Travel Kit 101.

It's always nice to have a few suggestions about traveling from someone who's been there. Here are the basics that I consider before closing up my backpack:

1. Camera.
As a photographer this is obviously #1 on my list. However, no matter what kind of camera you have (even one on your iPhone) make sure you have everything you need to keep it charged and safe from weather and theft while traveling. Also make sure to consider it for your total bag weight if it's the last thing you pack (like it is for me)!  

2. Comfortable shoes.
I always find shoes to be a delicate balance. You don't want to be without the necessary, but shoes can be heavy and take up space. No matter what, make sure you have something comfortable to use for walking-around days (and even some slippers for the night if you can, for homestay and hostel situations especially).

3. First Aid Kit.
For obvious reasons. Don't forget to pack bug bite ointment, rehydration tablets, motion sickness pills and traveler's diarrhea tablets. Seriously.

4. Flashlight or headlamp.
Because you never know when you'll need it. I found the headlamp to be most useful for hiking, repelling and more, so if you have it, bring it.

5. Lonely Planet Travel Guide(s).
These books are probably the best resource I could recommend to anyone who is planning on traveling. From a brief overview to the dirty details, these guides will get you around superbly and give you excellent ideas for day-to-day adventure.

6. Map.
Yes. Becuase it's better to travel with one than without one.

7. Money belt.
There's never a time when you'll be sorry you had a money belt with you. It takes up zero space, makes your cash easily accessible to you, and can potentially save you from theft, especially when you have to exchange money in lump sums. And for the backpacker, this is a lot better than carrying all of your money in your bag. An extra tip: don't get the ones that hang arond your neck. That's not a belt, and it's not as easy to conceal.

8. Outlet converter/adapter.
For the beginner traveler, let me first clarify the diffeence between a converter and adapter:

A converter actually changes the electrical charge between the outlet and your equimpent. Many larger appliances can handle virtually any wattage, but smaller or older equipment may not (always check the specs before plugging it into an outlet in another country). If the charges aren't compatible, you are likely to burn out your appliance, so watch out!

An adapter is a plastic piece that fits the different-shaped-plugs into the correct outlet.

Many times, you will need both converters and adapters when you travel abroad. My suggestion is buy a kit that is suitable for any international venture so you never have to go back to the store for this headache purchase again.

9. Passport (and copies).
The general rule of traveling is to make 2-3 copies of the front page of your passport (where your picture is). Bring 1-2 copies with you and leave 1 at home with your emergency contact.

10. Phrasebook or equivalent.
Even if you're only on a short trip, it's useful to be able to attempt communication in another country. Although this is a generalization, many cultures respect tourists that try to learn the language, so anything you can do to contribute to a conversation will make your time abroad more comfortable. If you're going to a country whose native language has foreign characters, a phrasebook is especially useful.

11. Quick-drying towel.
I cannot express how many times a quick-drying towel has saved me. It's light, compact, and dries things. What more could you want?

12. Reusable water bottle.
Because it's important to be environmentally-conscious when we travel. And it'll ensure you always have a way to hydrate.

13. Something to remind you of home.
Not essential for everyone, perhaps, but I like to carry something small and light. It's a little bit of home, a little bit of comfort, and always a good conversation-starter.

14. Sportswatch with alarm.
Because you're not guaranteed a clock everywhere, and a sportswatch is durable enough to endure the trip. These days sportswatches are as cheap as $7-10 USD so you won't be hurting too bad if you, say, leave it in a bamboo hut in the mountains by mistake (it may have happened once). If you're not normally the sportswatch type, keep it packed in your bag and use it for those early mornings.

15. Toothbrush.
Your hosts and travel companions will thank you.

16. Travel toilet paper.
There are many places in the world where toilet paper is a luxury. Don't be caught without it.

17. Travel soaps, detergents, and shampoos.
Pack sparingly and use your best judgement. It could end up adding way more weight than you need to haul around when there may be a way to get travel soaps upon arrival.

18. Inflatable neckrest/pillow.
Not necessary but extremely useful for overnight transportation and international flights.

19. Plastic rain ponchos.
For the tropical areas of the world, forgo a proper raincoat. All you will need is a rain poncho. Bring several if you want to make some friends. 
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