I don’t know about you, but even though it’s August, it still feels very much like summertime. (And technically it is!) I’ve got several weekend city breaks around Europe planned for the remainder of my summer, so thought I’d share some of the favorite things I’ve been running around with. It’s a bit of a funny list but that’s probably because I’ve had a strange summer with trips everywhere from Thailand to Poland.
What makes summer such a good time to travel anyways?
Maybe it’s the sunshine. Or the good weather. But for me, summer is just such an easy time to pick up and go away. With many thanks to childhood, summertime is essentially the ultimate symbol for freedom. Travel and freedom are seemingly strange bedfellows, but when you stop to think about it, it makes lots of sense. Those lucky enough to travel far and wide have a special sort of freedom — the ability to wander, to get lost, to see new things, to experience the world. It’s an amazing feeling and one that aligns well with summertime — a time for many freedoms.
And if the video below (produced by the handsome men of The Buried Life and the millennial-friendly Contiki group) has any effect on you whatsoever, you just might find yourself booking a last-minute summer holiday. I thought I’d booked all my travel plans for the rest of the year already, but this video has convinced me to add a few more weekend breaks onto the list…
A Summertime Packing List
The following are my tips on what to pack for your typical (and perhaps, atypical) summer holidays.
Shoes and the socks that fit them
A good pair of shoes is essential for any type of trip, but summertime always presents its own obstacles. During my summer travels, I’ll usually pack a pair of sneakers, maybe some loafers and flip-flops. When wearing shorts or rolled-up trousers, it’s important that your shoes work with the outfit. I’m often lazy and wear the same socks I’d usually wear, but it’s a good idea to travel with short socks during summer. Or pack loafers which are a decent shoe for sockless days (according to Esquire). Alternatively, you can always go completely sockless with some shoes! Something called a “Bamboo Shoo” recently appeared on Kickstarter and the idea’s intriguing: an odor-eliminating shoe insert. Ultimately, that Kickstarter failed but I’m sure there are other similar products or ideas out there somewhere…. Get Googlin’!
Naturally, during warm weather a swimsuit can be especially handy for beach holidays. But they’re also good to pack no matter if there’s a nearby beach. Berlin has lakes, Paris has its’ beaches along the Seine and countless hotels have their pools and saunas. You never know when you might need a swimsuit! Since living in Germany I’ve adopted the European style of swimsuits (ie, they’re pretty skimpy). Besides being rather sexy (check my Instagram, folks!), they’re also quite economical when it comes to saving space in your luggage. I’ve got a pair from Italian label Calzedonia which I’ve been particularly fond of this summer.
Plenty of pairs of headphones
Whether you’re sitting by the pool or on your way in an airplane, headphones are a necessity year-round. Nothing’s worse than leaving for a trip without headphones so I always make sure I keep a pair or two hidden away in my suitcases for when I forget. I also received a pair of Meze Headphones from a Romanian designer early in the summer. Their sleek design mixing beech wood with the white cable makes them a simple but stylish choice for the beach.
A hammock for unexpected leisure time
A hammock might seem like an odd choice to pack, but depending upon where you’re going and what you’re planning to do, they can actually be a huge lifesaver. If you’re visiting somewhere like Thailand or India, and planning to stay at a cottage on the beach, I definitely recommend brining your own hammock. You won’t know how badly you want one until you get there! They’re also great for festivals where you might need to camp. Trust me: bring a hammock and you’ll suddenly be a superstar and you’ll be able to make fast friends! I received an Eagles Nest Outfitters hammock to trial this summer and it’s been useful even in my local park. I just set it up between two trees and am suddenly the star of my neighborhood!
An umbrella for rainy days
Anyone who has visited Northern Europe during the summer will know this tip already. For some reason, during summertime, many cities seem to get regular showers and thunderstorms. Maybe they only last 20 minutes or maybe it’s all day, but summer in Europe does not 100% guarantee sunshine. Pack an umbrella!
Some people might suggest fancy sunglasses brands but honestly when I’m traveling, I usually bring a few random pairs. I’ve gotten free sunglasses at various events, or had to purchase cheap ones at the 7-11 when I’ve forgotten them, so I’ve got a random collection of sunglasses of varying quality. Just like my in-ear headphones, I keep a pair always packed away in one of the pockets of my luggage so I can never really forgot them.
Portable outdoor speaker
One of the favorite things I’ve been traveling around with this summer is my UE Boom speaker. It’s a 360º portable outdoor speaker and it can get very loud! Especially because if you have more than one of them, you can sync them up to get surround sound. I’ve used this when going to the beach with friends because then we can each take turns synching the speaker to our iPhones (it’s magic or Bluetooth or something).
And, of course, a good book!
I’ve struggled finding a good book this summer but that’s mainly because I’ve been so unfocused. I usually opt for whatever English-language books I can find at a flea market abroad, but nothing I’ve read this summer has really stood out. But I’ve also re-read a few of my favorite books. Books like Perfume: Story of a Murderer, Nick Hornby novels, The Beach, Life of Pi or Game of Thrones make for great beach reads, but I’m sure there are newer novels out that are entertaining. I’ve just missed them this year. So, what are you reading that’s particularly good??
I’ve never actually wound up doing this that I can remember, but one of my favorite ideas I’ve come across is the sync your reading material with the place you’re going. Crime and Punishment while traveling to Russia, The Book Thief in Germany, Neverwhere on your way to London.
Something I want to keep in mind for my next trip.
That’s definitely something worth doing, Rachel Ann! I read The Beach in Thailand, Shantaram in India, Don Quixote in Spain… it’s such a great way to experience travel on a different level.
I bought a pair of those big “Beats” headphones by Dr. Dre. Sure they’re a little overrated in the headphone community, but damn did I notice a difference in sound.
I bought them over in Phuket, just as I was about to depart to Jakarta. Love those headphones! But, they got stolen anyway.. :(
But I like the hammock idea Adam. Hammocks are so damn comfortable.. Someone over in Port Douglas over in Australia, set up a hammock in between 2 palm trees, on a cliff right next to the ocean. It was.. perfect.
Hammocks come in so handy, Ken! I actually bought a pair of Dr Dre Beats headphones in Bangkok, the over-ear ones. It’s a good sound but I found them too clunky, actually, for traveling, so these days I really just travel with my in-ear buds.
I love summer time because of the long days more than anything else. The sunshine is great, but I burn easily too, so I’m quite alright with a few cloudy days now and then. It’s weird people are talking about summer being over already – for me summer lasts way in to September too (I know it technically doesn’t, but somehow that’s just how I think of it!)
Zab loves having a portable speaker too – he’s basically in love with his Jawbone Jambox which sounds pretty much like your one. Pretty sure it’s just magic, though.
It’s funny – I never realized how useful a portable speaker was until I had one for myself! They’re so useful!
I love the idea of planning your reading material to sync with your destination. Helps provide a different perspective on the place you’re visiting. I grew up in Kenya and I find a kikoy (African Sarong) is an invaluable item. It can be used for so many things. A towel, wrapped around your shoulders to keep out a sudden chill, a skirt, wiping down a wet bench so you can sit on it – the list is endless!
Hey Sam – great tip to bring along a sarong! Always useful
Agree with everything. May I could add an adjective in front of each title: “luxury”! Luxury hammock, luxury swimsuit,… :) Sorry, it’s an obsession for me..
Good tips although I don’t think a hammock is something I would pack, The idea of syncing your reading material is great.