Keeping Documents Safe
Keep your passport, cash and credit cards in your possession at all times. Usually a fanny pack will suffice but in some countries keeping them safe means wearing a cotton money belt under your clothing. Never leave these items in hotel rooms. Photocopy both sides of your credit cards and store in your duffle bag. Then if they are lost or stolen you have both the phone number to call and the number of your card to cancel. Copy the first two pages of your passport and store in the duffle bag also. Leave copies at home as well. Another precaution is to scan these items and send the images to yourself by email prior to leaving. Then, if your suitcase goes missing, you can always remotely access your email and pull up the images and print them.
Go to your local drug store and have them take a passport photo. Carrying a couple of these with you can save an enormous amount of time and energy should your passport go missing.
An ATM card is a better solution than carrying large amounts of cash. ATM machines are most everywhere these days and you can get usable amounts out at a time and at better rates than exchanging $US. Travelers checks are safer for sure but difficult to use in many situations small stores seldom see them and shopkeepers can become flummoxed!
If you cant lift your duffle bag up a flight of steps then youve over-packed and its time to sit down and start culling! Too much stuff can spoil a vacation accounting for it, organizing it, trying to find something important WHEN you need it. People spend too much time on their trips re-packing when they could be relaxing.
Keep the same things in the same pockets all trip long. Then when you look in a pocket and see its partially empty, you go looking for the travel alarm clock thats always there. You probably find that its fallen down between bed and nightstand. Packing common items (like underwear) in small stuff sacks (available at camping stores) helps you stay organized. For bulky items like fleece jackets or raincoats, a stuff sack helps keep them contained. Resist the impulse to pack everything in plastic the crinkling of the bags can drive roommates nuts!
Pack your carry-on day pack for flights assuming that your bag will go missing - then if it does, youll have the essentials. The obvious things are medications, a change of clothing, camera, toiletries, fleece jacket. A less obvious item would be a swimsuit hard to shop for when were moving on so often. If youll be hiking in the first few days, consider wearing your hiking boots on the plane.
Carry your camera inside your day pack and leave the camera bag at home reduces risk of it being stolen. Keep all film and disposable cameras in your day pack at airports. The scanners used on checked bags are powerful and compromise the film.
Consider Old Clothing
Bring an old pair of jeans for horse riding then you can dump them afterwards and avoid a smelly bag. Bring one old T shirt for the most demanding hike. White T shirts are never the same after hiking! When you dump clothes, put them in trash bins. Some motel owners have held clothing for us that have been left on beds.