Travel Light, Happy and Healthy
Our "Travel Light, Happy and Healthy" tips are the result of more than 40 years beetling around the world – for business, holidays in winter and summer, sightseeing and work, from weekend trips to stays of one year, with and without children.
The biggest mistake travellers make is trying to pack outfits for every eventuality. With the result that they end up with so much stuff that they hardly manage to take their suitcase off the luggage belt and that backpackers can barely walk. The latter should remember that they have to carry around everything they pack, often for quite some time. This can be very painful, not to speak of strained back muscles and a damaged health. But also travelling with a suitcase can cause physical pain. If you have ever dragged a suitcase over cobbled pavements (and there are many cobbled streets in Sicily) or up- and downstairs you know what we are talking about. In particular when you end up in an accommodation with no lift, which are still common in Europe. Especially for backpackers and on round trips it is a struggle to unpack and repack. There are so many things to sort through, it is really hard to find what you are looking for and at the end of your stay you will have to start packing hours before your flight or train.
When you are travelling with only a few things it is a lot easier to check you have everything when leaving your room. How nice and easy it is remembering only “Shoes, six shirts, one pair of pants, two pairs of shorts, underwear, camera, tablet”.
There are airlines (and also airports with short runways) with strict weight restrictions. Budget airlines offer very attracting and extremely low fares, but do not include a luggage allowance or only 10 kg hand luggage. You will have to pay for every extra kilogram if your case or bag weighs more. Please inform yourself if you don’t want to pay five or ten times the cost of the flight, just to get all your things on the plane.
To ensure your happiness on the journey packing light is one of the best things you can do. You’ll be much more comfortable, able to manage stairs with ease and the best is that you’ll save money! Anything you miss you can buy on the spot in most places around the world.
Use Ziploc Bags
Use ziploc bags for packing, like one bag for same-type clothes or for each day's outfit. Before sealing, sit on bag to release air. Comes also handy for children's clothes. Put daily outfits together and pack each in a bag. All your kid will have to do is grab a bagged outfit each day.
Your Travel Partner's Bag
Add an outfit of your own to your travel partner's bag in the event your luggage is lost or delayed (and the other way round)
When travelling by airplane pack at least a shirt, underwear and a swim suit in your carry-on. Same goes for any medications, always keep your prescription drugs in your hand luggage. Never ever put anything you can't afford to lose in checked luggage. It might get lost, be misplaced or arrive delayed.
Plan in time
Start to assemble potential holiday clothes, shoes and accessories about one month before your travel. Store them separate. Everything will be in one place when you do the final pack and you can easily choose what you want/need.
Instead of packing an extra outfit you may only wear one evening bring a scarf or a piece of inexpensive jewellery to dress up one of your travel outfits.
For Rainy Days
Better than packing an umbrella is a rain poncho which is cheap, takes no room and weighs nearly nothing. Once opened is doesn’t fold up well, so just leave it behind when going home.
Pack jewellery in an eyeglass hard case, it will be protected and easy to find (hand luggage).
Match Your Pack
Pack clothes in matching colours (preferably only two colours), so you can combine everything with everything.
My experience after 25 years of repping (stays from four months to one year) has taught me one thing: everything you really need in a year goes in two suitcases – 20 kg each. So, for a one or two week holiday a small cabin suitcase will do. Try it! You’ll see that 10 kg luggage are sufficient. First pack everything you think you can't live without, then try to remove a minimum 50 % percent you thought you couldn't live without.
Simplify Your Toiletries
Nearly all hotels in Sicily and even many B&Bs offer complimentary toiletry kits. Just check their websites. Forget about your favourite brand for a while – you will be surprised by the quality of the products at your accommodation. If you are going to stay in a holiday home bring samples of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, cream, make-up. Pack them in a flat folded bag with multiple compartments that hangs up. Just always stock up tiny product samples (also perfume). Many skin-care and beauty companies give travel-sized freebies. My favourite sample-sized products are the ones that come in flat little packets - you can easily fit dozens of these into a small ziploc bag
Use 2in1 products
2in1 products come handy while travelling, e.g. shampoo & conditioner or shampoo & shower gel and tints for both cheeks and lips. My tip for the ladies are BB creams, which combine moisturizer, primer, anti-aging cream, concealer and sun protection.
