Tips and Tricks: Packing Essentials

Whenever I travel, I have some very specific things that I like to take with me. Some of them may seem a little strange, but they have yet to fail me.  With the clothing you pack, you just never know when the weather is going to change. Not only the weather, but chances are that you will be going from outdoors to indoors through the day, and the temperature will vary between the two. And then there are those miscellaneous items that take up room in your suitcase and seem silly but can be lifesavers. All that being said, here are my essentials:

Clothing and Accessories:

  • Waterproof Jacket – Whether this be a trench coat, a jacket with a hood, or a poncho, it is always nicer to be dry than wet. It can also double as a nice layer when the weather is cool or windy.
  • Jersey Maxi Dress – This is obviously for the ladies. I have yet to find a more comfortable and fashionable traveling item. Let’s be honest, it looks so much nicer to fly in your maxi dress than in leggings and a sweatshirt. Plus, it can be layered, rolled up in a ball to fit into a suitcase, and doesn’t wrinkle easily.
  • Scarf – There is so much to say about this one. Even when I am camping, I bring a scarf. It keeps you warm, is a way to change up a repeated outfit, and can double as a pillow, blanket, or swimsuit cover-up during times of need.
  • Swimsuit – I don’t think I need to say much about this one. You just never know when you are going to get the urge to take a dip. And if you are staying in a hostel or camping, where there are open shower areas, its a great way to “cover-up” while you are “cleaning-up”.
  • Hat – In warmer areas, I love my straw fedora. It shades my face and keeps me cool. In colder areas, a beanie or beret is more appropriate. You lose a significant amount of body heat from your head, so a hat helps to hold that in and keep you warm.
  • Cross-Body Bag (with a zipper) – I have found that when I travel abroad, having a bag that goes across my body makes it easier for me to keep track of it. In addition, the zipper keeps wandering hands from exploring the contents of your bag.
  • Backpack – If you are not a purse/bag wearer, invest in a good day-tripper’s backpack. We have a Swiss Gear backpack that is awesome. It can hold anything we could want to bring with us for the day, and has great padded shoulder straps and a waist buckle that keeps it secure. Some may be a little pricy, but it is a great investment.

Miscellaneous Items:

  • Folders – We try to keep our travel itinerary, tickets, emergency contact information, and other important documents all in one place. Kyle and I each have our own folder, just in case we are separated. Note, if you are traveling out of the country, do not keep your passport in the folder. Make sure it is concealed somewhere else, like in a money belt.
  • iPhone (or other smartphone device) – This little device not only helps you to keep in contact, but gives you a map, doubles as a journal, document holder, passbook, etc. I also like to load on movies and music specific for the trip (kind of like a trip soundtrack). If you are traveling out of the country, make sure to be aware of data, phone, and text charges. If you are going to be using that quite a bit, invest in a roaming/international package that will be significantly less than the usual roaming charges.
  • Trail Mix – Being hungry when you are traveling is the worst! Hungry grumpiness will just put a damper in your explorations. We like to use my mom’s concoction and make our own trail mix with: nuts, pretzels, dried fruit, oatmeal squares cereal, yogurt covered raisins, and peanut butter M&M’s. Delicious!
  • Padlocks – We have some small locks that we use to lock our suitcases when we are at hotels. It may seem silly, but after having the contents of my bag looked through multiple times, it is just easier to lock it while we are away. Note, do NOT lock your suitcase before putting it on the airplane. Your lock will just get cut off.
  • Toilet Paper – This is extremely important if you are traveling in a foreign country. Some places I have traveled, like France, India, Mexico, and San Francisco (strangely enough), have bathrooms that you have to pay to use. In addition, most of those also charge for toilet paper. We like to keep a stock in a plastic bag at the bottom of our day bags so that we don’t ever get stuck getting charged.
  • Anti-Bacterial Hand-wipes – There are some gross things in the world. Don’t let yourself be caught without the ability to wipe down your hands and things you touch to get rid of the germs. Staying sanitary will keep you from getting sick.
  • Plastic Bags – We like to carry a handful of sandwich size plastic bags that seal off. You just never know when you are going to need something to hold that sea glass you collected, keep your camera from getting wet, or to save food for later snacking.
  • Sunscreen – Again, it doesn’t matter where you are, the sun is still there. It is possible to get sunburned. Why take that chance to be uncomfortable the rest of the trip. Bring sunscreen, and make sure to put it on.
  • First Aid Kit and Medicine – This doesn’t have to be big, just some band-aids, anti-bacterial ointment, athletic tape, and tissues. I don’t like to take medicine unless absolutely necessary, but after going to India and being sick for a week and a half, I realized how important it is to have meds that will help you to enjoy where you are, not suffer through it. You can make your own judgements on what to bring but our favorites are some form of antihistamine (after my backpacking episode, this is necessary), Tylenol, and immodium.
  • Clothesline – Whether you are washing your clothes in the sink, airing them out to pack again, or needing to dry out a swimsuit, having a line to tie up in your room will help make traveling much less aromatic. No one likes the smell of mildew or body odor.

I hope this helps the next time you pack up for your next adventure. After all, no one wants to get caught unawares. It is so much better to just be prepared. Happy Travels!



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