Going on a honeymoon is probably one of the only times in life where everyone encourages you to take a long trip. Of course, my husband and I took full advantage. With the world's blessing to "take as much time as we wanted" we decided to set off for two weeks and see as much as we possibly could. Our place of choice: Tanzania.
It had always been a dream of ours to go on safari, so we started our planning there. We would see Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. As we researched more about the incredible country, we learned there were incredible beaches as well and decided to spend a few days on the tropical island of Zanzibar as well. Then while booking our flights we noticed there was a layover in Amsterdam and thought, hey why not a couple days there too? Thus our extensive itinerary was born.
While we were thrilled to be jetting off to all of these prose-inducing places, when it came down to some logistics we were a bit stumped. How do we pack for long days on safari, relaxing days at the beach and winter conditions in Europe? Not to mention we would be taking seven flights in 14 days and were only allowed to use soft suitcases. In other words: let the Tetris game of packing begin!
Here's some basics I learned:
1. Pack Clothes With Layers in Mind
In the Serengeti alone we would be going from freezing cold mornings and evenings to boiling hot days, so it was important that the outfit was convertible. And since most of our trip was going to be spent exploring, the clothing items needed to be comfortable.
A good rule of thumb is to have three tops for every pair of pants and keep the pants basic colors (black, green, etc.) so it's easier to make an outfit. For an active honeymoon, invest in a pair of convertible hiking pants to make it easier to transition between temperatures.
Then choose two to three neutral-colored sweaters as that extra warm layer. If you have a heavy coat like I did, hand carry it and save the room in the suitcase for a compact, waterproof windbreaker.
For the beach I stuck to two bathing suits (so they can be washed, dried and rotated each day) and a couple of sun dresses. Those top-layer sweaters work great for chilly tropical nights as well, so you get more function out of your essentials.
2. Narrow Down Your Shoes
I learned pretty quickly that safari chic wasn't going to happen, so forget the heels. If you're doing a more adventurous honeymoon like I did, check with your properties beforehand about conditions to guide your footwear choices. Luckily, we were told that they would provide us with rain boots, so that freed up some space.
Limit yourself to no more than three pairs of shoes. Wear your sneakers/walking shoes while you travel then pack two pairs of other shoes—one casual and one formal if necessary. Since we had a beach stop, I wore my sneakers on the plane and packed my sandals and a pair of stylish booties. The sandals also worked great on safari as something to walk around in after a long, dirty day in the wild.
3. Bring Certain Comforts of Home
Even though you're more likely to step out of your comfort zone when it comes to new experiences (i.e. I got within feet of a lion), there are some basic necessities you won't want to forget. Invest in travel-sized items of the following: toothbrush, toothpaste, face wipes, disposable razor, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, bug spray, and face wash. Place the items that will get wet into a clear plastic bag so they don't get on anything else. Having these few things will make you feel human and comfortable after a long day of exploring.
In addition, pack a full-size bottle of sunscreen because it's expensive to buy in a lot of places, but limit your makeup selection. In a separate bag I narrowed down my cosmetics to foundation, blush, mascara, and lipstick. Those should have a plastic bag all on their own.
4. Have a Medicine Bag
Whether or not you're traveling some place exotic, if you're gone for a long period of time you're going to want to be prepared for anything. Basics include anti-diarrheal medication, antihistamine, decongestant, anti-motion sickness medication, pain/fever reducer, 1 percent hydrocortisone cream, hand sanitizer, and Band-Aids.
Of course, make sure to bring enough of whatever prescription medicine you need and check with a doctor before traveling to a foreign country if you need something special. We had malaria pills for Tanzania.
5. Separation is Key
Here is where the Tetris comes in to play. You will want to arrange the contents of your bag strategically not only to maximize space, but also to keep things as clean and wrinkle-free as possible. Every bag is different, but here are some good rules of thumb:
- Put heavy items like shoes at the bottom of your bag.
- Get packing cubes. The main purpose of these is to organize your shoes, wet clothes, and dirty clothes.
- If you have interior side pockets, use them for toiletries/medicine and underwear. Otherwise have separate bags for those items as well.
- Use items that aren't in your carry-on—like extra books—to act as barriers in your suitcase if necessary.
- Keep small and malleable objects like belts on the perimeter.
6. Don't Forget the Lingerie
It is your honeymoon after all, so you're not going to want to forget a few unmentionables. These delicate items should have their own separate bag to keep from getting snagged or tossed around. You're not going to want to go overboard with these delicates, but certainly make some room for two to three special items. Packing a silky negligee is a good way to have an extra set of comfy PJs while also counting towards your lingerie.
7. Become a Techie
As much as you're going to want to disconnect from the world, everything still needs power these days. You'll want to make sure you have a universal adapter (especially if you're traveling to multiple countries), charging chord for your cell phone, a good camera, batteries or charger for that camera, an iPad with books and movies downloaded, and headphones.
If you're going to a nature-heavy place like we did, make sure to bring binoculars. They really amped up the animal watching experience. And make sure you have a bag for all things electronic, so items don't get lost in transit.