Last minute vacation essentials


Unless you are very well stocked up on kit already, you might need a bit of guidance when it comes to shopping for a last minute vacation. Don’t go totally mad though, as more often than not you can buy vacation essentials in the destination, or hire specialist equipment, which can also be a source of income for people on the ground.
There are many rules of thumb when it comes to shopping for a last minute vacation, but for us, the most important one is to read the trip notes thoroughly before you go. They have done these trips so many times, they really know what the vacation essentials are for such trips. Our second rule of thumb is to always have a refillable water bottle. Here are a few of our top packing tips and vacation essentials for some of our most popular last minute vacations, from our tour operators, and from our travelers.

Walking vacations

Melanie McAnaw walking vacation expert from our supplier, Headwater: "I always carry a small amount of talcum powder. It might sound strange but it’s good for reducing friction and redness if you find yourself with any blisters, chaffing or heat rash. It can also help your feet stay dry and keep your thighs from chafing over long distances if you use a little before (and after) your walk. A small roll of adhesive bandage/plaster (and something to cut it with) can also be a lifesaver if you do feel yourself developing a blister. It can sometimes make the difference between a nice walk and a painful slog!"
Jonny Bealby, founder of our leading supplier Wild Frontiers: "Bring waterproofs. Not just in your main luggage, but in your daypack on each day that you are walking. Even if there are blue skies in the morning, the weather changes quickly in the mountains, You also need two or three layers. In terms of boots, there are so many to choose from. I don’t even have a proper pair of hiking boots, but use a pair of Caterpillars, which I have used for years and walked all over the place in them. And then they don’t look bad when you are walking around Tblisi or wherever afterwards. But when I do a serious hike like K2, then I had to spend £150 on a serious pair of Meindls."
Emma Garrick from our supplier Exodus: "Layers are the way to go as opposed to big jackets, certainly for lower altitude treks; I would bring a couple of lighter fleeces and long sleeved tops and layer up that way. Some people like to use walking poles and I think they’re especially useful on long days of descent as it takes the weight off you knees, though it’s generally people in their 40s and upwards who use them. It’s always the case that you don’t need everything you think you will; as a rule of thumb you’ll probably need half of what you originally pack"

Cycling vacations

Andy Ross, Cycling Manager at our supplier, Exodus, shares his cycling vacation advice: "Close fitting cycle clothing really isn’t culturally appropriate in quite a few destinations. It is the duty of a tour operator to ensure that clients are aware of this and to implement it on the ground. You may have paid a lot of money to visit, but you are only a visitor"
Melanie McAnaw, from our cycling vacation supplier, Headwater: "Cycling shorts are a must. You can get good padded under shorts now that fit under normal clothing and play down the nappy effect. Take comfortable clothing – you’re on a relaxed cycling vacation, not the Tour de France, so Lycra is not an essential! Pack lightweight waterproofs that can be pulled out if needed. For the keen cyclist, go for wider cycling sunglasses as they offer complete protection from ‘fly in the eye’. And we always tell guests to pack a cycle helmet. We can’t provide them as we can’t guarantee its history."

Sea kayaking vacations

Catherine Mack, our travel writer, mum and sea kayaking regular: "Rubber/Neoprene boots are a nightmare to get on and off for sea kayaking. One tip, bring a bottle of oil, almond or olive, and rub a little on the feet before putting the boots on. Guaranteed tantrum free bootie moment. Other parents will nab it, so bring plenty"
John 'Caveman' Gray is our man on the water in Thailand:
"South Thailand is warm even when it rains. Camping is safe and comfortable here in our 'Million Star Hotel'. Bring mask, fins, snorkel and paddling gloves. Leave your parkas and boots at home!"

Peru vacations

Christine Ingham, from our vacation reviews: “Take warm clothes - as we rose higher the nights were very cold and my thermals were not enough - ended up with hoodie, fleece, scarf and gloves not to mention two pairs of socks. My huge heavy-duty poncho was invaluable as it did rain a lot (supposed to be the dry season)”
Jo Curry, from our vacation reviews: “Make sure your camera has a huge memory card... and take a good lip balm because the altitude makes your lips dry!!”
Carol Smith, from our vacation reviews: “Pack clothes in waterproof bags. Despite the porters' efforts to keep everything dry, when it rained on the last day many of our clothes got wet in the duffle bags”

Morocco vacations

Rachel Blech from our supplier, SheherazadVentures: "Pack lots of light and loose layers. Temperatures can vary a lot between night and day. Weather is usually warm, but can be very unpredictable between November – April"
Emma Langridge on our ‘Staying with a Berber family’ vacation: “It’s freezing in the Sahara at night, so take the blankets they offer and any clothes that you have”
Christopher Duxbury on a vacation in The Sahara: “Make sure (if you go in the winter) that you take something to cover your eyes from the dust (Ski goggles might be useful and also a nice warm sleeping bag)”
Stephanie Edwards: “Do not underestimate how cold it will be if you go during November/December! Forget any "glam" clothes and concentrate on the thermals! Take lots of antiseptic hand gel and use it all the time”

Botswana & Namibia vacations

Linda Sykes, from our vacation reviews: “It gets dark early, you always seem to be packing up in the dark and finding things in the tent is a bit of a challenge. Make sure you take really good torches/lights for your tent, with spare batteries”
Johann Trojer, from our vacation reviews: “Get a Visa credit/debit card: had problems with MasterCard in Botswana”
Tania Zwicky, from our vacation reviews: “Pack your things in plastic bags or liners to protect them from sand and rain!”
Julia Ward, from our vacation reviews: “Take warm clothes: it was absolutely freezing some nights. I'm not sure what the freezing point of washing up liquid is, but that's how cold it was”
Janet Aston, from our vacation reviews: “Take a cushion or neck cushion for sleeping in the truck”
Janet Hammond, from our vacation reviews: “We took 30 tennis balls and four frisbees to give to the children we met. Better for them than sweets and much more fun than pencils”


Mark Huggins, from our supplier Undiscovered Destinations: "The paths are generally good in the national parks, but you need appropriate footwear with a good grip, because if you are looking for wildlife in a forest you have to go off the main path to find it. This can mean walking a couple of hundred metres from the main track; trainers are not good enough, you will end up slipping around."
Rosemary Llewellin, from our vacation reviews: “Take waterproof bags to put all your clothes and equipment into for canoe trips. Make sure you have a good torch as electricity supplies in hotels are unpredictable. No need for water purifying tablets as bottled water is available everywhere even in the back of beyond!”

South Africa vacations

Louise Chen, from our vacation reviews: “Have enough memory cards. Every moment is worth a shot”
Guy Wills, from our vacation reviews: “If going during the winter season, plenty of layers are required for evening/morning wear - before the sun gets up”
John Ryder, from our vacation reviews: “Have a good camera with a 300mm lens or longer and good binoculars - the birds are really interesting”
Written by Catherine Mack
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