Countdown to Africa: Packing Tips

Some of my friends have suggested I blog travel tips in addition to a travelogue so if this is boring stuff to you, just skip it.

We leave for South Africa in 3 days.  Those of you who know me well know I’m already packed and ready to go.  In fact, I started packing when I got home from the last trip.  The guest room is now called the packing room and I spend as much time packing as planning-which is a lot.  My husband Jim, on the other hand, packs at the last minute.

To me, packing is a science and a challenge.  We travel with only carry on bags.  Yes, you read that right.  We carry on.   Consequently, we’ve never lost our bags and we’re more mobile without all that luggage.  This space limitation requires thoughtful consideration of each item before it goes into the bag.  And in spite of careful consideration, I still come home with clothes never worn on the trip so I’m still taking too much.  And yes, I do change my clothes!

A couple rules apply:

1. Pick a color scheme and stick with it.  Usually I go for black but a safari requires khaki.  All items of clothing go together so with a small number of pieces you can combine in more ways than you have days.  This allows you to take fewer shoes, too.  My rule is one dress shoe, one casual shoe, and one other (running or hiking, whatever.)

2. Pack lighter weight clothing and wear your heaviest, bulkiest items including shoes. Other countries have weight restrictions in addition to size limits for carry on bags so lighter is better.  I’m always on the lookout for the lightest carry on and currently I’m using a rolling backpack.

Along with your carry on, you can take one personal item such as a purse or computer bag that fits under the seat.  We each take a small backpack as our personal item and put our electronics, toiletries, small purse(for me) and snacks in it.  If you’re on a small plane (like we take out of Des Moines,) they will take your carry on at the jetway because it’s too big for the overhead compartment.  Make sure any items of value are in your personal item.

Here’s a tip:  Be considerate of other passengers and don’t put your personal item in the overhead bin until everyone else has stowed their carry ons.  I’ve seen men fold and lay their sport coat in the overhead bin alongside their carry on and expect the rest of us to honor that.  Come on, guys.  That’s just unrealistic on a full flight.

Some of you may be thinking you can’t possibly carry on because you can’t get all the liquids and gels you need in 3 ounce sizes to fit in a quart baggie.  Well, take along the things you can’t purchase away from home and buy the mouthwash, sunscreen, etc. when you get there.  Actually, you’ll be surprised at how much will fit in a baggie if you buy little containers and put in just the amount you need for the trip.

If you have tips to share, please post them in comments.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you how we picked this trip and how we planned the itinerary.

Categories: Africa, South Africa, Travel Tips, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Countdown to Africa: Packing Tips

  1. Suzan

    love this! Hope you will show a picture of your packed carryon.

    • Jean

      I love it too. I want more details/picture of rolling carryon bag

  2. Cindy

    This is awesome!!I I can’t wait to follow you…

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