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Prior to going on our major overseas trip this summer, I did a TON of research into the destinations we would be visiting, things to look out for regarding personal safety, and tips for what and how to pack for the trip. The way I thought about and planned for this trip was probably not unlike how some people plan their weddings. The information I gathered is beneficial to have for any trip — domestic or international — and definitely helped us feel more prepared. Now that the trip has come and gone, I’m certainly ready for the next one! (Setting my sights on Ireland and Scotland – 2019!)
Some of the items we purchased ended up staying in the suitcase and not being used whatsoever (under-the-shirt money belt, I’m looking at you) but some of them we used daily. Being as frugal as possible when planning for a trip is very important, but some splurges are worth it, especially if it helps keep your mind at ease. Read below for my favorite travel accessories.
Outlet Plug Adapters/Converters
This is an obvious item to have when going overseas but could easily be overlooked in the hubbub of preparing and packing. If you are relying on your phones for taking pictures, having the appropriate plug converters is necessary for charging your devices! Prior to ordering, check to make sure if you will need different adapters for each country you visit. For our trip, we ended up getting a 3-pack of adapters for our time in the UK and another set of three for our time in France. If you are staying in an AirBnB, check to see if they also have converters. Both of our AirBnB homes away from home happened to have them but traveling as a family of three meant we needed to have access to a few.
I had read a lot about international travel safety prior to leaving. There are a whole host of opinions and approaches this, of course, but I wanted to be as prepared as possible. While a travel bag isn’t going to save your life in case of a major event, it can help to put your mind at ease when it comes to issues like possible identity theft and pick-pocketing.
I looked at quite a few bags online, did some comparisons, and was also able to visit a local store to check out a few of the brands I had been considering. I ended up getting a Travelon Anti-Theft Messenger Bag. This bag was so great, I was tempted to use it as my regular bag after arriving back home! Some of the best features of this bag include: the zippers lock to another area of the bag, the material is RFID blocking, the strap has metal inside that prevents slashing, and the material itself is both weather-proof and slash-proof. (The weather-proof part came in handy when we ended up with a VERY rainy Edinburgh day!)
This must-have will be more beneficial during the planning stages of your travel, but I am certainly glad I invested in a couple of books for our trip. Of course, there is travel information for days on the internet. The books, though, organize information in a way that makes it much easier to visualize various neighborhoods/areas you may be going and can help you make better decisions about the specific activities you select. I ended up getting a “full-size” book for our trip to London and a “pocket-sized” book for our time in Paris (we were only there for a few days and were mostly checking out the highlights).
The nice thing about both of these books was that they each came with a pull-out map. While you might primarily rely on your phones for getting around, it’s always a good idea to carry maps with you just in case.
A Reliable Camera
Regardless of where I am going, I tend to use my phone for photography purposes. It’s is a fairly recent model with a good quality camera so I haven’t felt the need to invest in a separate one. Plus, it’s lightweight, more convenient to carry one device than several, and I’m very comfortable using it. If you’re considering whether or not to use your phone or a traditional camera, those are good parameters to use. Also, pay attention to what else you’ll be packing in your day bag and what you’re comfortable risking to loss, damage, etc.
Regardless if you decide to go with using your smartphone or a traditional camera, make sure you know the ins and outs before going on your trip. It’s never fun to miss out on a great photo opportunity because you ran out of space, you didn’t bring/can’t find the right battery, etc.
If your phone is also going to be your camera, being able to recharge it throughout the day will help to guarantee that you are able to use it whenever you need it. Since electrical plugs in other countries vary so much, it won’t make much sense to rely on outlets and wall plug phone chargers. On our recent trip, I often brought multiple portable chargers with me so that I could rotate between using them and recharging them while out and about (plus each member of the family could use them if needed). Portable chargers are relatively inexpensive and last for a good amount of time between each charge. Just remember to recharge the charger when you return to your lodgings each night!
International travel tends to mean one thing: lots and lots (and lots!) of walking. Not only do you need sturdy, high quality shoes, you also need something to help your body recover from all the moving around you’re about to do. (On several of our days in Europe this year we clocked in over 26,000 steps on our Fitbits!) Whether you choose more natural means of relieving pain (stretching, frequent breaks, essential oils, etc) or pharmaceutical methods (ibuprofen, etc), make sure you listen to your body and give it what it needs when it needs it. Your body will thank you.
A Good Book
This is a must-have of a different sort. I’m a big fan of travel but not a big fan of being stuck in planes/cars/buses/trains/etc for very long. Usually, books help me do one of two things: fall asleep more quickly or transport me somewhere else for the duration of the voyage.
Part of our trip to London included seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Though I had read the play before, I wanted to brush up on my memory of the story before seeing it. I ended up taking both the play script and another book, Michael Crichton’s Timeline, because I was finishing that up for my 2017 Reading Challenge.
I’d love to hear from you! What are you must haves when traveling?
Beginning November 2017: