We’ve been answering questions here and there on our packing tips and thought we’d share the information with everyone, just in case you or someone you know may take one of these longer trips at some point in the future.
We wrote most of the post below before we left Vancouver, and then didn’t get a chance to post it. Below is a list of some of our favorite must have travel items. If you are reading this and you too have some favorite travel items that you like to pack when you travel, please post your ideas in the comments section below!! For now…. here’s our list:
1. Ziplock bags. Bring’em. Lots of them.
Ok. This might seem like a strange item. But I can tell you these ziplock bags were extremely useful on our last trip. There was one incident in particular when Karen had to… ahem… get sick into a ziplock bag… some of you remember the story, right? Well, we won’t repeat it here, but lets just say the ziplock bag was helpful. And of course ziplock bags keep little insect friends out of your stuff. They keep things dry and they are also really useful for dividing little odds and ends in your pack. Bring’em. You wont regret it.
2. Pack at least one reusable nylon shopping bag with a handle.
You see in Asia, when traveling where we travel (India, etc) they don’t give out plastic bags at food markets or shopping stalls. At the very most, you may get a “bag” made of newspaper – folded just right to make a perfect pocket. But sometimes you want a handled bag. Karen swore that the next time we traveled we would bring at least a few plastic bags, but now that reusable bags are available everywhere, we are taking one with us. Small and compact. Fits nicely in the backpack. The one we have with us is an Acme fold up one. It was a gift from Mikaela. Thank you Mikaela. Very handy indeed.
3. Bring at least 100 US dollars in single $1 bills.
This tip proved to be one of the smartest things we brought last time. Easy for tipping. Useful in a pinch when you haven’t yet had a chance to get some local currency. [Thank you to Maliha for reminding us of this tip!!] But don’t expect to get 100 dollars handed to you at the bank or currency exchange. Often money exchange places and banks only carry a few $1 US bills. It usually takes a few days/weeks to gather enough for the trip. So start early.
4. Put your mother or father or someone you trust on your bank account.
When you are gone a long time, banking issues will inevitably occur. These days you can call and cancel anything. And for the most part, you can do just about any transaction online. But nothing beats having someone stand at the bank and physically make a transaction on your behalf. Having someone, in person, who can physically move money, ask to speak to the manager, or sort out any major problems is very helpful… even if only for peace of mind. 🙂
5. Bring a little taste of home…
With globalization, access to your favorites are never that far away. Still, when traveling for extended periods in Asia, you will miss things like a fresh salad, cheese, or a nice big cup of coffee [you can get fabulous coffee in places like Vietnam, but other places the only kind of coffee you get is crummy instant… Blech]. Sometimes you just need a nice cup of coffee, you know? One thing we find helps for those times when you crave a little bit of home is to carry a few of these items with you. This time we have 28 little instant Starbucks packages and 18 Clif Bars for those long train trips when you’ve run out of food and you don’t like/want whatever’s on offer. It doesn’t take up much room and on a tough travel day, a little bit of home goes a long way.
6. Get an unlocked cell phone with a Mobal SIM card.
We didn’t travel with one last time. But these days everyone has a phone. Especially in Asia. Just having this in hand, knowing that family can call and check up on you if they want or you can call your hotel if there is a problem or arrange for a pick up from your hotel, is really great. You can buy local SIM cards anywhere, if you want, along the way, making calls a lot cheaper than using the Mobal SIM. But it isn’t totally necessary if you only plan to use the phone in an emergency. This is important because land lines in many places throughout Asia, and certainly in India, are terrible. We had to use payphones last time and it was a big stressy hassle. So get a cell phone.
7. Bring a laptop, iPhone or iPad if you can.
Wireless is often free throughout the city. Just having your computer and access to Skype or check-in to Facebook or stay in touch with friends by email, can make you feel connected to friends and family at home when you are gone for a long time. Especially if you are traveling on your own.
8. Get a neck pouch.
Karen did this last time and it worked really well. Have a little neck pouch made and keep the days worth of money in the pouch. This way you are not pulling out bills from a large wad of money when paying for things. Again, this really serves to make you feel better.
9. Bring a flashlight.
Many places in this part of the world are very dark at night. Outside of the major world cities, like Hong Kong, etc, power failures can be common. Bring a couple of bright LED flashlights with you.
That is it for now. Happy travels everyone.