Packing Advice for Odyssey Traveller's Small Group Tours
Packing Advice for Odyssey Traveller’s Small Group Tours
Many travellers ask us how best to prepare for their Odyssey Traveller programs, seeking out advice on clothing, medication, insurance, among other concerns when travelling overseas. This article shares some of what we have learned from years of accumulated experience in leading small group tours, which dates back to 1983. Odyssey Traveller trusts that this article, along with this article on footwear will guide you in planning your trip. Whether you’re travelling to Europe, Asia, within Australia, or anywhere else in the world, the basic rules of packing remain the same.
This article is divided into two sections. The first section provides general advice on documents, luggage, and medical kits. The second part offers some suggestions on how to pack inside the suitcase. The mechanics of packing has many different variables and considerations. This second part of the article considers how and what to pack, given that the majority of Odyssey Traveller tours are typically three weeks in duration.
All of our programs come with detailed:
- Country-specific advice
- Reading suggestions
- Advice on visa applications for the countries being visited
- A list of inclusions and exclusions
- Plus other important relevant information to assist you in planning your trip.
However, there are pieces of general travel wisdom on what to pack that apply across all of our tours. If you would like to see our other tips for international travel, please read our two-part series on travel tips, which you can find here and here. We’ve collated this advice in two blog posts, which is offered as general guidance for those heading overseas.
Use An App
PackPoint is a free Android app released in 2014 that helps you organise what you need to pack based on the length of travel, the weather at your destination, and any activities planned during your trip. The link shows a video demo of the app’s key features. PackPoint first asks for your gender, your activity (business or leisure?), length of travel, and destination. It then checks the weather and develops a list of wardrobe, electronics, and toiletries to match your travel needs. You can tick off the items in the list as you pack, ensuring that you don’t forget anything before you leave.
The most important thing to pack is of course your travel documents, including your passport, credit cards, as well as itinerary, and copies of booking forms. Keep one photocopy of your passport at home and take another photocopy on your trip with you. If you want to be extra careful, it can be worthwhile including a copy in both your carry-on baggage, and your checked baggage. However, always make sure to have your important travel documents ready to hand, in case, a customs official asks to see them.
Main Luggage and Day Bag
Suitcases come in almost every configuration known. Consider travelling with a good suitcase and a comfortable small backpack.
It’s important to travel light, so make sure you only take what you need. Evaluate the weight of the case, its durability and ability to withstand the efforts of the local ground handler to test any suitcase. Selecting a suitcase that is ready to withstand being run over by a vehicle will come with a weight penalty perhaps up to 4 kgs. So maybe the lightweight case with sturdy locks form a recognised brand is a better option. Accept that you may need to replace the suitcases every couple of years. The cost of new case though will probably be less than the overweight charges you may incur during the life of the heavier case.
Any lock on a case should comply with United States Customs. That is a single master key can open the case for inspection by the relevant authorities. Putting your padlock on a case today, will possibly result in the lock being cut off or the locks and zips being damaged. If you need to lock your suitcases then during a tour then do so on the ground and accept that your suitcases should be unlocked when flying.
The choice of a two or four wheel suitcase is a personal choice. The main difference is that two wheels cases are essentially a pull suitcase. Suitcases with four wheels are a steering case through the crowds.
Recognising your Luggage on the carousel
For travellers on Odyssey’s small group escorted learning tours we have designed and then supplied the brightest, toughest, and largest fluorescent orange luggage label carrying the Odyssey logo to travellers for over 20 years.
So many suitcases do look alike. A visible luggage tag assists in collecting the correct bags off the carousel.
Clothes and Footwear
Smart casual clothes are suitable but not compulsory for the evening. Particularly for any shows or performances, as well as group meals including welcome and farewell dinners.
A water/windproof jacket and small compact umbrella are a must.
