Friends often ask me "So, what should I pack?" or "What Christmas gift can I buy for my niece who travels a lot?" These are such tough questions because every trip is a different length, to a different climate, with different goals. But with all this in mind, I have compiled an overall Top 10 that are some of my favorite things while I'm on the go!
(Photo in Mostar, Bosnia)
1. This is my travel hair dryer. It's the BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium :) It costs $25 on Amazon now, but I'm fairly positive I paid $15 for it about a year ago. It is very small (Watch used to show true sizing) it folds, is super light weight, has dual voltage, and this dryer packs a punch! It is powerful and dries hair fast, which sets this dryer well above others of its kind. I sometimes use this dryer at home for everyday life because it is just that great. Love it!
2. My headlamp. (Or it may be my husbands... tough to tell!) I bring this on every. single. trip. no. matter. what. Backpacking Peru, Car/Train travel through Europe, Exploring New Zealand, Beaching in Hawaii, Tour group in China... you name the trip, it is with me. And I make sure to put in new batteries before every trip. I have tried a lot of headlamps, including a Petzl and several from REI, but my personal favorite is this Energizer Headlamp from Walmart. It is simple, no fuss, has a strong light with a red light option. The elastic is snug but not pinchy, and it's thin enough that it feels a bit less intrusive to wear. Some of the occasions where this has saved my life are: Looking for the restroom in a new hostel where I can't find my way, exploring bat caves in Malaysia, to get a good look up inside a wheel well, or to read/journal write on a late night bus. Truly, I use this about 3x/day while I'm abroad.
3. This fake moleskin is a life saver. I use it as my travel journal, recommendation recorder, hotel info log, and I always come home with a handful of new facebook friends to add from all around the world. At the start of my trip, I dedicate 1 page for each day of the trip. I decide to write just that one page each day to stay up on the details and funny stories, but not get overwhelmed. Sometimes just bullet points are good to jot down so you remember what to tell your mom about the trip once you get home. So, I write "Thursday, June14, Day 1" at the top of the page and so on. It is such a good reference to have later on. Then, I write pricing, hotel addresses, names of restaurants and any other recommendation a fellow traveler gives me. I couldn't find a link to this online, but you can get them at Target, Walmart, any drug store or bookstore. The key is for it to have that elastic strap so your pages don't get wrinkled and ripped out. I also love to have the pocket in the back to store business cards and slips of paper. (This book measures 3.5" x 5.5")
4. It's nice to have a travel alarm clock with you. I don't particularly love mine, so I won't link it here, but I do love something with big numbers, LED backlight, with an alarm function, you know, so you don't miss the morning bus to Machu Picchu. I have started bringing my iphone with me which I have grown to love. It is a risk to bring something that valuable, so if you don't want to risk it, bring one of these instead. (I love my iphone for being a calculator/currency converter, stopwatch, alarm, and I often get a local phone card to make calls, and of course use free wifi to stay in touch with family.)
5. This knife saves us so so often! We do a lot of picnicing to save money, and so we can enjoy a nice lunch at our waterfall destination or the like. It is so great to have a sharp knife with you to cut into that nectarine or even a pineapple! We've used it to open packages, work on our backpacks, and various other things, but we use it most often for food. You can buy it on Amazon, but I often see them at Ross or TJ Maxx if you want to save a few bucks. Be sure it has the sheath- that way you won't stab yourself when you reach in your backpack or lunch sack!
6. The Belkin Headphone splitter. They cost about $3. We love to listen to music and watch movies together. Even just for the looooong flights it's fun to use this during the in-flight movie. In Southeast Asia, the only electronic we brought was an ipod, so we'd both hook in and listen together. On our two most recent ventures (To Costa Rica, and Peru) we had an iphone and an ipad with us, which enabled us to watch movies on busses and in public places together. Just a convenience that is fun to have. If you anticipate having lots of hotel time (Beach vacay!) or you stay up late playing cards, it's fun to pack a mini speaker. It totally depends on the nature of your trip.
7. My backpack. It's an REI brand 40 Liter pack (Green). My husband's is the same, but I think it's a 50 liter. If you ever talk to me about packing for travel, you will probably leave scared to death and hopefully, you will go home and unpack half your bag. You simply do not need that much. I pack the same amount for a 10 day trip as I do for 6 weeks or even 3 months. The secret is to just wash your clothes. I definitely think/care about looking good in photos, so I bring tops that I feel comfortable in and look great in pics and then a pair of neutral shorts, a skirt and a swim suit. It IS that easy :) Throw in some cosmetics and a credit card- you're set to go :) I always feel so bad for the "Backpackers" I see stumbling in to a restaurant, sweaty, and worn out with sore shoulders. Being a "backpacker" doesn't mean you have to suffer. And even travelling with a car doesn't mean you should pack your wardrobe with you either!
8. A mini bottle of dry shampoo. I just barely learned about this trick, and desperately wish someone had clued me in long ago! On our most recent adventure in Peru, I showered almost every day, but only washed my hair every 4 days or so. I just sprayed this in every morning, or at night before dinner out on the town, and I was set to go!
I've heard great reviews about this brand "Batiste" but I use "Got 2 Be" from CVS. Try this out before you leave and make sure it works for you!
9. My skirt/dress/sheet is one of my favorite travel accessories. I wear it as a skirt (Honeymooning in Ubud, Bali) or as a dress (That day I fought with a dog in Thailand). It's sold as a skirt with the roll over waist band. I've worn it hiking in the jungle, exploring cities, to church, at the beach... everywhere! It also rolls up nicely as a neck pillow, and I've laid it out on bed to use as extra padding or to add another layer between me and a gross hostel bed. It is the most all-purpose, best thing around! I got mine at Sports Authority- so I'd check athletic places like that.
10. And last but not least, the trusty nike bag! This is my purse/ to go bag. We usually leave our backpacks at the hotel during the day and just bring this nike bag with us for the essentials: Passports (on us at all times), camera, water bottle, sunscreen. The drawstring feature is so convenient, and we have found it's the best way to prevent getting pick-pocketed or stolen. Its so light and easy you forget you're wearing it, and then when you sit down, you just throw a string strap around your leg so nobody can swipe it. Win.
Dont forget to notify your bank of the countries you'll be in, and HAVE FUN!
Let me know if you have any questions! What are some of your favorite travel items I should know about???