By Todd Sturm - A Guide To Essential Travel Items for Flight Centre
Are you planning a little (or big) travel excursion? To help you prepare, Flight Centre has compiled a series of 'Essential Items' list-guides that will have you packing like a pro whether you're thinking about hitting the road, taking to the skies or setting out to sea.
Passport and travel documents – A valid passport, usually with a minimum of sixth month's validity is required for all international flights. Certain countries also require a tourist visa and this must be organised well before the day of departure. These items will be required in order to check-in for your flight and to proceed through customs and immigration at your destination. Having this documentation in order before arriving at the airport will ensure a quick and easy check-in process.
Travel Insurance – Travel insurance is highly recommended for international travel and is, if nothing else, peace of mind should the unexpected happen. Treating an illness, injury or accident overseas can be extremely expensive and travel insurance helps cover these costs. Travel insurance can also help cover the cost for lost or stolen property and even flight cancellations.
Toiletries and carry-on liquids – On a long flight, it’s always a good idea to have some basic toiletries in your cabin if you want to freshen up. Many travellers carry toothpaste, mouthwash, hand lotion (to combat the low humidity in the cabin) and other items.
Just remember, for international flights all liquids, gels and toothpastes taken into the cabin must be in travel size containers that are 100 millilitres or less. These items must be stored in clear plastic zip-lock bags and presented separately at the security checkpoint. Any containers that are greater than 100 millilitres will be confiscated by airport security.
Backpack – For those long flights when you’re seated in a window or middle seat, it’s often difficult to access your bags in the overhead compartment, especially when there is a sleeping passenger between you and the aisle. If you don’t want to disturb the snoozer in the aisle seat, consider a backpack that can easily fit under the seat in front of you without taking up much needed leg room. It’s easy access anytime for toiletries, reading material or anything else that you like to use in flight.
Contoured pillow– Arrive at your destination refreshed by taking your own travel pillow. Most international flights provide thin, narrow pillows but, if you truly want a relaxing sleep, consider taking a contoured travel pillow for extra head and neck support.
Eyemask – Bring your own eyemask to block out reading light from nearby passengers or the TV glare from surrounding video screens. It’s just a little touch but can make all the difference when you’re trying to sleep.
Jacket – Along with pillows, international flights offer blankets. But for those times when the cabin is cooler than you would like, pop on a light jumper, jacket or hoodie for a warm and cosy rest. Just pull it out from your cleverly stowed tote bag – easy done!
Book and personal entertainment – For me, a good book is priority number one! If you’d rather sit back and relax, most airlines today provide extensive in-flight entertainment from personal seat back video screens. You may be on an aircraft where these systems are not equipped, so why not take a personal tablet or laptop with your very own selection of movies, shows and music. Works every time!
Pen – I always make sure I have a pen handy for every flight, especially when flying international. Flight attendants will come through the cabin passing out immigration forms and these must be filled out and handed to the immigration officers upon arrival.
Comfortable slip on shoes – It may seem trivial, but comfortable slip-on shoes are the way to go when travelling on a long-haul flight. They are quick and easy to take off and put on, especially when sitting in a cramped economy seat. The longer you fly, the more your feet swell. Trying to put on a tight pair of leather dress shoes on landing can be torture. While in flight, sliding easily into a comfortable pair of shoes is easy when needing to get up and use the bathroom – something you never want to do barefoot.
Luggage– Unless you want to get hit with some potentially expensive baggage fees, be sure to only take the amount of luggage that is allowed under your fare type. Each fare type has an allocated baggage allowance, and exceeding this could cause added expense and a delay at check-in. Make sure to place your name and contact details on each bag in the rare event they go missing.
Travel documents – Get through check-in and security quickly and effortlessly. Have your travel itinerary and driver’s license or passport ready for inspection and keep your boarding pass or mobile device in a safe but handy spot for when you’re ready to board. Take note of the seat number on your boarding pass and be prepared to show it both at the gate and when entering the aircraft.
