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Today’s a very exciting day because tomorrow I leave for South Africa!  Imagine some triumphant trumpets blasting away.

I’ve already detailed my steps to planning this adventure in Phase 1 and Phase 2 and while I’ve been a busy beaver wrapping up all of my work and other commitments before heading out the door, the rest of my planning has been in the background.

The short version: I’ve been chucking things on my dining room table as I walk by, “I may need this, I may wear that.” Over time, stuff piled up on my dining room table. Now it’s time to sort through the “maybes” and get serious about packing a bag.

Packing: before picture

I’ve talked about my love of packing lists before, and have already detailed the one I put together for a quick jaunt to Paris back in April. I’m going to be in South Africa for three weeks, but I don’t want to check a bag. This means packing light and right.

It’s almost summer in South Africa, which means I can avoid a lot of bulky clothes. However, like Canada, South Africa seems to get a lot of weather, so I’ll need layers to make sure I’m ready for anything.


Official stuff

  • Passport
  • Plane ticket
  • Bank cards, credit cards, currency
  • Booking confirmations for hotels and pre-booked activities
  • Travel health insurance and proof of coverage


  • Sleepwear, sleep mask, ear plugs
  • Socks, underwear x 5, light and dark bras
  • Tops: 1 x tank top, 5 x t-shirt, 1 x long-sleeve t-shirt, 1 x sweater
  • Bottoms: 2 x pants, 1 x skirt, 2 x shorts
  • Accessories: scarf, earrings
  • Outerwear: light jacket, rain shell, hat
  • Shoes: 1 light sneakers, 1 sandals, 1 pair walking-friendly


  • Antibacterial hand gel, baby wipes, tissues
  • Bar soap, face lotion, body lotion, deodorant, razor
  • Glasses and case, contact lenses, case, solution
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss
  • Dry shampoo, regular shampoo, conditioner, hair product, pins and elastic, wide-toothed comb
  • Lip balm and hand lotion (a must for the flights)
  • Makeup, cotton swabs, emery board, tweezers and nail clippers
  • Sunblock – under 100 mL

Staying alive

  • Anti-malarial efforts: Malarone and insect repellent
  • First aid: bandages, Imodium, anti-nausea tablets, ibuprofen, allergy pills
  • No Jet Lag (I’m going to try it after reading Hola Yessica’s recent review)
  • Aquatabs water purification tablets (just in case) and rehydration powder (also, just in case)


  • Money belt
  • Plug adaptor
  • Mini binoculars (safari optimism)
  • Camera, memory cards, Gorillapod flexible tripod, batteries, charger
  • Battery-free mini flashlight
  • iPod, charger and plug, ear buds
  • Guide, map, reading material
  • Journal, pens, notebook
  • Laundry soap (mini packs for sink laundry)
  • Luggage lock
  • Sunglasses
  • Stuff sack pillow (exactly what it sounds like, you put stuff in it and use it for a pillow)
  • Silk sleep sheet
  • Water bottle
  • Ziploc bags

Finally, I’m not going to check a bag on the way there, but I’m 99% certain I’ll do so on the way back.

What’s the longest trip you’ve taken without checking a bag? Share some of your favourite packing light tips in the comments!