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What to pack for holidays

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What to pack for holidays

What to pack for a trip is a challenge for mature and senior travellers.This article assists provides packing advice in a post covid-19 environment when joining a small group tour. 

What to Pack for a small group tour holiday can be a challenge.

Checked luggage fees, tight airline bins and potentially long waits at the luggage carousel are just a few reasons it pays to pack light with just hand luggage if you can.

However, packing for an overseas trip remains a challenge and a checked bag is part of the journey. This article for mature solo travelers and senior couples on a small group tour seeks to provide some advice if needed on how and what to pack. The article looks at what to pack for a trip, offers advice on packing light and gives an indicative packing checklist for your travel wardrobe to assist you in packing light. There are other articles that we have published about choosing women’s walking shoes, Socks and walking shoes, face masks for travel and being travel fit and travelling in your 80s. This collection of articles is intended to support your decisions on what to pack for holidays and your planning before your next small group tour starts.

In considering what to pack, start light, return heavy is our travel tip advise for travellers joining a small group tour. You should plan on bringing some souvenirs and physical memories, beyond digital photos.

Whether you’re going on a three day weekend trip or preparing for a two-month outback tour for seniors, here are some guidelines for maximizing suitcase space, minimizing your load with practical clothing, not spare clothes and cutting down on wrinkles.

The short trip

For a local short trip across Australia, to New Zealand or short hops from your European base hand luggage on wheels if the way to plan out what to pack for holidays. Hand luggage gives you flexibility, then if your flight is canceled or delayed, having your bag in hand can be the difference between getting on with your travels or being stuck at the airport. And who hasn’t brought multiple outfits and three extra pairs of shoes along only to spend most of your vacation in a bathing suit and flip flops? But preparing for the long haul flight to and from is a challenge.


The bigger your suitcase, the more you will put into it. The simplest way to limit your packing habit is to buy a hard-sided suitcase no taller than 44cms, with a structured shell, so you can’t squeeze in any extras. While there is no universal carry-on bag size, many domestic airlines restrict bags to 44cms  tall, 35cm wide and 22cm deep. The size is often even smaller for international flights. (Shop with a tape measure if you want to make sure your bag – including wheels and outer pouches – meets a specific dimension.)

This compact carry for long haul should be your go to bag for side trips when space is limited.

Colorful renaissance facades on the central market square in Poznan, Poland

What to pack for long haul.

This is a great trip, however even the airline baggage handlers will not lift more than 23kgs per bag. So when planning what to take it is about layers if going from Winter to summer and vice versa. For layering to work, they need to have good thermal qualities to retain your body heat, being cold is never any fun. And if needed buy a couple of disposable thermals when you arrive or other items that will make you comfortable. Outbound preparation is about packing light. Maximise your weight limit coming back home with the extra something for the family and close friends.

Lay out what you think you will need then edit ruthlessly.

You may have a packing list but think twice about everything you want to put in your bag. The just in case spare clothes should not make the final set of clothes.

 The clothing countdown method

If you need a mantra to help streamline your wardrobe, use the “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” rule for the long trip, limiting yourself to no more than five sets of socks and underwear, four tops, three bottoms, two pairs of shoes and one hat. The list can be modified to suit your needs, with a swimsuit and exercise gear or a suit jacket and dress thrown in, depending on the trip. You do not need more than a weeks worth of clothes and if you do then it will be time for laundry. When you are washing and drying 3-4 days worth of clothes then the drying cycle is often very short in a commercial dryer.

Rolling or a packing cube

Many senior travellers recommend rolling your clothes in order to maximize space and minimize wrinkles. Some like a packing cube collection to keep their outfit (s) ordered. Others prefer the more exacting bundle technique, which involves carefully wrapping each article of clothing around a central core, with underwear and T-shirts at the center and large, tailored items like blazers and dresses as the outermost layer. Whatever your method for packing your outfit selection, the goal should be to fill every inch of space.

