Updated 03 November 2014

Pack these 10 essentials

Leave these 10 things at home, and any holiday could become hell overnight.


You’re off into the blue yonder, and boy, do you deserve it. For a couple of weeks no meetings, no power-dressing, no faulty air con. Get the picture? It’s freedom. For a while, anyway.

For two weeks you can imagine you won the lotto and this is what the rest of your life is going to look like: you’re so laid back you’re almost horizontal.

Just remember to pack the following things. Leaving them at home could jeopardise more than your nice break. It could turn your holiday into a disaster.

Prescription medication. The place where you’re heading may not have a pharmacy or a doctor. Leave your prescriptions at home, and you might wish you’d actually stayed there yourself. Who wants to be out in the wild battling out-of-control sugar levels and skyrocketing blood pressure? Or an unexpected series of asthma attacks? Right. Customs officials at airports want to see the original packaging from the pharmacy, so don't take your pills out of these, or you might look like a drug mule to them.

Your documents. This includes your licence, passport and ID document. Even if you’re only travelling within your home country. If you’re going overseas, of course, you won’t get further than the airport without your passport. But imagine driving into the back of another happy holiday-maker and not having your licence or your ID with you.

A windbreaker. The weather likes to play games with us. You might be going to the coast, but don’t rule out a cloudburst. Or some seriously chilly weather. Especially if you’re going hiking or deep sea fishing, you should be prepared for everything. You don’t want to be the butt of the office jokes for the year, because you managed to get hypothermia in December.

A packet of condoms. Even if your sex life has been about as exciting as a speed bump in the last few months, you never know when your luck might turn. Don’t be caught unawares – an unwanted pregnancy, or a few blisters round the mouth, are no longer the worst things that you could have as a holiday memento.

Your cellphone and charger. Get connected and stay connected. Which you can’t do if your cellphone charger is lying back home on your bedside table. You never know when you need to be contacted in an emergency - or when you might need to make an emergency call from a deserted stretch of highway.

Keys. Driven 650km, only to find that the keys to your holiday home are in your other handbag? Or you’ve left the directions to the holiday farm lying next to your telephone back in the city? Don’t start your holiday in crisis mode – that’s what you are trying to get away from, remember?

Insect repellant. There are few things that spoil a night’s rest as badly as an army of mosquitoes who have been deprived of nourishment for a few hours. (OK, then there are also you husband’s snoring, the neighbours’ housewarming party or a serious case of the trots – but insect repellant can’t make those go away.)

Your toothbrush. Right, most places, even the most out-of-the-way, stock toothbrushes, but what if there isn’t a shop in sight? Six days on a hike with no toothbrush, or even worse, with a borrowed one, will be no fun. Take my word for it.

Sunblock.The summer sun is vicious. Don’t underestimate it. Every time you get sunburnt, you add to the cumulative damage your skin has already sustained throughout your life. Go for a high-factor sunblock. Few things spoil your holiday quite as badly as pink and peeling skin. Not to speak of wrecking your chances with the cutie in the tent next to yours.

Money. This does indeed make the world go round. You don’t need oodles of the stuff, but enough that you can have the car fixed if it breaks down. Also make sure you can access your money in different ways – credit card, cash, and so forth. Remember all of these can be stolen, so don’t keep them together.

(Susan Erasmus,, updated December 2012)


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