As I complete my 3rd week on this indefinite venture, I wish that I had prepared just a bit more. After the first week, I handed my heels and a pair of extra (1 of 3) sunglasses to a friend to bring back to NYC because I had overpacked the wrong things. I was planning on traveling in only warm weather areas (between 50 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit/15 – 30 degrees centigrade) the entire time, making my way through a European summer to an African/Middle Eastern weather to SE Asia), but alas, plans always change.
Now, here is a list of a few things that I wish I had done (and not done):
1. External Hard Drive (HDD) for backing up pictures and videos. My iPhone, GoPro, DLSR and laptop are at capacity! At least 1TB if not 2TB. I’ve deleted 20GB of data (music, programs, photos) in order to backup my phone, now what to do with the rest…
Yes, you can buy these anywhere in the world, however the cheapest place that I’ve found to buy these are in the US. Amazon.com and Newegg.com have great deals, especially during holiday weekends (Cyber Monday anyone?).
*Also, learn to let go of old photos and videos. I have a backup on my ReadyNAS, but it’s so hard to delete them! Pics of a close friend’s wedding in New Zealand and my parent’s anniversary in Hawaii are stunning and I always like to show them off, but they do take up a lot of space. So my advice to you: let go. If it’s saved somewhere else, you’ll be able to retrieve them later on. If not, then keep the memory close to heart and get good at describing them 😉 This leads into another post about To take or not to take photos in the first place, a lesson in taking in and letting go…
1a. Upgrading my Dropbox to 100GB was not the best idea. WiFi is spotty and/or slow in most places I’ve stayed at and 100GB is really not a lot of space if you’re taking photos and videos every day.
2. Mighty Grip
For street pole. I have and prefer to use Dry Hands, but for street pole, the tackiness of Mighty Grip is crucial. Because, who else is dancing on a street pole after you that would be bothered by the stickiness afterwards?
3. Running pants
For cold weather running. I’m in Croatia now, and the weather is hot, hot, HOT! But when I arrive in Scandinavia in the Fall, I might have to break out the sweats instead of my usual CW-X’s. Not looking forward to it because I don’t like getting sweaty in them (ironically), but they will have to do!
4. One swim suit?
Seriously, Melanie. Of a dozen that I have at home, I choose to bring only 1 bottom and 2 tops. At least one more would be great especially since they don’t take up much space. Swim suits are crucial for warm weather beaches and cold weather saunas. Lesson learned.
4a. Also, if you’re a beach baby like me, wear your swimsuit out the door when headed to any area with swimmable water. I came across 2 situations in which I regretted not being able to swim because I didn’t have my swimsuit handy. First was when we arrived at
5. Something other than grey
I have a lot, I mean A LOT of grey in my wardrobe, and somehow, I managed to pack every piece of it in my hiking pack leaving little room for colour. Plan your outfits according to weather and occasion and have multi-functional pieces, like boots and dresses with pockets. Refer to my piece on what I packed in It’s in the bag!
Something warm and comfy that you can snuggle into. I didn’t bring one to save space, but I wish I had! On the bright side, the one I pick up on my travels will serve as one of few souvenirs, but probably not one with ears and a tail.
7. Tape cassette adapter
For those long road trips with “older” cars (mid 2000’s) through roads with poor radio reception. We bought 2 cds, one in Zagreb and the other in Ljubljana, from local street musicians which were lovely, but there is only so many times that you can listen to Mazel Tov and Tom’s solemn guitar covers. Excellent, beautiful albums, but sometimes you just want to listen to your thug rap mix when winding down the Dalmatian coast.
8. Decaf ground coffee
If you’re a coffee drinker and staying in AirBNB’s, buy a pack when you get to your first destination and bring that puppy everywhere you go. Most places we stayed at so far in Central Europe had coffee makers, but no coffee and/or no coffee filters. I prefer decaf (ha ha, I know), and found it especially difficult to find, only spotting it in about 5% of grocery stores. It’s always nice to wake up to a warm cup, and coffee grounds are multi-functional: they’re great for getting rid of smells. Coffee absorbs the smell and sometimes leaves a light coffee smell behind. And it works better than lavender packets (yes, plural) or sticks of cedar.
The 4 port USB travel charger that I bought from Amazon.com blew within the first week, so now I’m left with one converter. But, instead of recommending bringing multiple converters, I think a solar charger or 2 would be even better. You can charge them in the car while driving, in the room while sight seeing, even at the beach. My friend brought 2 for our road trip, a small and a large. The small one which was perfect for his iPhone stopped working after 1 1/2 weeks, however the larger one is still going strong and has enough juice to charge 2 iPhones to capacity. With a solar charger, you don’t have to worry about finding an outlet at a restaurant, or the issue we had in Ljubljana in which our hostel room had 1 inconveniently placed outlet for 3 people. A descent small one should run you around $60, larger $100+.
So, solar charger for small USB charged devices, converter for larger (i.e. laptop, hair straightener – and no, it doesn’t blow the converter, I’ve used the same converter and hair straightener for 3 years now with no issues 😀 ).
10. Supplements – I’m lactose intolerant, and I sometimes find it difficult to find a proper lactose supplement. I have found alternatives, i.e. “lacta probiotics” here and there, but they never work the same for me. Bring what works, but be flexible.
So, there you have it! My top 10 shoulda, woulda, coulda list. There will definitely be more situations in which I wish I had done this instead or doh, how could I have not thought of that! But that delves into the deeper, most important lesson that I have learned over the years from travelling: letting go. Live each day with few expectations and allow exceptions. With this philosophy, you’ll feel prepared for anything. Live by few rules and keep it simple:
I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you. – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Live simply, love deeply.
Interpret these thoughts as you will, but I hope that they help you in your packing, planning and journey ahead!!