I love packing. But until four years ago, I hated it. I would put off packing my bags, leave it to the last minute, forget things, bring the wrong things, and make the same mistake again next time. Packing became a lot more complicated when I started to pack for a child too.

Then one day I realised I needed to create a master list, a go-to reference that could be honed over time. From that day, I started writing, collecting and comparing my packing lists. Fifteen festivals, a dozen trips abroad and countless weekends away later, I have arrived at something pretty solid, which I share now for people who hate packing as much as I did, or who agree with the lifestyle design principle of improving situations which regularly annoy us.

It is probably worth mentioned a couple of drivers in the choices I have made:

  • I usually travel car-less – in fact I actively seek out ways of not going by car to take me off the beaten track – so I like to travel light.
  • Wherever I go, I often end up teaching swing dancing, which means that even in my regular kit I have some dance paraphernalia.
  • These previous two points mean there is usually a mixture between high-tech lightweight stuff, and heavy vintage stuff. Lightweight vintage stuff is the holy grail.
  • I hate luggage that you tow. Just saying.

As Seneca said, ‘May your faults die before you do’. I’ve got many left to fix, but being bad at packing is now safely interred. I even enjoy it.

The master packing list

This list is made up of a core which rarely changes, then a series of bolt-ons, which are groupings of things I commonly find I have to add for certain types of trip. There is some duplication between different bolt-ons so beware.

The core


(Starting from the top)

  • A flat cap – I used prefer a wide-brimmed number like a Panama but it just gets in the way and falls off when dancing.
  • Sunglasses – usually really cheap ones so I don’t get annoyed when I lose them.
  • Coat (eiher a ski jacket or waterproof + fleece)
  • Tweed suit jacket – works for work, and for swing teaching. Really handy for docs when travelling.
  • Long-sleeved lightweight smart shirt.
  • Tie
  • Cravat (good accessory for swing gigs)
  • 2x t-shirts.
  • Thin jumper.
  • Belt
  • Underwear
  • Swimming/running shorts
  • Jeans – lightweight Rohan jeans – dry super quickly. Work for smart/casual.
  • Lightweight trousers – only sometimes – something light to perform in, or hang around a festival.
  • Thermal underear – takes no room, can use for PJs or to keep warm in sleeping bag.
  • Waterproof trousers – sometimes.
  • Socks
  • DMs/converse
  • Flip flops.


  • Diary + pen&ink, pencil.
  • Book
  • Phone + charger
  • Wallet
  • Computer/iPad + charger
  • Headphones
  • Speaker for teaching
  • Water bottle
  • Coffee cup.
  • Washbag
  • Wipes
  • Credit card swiss army tool
  • Travel towel.
  • Mudflappers business card

Swing teaching bolt-on

  • Garland
  • Hawaiian shirtWhite short-sleeved shirt (Mudflappers standard issue)
  • Brown smart waist coat
  • Dancing waist coat
  • Big grey trousers + braces
  • Big black trousers – possibly
  • Dancing shoes – possibly
  • Cable for connecting ipod to soundsystem.

Cycling bolt-on

  • Helmet
  • Gloves
  • Pump
  • Repair kit + multitool
  • Lights
  • Locks
  • iPhone holster
  • Bungee

Camping bolt-on

  • Tent
  • Sleeping mat
  • Sleeping bag
  • Liner – sometimes
  • Hot water bottle – sometimes

Camping cooking bolt-on

  • Large collapsable water carrier
  • Plastic bowl
  • Plastic spork
  • Mini chopping board
  • Sharp knife
  • Bag for left-overs
  • Trave wash and scrubber
  • Jet boil, cafetiere plunger, gas and stand.
  • Coffee

Three-year-old daughter

  • Hats – sun hat for the day and warm hat for the evening
  • Festival headphones
  • Jumper
  • Hoody
  • Fleece
  • T-shirts
  • Long-sleeved t-shirt
  • Leggings
  • Trousers
  • Underwear
  • Dress
  • Shorts
  • Tights
  • Wellies
  • Crocs
  • Onezee for sleeping in/evenings.
  • Sun glasses
  • Swimming costume
  • Nappies
  • Wipes
  • Face paints
  • Lego
  • Books
  • Sticker book, pens
  • Colouring book
  • Fancy dress stuff
  • PensBubbles

Happy travels everyone!