Sometimes (often) the excitement of planning and packing for the perfect trip can get in front of our common sense. And even if you have gone over your trip in minute detail, preparing for the unexpected is something else entirely. (Of course, preparing for the unexpected is kind of a contradiction, but… anyway. Ahem.) There will almost always be something we regret not packing, so here are a few items that you should consider bringing along.
Portable Wifi Router
These handy devices are worth their weight in platinum for the savvy traveler. Even if you do not own one already, consider buying or borrowing one to pack for your trip.
Being connected world-wide is one of the things that has enabled traveling to become as easy as it has over recent years. A popular novel trope of the 1800s was to have the heroine traveling around Europe, writing letters back to her family and never being able to stray from the beaten path because, well, what if she couldn’t get to a post-box?
Using a cell phone in a foreign country is not too difficult, but the internet roaming is not always that predictable. However, our plans will often hinge on having internet access when we need it. If you want to be able to send and receive emails, access e-tickets, or Skype your friends and family, I would suggest packing one of these little gems. So much easier than finding an internet cafe… or a post box.
Try the [amazon_textlink asin=’B06XJ5NF8W’ text=’Huawei E5573s 320 Unlocked Mobile Hotspot’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’b0f291-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’09183847-5d92-11e7-8e55-57ed0ca8f29c’]
Paper Map and Timetable
As invaluable as having internet access is, there are times when it is not as helpful as other options. I love Google maps, and have used it many a time to find my way across strange cities. However, there are times when it has been missing certain features.
Public transport, for example, particularly in an underdeveloped area, will not always have the timetable up on a website, or even have its route on Google maps. On the other hand, the information could be up, but the website might not have a workable mobile option.
These may seem oddly specific problems, but I have encountered all of them, and packing a paper map or timetables can be a quick fix.
You can sometimes do the research before you leave, and print it out. You could also wait until you get to the area and find what you need at the airport, train or bus station, or a tour office.
I would also recommend the paper map for the (again, perhaps oddly specific) purpose of getting directions. It can be really fun to ask a local person for a recommendation for a place to visit or eat at. However, the person you are asking might have trouble giving you the directions you need, especially if there is a language barrier. You could use your phone, sure, but presenting them with a big paper map means they could draw your route for you with minimal confusion or fuss. In fact, if you do this several times, you could keep the map as a souvenir of sorts.
Backpack or Daypack
If you often spend time hiking or walking, this may have been a given for you. But this is an item often overlooked – particularly if you were not planning to use it for your carry-on luggage. You might favor a large purse instead, as many do, including myself. I have been caught out by this in the past, however. A few days in, and someone from my group invited me to go on a day’s adventure hike. Who wants to be carrying a big purse then? Cue the emergency shopping trip.
Even if you are not planning on any hiking activities, a small daypack should always be included in your suitcase. You never know when adventures might spring up.
Perhaps consider packing a fold-up version, if you are concerned about weight. These are great for things like water bottles, snacks, and towels, perhaps for a day hike to see a waterfall. You might also want a bag you can carry on your back if you decide to rent a bicycle or scooter to get around, or if you spontaneously decide to go paragliding. Who knows?
How about the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01DNGELIO’ text=’ZOMAKE Lightweight Foldable Backpack’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’b0f291-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1692b140-5d92-11e7-b976-fdfced9a28a1′]?
Buying things when you are traveling is unlike shopping at any other time. There are several parts to it that you have to consider. For a start, you will likely be in possession of multiple currencies. In a busy place like a market, perhaps you feel uncomfortable carrying your wallet out in the open. You may also have decided to only pay for things in cash, or to use a travel card. (For recommendations on how to make these decisions, please do read our guide on How To Pay For Things While Traveling)
Enter the simple solution of the Second Wallet. This is a fantastic way to deal with all of these problems. In it, you only keep the currency in which you are currently spending. Your home currency, or the currencies of any other places you will be visiting on your trip, can be kept in your usual wallet. You can pick something easy and light, without every single card you own jammed in there. Perhaps something security-conscious, possibly with a strap or string, so it is easy to use in crowded areas without any worry.
My most frequent packing regret is not leaving myself extra space. Packing everything into your suitcase with tetris-style tessellation can give immense satisfaction at the time. But what are you going to do with all your souvenirs and keepsakes? Sure, you can say you’re not going to buy any. However, even if you don’t go in for collectables and knick-knacks, odds are something will catch your eye. All the convenience of the trip out, with your neat and tidy little bag packed to the brim, will be negated by the tremendous inconvenience of having to lug an increasing number of shopping bags around as you continue your trip… I speak from embarrassing experience.
Make sure that you leave yourself space as you pack, even if it feels wasted at the beginning. You won’t regret it.