Saturday, December 27, 2014

Packing Tips Part I

I basically refuse to check bags. So much can go wrong. And usually, when I bring something on a trip with me, it's because I'll actually need it. Keep in mind, pretty much anywhere you go will have the stuff you need if you are flexible and reasonable. I was even able to get medication in Europe after a lot of hand gesturing and broken phrases on my part. (That said, prescription meds are probably one essential item you don't want to leave at home).
So what do you have to have? Your passport, and money. The rest is mostly window dressing if you have the right mindset. It's only stuff, and you can buy stuff all over the world. Keep that in mind when you find you don't have something.

Clothes:
Naturally summertime trips are less challenging. But the nice thing about winter trips is that you'll probably be wearing a lot. For winter, I like to bring wool. You only need a few pairs of wool socks since they can be worn repeatedly. And if you insist on sweating that much, you can just wash em out in your hostel/hotel sink. Wool dries really quickly. For that reason I will bring a couple of wool undershirts. Sadly though, I usually only have one sweater or sweatshirt to wear over those base layers. Don't feel dumb because you are wearing the same shirt in all your vacation photos - at least you didn't lose a bag. Or dress it up with varied accessories. A hat one day, a scarf the next.
I also only bring one pair of shows most of the time. Sometimes, I'll add a pair of slip-ons or flip-flops, but shows take up a ton of room.. and what if you see a pair you fall in love with overseas? Now you'll have an excuse to buy them.
Scarves are another great item to have, but you can thrown that on your shoulders for the plane instead of packing it. If it's a versatile material, you can use it for many things if you need to as well. Scarves can double as towels, privacy sheets, a light blanket, a skirt or headwrap.
This is a great guide for the varied ways to wear a scarf as a scarf as well: scarf it.

Travel Tools:
Buy a water pouch. Carry it empty to the airport and through security, fill it at water fountains throughout the vacation. (I use a 0.5L Vapur I got on ebay for $1).
Get small refillable containers for shampoo and stuff. Many hotels and even hostels have amenities already and if you need it and don't have it, trust me, they sell soap and toothpaste everywhere.
Skip or minimize makeup. I'm sure this may be very hard for a lot of women, but try to pare it all down to a couple of items. Can you get by with just a stick of eyeliner and some lip balm? You should. Plus it saves time while you're there. Did you fly all that way to spend hours applying your makeup?
I love to bring a few disposable toothbrushes on flights and long trips. It's one of my few disposable indulgences, and I usually only use two per trip. I need tissues for flights as well. I try to only bring one small pack per trip. There have been a few countries with virtually no toilet paper in public restrooms, but I've noticed many of these countries tend to sell tissue packets on street corners.
Find a good adapter. I got a nice compact style adapter that USBs plug into and have been happy with it: my adapter.

Gear:
Leave as many electronics as you can at home. If you can manage without bringing a laptop, tablet, e-reader, phone and ipod, or take your most important data and put it on one device.
I like to have a tablet with essential information - maps and hotel info - stored for offline viewing
I also like to have a couple movies on my tablet. These can come in very handy when a flight gets delayed or you have some spare hours at your hotel and maybe you do't feel like reading,
On that note, I do like to have books, and lots of music, with me too. But all this data fits easily on a tablet or phone, and it can be a hassle to lug a computer around. Plus, why risk it?
Then I just need one charger cord, an adapter, and one device.

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