I've spent a fair amount of time getting on and off planes in the last few years, but I've never managed to crack the art of packing. It feels like the more I travel, the worse I become and I've been known to pack about an hour before leaving for the airport, chucking in the contents of my wardrobe only to get to the other side with a collection of jumpers for a beach holiday, or ten pairs of pants and no trousers.
But I'm trying to get better, and have started a list of holiday essentials that pretty much go wherever I go. None of these are clothes related - you can always buy a dress to chuck on if you need to - these are my must have holiday items to keep the sunburn away, the mosquito's at bay, and the umm... can't think of rhyme... the other stuff.
I usually take a DSLR on holiday - and carry a Nikon D3200, with both a50mm and a 18-200mm lens. I debated getting the D5200 but felt like I probably didn't need the extra's at the moment whilst I'm still getting the hang of things (there's a handy comparison review here if you're trying to make the same decision).
That said, sometimes I can't be bothered to carry it around and find that I get some good snaps on my iPhone if I spend enough time thinking about the composition. There are also some great apps that help to correct colour and sharpen phone images up, my personal favourite is Afterlight. I use it for almost everything!
Right, I'm going to be controversial. I was going to say that P20 is the best suncream out there, because astronauts use it when they fly to the sun*, but the fact that it stains your clothes is so frustrating and it's quickly fallen from grace. I've ruined some perfectly good bikini's and beach dresses because of P20 - and although it gives you a nice glow and you only have to put it on first thing in the morning - it's not enough.
So instead I buy Coppertone Sport. It's a dry spray which doesn't need rubbing in, doesn't clog your pores and gives really even coverage (if you spray it properly). I swear by it. Every time I go to the US, I spend about $60 in CVS stocking up on the stuff for future holidays.
THE MOSQUITO REPELLANT
I have tasty blood. There's no other explanation for it, mosquito's love me. When we went travelling around Vietnam, at one point I had 68 bites on my legs alone and could barely move without another one setting upon me. But a lovely lady in Hoi An let me know that Tiger Balm would keep them at bay - and not only that - it's really cooling for any bites and acts as a barrier to any possible infection. I always make sure I have it in my handbag. I know it smells strong - but it works.
I'm a Kindle convert. At home I'll happily settle down with a good book and fold over the corners when I need to make a cup of tea, but on holiday I want a library to choose from but with none of the weight. I actually have an old-school Kindle Paperwhite because it's the most book-like one in my opinion. The Fire is too much like an iPad (and I have an iPad).
If you're like me, you'll forget to take an adaptor each time you go on holiday and end up with a box full of them at home. But the one thing I do always remember is the 10-in-1 USB charger - which saves so much space for those clothes that I'm shoving in last minute.
And that's it. Camera, Kindle, Suncream and some kind of mosquito soother are my holiday essentials. For everything else, there's a credit card and an emergency dash to the shops!
*this isn't true, obviously. Despite what they'd have you believe!