Packing for travel can be difficult; you never can really plan for what you might need on your journeys. Of course there’s always the essential necessities that you can’t avoid: underwear, toothpaste, first aid kit, shampoo, and the like. But a lot of packing is really up in the air. Will a pack of cards really be worth it? Am I ever going to make time to go on a jog? How many times do I actually plan on running around dressed as Spider-man and causing mayhem? You know, things like that.
Basically, it all comes down to guestimation. It’s inevitable that you’re going to bring along a few things that you wont actually need during your travels, and you’re also going to realize you left one or two things behind that would have come in handy.
With that in mind, Kathleen and I put our heads together and came up with five recommendations for things you should definitely bring and definitely not bring, inspired by our own travel experiences. Enjoy!
FIVE THINGS NOT TO BRING
1. Sleeping bag. Kathleen and I thought we were being wise when we decided to purchase sleeping bags for our New Zealand trip. What if we ended up in a shifty WWOOF place with nowhere to sleep? What if the hostels refused to provide bedding for us?? Better safe than sorry!
Well, not really in this case. I can guarantee that hostels will always provide you with bedding, and same with WWOOF hosts. We really didn’t need to spend a ton of money on sleeping bags in the first place, and now we have to lug them around everywhere with us. I’ve thought about selling mine, but there is a chance that I might try to go camping once the weather gets nicer. So, if you’re planning on traveling that involves outdoors sleeping, by all means, bring along that sleeping bag of yours. If not, I recommend leaving it at home.
2. Atlas. I thought I was being smart on this one also. Atlases are handy, right? What if I get lost? What if I need to give someone’s directions? Atlases for the win!
Unfortunately, the atlas nowadays can be 100% replaced with the laptop. Need to find out where you’re going? Just google map that shit and you’re pretty much set. The Internet will even give you precise directions to where you’re going. And while the atlas I have in my backpack is really thin and not all that heavy, it’s still something that I really didn’t need to bring along. Lesson learned.
3. Physical books. To be fair, I don’t have many books with me. I only have two, but those are still books taking up space in my bag. Not to mention books are pretty heavy in comparison to, y’know, clothing and q-tips and other things I actually need.
In this circumstance, I really recommend getting a kindle for your travels, or at least the kindle app on your laptop. While I personally prefer reading from a physical book – the smell of a book can simply not be beat – when it comes to traveling it’s just a lot more convenient to get some sort of ebook reader. That way you can bring hundreds of books with you and not worry about adding on any more unnecessary weight to your bags.
4. Fanny pack/Carrier. While I don’t have a fanny pack, I do have a clip on pouch for the front straps of my backpack (it might as well be a fanny pack) and a small, flat bag that I can wear around my neck and under my clothes to hold money/credit cards/card keys/etc. I’ve always heard horror stories about pickpockets from my dad and aunts from during their travels; always being warned not to trust people in other countries and to always watch my valuable possessions.
While this might be the case in other countries, if you are going to a country like New Zealand I can tell you not to bother. You’re as likely to get pickpocketed here as you are in the states – actually, probably less. So just carry a purse. Or use your pockets. Or carry your stuff around in a little red wagon. Honestly, no one’s gonna steal your things. Kiwis are just too nice. (Plus: don’t wear a fanny pack. Ever. They’re hideous.)
5. Really big adapters. This one’s all Kathleen. She only brought along one adapter with her on our trip, and it’s HUGE. We’re talking ‘knock-you-out-and-steal-your-fanny-pack’ kind of huge. Not only is it heavy, but it tends to take up a ton of space on the wall outlets, making it impossible for other people to plug their electronic device chargers in at the same time.
My brother gave me some small adapters for my birthday, which is what I strongly recommend. They’re tiny, not heavy, fairly prices, and quite accessible. I have two with me, which makes life a million times easier.
FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULD BRING
1. Power strip. We’ve seen people have these twice now in hostels and decided that it’s really goddamn smart. If you’re staying in hostels then usually you’ll only have one or two wall outlet to share with five or seven other people, which is kind of problematic if you have more than one electronic device on you that needs charging (I have a laptop, two phones, a hair straightener, and camera battery, soooo…). I doubt I’m going to buy myself one now that I’m already here, but it’s definitely something I’ll keep in mind if I ever travel long term again.
2. Drugs. As mentioned in a previous entry, Kathleen and I managed to get sick in Invercargill and are only just now recovering. Nothing too serious, just some frightful sore throats, a bit of coughing, and the occasional chills. While it was easy enough to go to the store to purchase Advil, Ibuprofin, cough drops, and the rest of the medicine we needed to fully recover, it would have been so much easier if we had just brought it along with us in the first place. So, while easily purchasable, it’s still nice to have on you.
3. Rolling suitcase. This one is all on me.
I had it in my mind that I’d be your average backpacker in New Zealand, which would require…? You guess it. A backpack. While I did a superb job making sure everything fit into my ginormous backpack and even made sure that I could lift it onto my back without any problem, what I didn’t account for was walking long distances while wearing it. To put it simply: the thing gets so damn heavy after ten minutes of walking with it on.
I wish I had considered a rolling suitcase. It’s easily transportable (except up stairs) and you can fit quite a lot more into it. As I’m currently lugging the giant backpack on my back and carrying my purse on my arm, I’m considering purchasing a small rolling suitcase sometime in the near future. I can then put my purse inside of it, plus some of the heavier items from my backpack. It would probably make life a whole lot easier – but we shall see.
4. Sweatpants. Both Kathleen and I feel this one pretty hard. We’re here during winter in New Zealand (well, it’s just turning into spring, but still) and we’ve had many a cold night spent in hostels, caravans, and guest rooms. There’s nothing more comforting then snuggling up in a pair of coazy sweatpants, which neither of us managed to bring. Never forget the sweatpants, children. Never forget. *raises fist into the air*
5. Cute/Nice ‘going out’ clothes. This was one of Kathleen’s suggestions. Chances are when you stay in large cities you’re gonna wanna go out for food or drinks, and when you do you’ll wanna make sure you have something to wear. I suppose this one applies more to girls, if I were to stereotype, but it really is just a good thing to keep in mind for both sexes. You never know if you want a nice night out on the town, or if you’re planning on going out dancing. I managed to bring along a dress and a couple shirts that make for good going out clothes, whereas Kathleen only brought one dress and it’s been a bit too cold to wear recently. Just something to keep in mind!