A veteran traveller packs for a long journey - Metro US

A veteran traveller packs for a long journey

Packing for an extended trip takes plenty of discipline, and a thorough list of what to bring.

As my departure date quickly approaches, the time has finally come to apply for visas, renew passports and pack my life up into a small knapsack. A veteran packing procrastinator, I’m starting to stress about all those tiny little travel details I’ve been putting off for so long. So much to do, so little time…

I’m going on the road for the next few months, backpacking through parts of South America, Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East. This adventure is part of a new television show called Word Travels. It’s a 13-episode series (broadcast on the OLN in early 2008) that follows the lives of two young Canadian travel writers as they jet set around the world, under pressure, and under deadline.

As I prepare for the big trip and my television debut, I face a million errands. The task of planning what to pack for a three-month holiday seems daunting at first, so I write up a quick check list of what to do/pack before take-off:

Health and visas

  • Purchase personal travel insurance. Read the fine print, write down your policy and emergency contact numbers.

  • Check out Canada’s Consular Affairs site, www.voyage.gc.ca, for vaccination and visa requirements for each destination.

  • If your shots aren’t up to date, visit a travel clinic near you. Do your research, be informed and be wary of getting sold on expensive vaccines you might not really need.

  • Carry your proof of vaccinations (and other important documents) in a water-tight Ziplock bag.

  • Some tourist visas are available at the border, others you have to apply for in advance. Give yourself enough time to get through administrative red tape.

  • If you take medication, carry a copy of your prescription.

Clothes and cosmetics

  • Pack lightweight clothing that doesn’t wrinkle or show dirt.

  • A fleece for those cold nights.

  • A few comfy tees, long-sleeved shirts, and tanks.

  • A pair of quick-dry khaki pants with lots of pockets.

  • Shoes are always the most difficult. I settle on a pair of black Havaianas sandals and a sturdy walking shoe with good ankle support.

  • In terms of cosmetics, if you’re addicted to certain brands, stock up before you go. Everything else you can get overseas.

  • Save yourself a spill by putting cosmetics in Ziplock bags.


  • Purchase a comfortable backpack. I have a 60 litre backpack with “panel loading” (which opens like a suitcase, making your clothes more accessible).

    This is your lifeline, so make sure it’s comfy and not too heavy. When buying a new pack, look for hideaway straps, a separated bottom section, a thick hip belt for weight distribution and strong zippers.

  • A small day pack for afternoon outings.


I like to carry a few forms of payment:

  • Credit cards. Visa and Mastercard are the most often accepted.

  • A debit card. ATM machines are available worldwide.

  • Though they can sometimes be hard to cash, I like to carry $100 US worth of travelers checks, just in case.

  • Sign up for online banking, so you can take care of business while on the road.


  • Your passport must be valid until six months after your return date.

  • Bring extra passport-sized photos for tourists visas.

  • Photocopies of your passport, one to leave at home, one to take on the road.


  • Quick-dry towel.

  • Adapter plugs for each country

  • Swiss Army knife (don’t forget to take it out of your carry-on bag when you fly).

  • Headlamp for those frequent power outages.

  • Battery-operated alarm clock for early morning flights.

  • Sunscreen.

  • Mosquito repellent.

  • Earplugs for a good night’s sleep.

  • A retractable clothes-line to hang up freshly washed socks and underwear.

  • A calculator helps to convert currency and avoid rip-offs at borders.

  • A sarong.

  • A sense of humour.

    Stay tuned as I head out on an incredible (and soon to be televised) journey around the world.

Julia Dimon is editor of The Travel Junkie, an online magazine for independent travellers. She can be reached atwww.thetraveljunkie.ca.

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