Toiletries and Medication – Small, travel-size toiletry items are always good to have on hand, especially when stuck in a middle seat between two strangers. Having some tissues, chewies or lollies, lip balms or any other necessary items in your cabin baggage will go a long way if needed.
Medications should never go in checked luggage. Always keep your medication and any prescriptions with you in your cabin luggage. This way, treatment can still be administered in the event of a delay when checked bags can’t be readily retrieved from the cargo hold, or if they go missing in transit. The same goes for car and house keys. It’s always best to keep these items in your carry-on luggage in the rare event that your checked baggage doesn’t make it on the flight with you.
Pen or pencil – How often have you been caught without a pen or pencil? It happens more often than you think and while there may not be immigration forms to fill out on a domestic flight, there could be many occurrences when a pen may be useful – even if it’s just for the word and
number puzzlies in the in-flight magazine!
Reading material and personal entertainment – There’s nothing like a good book to help pass the time. A personal electronic device such as a tablet or mobile phone helps too and many airlines today offer in-flight entertainment such as movies and TV shows through onboard Wi-Fi systems. Just download the airline’s entertainment app to your phone or tablet and voila, you’re ready to enjoy a wide range of programming. Be sure to remember your headphones.
Head rest or airplane pillow – Next to a book or tablet, nothing makes the tight and narrow economy seat more relaxing than a contoured airplane pillow. Perfect as a head and neck rest, these cushy comfort items offer a level of support for when you’re ready to close your eyes and get some rest. Oh, and it also prevents your head from falling onto the shoulder of the person sitting next to you.
Food and beverage – Even on airlines that do serve a complimentary “meal”, the typical muffin or shortbread cookie often does little to satisfy. If you’re one of those travellers who can’t bear to spend a few hours on a plane without eating, you're best to take a little snack or personal picnic lunch with you. Airport food can be quite expensive, so consider packing a little something from home.
Jacket – Some flyers can wear shorts and flip-flops on a plane and never get cold, but if you’re like me, I usually freeze. No matter where I sit, cold air seems to blow on the back of my neck from some constant but mysterious source. For that reason, I always bring a light jacket or hoodie. On the rare occasion that I don’t need it. I simply fold it up and place it in my carry-on bag. Chances are you might even need it at your destination on those cooler days.
Games, books for children – It’s not always easy for children to sit in a seat for a sustained period of time, so if you’re travelling with young kids you may want to bring along some favourite toys, books or tablets with movies loaded and ready to go for entertainment – with headsets, of course. As a general rule, keep the kids away from sugary foods and drinks before and during the flight to prevent sudden bursts of energy. There’s little room on a full plane to expend that energy burst.
Patience – Let’s face it, busy airports, full planes and tight connections are a recipe for anxiety and stress. But with a little forward planning and some patience, even long flights can be enjoyable. Many of us today take flying for granted, but next time consider the art and wonder of flight and take notice of the amazing scenery afforded from above the clouds. That is definitely something we can all appreciate. Enjoy your flight!
Passport, visas and cruise documents – Most cruise ships sail through international waters and travel between different countries and for this reason a passport is required. Depending on the countries you visit, tourist visas may also be required, and your travel agent can advise you on these requirements. In addition to your passport and any required visas, your cruise line will need to see your cruise documents. Often times cruise lines will require passengers to check-in online before departure. Checking in on line will allow you to print your boarding pass and you will be required to present this along with your passport at the cruise terminal.
Airline itinerary – Bring your airline itinerary so that your cruise line can reserve for you an appropriate time for disembarkation from the ship at the end of the cruise. Cruise lines usually reserve a specific time for each passenger to leave the ship and disembarkation and luggage collection can sometimes take several hours. If you happen to be catching a flight immediately after the cruise you’ll want to make sure that you’re on your way to the airport with enough time to spare.
