“What to pack?!! It’s the night before my flight and I’m still not sure what to bring!” Sound familiar? This is a list of exactly what I ask myself before I travel and what I bring.
QUESTIONS BEFORE YOU LEAVE
“What’s the weather going to be like?”
Research it a little bit, but I STRONGLY urge you to bring a little of everything. No matter what you research, you could always wind up in a situation where you need warm clothing (or perhaps a bathing suit)!
Example #1: Hawaii.
I was in Hawaii, and the weather was about 90 F (32.2 C). People were walking around in bathing suits… I wanted to see the sunrise on the top of Haleakala Mountain… about a 45 minute drive to the top, and the temperature dropped to below freezing!!! Good thing I travel with my ski jacket (no matter how hot I think it’s going to be)!! I even had my ultra warm sleeping back wrapped around me!
Example #2: Ecuador.
It’s the equator, so I was expecting it to be hot. I researched, but it said it was about room temperature. Hmm.. ok, that’s reasonable, but I bet that’s because the town I look up was at a high elevation… So I packed a little of everything, but mainly summer clothing.
Oh boy was I wrong. I wore pants and my one sweatshirt every day while in South America. Ugh. Well at least I brought the one (sweater)!
“What’s the culture like?”
You should familiarize yourself with the culture a bit before you pack so that you are respectful of their traditions.
When I was in Indonesia, I wore pants, a long sleeve shirt, and a scarf to cover my neck even though it was boiling hot outside. Even if you think it’ll be hot where you’re going, be respectful of the culture and pack appropriately, please.
Note: Different parts of Indonesia are extremely different from each other… some parts, girls walk around in bathing suits and it’s acceptable. Other parts, women must cover everything up to their necks or else men will spit in front of them.
Here’s a list of everything I bring
One dress ?
Extra Camera Batteries
External Hard Drive
Unlocked Cell Phone
Needles & Thread
Water Purifier (using UV Light)
Extra Passport Photos
- Sufficient Funds
- Visas (if any)
Pen / Pencil
Laundry detergent (powder)
EXPLANATIONS OF ODD ITEMS
I carry a very thin rope with me (maybe more like thick string, about 5 feet long) used for random things: Clothes line to hang wet laundry, tying things to my backpack, extra rope for the tent (if windy), etc. It’s rolls up really small, and can be a life saver!
If you’re crossing country border by land, you may be asked to fill out an application to get in. I’ve been in countries where, after a few hours on the bus and never mentioning this needing pictures, they stop at the border to fill out the paperwork and “Oh, you need a picture to attach to the application… That’s ok, we have a photographer right here to take your picture and that’ll be $15.” Too bad for them I literally had my pictures, ready to go, in my back pocket. No money from me, sorry!
Documents (Vaccines, Proof of Sufficient Funds, Visas)
Vaccines: some countries require certain vaccines be taken before entering. You must have the paperwork to prove you’ve had such vaccines.
Proof of Sufficient Funds: This used to be used more years ago, but some countries still ask for you to prove that you have quite a bit of money in your bank account. They do this to ensure that you won’t try to work illegally… or stay past when you’re allowed… I’ve had only one country ask me for this in all my travels, but I really did need it in order to get in… so now I just bring it just in case (I mean, why the heck not? It’s just one piece of paper!)
How to get it: Go to you bank and have them write and official letter (on letter head and signed) stating how much money you have in your account (checking and savings combined) – but with NO account numbers on it (in case you lose the piece of paper)… just your name is good enough – that’s it. Now tuck that away in a safe place while traveling!
Visas. Usually visas will be put directly into your passport. Find out if you need to apply before you leave your home country, or if you can apply in the airport (if by air) or at the border (if by land).
To make signs for hitchhiking. Came in handy only once, since I usually never stand on the side of the road while hitchhiking (click here to read the best way of how to hitchhike)
Water Purifier (using UV light)
Literally, a life saver! It’s a little gizmo that looks like a flashlight, but you aim the light into the water, and the UV light kills everything bad in the water. You can fill you water bottle with dirty puddle water, and this thing will clean it so you won’t get sick. It’s simply, amazing. Check out SteriPen for the best way on how to clean any water!
Alternative: Iodine Drops
Some travelers carry a bottle of iodine drops (or other types of water cleaners). They say it makes the water has a very slight taste, but completely cleans it so that you can safely drink it.
1. If you’re planning on driving, duh.
2. Even if you’re not planning on driving in a foreign country, you should still bring your driver’s license… just as another form of ID. Just the other day, here in South America, I went into a museum and bags were not allowed – I had to check it. In order to check a bag, one must leave a form of ID so that they know who to give it back to. Yeah sure, I could have left my passport, but that is WAY TOO IMPORTANT to leave with anyone but myself. What’s the big deal if they steal my license? I get a new one some time when I get home? No biggie.
For such a small piece of fabric, it’s really versitile and comes in handy ALL the time. I used it as a scarf, a head band (to cover my forehead to protect it from the sun), a holder for my camera, a fastener (if I need to tie something down), etc.
Super small locks that hardly weight anything – they have been very useful during my travels. Some hostels have lockers, but then charge you to rent a lock…. Or lock your own backpack if you’re in a crowded city and worried about pickpockets… Or if you leave your backpack in a hostel, lock it to the bed or to your friend’s backpack…
I always travel with a hat! Not because I think it looks good, but because it’s really functional. If you’re on the beach, it protects your face from the sun… If you’re trying to sleep in the airport, it covers your eyes from the annoying lights…
I always bring a smaller backpack to bring if I’m just walking ’round town… I leave the big thing at the hostel, and only bring the small things while I walk around – it feels so much better to finally get the big one off!
I usually bring a small, snack-sized, Zip-Lock bag of POWERED laundry detergent (Why powder? Because powder doesn’t explode in the airplane). I do this so that I can wash my clothes in the sink (just plug the sink and swoosh the water around as if you’re the washer machine)… However, many countries have laundry services that you can pay anywhere from $1-$4 and they’re wash, dry, and fold your clothes for you. When I forget (or run out of) detergent, that’s what I do :)
WHAT NOT TO PACK (& WHY)
I LOVE white (anything)… but it gets dirty way too quickly. Dark colors are the way to go when traveling. Save white for at home…
Too bulky, heavy, and hot. Other travel pants are lighter weight, fold up smaller, and are warm AND breathable for all weather conditions. Invest in a good pair of pants (or two).
Did I miss any? If there’s something on the list that you don’t understand why I travel with it, let me know and I’ll explain how it’s helped me and why I travel with it every time :)
Did this help you? If so, please share with friends to help them pack too!