We would consider camels a luxury item, rather than an essential…
There’s nothing worse than finding yourself half way around the world, and missing an important piece of gear. The following is our list of essentials, and awfully useful things to have on any trip. Remember: everyone travels a bit different, so this is by no means definitive! We’ll also be adding to this list as we think of more things!
Passport: If the place you travel needs a visa, make sure you have that as well.
Other ID: It’s always great to have two forms of picture ID. Don’t forget to scan these, and email them to yourself!
Wad of Cash: US is great, you can trade it for local currency pretty easily
Med kit: When you’re doubled over, you don’t want to go searching around town for meds. Check out this article to see what meds we always bring.
Pocket Knife: Probably used almost everyday, which is why I list it as essential. We travel with one Swiss Army Knife, and one Swiss Card (it has scissors, a knife, tweezers, magnifying glass, and an led light!)
Travel guide: I think travel guides have a bad rap. You don’t have to stay or eat at the places they suggest. At the very minimum a travel guide acts as a collection of vital information about a country (maps, points of interest, emergency contact numbers, where embassies are, train, plane and bus schedules). We never leave home without one! At the moment, our favorite guides are from Lonely Planet. We’ve read a lot of different ones, but Lonely Planet guides seem to have the perfect mix of descriptions and actual meaty content (Hotels to stay at, how to get from one place to another, etc.)
An open mind and heart: Awwww. Sappy, I know. But we really believe it. When you travel, you’ll find yourself in situations where you think “Oh my god! This is so strange! This isn’t how we do things back home!”. Dangerous thinking, my friend. Remember that you’re a guest in their country, and they probably think the things you do are pretty damn strange as well. So approach everything with an open mind and heart, and put all your preconceptions behind you. I promise you’ll have a much more rewarding travel experience if you do that!
Awfully Useful Items
Flashlight and/or head lamp: This almost seems essential, but you could probably survive without it, or at least pick one up wherever you’ve traveled. Head lamps are especially handy if you’ll be walking around in the dark, or want to read somewhere with no electricity.
Base layers: These are thin layers you wear under your clothes. You can get ones that keep you warm, dry, or nice and cool. We haven’t used them yet, but the Helly Hansen ones look especially nice.
Earplugs, eye cover, & neck pillow: When you need to sleep, these are the tools. And believe us, it’s often really hard to sleep on the road, and you’ll be so glad you have these things. We spent a month in India (noisiest place on Earth!) desperately searching for ear plugs. We never found them.
Great pair of shoes: You’re going to be on your feet A LOT when you travel, so take care of them. There’s nothing worse than being in an amazing place, and all you can think about is how much your feet hurt. For city walking, we’ve really enjoyed Sanuks. For our Peru trip, which involves some more intense terrain, we’ll be wearing Merrels, which are both waterproof and breathable, and have great arch support. Think about the climate where you’ll be traveling, and get shoes to match!
iPhone: We take our iPhone every time we go. We throw some movies on it (lovely for those long bus trips), and music, use it as a clock, alarm, currency converter, and so much more. You can even get phrase books and travel guides to put on there. Small, lightweight, and endless uses. Really the perfect travel gadget!
Scarf/bandana: The travelers multifunctional accessory. Not only will you look particularly dashing, but it also has so many uses. Like wiping someone else’s vomit off your face on a bus in Rajasthan. I’ll have to tell you that story one day….
Zip top & garbage bags: There are endless uses for these. When in Singapore during a heavy rainstorm we used a garbage bag as a rain cover for our camera. Get creative.
Duct tape: I think this speaks for itself. Wrap it around a pencil to save space. Right on.
Feel free to share your essential and awfully useful travel items in the comments! We always love to hear what others find helpful on their adventures!
NOTE: For an incredibly extensive travel packing list, check out this one from www.onebag.com