Luggage – Unless you’re one of the lucky few who go all out and travel in the largest on board suite, most staterooms are quite small, with very little room to spare. Try taking a matching set of luggage but travel with pieces of a different size. That way, after you unpack and place your clothing and other belongings in drawers and in the closet, you can then conveniently stow your suitcases one inside the other, giving you some much needed cabin space.
Hat, bathers and loafers or flip flops - Let’s face it, the vast majority of cruises revolve around sun filled destinations with beautiful weather. With that in mind, you’ll definitely want to make sure that your bathers are packed for a dip in the pool or for sunning on a comfortable deck chair. Don’t forget light weight clothing for walks along the deck, a hat for sun protection and comfortable pool side shoes. You’ll feel relaxed and look great too!
Hanging toiletry bag –Stateroom bathrooms are very small and can be downright cramped. Combat the lack of counter space and prevent toiletry items from falling on the floor at the slightest ship movement by packing your bathroom and personal items in a toiletry bag that you can hang from a towel bar or bathroom hook. This way your toiletries are always accessible and stationary but out of the way.
Formal or Semi-formal dress – Cruises are known for their wonderful food and endless buffets, and the main dining room seatings are where many meals take place. Generally smart casual or semi-formal dress is adequate but there are nights that are designated as formal. This is the perfect opportunity to get dressed up for a nice dinner and if you feel inspired have a formal portrait taken as a remembrance.
Clothes steamer – It’s hard to look your best when you unpack your bag and find that all of your clothes are a wrinkled mess. Irons are not allowed in staterooms as they are considered a fire risk and laundry services on board can be quite expensive. One easy solution is to pack a small clothes steamer. Just fill it with water, turn it on and steam the wrinkles right out of your clothes.
Electricity converter – Cruise ships are based in many different countries and not all have the same power points and electric sockets. If you have any electrical items that you may want to plug in and use such as shavers, steamers, phones or entertainment devices, than an international converter will be useful. Your cruise line or travel agent should be able to tell you what type of power points your ship uses.
With that you are ready to embark on the journey of a life time. The joy of cruising is that you can do as little or as much as you want, so just go with the flow…so to speak, and have a great time. Bon Voyage!
Passport and Travel Documents – Depending on your route, you will want to make sure that your passport is packed. If it’s an overnight journey and you don’t have your own sleeper cabin be sure to keep your passport and documents in a safe place at all times. Of course don’t forget to reserve your seat or cabin in advance for longer journeys and be sure to bring all of your rail line documents and boarding passes.
Small, Soft Sided Baggage – Trains can be a comfortable way to travel but there’s not always a lot of extra space for your bags. Try to utilize soft sided bags that can more easily fit in tight storage areas. Pack using the smallest bag possible as often there are only narrow shelves for belongings. For convenience bring an additional small bag or backpack that you can place at your feet for any items that you want easy access to. If possible keep your bags locked for security, especially if you plan on sleeping.
Travel Size Toiletries – For those exclusive rail excursions when you will be occupying your own sleeper cabin, take smaller travel size containers as space is limited in the small private bathrooms. A hanging toiletry bag is perfect for storage as it can be hung easily from a bathroom hook where it’s handy but out of the way.
Noise Cancelling Headphones – Whether you’re travelling in just a seat or in your own private cabin, noise cancelling headsets can minimize the ambient noise from the moving train and the tracks below. I find the clickety-clack sound of the rails hypnotic and enjoyable because it’s a unique aspect of train travel, but if you’re a light sleeper or need some quiet time then headphones could do the trick. They’ll also come in handy when it’s time to pull out your personal tablet or music device when you’re ready for a bit of entertainment.
Entertainment and Books – It’s always a good idea to keep a book or some form of entertainment with you, no matter what mode of transport you use. Load your tablet or smart phone with your favourite books, movies and shows for an easy distraction anytime.
Map and Guide Books – I always like to pinpoint my location on a map and want to know what part of the world I’m travelling in. Not only do maps provide an excellent overview of the route but they often detail what natural landmarks and other attractions are close by. Maps are a great tool for sightseeing and an excellent way to learn a bit more about the region you’re travelling in. If the train is making stops along the way, take a guide book and plan some short excursions and see the sites.