Travel Wrinkle Free
Cover hanging clothes with a plastic dry-cleaning bag and fold down into suitcase, with hanger (quite a few outfits fit in one bag). And upon arrival they are ready to hang up – wrinkle free!
In many countries you will need an adapter and/or a converter which changes the shape of the plug and will allow your devices to operate with different voltages. Bring also an extension cord with multiple outlets - some hotels won't have any convenient location to plug in, especially next to the bed.
For few money you’ll get great value: buy a luggage strap! Using a colourful luggage strap makes it less likely that another flyer will mistakenly grab your suitcase in the baggage-claim area.
When you are far from soap and sink a hand sanitizer is a great supplement to fend off germs and viruses.
In the airplane: wipe down armrests, your tray table, and the twisty knob that holds the tray table closed, seatback pockets, and the tops of seats (especially aisle seats)
In the hotel: clean light switches, remote controls, and any other suspicious surfaces immediately.
Shared screens: clean screens at ATMs, ticket kiosks, and in stores and restaurants with alcohol-based sanitizing wipes and wash your hands after using a shared screen.
You and other travellers are not the only ones swimming around in hotel pools. Even a regularly maintained pool hosts all sorts of bacteria and viruses since chlorination does not kill all of them. Shower before and after a swim – and keep your mouth closed while swimming.
Never go barefoot through airport security, always have a pair of socks handy, even if you are wearing flip-flops or sandals. You might be asked to take off your shoes. At checkpoints bacteria and fungus jump between hosts.
Currency exchange desks in airports are not a good place to exchange your money since they often hit people with high transaction fees. Change a small amount for the first hours (e.g. to pay the taxi). Once arrived at your accommodation get foreign currency by taking out money at an ATM, in Italy they are called “bancomat”.
Pros & Cons of Suitcases
When it comes security, it's hard to go past a high-quality rigid suitcase with wheels and an inbuilt lock, which can only be opened by custom controllers. Avoid soft suitcases with a zip – these can easily be opened with a pen! Hard cases without zippers are also waterproof even in heavy rain. On the other hand handles and wheels are the most likely things to break.
On hard surfaces pulling a wheeled suitcase is far easier than other forms of luggage, but when you come across stairs or cobbled pavements (both very common in Sicily) or an accommodation without lifts (still common in Europe) it could be a bit problematic.
A rigid suitcase lets you make full use of the available space and suitcases with an expandable section (attention: zip!) can accommodate all the things you couldn’t resist buying.
Pros & Cons of Backpacks
Backpack security varies between “non-existent” and “ok”. A backpack with only a few external pockets and lockable zips can do quite a reasonable job, but anyone with a sharp blade can easily get into it. Flexible metal cages are made for extra security, but they are expensive, heavy and bulky. When travelling light, a backpack is very convenient, because cracked or cobbled pavements and sandy ground are no problem. Maybe you may envy those with wheeled suitcases as they roll off the airport or train station, but as soon as you reach a flight of stairs you will be happy again.
With a backpack you are limited by what you can carry, which, on the other hand, can be a good thing – it keeps you to the essentials when you travel. It is more difficult to pack a backpack than a suitcase due to their restricted openings (front-loading is always better than top-loading) and their shape. The good thing is that a backpack will fit in most lockers, under beds and overhead shelves in trains and buses.
A good quality backpack will take a lot of abuse, there are not many moving parts to break on (other than the zip) and if you buy one made of heavy-duty waterproof fabric also rain is not much of a problem.
If you have more tips please let us know. Just send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you! We and other travellers will be grateful.