What to Bring and What to Leave at HomePlanning a trip can be a daunting task, it’s true. But planning what to pack can be even more overwhelming.Although it certainly depends on where you’re going (developing economy or beach resort), how you’re travelling (budget or luxury) as well as the climate (hot or cold), there are many items you can pack and preparations you can make ahead of time that will be extremely helpful regardless of your destination.
Things to Bring No Matter Where You Go
PC: Celina BaronePapers
It’s pretty obvious that you’ll need to bring your passport along if you’re traveling abroad. But you should also make a couple of copies of the photo page that will serve two purposes. First, as identification that you can carry with you while you’re out sightseeing, and secondly, as backup information in the event the original is lost or stolen. That being said, you should always keep the original in a very safe place, preferably in a hotel safe inside your room.
Equally important to protect are your credit cards. It’s a good idea to email yourself all credit card details and contact numbers so you’ll have the necessary information handy in the event of theft or fraud on your account.
Guidebooks, while helpful, are heavy to lug around. Instead, email yourself information and printout select pages that you can easily shed as you go along.PharmacyYou should never forget to bring along all your prescription medications as it may be next to impossible to refill them in a foreign country. It’s also a really good idea to pack a small med kit for the host of maladies that can occur while traveling. Being prepared in this way can be a real lifesaver, literally.
Items to bring include pain and fever medications, like Advil and Aleve, antibiotic cream, such as Neosporin, for bad cuts and bites, and an antihistamine like Claritin. Also include Tums and Pepto-Bismol, which are terrific for mild digestive issues that tend to occur frequently. For bigger disruptions, it’s good to have Imodium on hand. Other useful things to pack include electrolyte packs, sunscreen, Band-Aids, and mosquito repellent.SnacksOften times you’ll find yourself out in the middle of nowhere with no decent food options. Equally annoying is if you just don’t want to spend the time to sit down for an involved meal. That’s why it’s a good idea to load up on a variety of snacks. Great choices include nuts, dried fruit, trail mix, protein and granola bars.ElectronicsWhen it comes to gadgets, it’s best to travel with a minimum of items. Still, you’ll likely want to bring a camera, phone and possibly a small computer. All these items require electricity, which means you’ll need to plug in somewhere. That’s where a universal plug adaptor comes in super handy. Also, don’t forget to pack chargers and extra batteries.ClothesFor most, this is the biggest packing challenge and often travelers pack way too much. As a rule, you should never pack more than 7 day’s worth of clothing. Any more and you’re really just lugging around dirty laundry. Generally, you can always get your things washed in a day or so, even in the most remote of places. Still, there are some essential items to bring along, such as a sarong that can double or triple for many uses – a towel, something to lie on, a headscarf if in a Muslim country, or a light blanket. Another must have is a bathing suit. You never know when and where a Jacuzzi might pop up. Other useful items include some kind of waterproof, comfortable closed toe shoes, and flip flops.ToiletriesOkay, so you definitely need to bring some personal items in this department, but again overloading takes up lots of space and can get really heavy. It’s best to take travel sized items, which these days are sold everywhere. You can also purchase many items at your destination.
Things to Bring that Will Make Life EasierThere are many items you can bring that won’t take up a lot of space and can be extremely useful for all kinds of reasons and in many situations:
- An extra foldable bag for shopping and souvenirs that you can carry on the plane on your return
- Wet wipes and/or hand sanitizer
- Ziploc bags for electronics, documents, wet clothes, dirty shoes, leaky toiletries
- A Swiss Army pocket knife, but remember to pack it in your checked luggage
- A small flashlight for any nighttime issues, such as power outages
- A watch for times when your batteries have died
- Luggage locks to add a layer of security to your bags while in transit or inside your hotel room. In fact, leave all valuables locked up in the hotel safe or locked in your suitcase. It’s not likely hotel staff will rip through your locked bags as they will surely be caught. Although this is a tough call, it’s probably safer than carrying things around with you.
- A small sewing kit, as long as you know how to make use of a needle and thread
- A small travel umbrella
- A few travel games or cards for long plane, train or bus rides
- Condoms. Just bring them
Things to Bring if You’ll be Off the Beaten PathIf you’re traveling to a really remote destination or to an area where there are few amenities or creature comforts, you may want to add the following items to the list:
- Small bars of soap to do some hand washing
- A small elastic clothes line
- Water purification tablets or a water filter. Remember, unless you’re in a developed country you should never ever drink tap water. In fact, you should avoid all raw foods that may be washed in water. Ice is also off limits. So instead of fancy cocktails, opt for wine or beer
- A small travel towel, or if you have a sarong, that’ll do the trick (see above)
- Silk sleep sheet for those budget friendly places that are short on cleanliness
- Matches or a lighter. Again, pack them in your checked luggage
- Medical supplies and school supplies to give to families and children. While these types of items are great, you should refrain from giving presents and candy to kids. This just promotes begging, which means the kids are not in school, which means they aren’t going to get an education, which means they will always be begging. It’s a vicious circle.
PC: Caitlin Regan
Things to Leave at HomeThere are many items travelers bring along that are simply not useful or necessary in any way and just take up space and add extra weight to your already likely hefty bag. These items include:
- Valuables. As a rule, you should leave all expensive electronics at home. Same goes for flashy jewelry, which when displayed just screams out “stupid tourist” and makes you a moving target
- Car keys and work keys. They really serve no purpose when you’re traveling
- Guidebooks. They’re clunky and heavy. Just print out select pages and email yourself the information you’ll need
- Uncomfortable shoes, especially high heels. There are many better options that are more versatile
Finally, and maybe most important, don’t over pack. Unless you plan on concierge service throughout your trip, a heavy suitcase will soon become a big, bulging nuisance.
Written by Cheryl Peress