Binoculars – An excellent way to see close up the many beautiful sites along the way is with a pair of binoculars, especially on those longer trips that take you through beautiful stretches of countryside or within majestic mountain ranges. Some trains even offer scenic rail cars with large windows and glass tops for the ultimate viewing pleasure.
Give the car a quick once over – Before heading out on your trip, check the car’s oil and other fluids. The tire pressure should be adequate and of course fill the tank with petrol. Car trouble is the last thing anyone wants when travelling so with a few simple checks, you can start the trip off right.
A thought out route – A well planned trip includes forming a route plan so that you know which route you would like to take. Do you prefer the motorway or the scenic route? Plan which roads you would like to take and possible rest areas or sites along the way that you would like to visit. Road trips are about discovery and you can always amend your journey as you go but at least you have a rough acquaintance with the routing, road conditions and any sites you’d like to see before hand.
Maps and guides – So many travellers use GPS today that the art of map reading is quickly fading. Both are useful tools of course and can be used in conjunction with one another however maps offer a bird’s eye view of sorts, bringing the entire journey into focus. Maps allow drivers to select their own journey, a rather novel concept in this modern GPS world. With a map the driver truly connects with the road and the journey, creating a sense of wonder and curiosity that no GPS can replicate.
Music that everyone will enjoy – One great way to keep everyone in the car happy is to mix up the music that is played in the car. Everyone has their preferred type of music and any car trip becomes more enjoyable when a favourite song comes on. It’s also a novel way of connecting with the kids or teenagers in the family and can be used as a great interaction tool.
Something to entertain the kids – Hopefully kids will engage in the moment and enjoy the scenery and camaraderie that comes with a road trip. Still there are times when the kids need a diversion and their favourite music and games go along way to alleviate boredom.
Beverages and healthy snacks – Avoid the fatty snacks and treats and try the healthy alternatives such as low GI foods such as muesli bars and mixed nuts. This will help keep your energy levels up and will prevent a sudden onset of exhaustion.
Torch – Be prepared in the event you have a break down, flat tire or other emergency during night time driving, especially when travelling in remote areas. It’s not easy changing a flat or having a look under the bonnet when it’s pitch dark outside and you want to make sure you remain visible to other drivers.
Emergency gear – While precautionary, every car should carry an emergency medical kit and special gear to handle inclement weather conditions. If you’re travelling in an area with cold temperatures, snow and ice for instance, carry an extra pair of gloves and warm footwear in case of breakdown.
With these simple suggestions, your road journey should be an uneventful and happy one. Things may not always go to plan but when you’re prepared, even the difficulties can be overcome and managed. Road trips should be about the journey as much as the destination and they can provide special moments with family and lasting memories of happy times spent with friends. More than anything, road trips are about freedom, exploring the vast landscapes behind the wheel.
Hiking boots – Comfortable footwear is always important when setting out on a long walk or hike. What would otherwise be an enjoyable hike can quickly turn into an uncomfortable experience when your feet hurt! To handle the various types of hiking conditions you might encounter, wear flexible, lightweight but sturdy hiking boots or shoes that provide sufficient cushioning and support.
Hiking Pack or Backpack – A proper hiking day-pack or backpack is the best way to carry belongings when hiking. Carry bags or shoulder bags should be avoided as you’ll want your arms free for proper balance when negotiating uneven or steep surfaces. Hiking packs also offer ample space for much of the equipment that you’ll need.
The Right Clothing – The clothing you’ll need depends, of course, on the climate you’ll be hiking in. Even if it’s a cool day or you’re in a colder climate, it’s not uncommon to warm up when hiking, so dress in layers so that you can remove later on. A hat is beneficial for sun protection and a rain jacket goes along way in the event of a shower. It’s not uncommon in some hiking areas for quick bursts of rain to come through, so you’ll want to be prepared. Generally, hikers should wear loose, comfortable clothing so as not to restrict movement.
