Here are some items that I think will really make the journey (and the stay) go a lot more smoothly! I think these items will be useful no matter if you’re traveling for the first or fiftieth time…although if this is your fiftieth time traveling, you’ve already figured most of these out! Some of these are obviously more important than others, so you can prioritize, but I have not written them down in any particular order.
- Sleep mask + Travel Pillow: Let’s be real, unless one is flying first class, airplanes are not comfy, cushy clouds. Help your neck and back out by investing in a lovely, memory foam travel pillow (I bought mine at Winners). If you like to sleep, as I do, a sleep mask is essential, because you can shut away the brightness of the airplane.
- Personal Essentials: In your hand luggage, pack a change of clothes (including undies and socks), pain medication and for you ladies out there, pads/tampons. I did not pack any clothes in my hand luggage on my last trip to India (because I had packed outfits for weddings I was attending) and bitterly regretted it because we were surprisingly stuck in London for a day and had to wear the same clothes. Even if they didn’t look bad, they felt it!
- Travel Jacket/Scarf: The weather can be quite fickle, so it’s best to be prepared! A travel jacket that folds into a really small size is ideal so it doesn’t take up a lot of space. A scarf is useful for keeping you warm (especially on an airplane), dressing up an outfit or even making an outfit more conservative if needed (such as when visiting religious sites).
- Electronic Accessories: In this day and age, everybody and their grandmother is dependent on technology–specifically phones, laptops, etc. Therefore a portable charger and a universal adapter are must haves on trips. A charger comes in handy on long plane/train rides or a day of sightseeing, while the universal adapter means that you will not be caught unawares in a country with different plug points.
- Digital Luggage Scale: Save yourself the hassle of extra luggage fees by carrying a scale along. It’s portable and the easiest way to gauge the weight of a bag/suitcase.
- Toiletries: I find flying, even though a very sedentary activity, to be very ‘ick’-inducing. My skin feels dry and my breath not so fresh. Have the following items handy (and in travel sizes) to freshen up while traveling: toothbrush, toothpaste, gum/mints, face wipes, lotion, lipbalm (for those dry, chapped lips that always occur during flight).
- Diary + Phrase Book: I kept a diary all throughout my student exchange and it was so invaluable for reflecting upon the day and summarizing my thoughts and putting memories onto paper. Now I can look back and see what an amazing time I had! Plus it’s useful to write down any notes you might want to make for yourself. A phrase book is also very useful because it helps you integrate into a culture a little bit more (especially if you’re in for an extended stay).
- Documents: Technology can be fickle so don’t be at the mercy of your battery life. Have your travel itinerary, physical maps of the place you are going to, and the address of the place you’ll be staying at printed out. Of course, your passport should also be with you, but that’s a no-brainer.