I have always thought that the hardest part of any journey is finding buying the tickets and then researching what to do (whilst trying not to end up staying there for half a year because you realize how much there is to do). Yet whenever I look at other people, it becomes exceedingly clear that one of the most stressful, tiresome activity is packing. So here’s what I’ve got to say about that…
First and foremost, all those websites and people that tell you to make a big list of everything that you think you need could very well be the source of your stress. Once you have a huge list (which is great, at the first stage), check all the stuff off and then chuck it in the bin. Otherwise, you will constantly worry whether you’ve put sun lotion, did you take your favorite bath ducky with you etc.
In reality, there is only a handful of things you REALLY need to survive. All the rest are expendable. A small check list also means that you can insure you have those things at all times (so even if you’re on the bus to the airport, you can easily check if you have the 5 items you really need. Not so easy to open up your luggage and sift through it).
So these are my essentials:
It seems rather obvious that this one you really need. I generally keep it in my leather jacket pocket or somewhere accessible – so I can check that I have it whenever I like. It’s reassuring to be able to do that.
Also don’t forget to check if you need a visa for where you travel. This needs to be done very early – because if you do need one, it might take some while for you to get it.
Wikipedia has a great list by nationality for all countries: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Visa_requirements_by_nationality
Once on that list, each country has a footnote which takes you to an official website of that country’s embassy. Don’t just trust wikipedia, verify. But it’s a great way to also plan (if you want to see countries that are less of a hassle to get to).
At this point I need to outline that these are my necessary items. I generally always get a local SIM card and have access to internet, plus all my music is on my phone and let’s face it I just need to constantly be connected to technology.
Money – it’s all you need really. And it is something you really need.
If you plan to mostly rely on your debit/credit card, make sure that your bank knows that you are traveling. Otherwise if you end up in certain countries (such as Mexico or India), your bank might block your card – which will take a long, expensive roaming call to resolve (if, off course, you have a phone).
If you plan on exchanging money, don’t forget some countries (Morocco, India) have protected currency so you can only buy money inside those countries.
It’s always a good plan to have some sort of cash – generally British Pounds, Euros or (best) American Dollars, as these currencies are the most exchangeable ones. Also keep in mind that if you plan on exchanging your currency to the local one, many banks will not exchange all currencies (like Australian Dollars or so), so either have your card ready or find some other way to do that.
I don’t have a picture of this as I was taking pictures with it. For me, the camera is essential because all of my trips become blog posts. I don’t think a camera should be a required item on most people’s list, and, to be honest, many times it’s just a hindrance. Unless you have a blog, or are into photography, is it really worth you bringing a big ass camera with you?
Will you actually ever look at those photos again? Just enjoy the moment. That, and if you have a smartphone, that’s all you need really.
So these are the required items I have. As you can see, they are all items I can check that I have with me with extreme ease (they are generally in my pockets or around my neck). They are also things I cannot buy (or buy cheaply). Everything else doesn’t matter. Clothers, medicine, books – all expendable because worst comes to worst, if you brought your wallet you can buy these things.
Think of creating a similar list for yourself, a small “I need these things to live” that will be the cornerstone of all future travel.
Onwards to other sensible items:
As an Airbnb host, I am shocked of the very often times my guests don’t have an adapter with them. Think of buying one of the big, multi-country ones (this way you can use it wherever you go and don’t need to worry about making sure you know which kind of plug they have there). You can buy this in airports.
Beyond getting shots if you go in a yellow fever area, having some medicine with you makes a lot of sense. You don’t plan on getting sick, but you need to be prepared for the worst. Or diarrhea. Things I usually try to pack with me is fever medicine (Nurofen, Ibuprofen etc), painkillers (Ketonal), diarrhea stopping pills (gods medicine is like magic. I generally have Loperamid – check with your local farmacy), and definitely if you have allergies brings some for that.
Try not to bring a mini pharmacy with you. They have medicine in other countries too. Just be prepared for the usual things (or whatever is usual for you).
Always be safe.
8. Phrase book/dictionary/guide book
I like to know a little bit of the language that will become the difference between me ordering a pig’s head or chicken stew. Also if you didn’t yet research what you should do, buy a guide book in the airport. Better than nothing (or read my blog. Better than guide books).