like Drivers License, passport, credit cards, etc. And take photos of everything packed. Then I email this information to two people I trust implicitly and to myself.
It’s called cover your ass because shit happens. We all hope not but in the event luggage and/or purse are lost or stolen having documentation could make life just a little easier.
I always pack too much but am getting better. I’m leaving the kitchen sink home this time. If I forgot it then I’ll either buy it there or live without. Many large stores are available in urban areas of South Africa and the good rate of exchange often makes it worth buying there instead of packing it.
So what do you think? Did I forget anything? There’s still four days before I leave for six weeks in South Africa.