Packing for any trip is going to be slightly different, depending on the time of year and what you plan to do there. But there are some things that are must-haves in your luggage no matter where you’re going. These are some things I never go without packing for a trip.
No matter what the forecast is, an umbrella is always a good thing to have. A compact umbrella doesn’t take up a lot of space, and it’ll prevent you from ruining your best pair of shoes and an entire outfit during an unexpected downpour. It’ll also save you the money and hassle of buying one last minute wherever you can find it.
In preparation for a vacation, you probably do plenty of primping and preening. But a trip is always precisely when you realize that the lighting in your bathroom at home sucks! And when you do, you’re going to want to have tweezers handy to fix your eyebrows.
A hair iron
I have a confession: I still use a power converter to charge every single thing I own. Except my hair iron. I had a European hair iron for two years before I moved to Europe. Because almost all hotels and many Airbnbs have a hair dryer. And if they don’t, your hair will dry on its own. But nothing is going to tame a messy head of hair like a hair iron if you don’t come prepared.
Power converters (Several of them!)
The days of taking one giant brick of a power converter that you picked up at Radio Shack 20 years ago are over. Converters are now compact and convenient to carry. And be honest with yourself, you’re going to need more than one. Because you need to charge your phone, your camera, your laptop, your iPad, and whatever other first world electronic you’re reading this on.
A debit card
I don’t travel with cash. Ever. I never bother exchanging money before a trip because you always lose on the exchange rate. So when I find myself needing money, I find the nearest bank or ATM, and money is always accessible. A debit card is essential because a credit card may or may not be accepted, but a debit card acts as both.
It’s actually insanely dishonest for me to say that I never forget to pack Q-tips, because I forget constantly, and it’s always the worst. Because, unlike, say… a toothbrush, there’s a good chance you’ll never get around to buying them wherever you’re going. But every time you come out of the shower, you’re going to kick yourself for not having any.
I hardly ever get sick, but I travel like I’m getting ready to set up an illegal pharmacy in another country. Because you never know what’s going to happen. And things you take for granted, like migraine medication, may not be available without a prescription wherever you’re going. You also want to avoid having to buy foreign medicine you can’t even read. You may end up in a really dodgy situation with Japanese laxatives (a story for another day). Avoid all that. Bring CVS with you.
This is the smallest, most useful thing you can take on vacation with you. Because I will cut a bitch if I don’t get enough sleep. And nothing helps you sleep through the worst conditions like earplugs. It’s not only useful for planes or trains, but also for the hotel that you didn’t realize was right above the hottest night club in town. Just pop these babies in and you’ll be dead to the world.
As a bonus:
Consider a bathing suit! You never know when you might want to take a dip somewhere. I’ve definitely gotten the most of a bathing suit in the unlikeliest of places.
Once you’ve packed all that, you can start stuffing your bag with clothes you’re not going to get around to wearing.