Packing on a Budget

To follow on after my last post on cutting costs, saving and pretty much just not spending money, I thought I would do a “travel saving” post today. Since you know, its a week before I fly now!

So there are a few things travelers in modern times have begun to find quite useful and sometimes even downright essential to travelling. But if you get these at Cape Union Mart or AA Travel Experience retail shops, you are going to pay an arm and a leg. So what do I do? I have made some mistakes, and am yet to see if what I’ve done works out, but that’s all part of the fun, Right?

Luggage

Victorinox at R4999 from Cape Union Mart. No doubt its fantastic quality, but thats also half my airline ticket!
Victorinox at R4999 from Cape Union Mart. No doubt its fantastic quality, but thats also half my airline ticket!

So as you know (or maybe you haven’t been following me that long) I was aiming to go with “carry on” luggage only. Unfortunately for me, 2 things have made that pretty much impossible.

1 – Carry on only normally implies one small sized suitcase plus one personal item (also small), this means you can take a bag of clothes and toiletries and a handbag with a book, your documents, cell phone, etc. Emirates however only allow 1 carry on item. Therefore I just cant seem to make it all work right. 2 – Before I was able to fully understand the above mentioned point, I bought a bag that happens to be 3cm too big. And because of idiots trying to take huge suitcases into the cabin on airplanes so that they don’t have to wait at the carousal, globally all airlines have clamped down on even 3 meager centimeters 😦

My lovely purple (in this pic it looks blue) R150 China Plaza special
My lovely purple (in this pic it looks blue) R150 China Plaza special

I have been on the lookout for luggage for a few months now, Game Megastores and Makro (along with pretty much every other large chain store) sell various luggage options. From Samsonite at R800 for a carry on size to a regular Game Stores brand at about R450 or Cape Union Mart will get you one at R4999! Even Pep Stores does a “Carry On” size for R350.
However I happen to have China Plaza a mere 25 min drive away from home. On a recent trip there, I was able to pick up my rich Purple (3cm too tall) suitcase for a mere R150. And it feels just as sturdy as the much more expensive one at Game. Lets see if it lasts my trip….

Handbag/Backpack

Old Khaki R399 from Cape Union Mart.
Old Khaki R399 from Cape Union Mart.

So as my beautiful purple suitcase cant go in the cabin with me, what am I going to use to take my tech gadgets, chargers, a change of clothes, and my toiletries? I have just recently bought myself a new handbag (R60 at China Mall) that can take my ipad, water bottle, camera, pocket sized bible, and even my tract folder. But, that wont fit my toiletries and a spare set of clothes. A nice backpack from Cape Union Mart costs anything from R400. A kids school backpack from PicknPay is anywhere from R300 to R850!

R100 from Pep Stores
R100 from Pep Stores

Pep stores didnt have many options, it was a toss up between a R90 Duffel bag or a R100 Backpack. And as much as I like the “fashion look” of a duffel bag (i’ve always been partial to them), practicality won out with a Retro style backpack that my whole handbag can fit into with loads of space to spare. And its 10cms smaller than Carry on limits.

My new R60 handbag.
My new R60 handbag.

Packing Cubes

Store style Packing cubes
Store style Packing cubes

Store style Packing cubes

I had never heard of packing cubes before researching my trip. To me it was just stick it all in and hope I can fit it. But I see the logic and usefulness of packing  cubes, I just don’t see the usefulness of paying over R100 for a set of 3 if I’ve never needed them before. From Cape Union Mart I found them for R99 for 1. At Dischem R120 for a set of three.

At a discount Supermarket, I found zipper washing/laundry mesh bags 30cm x 40cm for R8 each and bought 2. All the clothing I’m travelling with (which I’m not wearing) fits into these two bags nice and compactly!

My R8 Laundry bag packing cube with my clothes.
My R8 Laundry bag packing cube with my clothes.

Travel Adaptersimage

Ok so we don’t have much choice when it comes to travel adapters, because there is no way I’m messing up my phone, camera or tablet when charging with a possibility substandard adapter from a cheap Chinese shop. So I had a choice of Dischem, Cape Union Mart (C.U.M from here on coz I’m too lazy to write it all out each time), the AA shop, and other more official shops. When I went into the aa shop last week to get my International Driver Permit (only place I can get it in Durban, costs about R260) I looked around if there was anything there that I could get. The travel adapters were R99 (on their website though in researching this post, I see they should have been R60?), I didn’t even bother to go into C.U.M, but Dischem had them at 75 bucks, and at this stage every R10 makes a difference to me, so that’s where I got it. Of interest, all of them that I’ve seen in different shops  are exactly the same.

