What do we pack, why and how?
This covers tips on packing and what works for us. It is important to be organized in your packing. Don’t throw all your things into a bag without a system. If you have to root around, your clothes will look like you’ve slept in them and everything becomes harder to find. Some folks prefer to roll their clothes; we prefer packing folders and cubes, they work best for us.
1. The two bundles pictured above are our clothes for our last 6-week trip packed in packing folders and cubes. Packing folders are great for shirts, tops, pants and dresses; come with plastic folding boards to make folding easy and keep clothes wrinkle-free. Cubes are good for underwear, socks, and miscellaneous stuff. We each pack one folder, one or two cubes and toiletry bag. This system keeps everything organized and easy to find. It is convenient for quick overnight stops too when you don’t want to unpack everything. Just pull out your folder, cube and toiletry bag. Easy.
2. Always pack a light waterproof jacket. We have used ours on every trip. Plus, if it’s cold you can use it to layer.
3. Comfortable shoes are a must. You will most likely walk miles and miles of hills, cobblestones, and rough terrain, so make sure your feet are ready. Take comfortable, broken-in shoes because this is not the time to break in new shoes. Also be location specific deciding which shoes to take: e.g. if you are going to a warm climate then a pair of walking/tennis shoes and sandals/flip-flops are probably all you need. Europeans dress more formally than Americans so when we go there, we usually include more stylish clothes and a pair of nicer shoes.
4. A cable with a lock is another must for traveling on public transportation. Lock your bags to your seat or overhead compartment! Never leave your bags out of your sight unless they are locked to something stationary.
5. We also recommend a small first-aid kit, homemade or purchased. Ours holds an emergency supply of band-aids, anti-bacterial cream, and OTC meds. REI has a great starter first-aid kit. With that said, every country has pharmacies but hopefully, the emergency kit will suffice.
6. Miscellaneous must-haves: zip lock bags in various sizes, baby wipes, small rolls of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, bug spray, sunscreen and day pack.
7. What electronic gear and gadgets do we pack? Again, this is personal preference. These days electronics are moving from traditional one use to multi-use, like the smartphone which can do probably everything you need. Sometimes using a smartphone can be an issue especially with language differences, e.g. your phone dies, your boarding passes are electronic and you might not be able to communicate that to the boarding agent. Again, personal choices as these are probably the heaviest items you will pack. We pack the following, mostly in Don’s backpack:
- Kindle ebooks.
- Chromebooks 11/13” – for blogging, research, reservations, hangouts, email. We love our Chromebooks: they are inexpensive, small, light, and no OS dragging down the performance. We have not wanted for a windows machine.
- External hard drive – data and picture storage.
- Headset with mic or Earbuds with mic for phone calls/music. We use Google Hangouts to make free internet calls to the US and for pennies to other countries.
- Smartphone – camera, apps – google maps & google translate. Local SIM cards are cheaper than US International plans. We have an AT&T GSM unlocked phone – we buy a country SIM card, pop it in and we’re ready to go. They are cheap and easy to get. We paid $6 for data, voice, and text in Cambodia and used it for 2 weeks. Vietnam was $14.
- Camera/GoPro – video and better quality photos than a smartphone.
- Portable battery recharging bank – airlines are getting tough on batteries and some are limiting the size of a battery recharging bank after the Samsung Note 7 debacle. No batteries in checked bags. Don’t pack extra batteries, they can be purchased anywhere.
- Plug adapters – not to be confused with power converters. Check your electronic power specs: you should see them around the power cord. If it says 100-240v and 50-60Hz you only need an adapter for the plug and these can be country specific. If you have an older item, you may need a power converter to go from 110 to 220 volts. You will fry your electronics if you don’t use the correct wattage.
- Headlamp/torch/flashlight – we don’t leave home without ours and it’s a great hand’s free light.
- Alarm clock – we are old school and have been carrying the same travel alarm forever. Yes, you could use your phone. Don’t rely on the lodging staff for a wake-up call.
7. Lastly, do not over pack. No “what if’s”. Stick with a color scheme to optimize your mix and match clothes, lay out them out and then pack only half. Trust us on this – we learned the hard way.
8. We have a Travel Packing and To Do List so we don’t forget anything we need to do ahead of, and during the trip. The packing list is a general guide for all seasons, so modify accordingly.
If you don’t have it and need it on the trip….buy it.
(It’s probably way cheaper than in the US)
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