Insect Repellent – Insect repellent is an absolute must, offering relief from those annoying insects.
Sun Protection - Even at a high altitude the sun's rays are strong. It's essential that you always carry sunscreen a hat and sunglasses.
Water and Healthy Snacks – Staying cool and hydrated is one of the most important considerations on any hike, so be sure to take an ample supply of water. Your water intake will depend on many factors including the weather and your own body temperature, but if you’re out in the sun and perspiring, it’s always a good idea to take rest periods in order to cool down and replenish your liquids. Bring some low GI snacks too such as power bars, nuts or fruit to maintain energy.
Utility Gear – The gear you bring depends on the type and length of hike you embark upon. If you’re planning a longer trekking expedition to a remote area, consider taking a compass, some matches, a first aid kit, flashlight and even toilet paper. A whistle is a common call in an emergency and the shrill sound can help pinpoint your location if needed.
Warm clothes – Winter is a beautiful time of year, as long as you stay warm! Depending on the activities that you plan on enjoying, winter basics include a warm coat, comfortable gloves, a hat or hood that covers your ears and rubber sole shoes for some slip resistance on wet, icy footpaths.
If you plan on doing some walking away from the city streets where there will surely be snow accumulation then you’ll want to consider a warm pair of snow boots. Even in just a few centimetres of snow it’s easy for your feet to get wet and cold when just wearing shoes.
If you plan on taking part in various outdoor winter sport activities the key is to dress warm and dress in layers with ample protection for your ears and hands.
Winter driving items – Winter driving conditions can be hazardous, especially if you don’t have experience driving in snow and ice. If you will be renting a car, go for a model that has four wheel drive or at least all wheel drive capabilities. Items that you’ll want to be sure to have along on a winter’s drive are an ice scraper and a snow brush for the windows as well as jumper cables in case the car doesn’t want to start.
Tire chains are also recommended when driving in mountainous areas with steep inclines. Before setting out ensure the car’s washer fluid is topped up with an anti-freeze window washing mixture. Snow can quickly turn to a muddy and slushy mess and in those conditions it’s easy for the windscreen to become dirty to the point where visibility becomes completely hampered.
A good pair of polarized sunglasses – Snow combined with bright sun can cause a harsh bright glare which becomes impossible to drive in unless you have sunglasses. Always keep a pair with you even if just walking as the bright glare can cause eye discomfort.
Quality skin care products – The winter air is extremely drying for skin and moisturisers, lotions and lip balms go along way in preventing dry, flaky, cracked skin. In extreme cold temperatures it doesn’t take long for the effects of dry skin to set in. Carry a small tube of hand lotion with you as well as a natural lip balm and apply often.
Entertainment – When the temperatures drop and the sun goes down there are just as many fun things to do inside. Take a deck of cards or a board game and enjoy an evening around the table with friends and family. Be sure to take your tablet or laptop if you think you may spend some time indoors and download your favourite books, music and movies. Then, just curl up in front of a roaring fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa and relax with your evening’s entertainment.
Equipment – For the novice skiers who don’t own their own equipment, most popular ski resorts and ski hills rent out equipment such as snowboards, skis, poles and ski boots. For those more experienced skiers who already have and are travelling with their own equipment, be sure to pack the items in proper ski bags for airline check-in. Bags with wheels are always handy especially when having to carry them through airports and resorts. If bringing your own skis, don’t forget your wax in case you want a do-it-yourself application. A clear plastic holder for resort and ski hill passes can also be useful.
Clothing – Next to the equipment itself, proper clothing is the next most important consideration. After all, being cold and uncomfortable can ruin an otherwise fun day, so it’s a good idea to be prepared for the wintery elements. A ski jacket with thermal pants and warm ski socks are the basics but you’ll want to add a hood or beanie, scarf, warm ski gloves, a face mask and shaded goggles. If you like added protection for your ears, consider bringing a head band along too and don’t forget warm snow boots for going out and about when away from the ski slopes.
