When prepping for a holiday, there are generally two things that people put in the 'too hard' basket for their future self to deal with: purchasing their travel money and packing their bags.
We've got you sorted on the money front and will touch on that a bit later (spoiler, it's way easier than your brain makes it out to be).
Packing, on the other hand, requires a bit of thought, especially if you are visiting a new climate. For example, I hail from the humid paradise known as Brisbane and fumbled like a baby deer on ice trying to pack for my trip to Canadian winter. Do I need 12 sweaters? Are 15 pairs of socks enough? Is there such a thing as thermal undies? I vividly remember sitting on my suitcase as my mum shoved reusable hand warmers through the zip I was trying to close saying "ABBIE YOU'LL GET FROSTBITE WITHOUT THESE". FYI, I didn't use them once and managed to avoid frostbite on all of my limbs.
Likewise, despite literally living in the heart of Satan's armpit, I still struggled knowing what to pack for my trip to the equally, if not more humid, Philippines.
After a lot of trial and error, a ridiculous amount of money spent in Canada and the guilt of throwing away clothes in the Philippines, I have learned a lot about what goes into a suitcase for a summer and winter holiday.
I should probably tell you straight up that this is not one of those guides that say: 'pack three pairs of underwear, four pairs of socks and 2.5 pairs of pants'. There are plenty of those and, to be honest, I didn't find they helped me. As a rule of thumb, have a weeks worth of underwear and the rest will kind of work itself out. Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of summer vs. winter suitcase, my biggest tip of all is season-neutral. If you're trying to cut down just make sure all of your tops match all of your bottoms. That way, you have plenty of outfit options as you chop and change between different alternatives. Unless you're going to a fashion show in Milan, or you're worried your insta followers will shame you for repeating an outfit (seriously, just block them if they do) having some essential items that work with each other is the way to go.
Winter Packing and travel tips
Alright, you're obviously going to need to invest in warmth; however, you want to get some things that can be used when you get back home. This means you do not need a you-beaut, super thick, $800 jacket. It's fun and comfy, but will add an insane amount of weight to your suitcase and definitely can't be worn back home. Instead, think of the following:
- Layer up. If it's seriously cold, think a thermal under layer, t-shirt, sweater and jacket. All of these can be used again back home on their own and allow you to either add or take away layers to suit the temperature.
- Get a good pair of boots. If you're going skiing, ski boots are a necessity. If you are just chilling in and around cold cities sneakers may do the trick though boots will be better. Either way, make sure they are grippy enough to support you through wet and icy conditions and have enough insulation to keep your tootsies warm. It's also worth mentioning that a lot of places require you to take your shoes off inside, especially if they are gross from the slush, so laces can be kinda annoying.
- Gloves, beanie, scarf and some thick socks will be the icing on the cake to keeping you warm. A few pairs of socks and one each of the other accessories will get you through.
- Vacuum bags will be your best friend when trying to condense more significant items to fit in your suitcase. They are super easy to use, just make sure your accommodation has some sort of vacuum.
- Wear heavier items on travel days as it saves you from squishing them into your suitcase and reduces the weight of your bag. This is especially good when flying low-cost carriers with strict weight restrictions.
That's the basics when it comes to packing, here are a few other winter travel tips:
- If you're skiing or snowboarding, make sure your insurance covers snow sports.
- Double-check your accommodation has heating
- Check your baggage allowance to avoid paying excess fees
- Stay hydrated; you can still get dehydrated when it's cold
- Moisturiser and lip balm is your best friend. Aim to have lip balm on you at all times, and invest in a good moisturiser as your skin will not be used to the soul-sucking cold.
- Prepare for your diet to change as you eat heartier, richer meals and always have snacks on hand. You're body burns more calories trying to stay warm, so you will be hungry more often.
- Bad weather can impact your flights, so give yourself some leeway for delays or cancellations (another reason to have travel insurance).
- Keep your head, feet and hands warm, and the rest of your body will follow
- Drink mulled wine. It's seriously delicious and will warm you up from the inside out.
Summer packing and travel tips
Regardless of whether your destination is known for dry heat or dripping humidity, the following tips will make packing a breeze.
- Lightweight, loose materials will keep your skin protected, you'll be looking stylish, and you won't be boiling from the inside.
- Two pairs of swimmers might sound excessive, but quite often they will double as underwear, or you'll be living in them next to the pool or beach. Having another pair is always a good idea.
- Good quality sunscreen and bug spray are essentials. Sure, you can buy it overseas, but you can never be sure of the quality, and it saves you from being stranded without protection. Nothing ruins your holiday more than an excessive sunburn or itchy bites covering your body.
- A hat, thongs and sneakers are also necessary. Thongs/ sandals are perfect for the beach, and you'll need sneakers for longer day trips or adventures. Any other shoes (apart from maybe reef shoes if you're snorkelling) are unnecessary.
- Pack something warm, whether it's a hoodie, cardigan or pair of sweatpants. Might sound stupid, but sometimes the aircon or mornings can be chilly.
Packing aside, here are some other summer travel tips:
- Keep an eye out for bed bugs; they live their best life in humid conditions. You can have specific bug spray or take a sleeping slip, particularly if you're staying in a hostel.
- Have a reusable water bottle and drink plenty of fluids. You're gonna be thirsty, and you can save some plastic by refilling your drink bottle.
- Account for the heat when planning your day trips. A full day out looking at temples might seem like a great idea until it's midday and you're being cooked from all sides by the heat radiating off the stone. Try and avoid doing anything too strenuous in the middle of the day, instead opting for the morning or evening.
- Naps are great under a cool breeze or good fan
- Aloe Vera or after-sun gel will be your best friend after slightly too long in the sun
- While these tips are great, they won't stop you from leaving your packing until the last minute. Either way, they are little nuggets of information that can provide some slight peace of mind as your frantically throw things into a bag and run for the airport.
One thing that isn't impacted by the seasons is your travel money. There are a few things you can do to ensure you're taking off with a personalised travel money solution and more spending money in your back pocket.
Sign up for Rate Alerts a few months in advance. When the currency hits your preferred rate, we will send you an email, and you can grab your cash while the rate is hot.
When purchasing your cash in-store, be sure to add Rate Move Guarantee. It's free, and if the rate improves within 14 days of purchase, we will refund you the difference*.
Ask our travel money experts on the best way to split the currency for your destination. We generally recommend having 40% as cash and 60% loaded onto a Cash Passport Platinum, but this may change slightly depending on your holiday destination.
Whatever you do, do not exchange your money at the airport. They're cunning and know they are your last chance to get cash and will charge you terrible rates as a result.
Keep these tips in hand as you prepare for your next holiday. We know they aren't that fun, but a little bit of thought and preparation can go a long way to ensuring you are taking off with what you need, and more money in your back pocket.
For more tips, or to purchase your foreign currency, be sure to visit the team at your local Travel Money NZ.