Toiletries Bag

R99 from Cape Union Mart
R99 from Cape Union Mart

Ahhh the inevitable TSA approved clear plastic zipper with 100ml or less clear plastic bottles that all carry on liquids need to be in. Question left unanswered, does my mascara and base (hey, even a tomboy has to look pretty sometimes) have to also go in there?

Anyways, I got the R35 one from Dischem. AA had these at over R100, as did, interestingly, BidOrBuy! I decanted some vanilla body butter into one of the bottles, which was a pain. I bought a R5 35ml shampoo and same price conditioner as I do love my hair, I can easily pick up full size shampoo and conditioner on that side. I have also got a foldable toothbrush which is always in my ready to go toiletries bag. Of note, normal toothpaste tubes are within the TSA liquid limit size so I stuck with normal size, which will last me well into my return home.

R35 from Dischem. Does the trick!
R35 from Dischem. Does the trick!

I can forgoe shower gel for a month as it’s not something I use daily at home, instead I have taken a little bar of soap that has never been used from the last time we were at oribi  gorge and stored it in a R5 soap dish from pep stores.

Luggage Scale

A R139 one from Takealot.com
A R139 one from Takealot.com

Ok, so I have to say this was just by chance I decided to pick it up and it is certainly not a necessity. When my granddad was visiting a couple of months ago he wanted a little digital Luggage scale. Dischem was sold out of their R120 ones at the time. So granddad decided to get the R250 one from Cape Union Mart. You can pick on up from Takealot.com from R139 (R99 for an analog) or Woolworths for R275. I knew I didnt need one, because at home we have a simple Bathroom scale and a kitchen scale, which together would do the trick.

My 10 bucks Fish Scale
My 10 bucks Fish Scale

And I’m really not in the mind set of buying “made in China” American curios. But, when I went shopping at China Plaza recently,

I found a cute little analog Fish Scale which when tested does the job perfectly, I dont have to worry about batteries going flat, ever. And It cost me R10.

Money Belt/Documents Holder

R79 Very basic belt from Takealot.com
R79 Very basic belt from Takealot.com

So this is something I will not go without! It is essential to have a safe place on your person to keep passports, airline tickets, and other essential Travel Documents that Pickpockets and other would be thieves cannot get to easily.

One can pick up a fairly straightforward and simple one from R79 from Takealot.com, R100 from Dischem, or R110 from Outdoor Network.  Or, of course if you have a mom like I do who can sew…. when we went to NZ in 2006 she made us each one. Out of scraps of cheesecloth, a recycled zip (from an old jacket), velcro, and recycled

Home made, but free and does the trick
Home made, but free and does the trick

webbing belt (I think from some old horse equipment).

It is a material that wont make you sweaty and uncomfortable, fits snugly under your shirt, and has two pockets. So I didnt pay for this because it was in storage for the past 9yrs, but even back then I didnt pay for it. Sweet!

Travel Locks

Takealot.com R62 TSa approved lock
Takealot.com R62 TSa approved lock

You want to have your luggage actually stay in the bag and be somewhat safe when travelking. However the TSA (Transport Security Authority) want to keep all passengers safe and thus have the right to open any bag. If you have a run of the mill R10 lock from pep stores, they will either break your zipper, or break the lock. Neither option sounds to good. You can get a TSA approved lock (meaning they have the master key and dont have to break your bag or lock) from various travel supply places. Ranging from R60 from tackalot.com to R175 from C.U.M. Looking on reviews however, often the locks are broken anyway, or are never replaced. Again, not an ideal situation.

I found a pack of small cable ties on the side of the road a few years ago. So I didnt pay for these, but I do know they are super cheap at any hardware store.
I found a pack of small cable ties on the side of the road a few years ago. So I didnt pay for these, but I do know they are super cheap at any hardware store.

However, something that will deter most people, and will be easy gotten through by TSA and replaced by TSA is a simple and cheap Cable Tie! According to the TSA blog, if you choose to go this route, you should just put a pack of them inside your case too, so if they do have to open your case, they can easily close it again. Opening them yourself should be easy if you have a little nail clippers (will I be allowed that in my carry on?) or ask someone at the hotel or airport to use a scissors to open it.

Of course all of the above does raise security concerns, however the fact of the matter is that you should never put anything terribly valuable or important in your checked in luggage, and if a thief wanted to get it, a simple lock wouldn’t keep them out anyway.

So in all I have saved a lot of money by going “cheapskate”. Will it work? That is left to be seen next week when I take my flight. Until then,we wait.

Do you travel? What are your essential things to take?

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