As we are getting ready for our annual anniversary trip this year, I started remembering all of the packing mistakes I've made along the way during our journeys. Some of them were silly little mistakes that were easily remedied others ended up being.. er more frightening. So in the hopes of helping you along on your journeys I've put together my list of international must haves-- but really it can be applied to any trip. I don't pretend to know everything there is to know about travel, but this is my must haves list and it's come a long way. Some of these maybe common sense items, but they are often easily forgotten.
When traveling abroad, it's nice if you are able to pack light. A few tops and a pair of comfy pants can go a long way if your not afraid to hand wash something. I tend to come back with more items than I left with, so typically I will check a larger suitcase than we need with most of our items, and carry on a change of our clothes just in-case we get separated when we reach our final destination. When we went to Ireland a few years ago, I ended up having to buy a large suitcase while we were over there just to get everything I had bought home. Lesson learned.
#10. Always bring a spare
It's a good rule of thumb, and one my husband learned on our last anniversary trip when we were travelling down the west coast. On pretty much every trip we stop frequently to snap photos and stretch our legs. During one of our beach explorations in Oregon's amazing coastline, we managed to find a shallow cave. I'm thinking we had been in the car too long because my husband went inside to see how deep it went and I watched from the beach as a wave came in soaking him from mid thigh down. It was a funny moment for us both, more for me than for him, and one I caught on camera for everyone's enjoyment. Because he didn't think to bring an extra pair of sneakers, I had to find a department store and use my best judgement on a new pair. Always bring a spare.
#9. Dress Weather Conscious
I have always been conscious enough to remember to dress accordingly to the climate we will be travelling to. I check the seasonal weather and check the actual forecast before I pack anything. But man-made weather conditions are always easy to forget. I'm talking about those frigid airplanes! I always bring a sweater, for the plane as well as a scarf. Not only can I use the scarf for its intended purpose, but it can double as a blanket if need be. If you've ever spent an entire night shivering rather than sleeping you never forget to bring one.
We once took a train from Tampa, Florida to Raleigh which was about a 14 hour train ride. I'm not sure why we thought trains would be a fun alternative to driving, but there we were. Because the train stops frequently they turn the lights on and off during stops so my saving grace was the fact my hoodie cinched closed over my eyes. It allowed me to get some much needed sleep on an otherwise unbearable trip. Umbrellas, gloves and weather proof jackets are other items you shouldn't overlook or forget.
#8. Adapters & Chargers
If you are planning on bringing a tablet, phone or flat iron with you on your trip you definitely want to invest in a international adapter for charging your items. We got ours for around $15 bucks and it's lasted a good long time. If you have a particularly long trip ahead of you, you might consider purchasing a battery bank to recharge your items when they are out of juice. Because sometimes a movie is just the thing to get you through an unbearable flight.
#7. First Aid
There were times where I got a minor cut and wished I had band-aids. Target sells mini first aid kits for just a couple bucks and it's been used more times then I care to admit. Life happens. Don't forget about the less common items that also come in mini form. During a trip to Belize we were eaten alive by these tiny little knats, they left red welts on me for weeks following our honeymoon and itched like the sin. Ever since I've kept a mini can of bug spray in my car and in my suitcase as well as an Itch Stick, because sometimes there are super bugs that just don't care about bug spray.
Other first aid items to remember are wet wipes, antibacterial soap, tissues, nail file, Tylenol and stomach soother. All of these items come in mini packaging for easy packing.
#6. Pep in your Step
On our trip to Ireland I didn't really think Jet lag would hit us quite so soon after landing, but we were both not looking forward to the 2 hour drive to our hotel after a long flight. Once we were out of the city, my husband who was driving made the executive decision to stop at a local petrol station and pick up what he assumed was the Irish version of 5 hour Energy, in his defense it looked exactly the same. About 20 minutes down the road, and very well into the Irish country side, he calmly says to me, I don't want to freak you out but I think I'm having an allergic reaction.
I did freak out. I think I told him if he died and left me in the Irish countryside alone, I would bring him back and then kill him myself. Needless to say, after another 15 minutes it slowly dissipated and went away and was, as we later discovered a normal reaction to too much Niacin in your system. It was really scary at the time, because his skin was positively purple.
I've made it a point since then to carry Emergen-C with me which not only helps to boost your immune system but it has a mini energy boost to boot. It's best to rest up before driving, but in cases where it's just not possible this stuff comes in handy. Two birds one stone so to speak.
#5. Skin Care
Don't forget to take care of your skin, especially when travelling to colder climates. Because I am a born and raised Floridian I never realized how much the cold could destroy your hands. The two above pictures were taken on the same day (different locations within a 100 miles), it just goes to show you sometimes you can't predict how the weather will be 100% of the time.
One of my favorite products on the market for fixing chapped/cracked hands is called Aquaphor and yes, you guessed it-- it comes in a tiny little container. I've tried a lot of different products and this one works the best and has the most lasting effects.
When your on a tight schedule or just in the middle of no where, it's nice to have a snack handy in case you need it. There's nothing quite like being in an airport after a long day of travel and non of the shops are open to feed your starving belly. Pack a power bar or two, you'll thank yourself later.
#3. Bag It.
I've gotten in the habit of packing a plastic bag or two with my suitcase, because the idea of putting my nice clean clothes next to dirty socks and underwear totally skeeves me out! Having a plastic bag to put your dirty items will help to keep your suitcase from smelling like a gym locker.
#2. Wisp it up
Ten and Twelve hour flights are bad enough, but having to schlep into a airport bathroom to brush your teeth in front of strangers is pretty unappealing. I keep wisp's on hand for just these situations, with toothpaste already on a disposable mini toothbrush it makes that awkward situation a little more quick and painless.
#1. Laugh it Off
For most of you this one is a no brainer, but if your type A like me you take a little while longer to unwind. Being in a foreign country can be a little stressful and daunting, but if you open yourself up to the possibilities and enjoy the moment it always ends up being worth it in the end. Some of my favorite travel memories were mistakes we made along the way, keeping perspective and always being able to roll with the punches can make or break a trip.
So how did I do? What are your must have items for traveling?