For example a good packing tip is that a shoe should be stuffed with socks and packed heel to toe at the bottom of the bag and enclosed (a plastic shopping bag will do) to protect your clothes from dirt. Rolled-up T-shirts, shorts and jeans, long pants and dresses make for a good base for stiffer garments like a rain jacket which can be bundled or folded on top.

Keep your toiletry bag and liquids within easy reach.

“Toiletries should always be placed on top in a clear zip lock bag since you never know when security might be interested in looking at your luggage. In some airports, particularly in Europe and the U.K., toiletries in your toiletry bag will be inevitably closely scrutinized. Thus, it is vital to keep them easily reachable and easily separated from your other items.”

Don’t unpack your Dopp kit…A separate toiletry kit for traveling is a good idea if travelling regularly. To prevent leakage maybe double bag your toiletry kit.

[What is a DOPP kit?

Dopp kit is a term particularly in use in the US for toiletry bags. The name derives from the early 20th century leather craftsman Charles Doppelt , whose company designed the case in 1926. Toiletry kits had been issued by the US military services during World War I.]

Another must-have on board in your hand luggage is a change of clothes, another good packing tip is to pack one of your partners set of clothes in your luggage and vice versa for that just in case we lost the luggage moment.

Skyline Rome

What to pack for holidays with a checked bag.

Our suggested list of essential things to pack for travelling are on a 2/3 week small group tour we suggest is as follows.

A Suitcase ideal size:  50cmH x 20cmD x 35cmW.  An example is the Samsonite ‘bucket’ type 4 wheeled lockable case “superlight” version.

Our packing tip is that all your clothes are ROLLED rather than folded. As mentioned previously, rolling allows more room within, and prevents creasing. When deciding what to pack remember “wet packs” tend to be the biggest and bulkiest item that will go into your checked luggage, is this item really needed in your checked bag?  

In your toiletry bag try to maximise the uses of various items such as face cream/moisturer in a tube and does it have sunscreen added?

  • Small travel shampoo/conditioner. 
  • Small hairbrush/comb.
  • Travel toothpaste/toothbrush.
  • Smallest odourless deodorant.

Many of these items are available in the local pharmacy in a travel size container.

  • Medicines, with a photo of your last prescriptions on your phone. And include some pain relief, but not a packet, this is for emergencies and our focus is keeping you light with luggage.

The clothes that make up your travel wardrobe would typically consist of;

  • 1 pair of travel pants. The Mountain brand or alternative with zippered legs, lots of pockets.
  • 3 travel shirts (as above: easy to dry overnight)
  • 5 sets of underwear (washable/dry overnight)
  • 2 pairs of Merino travel socks
  • 1 pair of thinner socks for casual wear.
  • 2 cotton short night dresses/night wear.
  • 1 jumper (evening or extra warmth day)
  • 1 pair of jeans (or evening change from travel pants)
  • 1 pair of good quality walking shoes
  • 1 pair of casual evening shoes
  • 1 good Gortex all weather rain jacket, possibly vented.

Plus a small back pack 15 litre size for your day trip excursions and then also:

  • Water bottle
  • Pen/pencil
  • Notepad
  • Sunscreen/lip balm
  • Squashable hat

It travelling in the cold months then add:  

  •                         A thermal singlet top (to wear under travel shirt)
  •                         and a puffy jacket (Uniqlo sleeveless under my Gore-Tex jacket for layering)

For women there are additional items to pack and may also include scarves to add interest to evening wear/ good for ’emergency mask’/ warmth and 1 pair of thermal tights (to wear under travel pants) and your favourite items of make up.

A travel tip is that has a pattern or darker clothes will tend to obscure stains or marks picked up between laundry cycles.

Then miscellanous items to carry in your cabin luggage or checked luggage would be;

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Electrical adaptor and double plug or cube with usb cable port.
  • Your kindle or ipad
  • A small torch or knowledge on how to use the light on the phone.

This advise on what to pack is for a regular small group tour if you are taking a regular tour, for Odyssey travellers air tours around outback Australia or motorbike tours then the packing list are different.

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