Things To Pack for the Annapurna and Your Regular Family Vacation
So, the Annapurna is looming up ahead of us and we’re remarkably calm. (I know!) We’d bought our hiking boots back in Cebu City, Philippines and have been wearing them for a few hours a day to get them nice and comfy. We had heard that if you don’t, suffering from blisters on the Annapurna Circuit is no fun. So, we’ve got other things done too: all sorts of female meds just in case I or 2/3 of the film crew get something on that mountain where there are no meds. I also bought some flash cards that I am slowly [slower than a dead turtle slowly] filling up with cool, inspirational learning tidbits* that I think will be motivating life-lessons sort of learning while we hike.
We’re currently on vacation in Malaysia with literally 1/3 of our stuff and doing really well. Every time we do a little vacation and find that we can live (and ironically are still too heavy) with a third of our stuff, we seriously ask ourselves what it is we are lugging around and for what good reason if we don’t need it. Needless to say, people have been asking about packing and then, this young lady Renee Dolman approaches me with an article about the essential things to pack for a family vacation. And I paused. Hmmm… how interesting to look at a family vacation when Kobi and I and the kids always laugh, asking each other, “When in the world will this vacation ever end?” which is the beauty of it, because it never does. So, I thought it would be really insightful to put in her article (with my little bits of thoughts in between) to look at how maybe sane, normal people pack up for a vacation, as I remind myself that I don’t need a guitar while hiking the tenth highest mountain in the world, and that maybe somehow we can convince Dahnya that she does not require all thirteen of the little stuffed animals that populate her trolley pack on the hike.
So, this is Renee’s Five Essential Things to Pack for a Family Vacation article. My thoughts are in green italics. Tell me what you think….
Packing for a vacation can be a tedious process, especially if you’re packing for a longer trip or for an entire family. In the packing process, certain essential items are bound to be left out. It’s all too easy to get sidetracked and pack too much of one thing and not enough of another, and you can count on your kids to leave home with a suitcase of pool toys and no toothbrush. (The story of my life- the getting sidetracked part and the kids packing everything but a toothbrush!) With luggage weight limits and space limits, packing well becomes even more challenging. (We’ve been getting busted these passed two weeks on overweight luggage. They’ve been on us like flies to… what to flies come to?) To make sure you pack exactly what you’ll need, be sure to write a list of essential items for your trip before you start packing. Once your essentials are in the bags, then you can add “extras.” This will ensure you don’t get stranded without the right clothes and supplies to truly enjoy your escape.You’ll want to get your packing process down to an art — and it’s never too early to get your kids thinking about efficient packing!
(Every single God-damn pack, I think “Oh, this should take us an easy twenty minutes,” or I lie to myself in my overly enthusiastic way and say, “Oh, my world-traveling kids, oh, they are pro’s at being independent and packing” and every time, it takes us three days and a insane amount of yelling to get everyone packed.
We all get sidetracked. Dahnya will inevitably start playing witht he toys she is meant to pack; Orazi will go build something out of the new supplies he’s just discovered for his deadly traps; Solai wll start drawing or writing sweet love notes to her mother; and I will always get wrapped on doing something on the computer because I found some piece of paper of something I was supposed to take care of months ago. Kobi yells at all of us and it’s just hell. Packing up is hell no matter how many times we do it.
There you have it. The truth. And it bites!)
Often, we get wrapped up in the excitement of a journey and overlook packing these five items that can “save the day.” To travel smarter, make a simple checklist and tuck these into your carry-on or somewhere accessible in your luggage. You’ll be glad you did.
1- Pack for a Rainy Day: Include a Rain Poncho
Getting stuck in an unexpected downpour can occur anywhere in the world, in any season. When you’re travelling, getting drenched in rain can really dampen your spirits.
(Did I ever show you the AAAAAAAAAACaught in a Rainstorm post? Best memory we had in our three and a half months there, and definitely in the Top Ten Best Crazy Unexpected Memories of the Entire Three and a Half Years on the Road! )
Exploring a new place in wet clothing is simply no fun. Preparing for a freak rain storm doesn’t mean packing heavy jackets or even umbrellas. A simple, inexpensive and lightweight rain poncho can do the trick. Plastic rain ponchos can easily be tucked into your carry-on or even your purse. They are generally one-size-fits all, and are especially useful in places like amusement parks where you spend most of your time outside walking and exploring. Rain ponchos keep your warm and cozy while it’s raining cats and dogs, and they’re appropriate for the whole family. They have an added benefit for children, as they are often brightly coloured and can help you keep an eye on your rambunctious kiddos.
(We bought some in Panama and besides this one day pictured here when the kids danced around in them, we never, ever, ever, ever used them again. Yes, we carried them around for months, for it was the rainy season and it made sense to carry them around. But actually use them, in the rain, to protect us? No. When it rains, unless you’re a duck or a cow, you go inside. Otherwise, even in the rainy season, you’ll most likely not get stuck in more than one rain shower in your entire travel life and that, for us, didn’t justify carrying them around for months. Check out how adorable the kids look in these pictures!)
