I’m so excited to share this post with you all today, as it is what really inspired Travel Week as a whole. Late last month, Home Sweet Ruby posted a piece on travel essentials, and she was on the right track — but I remember thinking of other things I could suggest to her.
Thus, I present to you a list of travel essentials that people don’t think to take with them on international trips, but have been tremendously valuable to me in my travels. Consider this to be an offbeat checklist that will make your trip oh-so-much-more enjoyable!
1. Your Smartphone (and charger)
Regardless of whether or not you have international cell phone service, a smartphone can prove very useful, especially in Europe. Major smartphones have satellite capabilities, which make them optimal navigation tools. Simply read one of the many guides online to make sure you won’t incur roaming charges, and make sure you have access to maps. My boyfriend’s smartphone was amazing on our trip to Italy, especially in Venice, which is part-city-part-labyrinth!
2. Collapsible art tube
This is really at your discretion, but I take one any time I travel in Europe. I like to buy prints in museums and at shops, and this collapsible tube protects them in my luggage. These are reasonably small and lightweight, so I think they’re worth taking along.
3. Bottle/wine opener
While I didn’t mention it in Monday’s budget travel post, we like to buy wine and beer at grocery stores when we travel. Yes, we’ll order it when we’re out to eat, but sometimes you just want to drink some wine and look out at the breathtaking scenery. That’s where a bottle opener comes in handy; hotels and hostels supply you with cups, but not these essential tools. Pro tip: this has a foil knife and sharp corkscrew on it, so pack it in your checked luggage so the TSA doesn’t decide to spend special time alone with you.
4. Travel clothesline
You will get wet. It is inevitable. In Italy, it was just the hems of our jeans. In Costa Rica, it was pretty much everything. You will get caught in the rain or decide to go swimming or whatever. Make your life easier and take one of these clotheslines so your stuff can dry out somewhere other than over the bar in your steamy bathroom.
5. Empty water bottle
Bottles of water in cities get expensive, and you’re going to need to stay hydrated on your next adventure! If you’re going to have ready supplies of clean water and/or water fountains, take a water bottle from home. Alternately, buy a giant (1 liter+) water bottle and refill it every couple of days, tossing it out to make room for treasures to take home.
6. Dual voltage hair appliances
Chances are you know about the need for different adapters in different countries. What you may not know is that many hair appliances — hair dryers, flat irons, and curling irons — produced in the U.S. also need to be converted to the appropriate voltage, or they will burn out. Many professional-grade and drugstore tools are dual voltage (and can handle the conversion), but you should always check. Don’t fry your hair tools!
7. Travel journal
This does not have to be a fancy “Travel Journal.” Just get something that has paper and is sturdy. Write down thoughts, the name of that place you had lunch, or make a list of what you’re buying to report it to customs. Better yet, keep this journal and use it for all of your trips in the future. Great memento!
8. Awesome insoles
I don’t care if you think your shoes are comfortable. Chances are, you’re going to be doing a lot more walking than you’re used to, and walkways and roads aren’t always even. For the sake of your arches and ankles, get some good insoles. Your feet will thank you every day.
9. Ziploc bags
They’re not just for your carry-on! Keep your passport in one, keep ticket stubs from attractions in another. Take a couple of extras. These invariably come in handy throughout any trip.