A travel pharmacy
This comes in handy more than you will ever expect it to. Being prepared pays off when you find yourself in need while on the go. And you can help out your friends and family with emergency bandages, painkillers, or the always helpful stomach-settling medicines or ginger drops. Check out Sarah’s Travel Pharmacy and First Aid Kit Checklist to see an extensive checklist that will prepare you to tackle the unexpected.
An unlocked (internationally-functional) cell phone
Make sure you check your cell phone plan for important details on your roaming and international travel-related charges. However, it’s possible to avoid some of the headache that comes with these charges and make sure your cell phone functions abroad by contacting your phone company and requesting your phone to be “unlocked”. You may (if you’ve been with their plan long enough - usually a year) be able to “unlock” your phone, which (depending on your phone) could allow it to work with the cell towers from other companies found in other countries. This would allow you to use your phone abroad, while also potentially avoiding exorbitant roaming charges. Doing some research and the necessary prep work ahead of time could save you a lot of money in the long run. And, of course, don’t forget to bring your phone charger!
The relevant currency (and *notified* international credit cards)
Don’t exchange your money at your destination if you can help it. Doing so is a costly mistake as these quick cash exchange locations often charge significantly higher fees. Worse, these places are not always readily available in a foreign land outside of airports or train stations, which could leave you without the money you need on hand. Instead, use your bank to exchange an adequate amount of your money into the necessary currency for your trip beforehand. And if you run out of cash abroad, try to use internationally accepted credit cards when necessary or possible. Just make sure you notify your credit card companies of when you’ll be traveling and what countries you’ll be going through, so they don’t mistakenly flag any of your charges as fraud.
Many countries actually require different plug shapes and capacities for electronic devices, so be sure to bring outlet adapters with you! You’ll need ones that work with your cords and devices and adapt them to work with the outlets available in your destination countries. Be sure to pay attention to your devices voltage as well. Some devices, like hair straighteners or curling irons, can pull too much power from foreign outlets and can permanently break your device. One way to deal with this problem is to make sure your current device is dual voltage, meaning it will work with multiple countries designated voltage. Another way you might choose to avoid the hassle of a broken device is to buy one once you reach your destination. Many phone chargers are dual voltage, but make sure you check yours before you travel.
A good Carry On pack/backpack
Make sure you choose a good carry-on pack or backpack. Go with something big enough to hold all of your essentials with room for a few extras, but also small enough to fit comfortably within the size limitations for allowed carry-on baggage. And remember, since you’re trying to pack light so you don’t strain yourself - be certain the bag itself is lightweight and easily portable. Check out our post on the Best Reasons To Travel Carry-On Only.
It’s always a good idea to pack a power bank with you on trips to charge all of your important electronic devices. These are particularly handy to have while out and about. If you ever find yourself with dwindling battery life and you are nowhere near access to an outlet, use a power bank. They are wonderfully portable and practical for any trip. Just make sure you charge them up before your trip so they are ready to go. And definitely try to get one that works with many different devices (and/or with multiple brands) so that your power bank is more versatile for you. Here's one listed in The Perfect Gift Guide For Travelers (At Any Price Point).
People are usually exposed to more sun when travelling, so bring some sunscreen to protect your skin. And choose your sunscreen wisely; make sure you use coral reef safe sunscreen if you are traveling anywhere near the ocean.
A turkish towel
This is a fantastic multipurpose item to bring with you! It is large and can function as many different things, including as a beach towel, a scarf, or a lightweight blanket. It’s perfect for those chilly periods during long trips of transportation - whether by plane, bus, or train. It dries quickly. And it can be found in many different colors or designs.
Foldable/Packable Grocery Tote
These are great for when you are traveling to countries that don’t allow plastic bags in case you want to do a little grocery or market shopping. They are also great for souvenirs if you’ve overflowed your carry-on.
Non-Liquid Toiletries, like Bar Soap & Bar Shampoo & Bar Conditioner
Bringing non-liquid toiletries is a good idea if you want to avoid any hangups when going through security at the airport. But they are also fantastic if you want to prevent any spills or leaks into your packed belongings.
Perfect for those long trips, so you don’t have to pack a ton of clothes. You can wash and reuse the clothes you bring by washing and hanging them on a makeshift clothesline. There are travel size laundry detergents - including some that come as non-liquids - that you can bring as well. Alternatively, Castile soap can pull double duty as a body wash and laundry detergent if you are looking to save packing space.
We hope you find this list helpful. And if you have any must-have items you’d like to share with us, feel free to leave a comment!