Medication and Medical Kit
Personal medical kit – Please remember to pack sufficient supplies of daily medicines. Often a GP letter confirming medications (maybe put a copy as a photo on your phone) that you are taking is a good idea for long trips.
Your Odyssey leader will also have emergency medical supplies.
Camera and spare film/memory card –
Tea bags/coffee, milk powder or sachets, muesli bars, instant soups or noodles, fruit, or anything you can’t go without!
Remember your air travel luggage allowance
Luggage allowances may be generous on international flights. You should check with your airline on the allowances for the international legs. However, the challenge is often short haul European flights and also local flights where allowances can fall to 20 kgs. For 3 or more weeks of travelling this can become a challenge that you need to consider.
Before the start of any small group escorted learning tours if possible store some of your items with friends or family who you are staying with. Or if returning to a hotel in that city and you have booked already then ask about leaving some items there for your return. The hotel may be prepared to store a few kilograms whilst you are away.
Packing your Suitcase
This section looks at the mechanics of packing your suitcase. There is all different types of advice for the travellers available on the web.
Spend some time thinking about your packing.
A list of items you are thinking of packing to take away is a great start. You should look at the list a couple of times to remove and add items to your list.
A key piece of advice is being practical about what you are packing. Also reflecting back on your last trip is a good start. How much did you pack and what did you actually wear? There will be some items that where the favourites on your last holiday. You need to remember why this was so and pack to reflect your preferred dress style.
Cube your suitcase, utilise the empty space.
Packing cubes, these are zipped up pouches typically of various sizes that enable you to store and organise your clothes in your case. This link here is to a google search for packing cubes for more information and a range of suppliers.
Another suggestion is to roll tops, underwear, socks and other small items. These smaller items can then be packed into the corners of the suitcase, or shoes to ensure every possible space is used.
Keep your wardrobe fresh
On such a long tour it is also good to keep your wardrobe smelling fresh. You may want to pack some potpourri, fabric conditioner sheets or scented drawer liners or a small bottle of citrus, Manuka (good for insect bites as well) or lavender oil. This will assist in keeping your clothes fresh smelling throughout the trip.
Use Ziploc bags to help pass through security
Consolidating all the electronic cables, usb sticks, chargers and other vital electronic components into a couple of ziplock bags. Using ziplock bags will not only help you find things during your flight but also potentially assist you pass through security. Ziplock bags are also useful for keeping medications, house keys and bottles of liquids needed for the flight.
A make up tip
For pressed powders and eye shadow to prevent them cracking during your travels place a cotton wool pad or ball in between to powder and the lid.
This is potential a significant weight saver. Onto your tablet you can download the kindle reader or Apple equivalent, to then download your holiday reading. The kindle reader can also be downloaded onto a phone via the app store. This is not the time to debate e-books against printed works. This is a time be practical about the weight allowances when flying and making savings where possible.
Odyssey has a number of blogs that provide you with general advice on travelling for Mature and Senior travellers. Of course any tips or suggestions on managing your footwear and clothing when travelling would be welcome.
You may find the following blogs for Odyssey Traveller of interest when planning your holidays.
For more tips on what to wear while travelling, you might like to read either of these pieces. For specific advice on particular countries, this website is worth a read. For tips on what not to wear travelling, take a look at this handy guide.
Following these guidelines will ensure a comfortable and enjoyable Odyssey Traveller tour.
About Odyssey Traveller
Odyssey Traveller is committed to charitable activities that support the environment and cultural development of Australian and New Zealand communities. We specialise in educational small group tours for seniors, typically groups between six to fifteen people from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and Britain. Odyssey Traveller has been offering this style of adventure and educational programs since 1983.
We are also pleased to announce that since 2012, Odyssey Traveller has been awarding $10,000 Equity & Merit Cash Scholarships each year. We award scholarships on the basis of academic performance and demonstrated financial need. We award at least one scholarship per year. We’re supported through our educational travel programs, and your participation helps Odyssey Traveller achieve its goals.