Luggage and bags:
Baggage depends on what you need. If you plan to camp, well then you dont need to bring the blow dryer, or the curling iron with you. But do try to bring deodorant! That still has an effect on the ecosystem.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Family Travel
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Oh For Heavens sake! Do BRING TOILET PAPER!
Luggage and bags:
If you go to Yosemite, and go hiking, a backpack large enough to carry 2 or 3 litres of water is essential.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: In the summer, California is hot - shorts, t-shirts and sandals are what the locals wear, and a hat wouldn't go amiss because the sun sometimes gets unbearable.
San Francisco can get quite cold when the fog comes in, even in June / July, so it might be worth taking at least one sweater if you're in that area. It's unlikely to rain, but it might.
In Yosemite, you need to supplement your California gear with a good pair of hiking boots - blisters are a serious risk here.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Lots of sunblock, and after sun cream, for starters. In Yosemite, you can probably buy these at the village store, but it'll cost you. A basic first-aid kit might also be worth investing in. Last, but not least, take some insect repellent.
Photo Equipment: Buy 35mm film at a large store such as WalMart - you'll get a 200 Dx 24 shot film for less than $2.
If you go into Yosemite without a camcorder, you'll kick yourself later on.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: It gets dark during the night within the park - there aren't any streetlights. Take a torch.
HOW TO PACK FOR THE UNEXPECTED
You've heard the phrase 'The best-laid plans of men and mice'. Well, our best-laid plans were spoiled by United Airlines.
For the past year we have been planning a trip to the Cook Islands. Our son Daniel and his fiancée Jennifer were getting married on this South Pacific island. The happy couple lives in Denver. My brother in law and sister in law, Art and Rita, drove down from Carson City the night before we were to leave. We even arrived at San Francisco Airport at 4:00 pm for a 7:11 pm shuttle flight to Los Angeles (LAX), just to be sure we had plenty of time. The United shuttle was supposed to be in Los Angeles by 8:20 pm giving us plenty of leeway before the Air New Zealand flight left for the Cook Islands at 11:00 pm.
After arriving at the United shuttle terminal, it was apparent that something was wrong. The place was mobbed with people. We checked the monitors and found that every flight was at least one hour late. We had heard that United pilots were in a slow down, refusing overtime, and that apparently had caused all the flights to back up. We immediately asked to be placed on standby for the 4:15 flight.
We were on standby for every flight until our scheduled flight and never got on. We found out at 6:00 pm that there were over 200 people on standby so we had no chance to get on an earlier flight. Our 7:11 pm flight finally left at 9:30 pm which still would have given us a half hour to make the connecting flight at LAX. As fate would have it, our pilot announced at the end of the runway that LAX was under flow control for some reason and that we had to sit at the end of the runway for at least a half-hour. We were finally in the air at 10:15 pm and landed at 11:14 pm. We ran the mile and a half from the United gate to the Air New Zealand gate only to find that the plane had already left with our son and his fiancée on board.
Air New Zealand's next flight to Rarotonga was four days away. No other airline flew to Rarotonga so we were stuck in LA until Tuesday. Air New Zealand helped us find rooms at the Sheraton Hotel along with two other stranded passengers from our doomed flight. Neither United nor Air New Zealand took responsibility for our bills, advising us to send a letter to Customer Relations.
Where was our luggage? United passed the buck to Air New Zealand who blamed the intermediary baggage transfer agent and United. Air New Zealand's supervisor declared that bags are not put on a plane unless the passengers are on that plane. This circular argument put us in the middle all day Saturday. At 5 pm, after we insisted the supervisor call Rarotonga Airport, our bags indeed were found in Rarotonga enjoying the warm sunshine while we sat marooned in LA. We were now facing four day in Los Angeles with only the clothes on our back.
What should you do to minimize the stress and inconvenience of this type of situation? Here are some suggestions.
Always assume the worst; your luggage will never arrive.
I find a purse clumsy and fear robbery or misplacement, I use a combination of belly pack, daypack, and foldover travel neck wallet. I always keep these items secured to my body. DO NOT switch items between partners because someone can set an item down and assume the other person has it. This happened in a temple in Bangkok and money, traveler's checks and passports were stolen with two vacation days lost getting replacements.
DAYPACK - Also can be used during the trip when shopping. Better than carrying bags and loose items by hand.
BELLY PACK - Special travel belly packs have steel wire in the belt so thieves cannot cut them off your body. I use the belly pack for small, hard to find items, which would get lost in the daypack. I usually have lip balm, Band-Aids, comb, hair barrette, extra cash, sunglasses, Kleenex, ear plugs, sleeping mask, business cards, copy of eyeglass RX and companion's passport, small translation book, emergency meds anti-diarrhea's, anti-inflammatories, sleeping pill. Because of dry recirculated airplane air, I include saline nasal spray, nasal decongestant and spray, and throat lozenges.
TRAVEL WALLET- 2 pens for inevitable entry and exit forms, passport, visa, airline tickets, vouchers, credit cards, scuba card, driver's license, cash, foreign currency, note pad, luggage key.
TRAVEL TOILETRY KIT - Resupply this kit after short or long trips. Steristrips, Band-Aids, q-tips, safety pins, nose strips, small sewing kit (some hotels include them as give-always), hydrocortisone ointment, Vaseline, anti-fungal cream, antibacterial ointment, small size sunscreen, hand cream, small insect repellent, toothpaste and brush, sample shampoo, conditioner, dental floss, razors, safety pins.
CLOTHING - Change of underwear and socks, tee shirt, long sleeved shirt or sweater, windbreaker, 1 pair of shorts, bathing suit (for hotel swimming pools).
HARD TO REPLACE ITEMS PARTICULAR TO SITUATION - Due to the wedding, I included my dress, shoes, nylons, pearls for the bride, collage binder of Dan and Jenn's pictures and life stories. Include water filter and/or iodine tablets for primitive countries.
MEDICATIONS - Daily medications in original containers for the entire trip. Emergency drugs: 1-2 day supply, more if destination is primitive or drug replacements difficult: Allergy med., anti-diarrhea's, anti-nausea's, non-narcotic analgesics, and anti-inflammatories.
VALUABLES - Jewelry, watch, camera and film. A small short wave radio is good if going to remote areas. I use a Palm handheld computer and portable keyboard for notes. This also carries all my contact names and numbers including those of the airlines and any accommodations we have already reserved. If you don't have something like a Palm, remember to carry a list of these numbers with you.
OTHER - makeup, small flashlight, notepad, water bottle, fruit or snack, book or magazine, destination guide, translation guide, contacts or replacement glasses, inflatable pillow, batteries, house/car keys.
Be like a Boy Scout, always prepared. With the inevitable lost luggage or forced layover, having emergency supplies brings some comfort. The hotel sink serves as a laundry for quick drying polyester travel clothing.
We did finally make it to the Cook Islands in time for the wedding. Even though I wasn't happy being for forced to spend the time in LA, at least I was prepared, and that removed one more source of worry and discomfort.