Is there anything worse than spending hours packing and preparing for a trip only to realize that you have forgotten something important once you’ve arrived? Even though I scour the Internet for packing lists and tips, usually it’s the little things that trip me up on the road and have me saying, “oh man, I can’t believe I forgot to pack that!” After a few years living abroad and traveling full time, here are my best, secret, often-forgotten packing tips of 5 essential things to make sure you bring with you.
1. Copies of your documents
Now in general it’s easy and very obvious to remember to pack your passport and important credit cards for a trip. However, what most people tend to forget is that it’s important to pack photocopies of all the important documents you bring with you on a trip in case of loss or theft. In the worst-case scenario, life will be so much easier if you have copies of these in case you need to call or present them anywhere. And while you’re at it, nowadays many banks have antitheft and fraud protection on credit cards, so it’s important to remember to notify your bank when you plan to use your card overseas so it doesn’t get accidentally cut off.
2. International phone SIM cards
After years of traveling and living overseas and after several very unfortunate phone bills, I finally learned my lesson about using my cell phone while traveling. The big secret is that it’s much easier to buy a prepaid phone card once you’re in a different country than to sign up for any international phone plan with your carrier back home. The only time this doesn’t really work is if your phone is under contract and it’s still “locked,” in which case you could probably still buy and use a cheap phone wherever you’re traveling to, instead of your usual phone. Once you’ve landed overseas, you can still use your smartphone with Wi-Fi to get online, but it’s important not to forget to turn the “Data roaming” button off or put it in airplane mode otherwise you might get hit with a phone bill in the quadruple digits.
3. Mobile charger
Over the past few years we have witnessed the world evolve into a society almost dependent on electronics. One trend I have noticed with my own travels that has changed is that I have so many more things that need to be charged now than before. Whether it’s my phone, mp3 player, ebook or camera, the battery never seems to last as long as I would like it to. And when you’re traveling, it can be hard to find the place or the time to sit down and recharge. A few months ago I finally invested in a little portable charger, smaller than my phone that I can plug in and charge up and then plug my electronics into whenever I need to without needing an outlet. It has been a lifesaver.
4. Travel-sized detergent
No matter where you are, you can almost never predict the weather or incidents where you might need to wash or clean your clothes. Whether you get caught outside in a thunderstorm, a waiter spills a drink on your favorite shirt or you run out of clean clothes, there is always the possibility you’ll need to do some quick washing up on the road. Finding a laundromat or even finding the time to go to a laundromat can be challenging, which is why I always make sure I pack a little bottle or packet of detergent so I can easily and quickly wash whatever I need to in the sink.
5. Waterproof shoes
Now this may sound crazy but I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve gone traveling and forgotten to bring waterproof shoes only to get rained on and totally soaked. For me, there is hardly anything worse than having to travel around in cold, wet shoes. Granted, this might not be so helpful if you are going on a desert excursion, but there are many places out there where you cannot predict the weather. For me, dry feet are a necessity, so in addition to bringing my normal shoes, I always make sure I have one pair with me that I can wear in the rain and get wet.
What items are essential for your travels?
Photo credit: Flickr - malias