Safety – Safety should always be in the forefront of every skier’s mind, however recommended equipment will vary depending on the type of ski trip you’re on. Regardless of the type of conditions you find yourself in, a helmet and shaded goggles are always a good idea. If you’re skiing in a remote, mountainous area with deep snow you will want to have items such as an avalanche beacon and shovel, probe and some form of GPS. A basic first aid kit containing bandages, dressings, and pain killers should also be carried.
Sunscreen and Lip Balm – When skiing, the sun and wind can be treacherous on the skin and the cold temperatures do nothing to help. Slap on a bit of facial sunscreen before hitting the slopes and always carry with you some lip balm to prevent dry, cracked lips.
These are just some of the basics to consider when going on a ski holiday. Consider the type of ski conditions that you’ll be in and tailor your equipment and clothing needs accordingly. Once that’s done, you’ll be on the way to having a fun filled ski and snowboarding holiday.
Summer clothing – Possibly two of the most important summer gear items are a hat and a pair of sunnies, and everyone should carry these wherever they go for adequate sun protection. Depending on where you live, summer temperatures can fluctuate so it’s always a good idea to dress comfortably.
Wear light weight garments on a hot day, but bring a light jacket or jumper for those times when the sun goes down or when you find yourself in a restaurant or cinema where the air conditioning is blasting away on its most frigid setting.
What would summer be without going for a swim? Pack some fast-drying swimmers that you can wear both on and off the beach, a patterned t-shirt or a polo shirt and you’re instantly ready to pop into the nearest cafe or shop.
Footwear – Summer holidays can include everything from the beach to the park to long walks and hikes. Consider the most versatile footwear for these occasions or bring different pairs to compliment the activity. Generally a pair of flip flops and a comfortable pair of sneakers or walking shoes should see you through and trip.
Sunscreen and Moisturiser – The sun can get pretty intense in the summer and if you plan on being outdoors for any length of time, apply some sunscreen to your exposed skin. Keep a small tube of sunscreen in your bag or in the car so that you can apply it anytime. A good moisturiser will help sooth and hydrate dry skin and can reduce the effects of sunburn.
Beach Gear – If you love summer and the beach like I do, you will keep some basic beach items in your car at all times. After all, you never know when you’re going to pass an inviting beach, and living in tropical Queensland, that is pretty much all year-round for me.
Open the boot of my car and you’ll find a beach umbrella, a couple of light-weight folding chairs and two beach towels along with a Frisbee. That way, I’m ready for a spur of the moment beach outing. Don’t forget your surf board or boogie board either in case you want to hit the waves and any other fun activities you might want to enjoy on the beach.
Music and a Book – Summer should be a relaxing time, and we’re not always going to want to be on the go. Whether it’s on the beach, poolside or a quiet courtyard or park, sometimes there’s nothing better than laying in the sun or cool shade with a good book or chilling out while listening to your favourite music.
The great thing about e-tablets and smart phones is that you can download all of this on one device and enjoy your personalised entertainment anywhere, anytime.
Picnic Gear – Like my little collection of beach gear that I keep in the car, I also keep a picnic set. It doesn’t have to be big or fancy, just a small, simple backpack style picnic set with some plates, cups, cutlery, a picnic mat and of course a bottle opener and you’re all set for an impromptu picnic. Just find the nearest deli for some great wine, cheese, breads and meats (don’t forget the olives!) and let the al fresco snack time begin.
Before commencing any travel, we strongly recommend that you have assigned your delegates. In a medical emergency, a delegate will be able to securely access your Advance Care Plan or Will, and call upon other important documents when they're most needed. Have peace of mind on your travels with the knowledge that if anything were to happen to you, your 'important stuff' will be taken care of.
For more practical tips and ideas from the LifeLot team, check out our blog post Heading Away On Holiday? 25 Tips To help You.
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