Packing for your getaway can seem a little daunting, especially if you've never been to that place before.
Do you pack your heels or your coat or will it just sit in the bottom of your case, never to be used and in the end take up valuable curio shopping room?
I come from a family that tends to overpack. Not even just a little bit. If the aeroplane says two suitcases each, we will have two suitcases each, and if it's 23 Kilos each, it will be 23.2. If we book a taxi, we need to book a bus.
I have dripped in sweat on a London underground trying to hump two suitcases, a trolley bag, a backpack and a handbag up and down flights of stairs and just making it through tube doors during rush hour.
I've tied suitcases to the roof racks of vehicles and helped juggle boxes in trailers to try and fit everything in and you know what?
I've had enough.
I have vowed to make my travels easy. I now pack the essentials only - I'm happy to go without something and I've not once wished I had an item of clothing or a different hair styling product on my trips since "The big change".
So how do you even downscale? How do you know really what to pack and what not to pack?
Well, I think it comes down to a pinch of research, a little faith, and a whole heap of confidence.
Research - Google is your friend!
What's the weather going to be like?
Is it likely to rain? - Am I travelling around Africa in October, because the answer to that will be, no, it will probably not rain.
So - Don't take your wellies or a rain coat.
And if you're traveling in October in Central Africa, you don't need a coat at all, a light cardigan maybe - even that might be a bit silly.
Pack for the weather and the activities you'll be doing.
I have a terrible habbit of taking running trainers, socks and sportswear with me - Do I run? No. Will I start on holiday? Probably no. Will I take it anyway. Every. Time.
You've got to allow at least one of your crutches, right? - It's what makes you, you. But don't go and waste your precious packing space on items that you can't wear even just around the lodge or hotel, or on the plane!
Get out your suitcase - Make it a good one!
As a seasoned Africa and global traveller, I have both a soft case and a hard case.
I prefer the soft for the space and the give, but oh I protect it.
It's strapped, wrapped and double locked. And after Christmas travelling, another case sits inside it, strapped, wrapped and also, double locked.
You might think this is a bit excessive, and even I rolled my eyes at myself, but I prefer to travel safe than arriving home miserable.
So choose your one suitcase, and say to yourself, "I will only take one." you know the weather, you've got an idea on the activities you'll be doing, and you might take up running while you're there...
I know it's exciting to go on holiday - Maybe you're going on safari for the very first time and you're thinking, "Oh my goodness, I don't have a pith helmet or a vest with lots of pockets"
You don't need it.
Many lodges and camps suggest neutral colour clothes on safari, and that's greens, khakis, browns, - some lodges suggest not to bring white or black, and this can be quite important specifically for walking safaris.
But I'm not going to lie, I've worn all manner of things on safari, okay sure, not rave pink or blinding yellow, but I've worn black, and white, and grey and (albeit toned down) multi colours and I haven't seen it make a difference in a safari vehicle. So travel comfortably. (P.S Tsetse flies like black the most, but that doesn't mean they wont hammer you if you're wearing white too.)
If you're heading off for a bit of an all-rounder tour, then that's your suitcase. "all rounder." Something nice for an evening, something good for a walk, something perfect for a lazy day at the pool.
Even if you find you're missing something, maybe you didn't bring flip-flops and you really need a pair for a spontaneous beach excursion - there will probably be a little shop somewhere where you can pick up something cheap and temporary for your travels - And the option to donate them when you're done is a great way to recycle and help someone out at the end of your trip.
Now I've been going on about clothes but what else is an essential for a holiday, especially to Africa? Especially to Malawi?
A Battery pack. - charge it up and make sure you have all the cables for your kindle, phone, and anything else you might need to charge on your journey.
Everyone bangs on about a torch in other blogs, but I actually don't take one if I'm staying in a lodge - Apart from a scorpion light. I use my phone. And yes, it's not practical, but it will do - If you're camping however - Take a torch! You will need it to camp in a game reserve and see further than the 2ft that a phone torch gives you. (Trust this from someone who stumbled upon a leopard on the way to my chalet once) and if it takes batteries, bring a few extra with it!
Take a backpack! Such a useful bag and it will come more in handy than a trolley bag during your travels.
Take a water bottle! - Whether it be for long road journeys, walks, hikes or just to have a bottle of water in your room - a double walled water bottle comes in great use for your travels and the added bonus of being a lot more eco-friendly and staying colder longer.
Don't take bug sprays from your home country - The local bug sprays in the country you're travelling to are a lot better equipped to handle what they're trying to repel.
So head into a local shop and stock up on local mosquito sprays and bug repellents!
I could go on and on and on and on.
Packing light and simplifying your travel bags will essentially make your travels far easier and less stressful - Getting on local transport, moving from hotel to hotel.
But packing too light can see you struggling along during your travels or wasting money as you go.
I think the most important suggestion I can give you here is "Practice makes perfect." - So travel lots and see how you go!