Packing to go anywhere is always difficult. What exactly do I need? How many of each thing should I bring? Will it all fit? Will the security officer checking my carry-on judge my book and snack choices? Is that enough of a reason to not let me through?
Without tooting my own horn too much, I really do pride myself on my packing. Everything is organised into linen bags and then sorted into compartments based on category of item and when they’ll be required. My clothes are rolled, Marie Kondo style, and any gaps stuffed with fragiles or socks. I practically bring out the labelmaker. Does my suitcase stay this way once I arrive out on location? Absolutely not! But the initial effort was made and that’s enough. I wanted to share some of my perhaps surprising essentials when I go out on trips and why each of them made the cut. Let us know any of yours!
PG Tips Tea
You might laugh but I take my tea very seriously! I like to start every morning with a super-strong cup to help me wake up and I truly believe there is no competition for PG Tips in terms of strength, flavour and comfort. For six weeks in Milos last season, I brought 160 teabags and finished the last one the morning I headed home. Having a cup of tea at the end of the day also forces me to wind down so I can get some quality rest. I’ve even taken to bringing a few out each day for guests who, like myself, miss the taste of a proper English brew! A bonus for me is that everything inside a PG tips box is biodegradable and plant-based.
Elodie in Crete
I always bring a few blocks of my favourite dark chocolate with me (Green & Blacks or Lindt). It’s a nice sweet treat at the end of a long day or perfect for sneaking onto my support boat for that midday energy boost. I like the flavour of dark (above 65%), but I also go for it because it’s super portable and won’t melt as easily in the heat.
Being out in the sun for days on end covered in salt, sweat and sunscreen does not do wonders for one’s skin. My priority will always be sun protection hence why I am so careful about my sunscreen. It must be applied regularly, waterproof and at least 50 SPF. However no matter how conscientious I am, my skin always takes a beating and ends up rough, dry and just generally looking a bit worse for wear. Apart from my sunscreen, my skincare philosophy can be summed up in three words: hydration, hydration, hydration. I suggest bringing the most luscious, heavy-duty moisturiser you can find and using twice as much as you would at home. I also like to treat myself to a rich face mask to hopefully counteract everything I’ve subjected my poor face to!
Reusable insulated water bottle
An absolute essential. In fact I bring two.The insulation helps keep my water cool and refreshing whether in the boat, my bag or even directly in the sun. I find myself more likely to drink often when I have my own bottle and it’s not uncommon for it to be refilled over ten times a day. The bottles are also great for holding fresh water to rinse your face and hair after a dip! Mine is from Chillys but Super Sparrow and Aorin also do great versions.
Birthday/thank you cards
I was brought up to always send cards for any reason: thank you’s, thinking of you’s, birthdays, the list goes on. In my everyday life I usually carry one or two cards in my handbag, just in case. I’ve found this is even more important when I’m out on location. There might be a special occasion and I love to write, so it makes sense to be prepared! The ones I bring are usually designed with nods to swimming or where I’m from in Australia.
Ziploc lunch bags
I’ve tried a few fancy waterproof phone cases but honestly I get frustrated with the loss of touch sensitivity and the thick cover that makes photos blurry. A proper case probably trumps the lunch bags if the phone actually falls overboard, but for general splash-proofness they’re just fine and photos come out clear. Also great for holding snacks so I can take them on my support vessel. A few guides I’ve worked with can attest to this habit of mine!
Music is a huge part of my daily routine, exercise, motivation, relaxation and focus. When I’m out on location I like to keep up with podcasts or shows during the evening or on a day off. Earphones ensure that my fellow guide doesn’t have to put up with my taste!
On every trip I’ve brought my waterproof Bluetooth speaker and it hasn’t let me down. Without it, there wouldn’t have been those spectacular Abba singalongs and karaoke competitions that contributed to so many fond memories of my first season guiding. Even if my position as official trip DJ is occasionally usurped, it’s an absolute must-have!
Running shoes (not just flip flops)
As swim guides, our day-to-day life is already very physical. But many of us still want to keep up our own fitness routines from home. I personally like running, HIIT, strength and pilates-based training. Bringing my running shoes and earphones on location allows me to continue these routines wherever I am!
Elodie on duty as a SwimTrek guide
Something to decorate my room
Whether I’m on location for a fortnight or six weeks, I really like to make our base feel a bit like home. I might bring a candle, wall print, photo frame - anything from home that will warm the space. I feel slightly embarrassed revealing that on location in Milos last season, I gave almost a third of my precious suitcase to a giant stuffed avocado. In addition to being the best cushion, Pip (the avocado) was the essential prop in an excellent practical joke I played on a beloved fellow guide so, in my mind, it was absolutely worth it!