Genealogy: Travel checklist—What to pack

Genealogy: Travel checklist—What to packBy Barry J. Ewell

The following is a suggested packing list that I have use in my travels.   It’s foundation is from Rick Steves, a well known travel host for PBS.  I have found Rick Steves’ council and ideas to be on target and well thought out.

The list will vary somewhat if you are going to U.S. destinations versus other countries, usually Europe.  Pack light and only what you need.  You will be grateful each and every day of your trip with lighter luggage.

Rule:  If you’re not going to wear it more than three times, don’t pack it!

Barry’s Personal Packing List for trips exceeding 10-plus days.

  1. 1. Shirts:
    1. Five short-sleeved or long-sleeved shirts in a cotton/polyester blend.
    2. 1 white dress for attending church.
    3. Arrange mix according to season.
  2. Sweater:
    1. Warm and dark is best — for layering and dressing up.
  3. Pants:
    1. Two pairs: One lightweight cotton and another super-lightweight for hot and muggy big cities and churches with modest dress codes.   Also covers for church attendance.
    2. Jeans can be too hot for summer travel. Linen is great.
    3. Many like lightweight pants/shorts with zip-off legs.
    4. Button-down wallet pockets are safest.
  4. Shorts:
    1. Take a pair with pockets — doubles as a swimsuit for men.
  5. Swimsuit:
    1. Especially for women.
  6. Underwear and socks.
    1. Bring five sets (lighter dries quicker).
  7.  Shoes:
    1. Take a well-used, light, and cool pair, with Vibram-type soles and good traction.
    2. Sandals in case the shoes get wet.
    3. 1 pair of dress shoes if I am planning to attend church.
    4. For winter travel, bring heavy shoes (for warmth and to stay dry).
  8. Jacket:
    1. Bring a light and water-resistant windbreaker with a hood.
    2. Gore-Tex is good if you expect rain. Always pack for rain in Britain.
  9. Tie or scarf:
    1. 1 tie for church attendance.
    2. Scarf/bandana
  10. Money belt:  Lightweight and low-profile beige.
  11. Money:
    1. Preferred mix of a credit card, debit card, an emergency stash of hard cash, and a couple of personal checks.
  12. Documents and photocopies:
    1. Passport
    2. Airline ticket
    3. Rail pass or car-rental voucher
    4. Driver’s license
    5. Student ID
    6. Hostel card
    7. and so on.
    8. Note:  Photocopies and a couple of passport-type photos can help you get replacements more quickly if the originals are lost or stolen. Carry photocopies separately in your luggage and keep the originals in your money belt. In your luggage, you’ll also want to pack a careful record of all reservations (bring the hotels’ written confirmations), along with a trip calendar page to keep things up-to-date as your trip evolves.
  13. Small daypack:
    1. Great for carrying your sweater, camera, literature, and picnic goodies while you leave your large bag at the hotel or train station.
    2. Fanny packs (small bags with thief-friendly zippers on a belt) are a popular alternative, but are magnets for pickpockets and should never be used as money belts.
  14. Camera:
    1. A digital camera and one high-capacity memory card means no more bulky bags of film. A mini-tripod allows you to take crisp shots in low light with no flash.
  15. Sealable plastic baggies:
    1. Variety of sizes.
    2.  Note: They’re ideal for packing leftover picnic food, containing wetness, and bagging potential leaks before they happen. The two-gallon jumbo size is handy for packing clothing.
  16. Water bottle:
    1. The plastic half-liter mineral water bottles sold throughout Europe are reusable and work great.
  17. Wristwatch:
    1. With a built-in alarm is handy.
    2. Note: Otherwise, pack a small *travel alarm clock. Cheap-hotel wake-up calls are particularly unreliable.
  18. Earplugs:
    1. If night noises bother you, you’ll love a good set of expandable foam plugs.
  19. First-aid kit.
  20. Medicine and vitamins:
    1. Keep medicine in original containers, if possible, with legible prescriptions.
  21. Extra eyeglasses, contact lenses, and prescriptions:
    1. Contact solutions are widely available in Europe. Because of dust and smog, many travelers find their contacts aren’t as comfortable in Europe. Bring your glasses just in case.
  22. Sunscreen and sunglasses:
    1. Depending on the season and your destination.
  23. Toiletries kit:
    1. Sinks in cheap hotels come with meager countertop space and anonymous hairs.
    2. If you have a nylon toiletry kit that can hang on a hook or a towel bar, this is no problem. Put all squeeze bottles in sealable plastic baggies, since pressure changes in flight can cause even good bottles to leak.
    3. Consider a vacation from cosmetics.
    4. Bring a little toilet paper or tissue packets (sold at all newsstands in Europe).
    5. Fingernail clippers and tweezers (for retrieving lost bank cards) are also handy.
    6. My Sonicare electric toothbrush holds a charge from home for 30 one-minute brushes.
  24. Soap:
    1. Not all hotels provide soap.
    2. A plastic squeeze bottle of concentrated, multipurpose, biodegradable liquid soap is handy for laundry and more.
    3. In the interest of traveling friendlier to our environment, I never use the hotel bathroom “itsy-bitsies,” preferring my own bar of soap or bottle of shampoo.
  25. 25. Clothesline:
    1. Hang it up in your hotel room to dry your clothes.
    2.  The handy twisted-rubber type needs no clothespins.
  26. Small towel:
    1. You’ll find bath towels at all fancy and moderately priced hotels, and most cheap ones. Although $50-a-day travelers will often need to bring their own towel, $100-a-day folks won’t.
    2.  I bring a thin hand towel for the occasional need.
    3.  Washcloths are rare in Europe. *quick-drying synthetic towels.
  27. Sewing kit:
    1. Clothes age rapidly while traveling.
    2. Take along a few safety pins and buttons.
  28. Travel information:
    1. Rip out appropriate chapters from guidebooks, staple them together, and store in a sealable plastic baggie.
    2. When you’re done, give them away.
  29.  Map:
    1. Get a map best suited to your trip’s overall needs and pick up maps for specific local areas as you go.
  30. Address list:
    1.  A list of e-mail and mailing addresses will help you keep in touch.
    2. You can send mass e-mails as you go (bring a shrunk-down print-out of your e-mail address book in case you can’t access it online).
    3. Or if you prefer to send postcards, consider printing your mail list onto a sheet of adhesive address labels before you leave.
    4. You’ll know exactly who you’ve written to, and the labels will be perfectly legible.
  31. Postcards from home and photos of your family:
    1. A sealable plastic baggie of show-and-tell pictures is always a great conversation piece with Europeans you meet.
  32. Small notepad and pen:
    1. A tiny notepad in your back pocket is a great organizer, reminder, and communication aid (for sale in European stationery stores).
  33. Journal:
    1. An empty book to be filled with the experiences of your trip will be your most treasured souvenir. Attach a photocopied calendar page of your itinerary. Use a hardbound type designed to last a lifetime, rather than a spiral notebook.  One example is: Moleskine notebooks. (www.moleskine.it).