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  • Lauren Wood

Packing for a Charter: Lessons Learned

What I Did Right, What I Left Out and What I Should Have Left Behind

Last month, I chartered a sailboat through YachtSailing Greece (they're a wonderful company--check them out if you are considering a trip to Greece) and it was absolutely magical.

By the way, if you're thinking to yourself: "A private sailboat or yacht charter is way out of my price range" well, think again. The price of my charter ended up being around 400 euros a night, which is what most of the decent hotels in Greece charge. In fact, it's actually less than the two hotels I stayed at before I started the charter (rooms at the Santa Marina Mykonos start at about 900 euros a night and the Hotel Grand Bretagne in Athens is around 400 euros).

Though I've chartered plenty of boats for day trips, this was actually my first live aboard charter. I learned quite a bit about what to bring and what not to bring, so I figured I would share.

The Things I Did Right:

Left the heels at home. This definitely comes from experience. When I first started traveling, I would almost always bring at least one pair of heels, thinking that I needed them for more dressy occasions. I think back to our honeymoon in Curaçao, where I think I brought two pairs of heels, and never wore either of them even once. The only international destination I travel to these days where I actually bring heels is Hong Kong, but only because we often eat at three star Michelin restaurants and in general it is a very dressy city. But I’ve learned over the years that you can still go out at night and look nice without the heels, and tromping through cobblestone streets in Europe is not fun to do in high heels anyway, so it’s just better to leave them at home.

Greece was no exception. In fact, in everywhere except for Mykonos (when I was at a swanky hotel), I would have felt uncomfortable had I gone out in heels at night. This was especially true for the boat, where even my dressier outfits, paired with sandals, felt a bit too formal for the islands.

Brought a fully charged portable charging port. This is something I used more times than I can count. I only brought one; the charging port that came with my Away bag, which I was smart to have fully charged before the trip and then re-charged again before I got on the boat. We never once actually connected to power throughout the trip (because even on the one night where we were actually in a port, we weren’t in a proper slip and therefore couldn’t be hooked up), so that meant saving our power and recharging a lot of my devices with my power bank.

Brought a GoPro, my Nikon, and the drone. I’ll definitely admit: with the islands being so windy all the time, there were several moments where I thought maybe I had lugged the drone and all its parts (charging cables, extra batteries, propeller guards, etc.) halfway across the world for nothing. But those three days of completely calm, still mornings made it all worth it. It was great having the GoPro for water shots—particularly from the paddleboard—and also my Nikon so I could get crystal clear shots quickly as I was strolling around the cities or as our boat was passing through a harbor.

The only gadget I chose to leave at home was my gimbal, and that decision was made last minute when I knew my husband wasn’t coming, because let’s be real: I would usually put him in charge of the gimbal while I snap photos with my Nikon. I knew that carrying around a gimbal and a large camera weren’t an option, so I opted to leave the DJI Osmo at home, which ultimately ended up being a good choice.

Brought my Skyroam. Even though the charter I chose did offer WiFi on the boat for an additional charge, it was one of the items that got overlooked when we set sail (meaning: I asked for it and they forgot to include it). Thankfully, I had my Skyroam hotspot, which ensured I was able to connect to the internet wherever we were--even when we were in the middle of the sea! To read more about this device, CLICK HERE. Use "SKYROAMISTHECURE" for a 10% discount off your next purchase with Skyroam.

What I Left Out:

An auxiliary to iPhone converter cable. You know that two inch converter thing they give you with the new phones so you can still use an old pair of headphones? Yeah, that thing. Of course in order to play music on the boat, it’s one of the old auxiliary ports so you need a converter if you want to play music from a new iPhone

My mini Jambox. Even though there are speakers on the boat and you can play music down below in the cabin as well as up top, the speakers outside get a lot of use and apparently can suffer from some water damage over time so they’re not great. Because of this—combined with shitty service, which meant that my skipper couldn’t play a radio station from his phone—we ended up playing music on my phone in a cup holder. This actually worked pretty damn good, but it made me miss that mini Jambox that I actually had out and ready to pack but left behind in a last minute attempt to save on space and weight. Byron and I usually travel with one of these because both cars and boats tend to be tricky to guess which kind of port they’ll use, so I’ve found that it’s sometimes a lot easier to just bring the Jambox. The mini one works just fine.

The car charger for the drone. This little gadget had also already made it into my packed bag, only to be taken out last minute to save space. Why, you ask, when it’s so small? Well, once I knew I was traveling by myself and that we were no longer renting a car (cause it’s been ages since I’ve driven a stick and didn’t want to try my hand at it in a miniature car, on miniature roads, in a foreign country), I didn’t think I would be in a situation where I would be able to charge the drone with a cigarette lighter. Well, that was stupid.

Because the weather was a bit dicey the first two days, most people either stayed in port or only went very close to Athens. That meant that all the ports were full, and that when we went to Aegina, we had to set up anchor and stay off the shore in a cove for the next two nights. This is great and really has very little impact on our abilities to see and do things because we have a dinghy, but what it does mean is that we are not connected to power and therefore only some of the charging ports work. That meant that I could charge just about anything with a USB port (sparingly, of course, so as not to drain the battery on the boat), but could not use anything with a traditional plug. Thankfully this didn’t impact my ability to use the drone at all, because we were able to charge it at a restaurant in Poros on the third day, and it had been too windy the first two days to fly it anyway, but it still would have been nice to be able to charge it whenever I wanted with the car charger, since the boat has a cigarette lighter port.

What I Should Have Left Behind:

About half of my dressy clothes. Let’s be honest: I knew I wouldn’t need to dress up once I was on the boat. Even when we were in port and wanted to go to dinner, even without having been to Greece before I guessed it wasn’t going to be super dressy and that I wouldn’t need to dress up for dinner in the evenings. I was right.

I had a tricky decision to make when I was packing because I knew the hotels I would be staying at during my first week were super glitzy and high-end, so I didn’t want to look like a slouch. They were, in fact, super uppity and I was right to bring nice things to wear to dinner because otherwise I certainly would not have fit in, and on top of that, the restaurant at my hotel in Athens had a dress code and wouldn’t have even let me in had I worn casual clothes.

So the conclusion is that I was right to bring 3-4 dressy outfits for my first part of the trip in Mykonos and Athens, but I could have probably left about half of what I brought at home.

Happy travels friends!


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