Though I’ve only published the first four short stories that recount my horse-riding travel adventures in Iceland, Egypt, United Kingdom, and Mallorca, I have notched up five more horse-riding holidays in India, Cuba, and the USA.
For all but my United Kingdom holiday, I started my list off for each trip with the items on the recommended packing list provided by Unicorn Trails at the time of booking a horse-riding holiday. On top of Unicorn Trail’s recommendations, I add the items I use daily, and additional items I know I need based on my travel history. So, let’s break it down:
For those who ride regularly, this should be a quick an easy list to put together. The critical point here is to make sure the riding clothes you take with you are comfortable for long hours in the saddle. An item I swap out is my regular Jodhpur boots for riding-walking boots as some rides require you to do some walking, and on others, you may need to take an unscheduled walk. Another key-item for me is long-sleeve shirts. Long trail rides in the saddle will leave you exposed to many hours of sunlight. Therefore, it is useful to have long sleeve shirts to take the intensity of the sun off your skin, and if the shirts have a collar, off your neck to help prevent sunstroke. Insect-repellent fabric hiking shirts are great as they tend to be made from quick-dry material and can help keep biting insects away. An essential item for me is a riding hat; you can read about why you should never leave home without a riding hat in my blog: Riding Hat or Sun Cap?
There are a few small items that can make your day out horse riding a pleasant experience, and I wouldn’t leave base/camp without them. Firstly, always have to hand a small tube of SPF sunblock and SPF lip balm so that you can reapply throughout the ride. Sunburn and chapped lips are not something you want on your holiday as it can take away the pleasure of riding your horse and being in a location with magnificent scenery. A handful of tissues are also useful for unscheduled rest breaks or to blow your nose when riding on dusty trails. Going back to the sun protection theme, don’t forget to take sunglasses even if the start of the day is overcast and dull. Sunglasses will protect your eyes from bright sunlight and the dust on dry trails. While I'm on the subject of dust trails (or desert sand), you can either wear a bandana around your neck or carry it with you just in case the hooves of the horses pound up a dust cloud, and you need to cover your face. The handiest thing to carry all of these smaller items in is a bumbag (fanny pack) that you can clip around your waist.
The final items I tuck into the most-accessible pockets of my bumbag is a fully-charged camera and mobile phone, so I can pull out at any time to take holiday snaps. Of course, these items need to be kept charged-up throughout the holiday, so a tried and tested mobile solution for me is a solar charger for my mobile phone and a battery power camera for the locations where there is no electric supply to recharge.
The final key items for me are items that I take on all of my travels horse riding and non-horse riding, and I would never leave home without them.
Disposable earplugs are available to buy at most local chemists and are essential for any long-haul flight when you need to get some shut-eye (thankfully, I am one of the lucky people who can sleep on a flight). A good set of foam earplugs can block out most background noise in flight and during the night at your holiday location. Even the most peaceful locations can have noises in the night, which can be easily blocked-out with earplugs. In Part 4 of my book, The Horse Riding Tourist — Near and Far, I stayed in a quiet villa sited in the Mallorcan countryside. My room in the villa came equipped with a humming freestanding refrigerator that didn’t disturb my sleep thanks to my trusty earplugs. A fellow guest on the same horse-riding holiday was awakened at an early hour by the crows of a cockerel, which I didn’t hear until I removed my earplugs after waking up to the sound of my alarm.
Though most airlines provide a complimentary eye mask, I still pack an eye mask just in case mainly because I made need the eye mask at the holiday location. Hotels tend to have blackout curtains as standard in rooms; however, if you have nights scheduled under canvas or if your base is smaller scale you will need to have an eye mask to hand just in case you need to block out an annoying light source. Unless you’ve had a previous stay in the same room at the same location, you won’t know what you need until you get there so an eye mask could be the difference between a blissful sleep and a disturbed night.
Unlike the earplugs and eye mask that can be used during a flight and on holiday, a flight/travel pillow is for flying only. I’ve used a blow-up flight pillow for over twenty or so years to support my head and neck inflight, and it probably aids my ability to sleep relatively well on aeroplanes. This light-weight and easy to pack in carry-on luggage has been tried and tested on a few trips to the USA, Australia, and India, and one-off trips to Cuba and Mexico.
For a full packing checklist, please go to the packing list page on this website. There is also information on specific health considerations and items in my previous blog: Horse Riding Holiday Preparation – Health.
The recommendations above are from my own experience of horse-riding holidays. The first four horse riding holidays that I went on all feature in my non-fiction travel book, The Horse Riding Tourist – Near and Far that narrates my trips to Iceland, Egypt, United Kingdom, and Mallorca. For more information click here.