Ahh..back in Sydney and missing Japan so much. Sydney airport is just an embarrassment and a terrible way for people to first experience the country. Disorganised, dysfunctional and downright rude were my first impressions on returning. Is that how Australia wants people to view it? I felt like turning around and getting back on the plane.
Anyway, here are a whole lot of things that I learnt that will make my next travel experience, and hopefully yours, more smooth. Some of them emphasise and reiterate what I learnt last time, some are in addition to those.
1) I still basically just wear jeans, so taking a dress was useless and a waste of space. Remember to pack what you actually wear.
2) I didn't use the Swiss Army knife once, so it's probably not worth taking after all. Keep gadgetry bits and pieces to the essentials that get used all the time. You can often improvise with what you have.
3) The cutlery rolls that I packed were great - picnic mats, "trays" for brekky in bed, saved on a whole lot of disposable cutlery and didn't take up much room either. Multi-purpose items are great for travel.
4) The travel coffee plunger was wonderful too - saved a lot of money and coffee cups and let's face it, early morning aggro, as I was able to have a fresh and tasty coffee every morning in my room. Sometimes a little ritual from home makes travel even better.
5) Although there are a lot of bad things about plastic, having a bunch of little tupperware containers was really useful for carrying snacks, using as bowls for picnics outside and in our hotel room etc. Make practical items a high priority in your packing.
6) As usual, I brought too much make up and product. Sunblock and moisturiser were great and of course toothpaste and deodorant are essentials. Beyond that, really, things didn't get much of a look in. Oh - tea tree oil...lipbalm... Most places we stayed had shampoo etc. in big bottles, so it was fine for us. Go for less is more for travel and even free yourself from your regular grooming routine - especially if it is an arduous one.
7) As I mentioned - more non-iron and quick drying or tumble dry-able items next time. Stretch fabrics, light silk/cottons - or if you must, high performance fabrics. Shudder.
8) I only got round to doing a couple of drawings, but I think I will take my art supplies again as I really enjoyed it when I did. I didn't use my journal at all. AGAIN. Use different ways to record your travels.
9) Two pairs of shoes - Converse for walking, travelling and rainy days and sandals (as it was summer) for hot days. I didn't wear the other pair I brought with me at all. Always make your packing items fit your itinerary.
10) The shopping bags were great - we used them for dirty laundry, carrying stuff around, picnic baskets and of course, to save on plastic when shopping. Slip one in in a tiny corner to help to do your bit for the planet.
11) I read my books this time and enjoyed them - but sent them on to a friend. The jury is still a little out on the book thing...this time I could pass them on, so didn't have to schlep them around when they were finished. Are you a book or a kindle person?
12) If postage is reliable and reasonable, like in Japan, bless them, post purchases home. Or buy nothing.
13) Sometimes a taxi is worth it - when you have a tired little dude who is hungry, it's raining and you are not entirely sure of the location of your hotel, for example. I think we took three or four taxis this time. On holiday, sometimes a little luxury expenditure makes the experience more enjoyable for everyone.
14) PJs are not really necessary - leggings can double up as PJ pants with a singlet or undies when it is hot. Free yourself from the constraints of conformity! Or something.
15) I got some detergent and laundry liquid and decanted it into small bottles to take on our trips within the trip, and it was very useful - for hand washing and cleaning our tupperware containers. Get products in your destination rather than lug them from home.
16) The iPad was perfect - a great size and easy to carry and also - because it's a teeny bit un-user-friendly with the keypad and all that, it meant I used the computer must less. GREAT! I dare you to be less technologically dependent next time you travel.
17) The camera data transfer doobie for iPad was great too - I used it every day to upload photos and send them to Little Miss O's grandparents to keep them updated. Photos are a great souvenir and don't take up any space.
18) I didn't wear the big crystal necklace - don't think I will bother with the evening jewellery next time - it didn't get worn. Might not bother with the fancy ring either. My advice stands - leave the fancy stuff at home.
19) Two bras were perfect - but next time might make them both sports bras as we did a lot of walking and the girls need support. They are so comfy too. Comfort is priority during travel, but that does NOT allow you to wear trackies, OK?
20) Remember to download maps etc. to reading list before trip as well as a to do list and list of nearby supermarkets. We were a bit stuck from time to time for anything beyond convenience store food. Preparing your own "guidebook" before you go is cheaper, more portable and makes more sense.
21) I always seem to carry too much on the plane as errr....carry on. I need to limit it to passports and other important documents, a water bottle, iPad and camera, wallet, book, moisturiser and toothbrush. And mints. Try to cut everything down to the essentials.
22) It was a good idea to take the extra bag in my suitcase - we certainly used it on the way back.
23) I did some exercise! So leggings are going to stay on my packing list. They also made great lounge wear and great pyjamas.
Based on this list, I would have a basic packing list along these lines;
Two pairs of jeans/ or one pair of jeans and one pair of lighter pants for summer
Two pairs of leggings
Two sports bras
Four pairs of undies
Sandals or comfy boots depending on weather
Two basic tops - smart looking t-shirts, for example ( I love my slubby linen v-neck) for summer, long-sleeved for winter
Jacket and/or cardigan - for layering. I found I wore only the cardi in Tokyo
Dressier top - one that is suitable for day and night.
Two singlets/one long sleeved top for winter OR three singlets for summer
Three pairs of socks - ankle ones for summer, longer ones for winter
Camera and charger
Ipad and charger
Sketchbook and watercolours
Small notebook for ideas/expenses etc.
Tea tree oil
Rosewater spray (my little luxury)
Maybe an eyeliner and a lipgloss and a mascara
Tupperware or maybe little stainless steel containers ( I usually take snacks for Little Miss O on the plane cos she usually can't eat the food).