How do you fit it all in your suitcase? If your suitcase is anything like my old one, a good portion of the allotted 23kg weigh-limit for checked baggage the suitcase itself took up the majority of the weight limit. The zippers were ready to burst after shoving the bare necessities — and perhaps a jar of almond butter — into my bag. Combing the internet for must-pack lists doesn’t abate the situation. Instead of saving room for toothpaste and floss, you take a trip to the drug store to buy tropical-grade bug repellant and a folding chair for Heathrow’s immigration queue. Only the practical stuff.
The decision about what to bring and what to leave behind is difficult, I understand. Our priorities when traveling don’t always match up and no list can describe my adventure. I won’t begrudge someone their pillow and I hope that others won’t take offense at my flat-iron and magazines. There are, however, a few items that I believe every traveler should pack, regardless of destination and travel-style. They aren’t obvious — I’m not going to remind you to pack your underwear and pajamas — but little things that will make your trip more enjoyable. What would you add?
1. A travel cup and fork – Having a cup and fork in your bag means impromptu meals are possible, you don’t have to drink wine from a bottle and you can maintain clean hands at all times. If you’re one of those freaks who, like me, needs to drink from a cup when you brush your teeth, get one. Right now.
2. A sleep mask – Fantastic for planes, trains and hotel rooms, a sleep mask is indispensable. Whether it be in a hotel room with dodgy blinds or a hostel room in which people keep the lights on at all hours, a sleep mask will help you get a refreshing sleep so you’re well-rested for long days of sightseeing.
3. A sense of humor – You will get into plenty of annoying, stupid and embarrassing situations on your trip. You know what? It’s totally cool. Good, even. The ability to laugh at yourself is indispensable (and frankly, something I’m still learning). That way you don’t have to feel bad when you accidentally spend nearly 30 euro on two mesley containers of artichokes and mushrooms …
4. The ability to say yes and no – No matter how much you want to see it all, you can’t. Distinguishing between what you really want to do and what kinda-sorta sounds fun will make your trip not only memorable, but also enjoyable. Your top sights may not be in guidebooks, they may take you farther afield. If you are falling asleep standing up, maybe it’s time to say yes to an early night. Listen to what you need as you travel, it will help you stay more present and enjoy the trip.
5. A nylon roll-up bag – Useful for so many things and surprisingly multi-purpose. From a grocery bag to a pillow protector when staying in less than savory hostels, a nylon bag has a million and one uses. Not to mention it weighs practically nothing and can be used as an extra bag in which to stash your new found valuables.
bonus: an umbrella – I don’t care where you are travelling, you need an umbrella. And yes, that is the girl who has lived in England speaking. You don’t want to waste any precious touring time searching high and low for an umbrella, do you?
What do you think every traveler needs to pack in their suitcase?