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  • Writer's picturemartin5664


Walking through one of Perth’s pedestrian shopping areas is not what I wanted to be doing after a 31 hour journey to Australia. I had visions of a hot shower, a change of clothes, a bite to eat, and sleep, glorious sleep. But it was 4:30 on a Wednesday afternoon and the shops were going to close in 30 minutes and I needed to buy clothes and toiletries for my son and I. And I needed to get to a pharmacy and find a medication that I take every day.

And the song running though my mind during this chaos was Tempted by Squeeze:

I bought a toothbrush,

some toothpaste

A flannel for my face

Pajamas, a hairbrush

New shoes and a case

I said to my reflection, "Let's get out of this place"

You see, somewhere along the way from Toronto to Los Angeles to Sydney to Perth our luggage zigged when it should have zagged and we now had 30 minutes to find everything we would need for a 10 day Expedition cruise along the very remote Kimberley Coast.

You’re saying to yourself - “But as a Travel Professional, surely you remembered to pack the essentials in your carry-on!”

I didn’t! I packed everything that we would need for the trip (and then some) in one large duffel bag, and we each had a backpack for our carry-on. And the backpacks were full of all the electronics we would need to entertain ourselves for the long journey. It’s a good thing we had all those gadgets too. Ask me sometime about keeping a ten year-old occupied on a 14 hour flight when the entertainment system isn’t working.

You never think it’s going to happen to you, right? You tell your clients to purchase travel insurance, you tell them to pack light, and you tell them to pack a carry-on bag with all the essentials, in case their luggage is lost.

So this Public Service Announcement is to remind you to pack the essentials into your carry-on. What are the “essentials”? Check the end of this post for a list.

The more immediate problem we faced was that we were about to spend 10 days on a small Expedition ship that wasn’t going to call at any ports until disembarkation. And we had no water shoes, no sun hats, no waterproof bags, and very little clothing.

We were very lucky, and the generosity of strangers (new friends) helped us tremendously. One person bought us each a pair of flip-flop sandals at Perth Airport, upon embarking the ship the Hotel Director informed us that we would get free laundry during the cruise, and another guest gave me a shirt she had purchased on her last voyage that turned out to be too big for her.

We had a small onboard credit, so we went shopping in the boutique, and before we knew it we had pretty much everything we needed. Out baseball caps served as sun hats, our new flip-flops served as water shoes, and a new waterproof bag stuffed inside my backpack served as our waterproof bag. Our fellow passengers saw all of our outfits, a lot, but this wasn’t a fashion show, so they didn’t care. And neither did we.

I quickly realized that there were a few lessons in all of this, and these are my takeaways:

  • Make a list and check it twice: Before you start packing, make a list of everything you’ll need for your trip. This includes clothing, toiletries, electronics, and any other items you can’t do without. Double-check your list to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything important.

  • Pack versatile clothing: When packing for an expedition cruise, it’s important to pack versatile clothing that can be worn in different situations. Choose items that can be dressed up or down and can be layered to accommodate changing weather conditions.

  • Use packing cubes: Packing cubes are a great way to keep your luggage organized and make the most of the space in your carry-on suitcase. Use them to separate your clothing by type or outfit and to keep smaller items like socks and underwear from getting lost in the shuffle.

As a seasoned traveler, I know that packing for an expedition cruise can be a daunting task, and with the possibility of your baggage getting lost it’s even more important to pack smart and be prepared for any situation.

Safe travels, and may you never be separated from your luggage (at least not for very long).


P.S. - Our bag was found the day after we arrived in Australia, and it was sent to Darwin. When we disembarked in Darwin, we were taken to the airport, we were reunited with our bag, we checked it in for the three flights home, and we crossed our fingers that it would arrive when we did. It did. And the best part was that we unpacked and didn’t have to launder anything. All the clean clothing we packed for the trip was just put back into drawers and closets. You gotta look on the bright side right?

Must bring carry on essentials:

Passport/other ID

Cash, credit cards, ATM cards

Printed itinerary/ hotel and flight confirmations

Glasses/ Contacts/Sunglasses

Essential medication and prescriptions

Electronics (cell phone, camera, computer, adaptors), jewelry and other valuables

Change of clothing (including underwear)

Reading material/entertainment

Toothbrush, toothpaste and floss

Lip balm, lotion and other toiletries

Antibacterial wipes or sanitizing lotion

Eye mask, ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones, sleeping pill or melatonin



Compression socks

Scarf and extra sweater or fleece


Refillable water bottle


This article is a courtesy from my colleague Karl Kannstadter


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