At the height of her tennis career, Martina Navratilova said the only thing she hated about travelling for tournaments was packing. She dreaded it and would pay someone else any money to pack for her. Well, if we travel, we have to pack and the only way to organise it properly is to make a list for our travelling requirements, as I do here…
First things first: passport, tickets, money and credit cards. In case of loss or theft, bring extra credit card, hide in a secret place and then forget where squirrelled away.
Driving licence in case need to hire car or prove identity without carrying passport everywhere.
Passport-sized photographs of self, sometimes required for visitor transport cards in European cities.
European Health Insurance Card in case of need for doctor or hospitalisation elsewhere in EU.
Clothes and underwear: some casual, some formal, and accessories, such as scarves, shawls for evening sorties. And allow for changes in weather.
Should I bring a summer coat? To be decided.
However, always a raincoat. Just in case. Also portable umbrella.
Nightwear, including dressing-gown. In case of fire, flood or emergency, you don't want to be fleeing the hotel in your PJs.
Toiletries and make-up. Including mini-bottles of shampoo and hair conditioner.
Detergent for washing smalls.
Swimwear? If appropriate. Plus something floaty to wear over swimming costume and hide bulges.
Shoes. One pair sandals - no, make that two - one comfortable, one decorative. One pair solid walking shoes. Maybe one pair formal? To be decided.
Slippers; bathroom floors are often tiled and cold. Plus you might want to lounge around in hotel room.
Handbags. One functional, one to wear in case of occasion for glamorous soirée. Plus a larger tote bag for carrying around random stuff.
Hats! In hot weather, essential!
The French intellectual Michel Foucault said the human mind works according to category. Thus category pouches as follows:
Pouch for earrings, necklaces, jewellery bits.
Pouch for everyday and/or emergency medication: including paracetamol, Immodium for tummy runs and Colpermin for tummy upsets. Plus: sore throat lozenges, just in case.
Plus anti-insect cream. Plus bandages and Savlon.
Pouch for manicure/pedicure implements. Nail varnish remover essential if nail varnish used.
Mobile, laptop computer and iPad.
Pouch for chargers. Plus adaptor for European or rest-of-the-world plugs.
Kindle (plus adaptor).
Real books as well - easier on the eye as a change. But paperbacks. One novel, one non-fiction.
Notebooks, pens and pencils. Plus scissors - always useful.
Maps and guides. Yes, you can get maps online, but if you're walking around a city, it is so much more informative and contextual to carry a city map in your hand.
Handbag-size version of the New Testament for church services. And sometimes spiritual refreshment.
Book of crosswords for 'mind gym'.
Playing cards in case get stuck with a random selection of other travellers, including children, at airport/railway station.
Opera glasses in case a chance to visit opera or ballet.
Small teapot; alas, our Continental cousins still don't know how to make tea properly, and think a cup of hot water with a teabag added afterwards suffices.
Travelling radio; it is interesting to turn on the dial in another country and hear what comes out of it.
Fan. Invaluable in hot weather.
Torch. In case walking back to hotel late at night.
Walking stick for long walks. Also sometimes helps get you put to top of queues for art galleries, etc, and generally gets you seats in buses.
Knee brace in case of stress on knee from long walks.
Pen-knife? Might want to buy a delicious-looking melon or mango, but you'll need a knife to slice it.
Spoon. Always very useful.
Incidental small gifts in case of meeting and making friends with Japanese or Korean people who carry charming little gifts for strangers and it's mortifying if you have nothing to give them in return.
Sure I have everything? But if anything forgotten, can buy a replacement abroad.
PS: Forgot toothpaste!