What’s in your Travel Bag?

My consulting firm conducts joint venture audits and production sharing cost audits in the oil and gas industry throughout the world. Having travelled extensively and having worked in more than twenty countries worldwide, I have learned the hard way how to pack, what to pack and how to get by as comfortably as possible especially when travelling to developing countries. This article contains tips for travelling to developed and undeveloped countries.

In this article I will discuss topics such as how to not overpack, what toiletries to pack based on your destination as well as what you can expect as far as what creature comforts you can purchase in countries where you would least expect it.

navigator petroleum carry-on baggage

Carry-on Baggage

One of the most important things you can do to make your trip more enjoyable is to pack carry-on baggage that will enable you to survive for a few days in the event your checked baggage gets lost. I now travel with a business knapsack that holds all my electronics such as a laptop, iPad, cell phone and all chargers. The knapsack is configured to slide over an extended handle attached to a two or four wheeled travel bag (20” to 22”). In addition, I tote a carry-on bag with four wheels so I can effectively push my carry-on baggage through airports with one finger.

If I am going to a developed country, staying in a 4-5-star hotel, for toiletries, I only pack a hairbrush and deodorant in my carry-on as most hotels have toothbrushes, razors, and shaving cream etc. The rest of my toiletries are packed in my checked baggage.

It is crucial that you carry travel docs like a passport, vaccination card (yellow booklet) and boarding passes in your carry-on.

Being a creature of habit, I always identify the most readily accessible pouch or compartment on my carry-on bag and I always put my current boarding pass, passport, and vaccination card there. When I have connecting flights and where I have all the boarding passes for the rest of the flights, I keep these in another compartment in my carry-on.

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you pack any prescription medications in your carry-on baggage. In many developing countries, for prescription drugs (in North America), you can buy pretty much any drug you desire even if is only available back home as a prescription drug – “if you can spell it, you can buy it”!!!

If I am going to a developing country, in my carry-on I will pack a hairbrush, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste (less than 100 ml), razor and shaving cream (less than 100 ml), mosquito spray and whatever other necessities I desire (that won’t be confiscated by airport security).

For electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets or laptops etc., please ensure that you pack these items in your carry-on as you do not want to test the durability of these devices at ultra freezing temperatures at 35,000 feet. You may be fortunate enough to have your checked bag end up in a temperature-controlled baggage compartment on the aircraft but that is highly unlikely as that compartment is reserved for live animals and last-minute baggage only.

One electronic device that is fairly new but is a fantastic addition to any traveller’s accessories is a portable MiFi device. This device is very small yet very powerful and it can boost your Wi-Fi strength up to 4G whereas the Wi-Fi strength in many developing countries is significantly less which can lead to a lot of frustration especially when you want to chat on WhatsApp or Skype for example. Most MiFi devices can handle 8 – 10 users and all you need is a local Sim card to run your Wi-Fi. You do need to purchase time for the Sim card, but the cost for usage is not excessive at all.

Checked Baggage

When packing checked baggage, I pack clothes accordingly based on whether it is a business trip or a vacation. I am generally travelling to tropical countries, so I tend to pack lighter weight clothes. I always bring a sport jacket, shirt and tie with me just in case I suddenly have a dinner to attend or a meeting that was not planned.

I pack most of my footwear in my checked baggage and my footwear generally consists of casual shoes, one pair of dress shoes, sneakers for workouts and sandals that I can wear in the shower.

In my checked baggage I pack most of the clothing that I will be wearing on my trip. I also pack my toiletries kit where I pack a toothbrush and toothpaste (over 100ml), razor and shaving cream, nail clippers, shampoo and any other items that could potentially be confiscated by airport security if they were in my carry-on baggage. Another item that I always pack is a day pack (small knapsack) which takes up virtually no space in my luggage as it folds flat. It is always good to have a day pack for any outings and typically you will carry items such as sunglasses, sun tan lotion, bug spray, wallet, passport copy, smart phone, a bottle of water and anything else that you like to have on hand when you are out and about.

I hope that some of the tips that I have mentioned above will be of help for you in your travels. Travel safe.

About the Author


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Aaron David

Aaron David has more than 30 years of experience in the oil and gas industry. Prior to launching a career dedicated to oil and gas auditing Aaron worked in corporate income tax and financial accounting. He was chief accountant for a U.S. subsidiary of a Canadian oil and gas company as well as treasurer of a public oil and gas company in Canada.

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