This post will cover some essential stuff I plan on taking with me on my upcoming trip. Mission drives gear, so when I pack for a trip, I consider my itinerary: what kind of place will I be going to, what will I be doing there, and how long will I be gone for?
For this trip, I will be in Southern Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East, and Japan. I will be staying in a mix of cruise ships and hotels, and will mostly be walking around various ports and cities. My time abroad will last roughly one month. Feel free to use this post as a packing guide for yourself, if you see fit.
Ok, let’s get started. My Main bag:
This is the bag that will hold most of my clothes. It’s a rolling duffel bag made by Ricardo, which I acquired from Costco about six years ago. It’s narrow enough that you can take it up an escalator, but has enough space to hold all the shirts, pants, underwear, and other essentials you’d need for an extended trip. I can’t recall the exact price, but it was reasonable at somewhere around $100. The material is strong, but soft and collapsible, which makes it light to carry and easy to store when you’re not using it.
The Day bag:
My Day bag is a Timbuk2 Commute 2.0, which I’ll be carrying around with me as I explore. With a cost of around $100, it is neither the cheapest nor most stylish bag around, but the build quality has been outstanding. I’ve used it to haul my stuff nearly every day for the past two years. It still functions and looks like as if it were new.. The waterproof compartment has saved my laptop and textbooks during rainstorms that left me looking like I just stepped out of the shower. Here is what I typically carry:
- Water: I suggest you bring sturdy water bottles everywhere you go. You will stay hydrated, and you’ll save money by not having to pay for bottled water. Respected manufacturers for bottles include Nalgene and Camelbak. They will be much less prone to leakage or getting crushed than your typical 16oz plastic Kirkland water bottle from Costco. The wider mouths on Nalgenes and Camelbaks will also make refilling your bottle much easier. I carry two 24oz Camelbak bottles that have held up after years of use and abuse. They have saved me from dehydration more times than I can count.
- Hand Sanitizer: Because getting sick in a foreign country is no fun.
- A Flashlight: I normally carry one in my pocket, but I keep a spare in my bag. You can never predict why or when you’ll need one. But when you do, it will be an invaluable tool. Use it for everything from lighting up dark roads to finding a pair of lost keys that dropped underneath your hotel bed.
- A small Umbrella: I carry a little collapsible one that can be found at Nordstrom Rack for around $15. Don’t bother carrying one if you’re absolutely sure the weather will be dry. But, if the weatherman says “chance of rain”, a small, lightweight umbrella that hardly gets in the way will become your best friend once the drops start falling.
- iPad: Much lighter than a laptop or netbook, and makes for a quicker, easier tool to check your emails with if you come across a WiFi spot.
- A Snack: I like carrying foods that can take a beating. Worrying about how your bag of chips is holding up while you’re exploring a whole new city isn’t exactly fun. I like gummy bears. They won’t melt, they can’t get crushed to bits, and they taste good. What more could you ask for?
This is pretty straightforward: comb, shaver, nail clippers, hand sanitizer (for the Day bag), toothbrush, and toothpaste. Shampoo and body wash will be provided by all the hotels and cruise ships, so no need to worry about bringing them. These will be carried in:
Unless for some reason you plan on being away from your Main bag for at least one night, this bag is optional for most people. But on this trip, my Main bag will be out of my reach for at least two nights. Since I’m not fond of carrying around my toiletries, PJs, and a change of clothes into my Day bag, I’ll be putting all of those in this duffel.
While I’m out exploring, the duffel will be kept out-of-the-way in a hotel room or tour bus. I’ll have easy access to my necessities without having to drag them around for an entire day. Again, most travelers aren’t going to need a separate overnight bag unless they’re facing specific circumstances.
- A notebook: good for jotting anything down from quick notes, to detailed summaries of your day.
- An iPod/MP3 player: keeps you sane on long bus rides and 12 hour flights.
- A DSLR camera: in my case, a Nikon D3100.
- A point-and-shoot camera: I will use a point-and-shoot (or a cellphone camera, if it’s good enough) when I don’t want to carry around my big Nikon. This mainly means any occasion in which I need to wear formal attire. Wearing a big, clunky camera with a suit has simply never felt right.
- Power strips: the extra power outlets will come in handy if you’re sharing a hotel room with family members. No more fighting over who gets to charge their camera first!
- Overseas power plug adapters: self-explanatory, though not always needed (like when you’re not traveling abroad, duh).
And there’s my packing list! I do plan on talking about what clothes one needs to bring on a cruise, since many new cruisers are often confused, but that deserves a whole post of its own. Watch out for it within the next few days.