What to take and what to leave? It's always hard I know - despite the fact that your suitcase is full to the brim you just can't leave those gorgeous new shoes. I've written up a list for you of what you can't forget and what you might want to reconsider. This, of course, is for our luxury styled traveller. If you're a backpacker, check out my packing list for you here. As always - please let me know if I've missed anything you think is important and I'll pop it up!
Passport - can't really get far without it these days.
Visas - depending on where you're going visas come into play. Look it up before you go and apply with plenty of time to get them sorted. They can take up to 8 weeks to to process but there are fast track options if you're desperate. Bear in mind that some places will give you a visa on arrival depending on which nationality you are so just look it up before spending money on a visa you don't need or can get half the price at the border.
Travel insurance - this is really important. You do not want to be stuck with appendicitis requiring emergency surgery and just when they're about to put you under and fix you it's announced hat as you have no insurance it'll cost you £10,000's (I'm talking to you America). Also make sure you get the right level for you as some activities such as skiing, scuba diving and other adventure sports aren't covered by your basic insurance.
Travel money - good to get this sorted a week or so in advance. If you're going for a long trip you may want a travel money card to make sure you get the best exchange rate and avoid hefty chargers from your card company. These are great as they're not linked to your bank and you top it up like a phone. If it gets stolen you can have a refund when it's cancelled, but if they've spent your money it's not like they can get you into debt spending money you don't have. I found the post office money card excellent, but I've also used Caxton FX, Fair FX and Thomas Cook and I can't really complain about any. Just read up on any fees they charge for use as some are designed to be like a debit card while others are more for getting large sums of cash out at once. They usually come with an app for topping up the card with when you get low.
Clothes - I don't want to dictate to you how many pairs of trousers/ skirts / tops / dresses etc you should take. You know how long you're away for and how much room there is I'm your bag. My general rule of thumb for any trips between 3 days and and 3 weeks is to work out what you're doing (ie an adventure holiday, beach trip, city tour) and go from there. Beach holiday you're mainly going to just be in your bikini with a few smart outfits for evening meals and drinks, and light baggy clothing to cover up your bikini for breakfast or lunch. City tour you're generally going to want to dress chic but casual during the day with comfortable shoes for walking around tourist spots, with heels and your best dress for a night on the town. Adventure; as you can imagine its comfort all the way, with maybe one or two nicer outfits for evenings out after a crazy day on the slopes or climbing. For long term trips, you're going to have to be prepared to wash on the way. Nearly all hotels now offer a laundry service, but make sure you tell them exactly how it should be washed if it's not a normal wash & dry at 40 degrees etc. Another big thing to remember is to pack for the temperature where you're going. If you're headed to the alps skiing don't take only shorts and vests, similarly if you're headed to the beach don't have only jeans and jumpers. It's always a good idea though to take one outfit that doesn't quite match the expected temperature as weather can be unpredictable or there could be too much aircon in the hotel / warm fires in the ski lodge.
Pyjamas - not a necessity depending on how you like to sleep. If you can't live without those soft jammies though, don't forget them!
Underwear - similar to clothes, I won't dictate to you how many pairs you should take. You can always have them washed and if you're on a beach trip remember that some days you can just survive in your bikini in case you've not packed enough.
Shoes - do not pack all your heels. You can only get away with this if you're going on a cruise and you're not flying so there's no weight limit. If not, keep it to a minimum. If you have more than 4 pairs of shoes even on a long trip it's too many. One pair of trainers for activities, one pair of flip flops for sunny weather, then comfortable shoes for walking and / or heels. If travelling to climates during the monsoon season, I'd recommend taking a pair of shoes that can be ruined. When it rains it's like nothing you've ever seen! The streets flood up to your calves but it's business as usual - but you may want to take shelter in a nearby cafe or in your hotel for a couple of hours (or literally minutes in some places) until is clears up. For beaches far away you may like to invest in some waterproof shoes or flippers. There can be poisonous fish or sharp coral on the seabed you will want some protection from if you stand on them - not fun.
Toiletries - the typical toothpaste, tooth brush, hair brush, shampoo conditioner, moisturiser, antibacterial gel, your daily cleanser & toner, exfoliant, nail polish, nail polish remover, make up remover, deodorant, perfume, sun cream, after sun; this list could go on forever. Take whatever is relevant to you and your daily routine. Don't worry if you forget any of these though as you can buy all in duty free at the airport or when you arrive. Even cruise ships & luxury train companies will stock up on the essentials for you to buy if you've left them behind. One big one is tampons for the girls, this is something you want to take with you if you're going to need them and depending on where you are you may not want to buy the local version, a little like with condoms...
Accessories - this includes your bobby pins & hair ties, hats and scarfs, that sarong which is to die for from seafolly that you just can't live without. Jewellery comes under this umbrella too but please don't take your £1000 graduation earrings that are the most sentimental thing you own. Things easily get lost when moving from place to place or shoved into a bag when you realise your flight is actually at 10am not 10pm and you've got to get to that airport fast.
First aid kit - see my recommended first aid list under the adventure tab
Camera / Phone - you can take your holiday snaps and everywhere has wifi so you can keep in touch with your friends
Chargers & adapters - if you're in the UK like me, no-one seems to have the same plugs as us so get an adapter. If you're hitting a lot of countries you can get a multi adaptor that will look after you everywhere, but if not you can google the country and which style plug they use in advance to be prepared. Make sure you have your phone charger, laptop charger and any other charger you may need in that bag. You can always buy them there but they may not be using your countries normal plug style and could be at a different voltage which can damage your electricals.
Extras - I tend to take a mini sewing kit with me everywhere for those little disasters. Padlock for your bag while in transit or for you carry on bag if you're going somewhere known as a pick pocket hub. Headphones for your tunes on the road. A book or your eBook system. Your phone and iPad to go with those chargers you've packed. A money belt or bum bag if you're thinking of roaming the streets in a big city just to keep it safe.