2- Pack a Basic First-Aid Kit
If you’re travelling with kids, no matter what the destination, you must pack a first-aid kit. It is said that fortune favours the prepared. In this case, perhaps fortune will favour the prepared traveller and you won’t even need to break out that first-aid kit. However, it’s essential that you carry a small first-aid kit with some very basic supplies. When you’re on the go, it can be a task to quickly locate a bandage or wound-cleaning supplies. Getting a mild scrape on a vacation can become a bigger problem if it is not immediately addressed, and it’s not ideal to get an infected cut while you’re trying to enjoy a vacation. You can keep your first-aid kit in a sealed plastic case and tuck it discretely into your luggage or backpack. Items to include are several sizes of bandages, alcohol swabs for wound-cleaning and first-aid ointment for protecting cuts. You may choose to include more advanced first-aid supplies, especially if your trip involves a hike in a wooded area or an excursion into more rugged terrain.(It’s so funny how huge our first aid kit was when we hit the road. Then, it got down to essential oils only, and now, we’re full again with a new overstuffed Annapurna Circuit preventative medical kit. We got scared that something should happen to someone and we’ll be stuck up on the 8th highest mountain in the world without the meds we’ll need. Should be interesting to see if we use any of them.)
3- Be Ready for a Spill With an Anti-Stain Pen
Inevitably, you or a family member is going to spill a drink, drip ketchup or sit on a dirty bench. (Ummm… yeah. Every minute of every day.) When you’re travelling in your new vacation garb or your kid’s showing off in his new Disneyland t-shirt, the last thing you want is a coffee stain or melted chocolate to make you look and feel like a slob.
(AAAAAAADid you read how the first thing the Hard Rock Hotel Penang Marketing Intern Jennifer noticed about us is that we walked into dinner without shoes on? Yes, we are all barefoot! And complete slobs!)
A simple stain-removing pen can mean the difference between ruining your favorite blouse and saving it. If you’re on vacation and you spill something on a favorite outfit, you might find yourself running to a sink in a valiant attempt to save your garment.
(AAAAAADid you see that post about Clothing Being Functional and Not Fashionable? or about me AAAAAAFinally Get Rid of That Favorite Dress? I still miss it so many years later. Should have saved that one.)
An anti-stain pen can be your immediate defense against stains of all kinds. They are inexpensive, portable and effective against most common stains such as wine, coffee, ink and dirt.
(This one is just adorable in my eyes. We’re the most dirty, hole-infested backpackers I know and we love Dirty and Injured, except when we’re at our HPL hotels, in which case we actually look clean and I can see the huge value of having a anti-stain pen. I also saw the value when we went for holidays, like we will be doing the Jewish New Year (lovely photos from Panama 2011) with Chabad in Katmandu, in which case I do want us to look clean, which probably won’t happen even if we had five stain removing pens.)
4- Duplicate Your Paperwork
Occasionally, something can go awry when you travel.
(We like to call it serendipitous.)
If you happen to lose an essential travel document like a passport, identification cards or medical insurance cards, you can find yourself in a pickle. Replacing these documents when you’re on the go can be an arduous process. If you pack duplicates of your paperwork as photocopies, you might find yourself in a better position to establish your identity or deal with government officials. Pack duplicates of your paperwork in a sealed plastic bag somewhere in your luggage and you’ll feel more organized and prepared if you lose one of your original documents.
(Very smart advice, Renee. Not having this is looking for trouble on the road. Totally, but totally agree. Kobi actually made copies of all of our most important paper work, including copies of the traveler’s checks, and left copies with his parents in Israel and my mom and step-father in Houston.
Oh, and “occasionally, something can go awry” means that it’s not meant to do so as the norm. Oh, then, we’re doing something very wrong, or very right here for we’re constantly in a mess.)
5- Don’t Forget Cash!
It is so easy in our modern world to overlook bringing cash on your trip. We heavily rely on credit cards and ATM machines. However, there are many places that you won’t be able to easily use electronic forms of payment. Cash is also essential if you are planning to leave tips. Take enough cash for a few days on the go, and you will be ready to relax and enjoy your exploring. One last tip: Let your kids carry a little cash so they can indulge here and there, but don’t let them walk around with a wad of money, just to be safe.
(How many times did we get stuck without cash? Ugh.)
[Note: It’s a really great collaborative post. Too funny now, but no fun then: A Traveler’s Nightmare: Stuck without a Dime]
About the Author: Renee Dolman is a freelance travel writer who specializes in practical tips for the modern person on the go.
I just want to thank Renee for inspiring this great sort of conversation here. You know that I never, never, never accept guest posts on The Nomadic Family and her work just made me think about how a family vacation differs from long-term world travel and how packing reflectively interweaves itself between the modalities. So, thank you Renee. That was fun! I hope if you guys have any thoughts about packing for travel including WHAT’S THE ONE THING YOU ALWAYS PACK WHEN YOU TRAVEL let me know!
Going down to an amazing sunset dinner at Casa Del Mar, Langkawi and seriously hoping tonight we find food to impress more than last night. Why? Cuz last night, every single appetizer and entree we got was sooo amazing and I come to dinner with very high expectations for a repeat performance of awesomeness. I know, this luxury thing is tough. But, hey, someone’s got to do it, and it may as well be us, five minutes before we enter the hood again. Right?