But its not until several, as Craig Revel Horwood would say, 'disaaaaaaasters' that one starts to take the whole packing process a lot more seriously.
A friend of mine, Mark Knowles, who has trekked all over the world (and is currently in Nepal as I type) gave me the following 'commandments' of things to remember when packing to ensure an incident-free holiday.
If you are on a trekking holiday and you break a shoelace and don’t have a replacement, it can cause severe problems as there isn’t usually enough lace left to secure your boot safely, and you might be facing a 5 hour descent....
Soluble Vitamin C tabletsAlways add soluble Vitamin C to your water bottle to keep vitamin levels up. But be warned; as most Vitamin C tabs are effervescent you need to let them fully dissolve before shutting your water bottle tight, otherwise they have a habit of exploding when you open your bottle and getting covered with sticky fluid is one way of attracting insects!
Shemagh or Shish (Arabic style head scarf)Handy for keeping the sun off your head, sitting on when resting, covering up, drying yourself, additional warmth, swatting flies, improvised sling.... Mark once had to tie one around a person to lead them over ‘interesting’ terrain when they were petrified.
Waterproofs and hatAbsolutely essential wherever you are in the world – waterproofs (good quality, breathable) – keep you dry (obviously), are lightweight and can be handy for additional warmth if required. More importantly they keep the wind out; it is invariably a cold wind that will take your body heat away. And of course a hat can keep the sun out during the daytime and the warmth in at night!
Trekking polesAlways take at least one trekking pole. There is the obvious benefit of less impact on the knees, but you can use them to stabilise yourself coming down tricky hills.....test questionable terrain (e.g. just how deep is that puddle?), ward off stray dogs and so on.
Water Purifying TabletsDepending on the destination, consider water purifying tablets as walkers and travellers overseas tend to lose their energy as a result of dehydration. So, if you need water from a questionable source, it needs to be purified.
Broken in, comfortable & waterproof bootsThis might sound obvious but you’d be amazed how many people buy new boots for trips. Mark once saw an extremely disappointed couple on an Everest trek have to return home after two days with severely blistered feet from their new leather boots.
Never, ever go anywhere without a torch (spare batteries), compass and a whistle.