It’s about 12 hours before your flight is set to depart. You’ve been religiously checking the Europa Air app that you downloaded in a fit of mild anxiety last week, and the anxiety that’s been ebbing and flowing since finals last semester is approaching high tide as you stare at your luggage. It’s your biggest suitcase. Maybe it’s your biggest backpack because you’re going to be a backpacker now. A minimalist. There for the culture, the people, the experiences. Maybe you’ll get a tattoo of a compass or start a blog with the word “wanderlust” in it … but never mind. That’s for when you get there. Right now you know you have to focus on the suitcase that you’ve packed and repacked at least 13 times. But what do you really need?
Do not fret. I am here. I will tell you what to throw in that bag and what to take out.
- Your card. Make sure to call the bank and put a travel advisory for the countries you’re planning on visiting!
- Cash to convert to the local currency. You’ll get a better exchange rate abroad.
- A notebook to write things down. You don’t need to have a travel journal because that’s a lot of work, but you’ll probably want to jot down a thing or two at some point or stick in some postcards.
- One small travel book with some tips on what to do in the places you plan on visiting. Make sure it’s not too heavy! If you plan to stay in hostels, other travelers can give you advice too.
- An extra phone that can be reactivated in case you lose or break your regular one.
- A sleeping bag liner to sleep in at hostels and even in your residence hall or apartment if you don’t want to buy sheets.
- A smaller backpack in which you can pack a few days’ worth of clothes, accessories and equipment for weekend trips.
- An adaptor if you’re going to a country with different outlets.
- A passport case. You never know when your passport will be important.
- Something to listen to music on such as — dare I say — an iPod. Keep in mind that you probably won’t have WiFi for streaming.
DO NOT BRING:
- White clothing. It will get dirty and be ruined. Try something a little darker.
- Lots of shoes. You won’t have the time to wear more than a pair of sneakers, a pair of going-out shoes, a pair of sandals and maybe one more. Whatever you bring, make sure they’re all comfortable!
- Sheets and towels. They’re bulky, and you’ll probably be able to find them there.
- Too many clothes. Just accept that you’re going to be an outfit-repeater and move on.
- Too many books. They’re heavy! Bring one or two and trade with friends when you’re there.
- Anything too expensive or that you’ll be upset about losing. You will lose things — you’ll leave them somewhere, they’ll get stolen or they’ll just disappear into the abyss.