This list is not the obvious stuff: socks, underwear, toothbrush, etc. Nope, these are a few items you may have not thought of–small in size–that can really help you while travelling, even save you from disaster.
My mom gave me some great advice a long time ago: “Don’t forget your passport. You can pretty much buy anything else you forget, but you won’t even be able to leave the ground without your passport.” So yeah, always quadruple check that your passport is with you, at all times: leaving the house, leaving the taxi, the plane, etc.
But now that you’re sternly reminded to keep an obsessive eye on your passport, here are five other things I recommend taking on your trips:
1) A copy of your passport!
Having a copy of your passport will make your life so much easier if for some reason you lose it along the way in a foreign country. Things happen! Make a copy of your passport and tuck it away safely in a suitcase pocket. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but if you find yourself at the American embassy applying for a temporary emergency passport so you’re not stuck in Shizzlestan for the rest of your life, having a copy of your passport will definitely make things so much easier.
RAMBLIN’ RANDY EXPERT TIP: Email yourself a copy of your passport too! That way if all your bags catch on fire, or whatever happens, you’ll always be able to login to your email and pull up the copy.
2) Halo Oral Antiseptic
I always travel with this. Spray it three times in your mouth to combat airborne germs on the plane/train/bus. Does it really work? Not sure, but I’ll do anything to keep from getting sick on a trip. On a germ-rocket for 14 hours with 300 people from who knows where? Yeah, gotta protect yourself.
3) Dollar bills!
Assuming you’re traveling to a country that uses American money (or simply traveling domestically), pack a ziplock bag full of ones and fivers. I hate being stuck with only large bills when it’s time to tip the bellman, doorman, concierge, etc. I feel like a cheapskate asking for change, and feel even worse parting with a ten or twenty dollar bill for something that merits just of couple bucks. Avoid these situations by having plenty of singles. If it’s a long trip, stop at the bank and get at least $100 in ones and fives. That way you’ll always have small bills handy.
4) A copy of your “Yellow Card.”
Known as a “Yellow Card,” it’s the piece of paper containing your vaccination records. You’ll rarely ever need it, but there are a handful of countries that require proof of yellow fever vaccine to enter. Though you’ll most likely send them this proof beforehand while applying for a visa in advance, it’s never a bad idea to have a copy on hand just in case you need it. Email this to yourself too!
5) An extra debit or credit card…and hide this!
This is a big one. Imagine losing your wallet and being in Timbuktu with no cash or plastic. What in the world would you do? I worry about having to find some dirty payphone to call home collect and ask my mom to wire me cash to Western Union. What’s fun about that?
Hiding an extra debit or credit card safely in the bowels of your bag ensures that in case your wallet goes missing, you have a backup. Some credit cards (the better ones) even offer next day replacement services anywhere in the world if you lose your card. Check your card benefits before you leave.
BONUS – 6) Universal power adapter
Major help if you’re traveling outside America! Most outlets outside of the US will not accept American power plugs–the prongs are totally different. You may get lucky in some of the big American chain hotels–sometimes they’ll have a couple “American” outlets in the room–but most of the time I’m traveling abroad I have to use my adapter to access power.
RAMBLIN’ RANDY EXPERT TIP: Keep in mind the difference between an “adapter” and a “converter.” An adapter simply changes the configuration of the metal outlet prongs, so your plug will fit. A converter will actually step down the voltage, converting the power, for example, from 230, down to 110 volts.
Will you need a converter? Well you need to know this: standard voltage in the US is 110. Most other countries in the world are 220 and 230 volts. That means if you’re in Europe (where the voltage is 230) and you plug in your American hair curler that’a designed to take in only 110 volts of power, you’ll soon need to buy a new curling iron. It’ll get fried!
But the good news, is that most phone chargers and laptop power cables are designed to take up to 240 volts; in other words, they’ll work just fine using power from the US, or anywhere else in the world. Just remember you may need the “adapter” to make the plug fit, but you won’t have to worry about converting the power.
How will you know if your dookickey can use both 110 and 230/240? Never “guess.” Rather, check the fine print on the plug itself. On laptop cables, it’s usually that little “box” connected to the power cord.
FUN FACT: I was the dumb-ass who used a heavy (and expensive) power converter during my entire stay in Italy to change the voltage from 230 to 110, to use my laptop…only to finally realize, weeks later, that the computer accepts up to 240 volts on its own.
And by no means are these the only five things you should always travel with…just some of the most important. What’s great is that all these items, combined, take up barely any space in your bag.
What are your secret travel essentials? Please share below, in the comments sections.