Polarity Travels: The Essential International Travel Starter-Pack
By Vanessa Palencia
I recently spent a month abroad where I learned very quickly how I could have made my travels around much easier if I only had the knowledge I do now. Thanks to Pinterest and a number of other sites that aim to help vacationers, I figured out what I needed to take with me and what I didn’t, but there were some situations that I didn't account for; things even Pinterest couldn’t have warned me about. So with that experience, I decided to compile a list of necessary items and preparations to make your travels much more efficient.
1. Public transportation:
Depending on where you plan on traveling, Uber may not be available and sometimes renting a car isn't really ideal. In London, for example, riding public transportation is better than driving a car, but you can’t pay for public transit on the bus. You need to purchase an Oyster card in advance at a station before boarding the bus or tube. So make sure to look into public transportation and payment methods well before your trip to save yourself the trouble of not having access to your hotel or major sightseeing points.
2. Carry cash:
Not everyone takes major credit cards, so if you’re like me and usually only carry a credit card, then odds are that you’ll be running into some trouble. A lot of food vendors and markets don’t accept credit cards, so your best bet is to carry cash.
3. Unlock your phone or use data roaming:
Last year I ran into some problems when I went to Italy without applying data roaming options to my phone’s plan. I was out of luck when i needed to make a few phone calls back home or text friends that I ran to the bathroom, so make sure you unlock your phone or talk to your service provider about what options are available before leaving for your trip. This is especially important if you’re going to use Google maps or other navigation systems on your phone.
4. Download Google Maps:
If you don’t want to carry an old-fashioned map and you want to conserve as much of your phone’s battery as possible, then download Google maps for the area you will be in. Offline maps won’t be able to give you traffic data or the estimate time for walking, but you’ll have your location and driving directions when you need it.
5. Portable charger:
Utilizing your phone’s navigation, camera, and/or other apps can drain your battery quickly, so you’ll be needing a portable charger to make sure your phone doesn’t die on you before finding out how to make your way back to your hotel. Digital Trends listed 25 of the top portable battery chargers for your phone, so find one that best suits your needs.
6. A small backpack:
Unless you plan on chilling in your hotel or soaking up the sun at a local beach, you’ll need something to carry a few essential items. A small backpack will allow you to carry all your necessary items while making traveling on foot as comfortable as possible. You can store your water bottle, wallet, selfie stick, and even a light coat if you plan on staying out well into the evening all while leaving your hands free to do whatever.
7. Pedestrians don’t have the right of way:
Unlike the US, European drivers won’t stop for anyone who has half a mind to cross the street when the pedestrian signal has stopped. If their light is green, they’re going. I strongly caution against jaywalking, but if you decide to, be advised that it’s at your own risk. #survivalofthefastest
8. Pack light:
I'm sure you've heard this countless times, but it must be stressed! As someone who enjoys wardrobe diversity, it was difficult for me to only pack five pairs of shoes, but trust me, you’ll be glad you had room for all the souvenirs you’ll come across. If you're the kind of person who only wears a change of clothes once, then pack some powdered detergent so that you can wash your clothes and re-wear them again! One key to packing the essentials is to look at the weather at your destination the week before and the week of for more accurate readings.
If we all had the same outlets, then we wouldn't have to worry about this, but we do. Find out what kind of adaptor you'll need for your trip, or if you're planning on trotting the globe, a world adaptor will cover you! Some hotels and hostels offer adaptors for a small price, but it isn’t guaranteed, so play it safe and buy one ahead of time. Lifehacker listed its 5 best travel adaptors, so find one that you like!
10. Create an itinerary:
I’m a big advocate for spontaneity because I’ve found that I’ve met some of the most amazing people and eaten at the most delectable restaurants this way. BUT, I do realize that without a general list of things I want to see and/or do, it’s incredibly easy to forget about it or not leave enough time for it and then regret it later. Instead, try listing your absolute must-see places or things-to-do over the course of your stay there and then let everything else fall into place to create a perfect balance of freedom and schedule.
What trip are you planning at the moment? If you found this list helpful or have any other suggestions, let us know in the comments below!