All text and photography by Tess McLennan ©
Travelling is the best, and packing a suitcase is one of the most exciting things you’ll do pre-vacation. Booking your flights, transfers, hotels… that all happens months and months before. However, packing your suitcase can serve as a reminder of just how close your trip really is. But before you throw that suitcase into the boot of your car and head to the airport, make sure you’ve packed the essentials. Here is a short list of things you might want to recheck you’ve packed before you take to the skies.
International Sim Card
This obviously isn’t mandatory, but going overseas without a working phone is actually harder than it sounds, particularly if you’re travelling with a group of people who sometimes go off and do their own thing. If you decide not to get an international sim, you’ll most likely have to rely on Wi-Fi to communicate with your fellow group members (sometimes very hard to come by!)… or you’ll have to stay glued to their side for the entirety of the trip. You tell me what sounds more appealing.
Don’t be that idiot who forgets their medication on a trip. I don’t have any words for the people who do this. You need one thing to stay alive, and you leave it at home? Come on! Generic, over the counter things like headache tablets, seasickness tablets, stomach ache tablets etc., they can all be bought en route to your destination. Your heart medication however, will not be so easy to come by in the Peruvian jungle. Or the Himalayas. Or anywhere else, because health care systems are not the same in every country. So be smart, pack your meds.
While we are on the subject of medicine and health care, don’t go travelling without travel insurance. I have no sympathy for people who get critically ill while overseas, and then go on T.V. asking for donations, because they have no travel insurance and their hospital bills have climbed to thousands and thousands of dollars. It might seem like tough love, but in my eyes, if you have the money to travel, you have the money for travel insurance, even on your twenty-something budget. An insurance policy for a month’s worth of travel cost me a mere $200. That’s all. I was covered for snow sports, illness, and all sorts of nasty things… And in this volatile world, would you want to risk it?
Adaptors and Chargers
For the new traveller, it might be a bit of a surprise that electrical outlets differ between countries. Do a bit of research before hand, and find out what adaptor you will need for each place of travelling, so that you are able to plug your electrical items in accordingly. Canada and the US use the same plug, whereas Asia uses a different one… the same goes for Europe. You can buy adaptors from any good suitcase retailer, post offices, or news agencies, just to name a few places.
PS: Don’t forget your chargers either. Unless travelling with family, they are pretty hard to come by overseas. I should know. I went to Japan with an orchestra when I was fifteen, and left my phone charger in Australia. Not fun.
Comfortable (yet stylish) walking shoes
High heels are not appropriate footwear for travelling. Pack a pair for night outings, concerts, theatre shows etc.… but when sightseeing, they will become your worst nightmare, and very fast. I have seen people try to sightsee in them, and they always change early in the day (usually it involves them buying a pair of flats on the road). You don’t have to wear the whole joggers and jeans combo (ick…), but investing in a cute pair of comfortable shoes will save your poor feet a lot of heartache later on. Trust me.
Ski boots… not so fabulous for walking.
Plastic Bags (hear me out)
If travelling extensively, you might not have access to washing facilities for some time. I pack some spare plastic bags in my suitcase, so it becomes easier to separate my dirty clothes from my clean clothes. Let’s face it, your suitcase becomes your mini wardrobe when out on the road, and you don’t want to have to resort to the sniff test to find out if your underwear is clean or not.
This really is a ‘duh’ one, but you would be surprised how many people are lackadaisical about their passports. I’ve heard some real horror stories first hand (that I won’t bother frightening you with), so here are my own words of caution: wherever you go, triple, quadruple check that your passport is safely tucked into your passport wallet. That’s right, you should buy yourself a wallet just for your passport. It’s also handy for holding your plane tickets too. Leaving for the airport? Check your passport. Getting off the plane? Check your passport. Checking out of a hotel? Check your passport. Get into the habit, and you won’t end up in a Tom Hanks-Terminal situation. It pays to be super vigilant about some things. Your passport is one of them.