I alluded to my “travel essentials” in my last Travel Tips post. Here I will reveal my vacation must-haves.
Probably the priority on the forefront of everyone’s minds as they travel is safety: keeping money, passports, valuables, and selves safe. By far my favorite item I had with me on my trip was my Pacsafe bag.
This small shoulder bag was the perfect size to carry everything I needed for the day: wallet, passports, sunglasses, phone, phrasebooks, hand sanitzer, etc., and worn across the body it keeps everything close and safe. It has a ton of great safety features and I highly recommend it (my own, unbiased opinion!). Money belts are another great option for concealing cash & passports. I kept our daily cash allowance in an accessible wallet (also from Pacsafe) that had a chain & clip and I secured it to a hook inside my bag, so even when I pulled out money, it was still attached to me.
In regards to money, one thing that made our lives less stressful was to order currency before we left. When I submitted our travel plan to the bank so our credit cards would work overseas, I also found out our bank will order currency for you. I thought this was a huge help because I didn’t have to worry about finding somewhere to change currency when we arrived (which as it turns out would have been incredibly overwhelming because the Casablanca airport is super intimidating). Instead, we walked out of the airport and were ready to go! If you can do this, I recommend it.
The phrasebooks I mentioned that I carried in my bag are another essential. I brought French & Arabic pocket phrasebooks from Lonely Planet & I thought they were great. The menu decoder is a particularly wonderful feature. These two books were very small – about the size of my phone – and did not take up much space in the bag. However, there are many great (and free!) apps you can download to free up some more room.
Our favorite app of the trip was CityMaps2Go. This is not a free app, but it was completely worth the $4.99. You can download maps ahead of time & the app uses GPS not data to track you. We turned our data off when we left the US to make sure we didn’t incur any outrageous fees, and we got along great with these maps. We tend to wander through non-tourist areas, and the app helped get us out of small, winding neighborhoods.
Even without data, we used our phones A LOT. We would have been in rough shape without Dark Energy. It’s pretty amazing. We charged it up before our trip & we didn’t need to charge it again, yet it kept our batteries charged through the whole trip. It’s super great to stay unplugged & recharge your phone on the go.
You are bound to have a lot of information you need to keep track of on your trip. Your itineraries, flight numbers, hotels, addresses, museum hours, tour times, train schedules, voucher #s, emergency numbers, restaurant reservations, etc. Make a note on your phone, and/or if you’re a hands-on person like me, get a small notebook and write or paste all your pertinent information there. Throughout our trip, I also stuck in train tickets and other mementos for my scrapbook.
After Safety, Health is a major consideration while packing. I find these DIY hotpot holder first aid kits to be amazing:
I made one years ago as a youth activity and have used it for every camp out & trip since. Within this little clutch, I can fit everything I need for all manner of ills. Everything I can imagine, I put in these little baggies, taking only enough for the duration of the trip, and keeping it all together in one place.
Depending on where you are going, you might want to pack feminine/personal hygiene products because they may not be widely available in a foreign country.
Go ahead and pack extra ziploc bags of various sizes, too. They are universally useful.
You never quite know exactly what you’re getting until you walk into your hotel room, and even then, a deceptively quiet neighborhood could light up and amp up after dark. So it’s best to be prepared for the possibilities to ensure you get a good night’s rest. Airplanes will often give you ear plugs and eye masks, but you might consider bringing your own softer eye mask and ear plugs that will last more than one use. Just a suggestion. I brought along some Mack’s maximum comfort earplugs and they are INCREDIBLE. They cut out everything. I fell asleep and didn’t move until my alarm went off (make sure to put it near your head or you’ll never hear it with these in). Added bonus, these are water proof and help prevent swimmer’s ear if you’re planning on taking a dip during your vacation.
For sleeping on the airplane, if you must have a neck pillow, might I recommend an inflatable one? This would save a lot of space in your bag. (Also, extremely pleasant to use in the bath and have your head gently float in the water.)
I also have a few essentials designed to make the actual transportation process better. The act of traveling is exhausting. We traveled for over 24 hours each way to and from Morocco. And if you don’t travel well by planning ahead and taking care of yourself, you won’t be up to the task of enjoying your travels.
Numero Uno: Stay Hydrated! You should drink one glass of water (8oz) for each hour you are in flight. And don’t forget to stay hydrated on your layovers as well.
Treat Yo’ Self like first class by bringing wipes to wash your hands and face with during the flight. One of the best things I did for this last trip was to make a hydrating mist to spray our faces with throughout the flight. The essential oils were calming and refreshing and helped me not feel like I stank of canned air. You can purchase hydrating mists from a slew of beauty shops, or you can make your own. They are extremely versatile.
Using a 4oz (or smaller) glass spray bottle (use a dark colored container because light can deteriorate the essential oils), add
1oz distilled water
4 drops lavender essential oil
I also added sweet orange to mine because it’s my favorite. Rose water, green tea, and vitamin E oil would also be great additions.
I found a small bottle of disinfectant spray at Target which I brought with us and sprayed down our tray tables, chair arms, and other surfaces as soon as we got on our plane. I have gotten sick more than once from being on planes with people, and we were not taking any chances with our health for this trip. At least disinfecting our areas and repeatedly using hand sanitizer helped us feel better.
Maybe the best thing I did was to bring disposable toothbrushes.After being in airplanes for hours and hours, you start to feel kinda gross, but have you noticed that if your mouth is clean, somehow everything feels so much better? Having clean teeth makes a huge difference in your attitude, too, and something that is small, compact, and doesn’t use water is perfect for traveling.
And don’t forget to nourish yourself! Even though it feels like you’re not doing anything except sitting around, bring some nutritious snacks because you need to eat, and junk food will not help you to feel your best on your trip.
We packed all our essentials in our regular backpacks that survived college with us. They randomly happen to be Dakine brand, and we love all the compartments & pockets. It makes it super easy to remember where you put something, and convenient to grab something without having to unpack everything.
Now you know what you need to pack for a successful trip, look out for my next post to pick up a few tips on what you need to do to get the most out of your trip. 5 Tips for Traveling Well coming next week!