There's no denying that packing tips have their uses.
Although they can be dull to read at times, they can be handy – particularly if you're traveling to a destination you know next to nothing about.
Or if you have to dress a certain way, which I did when I spent three months living in Doha in Qatar.
I ask you now – what are the items that you cannot travel without?
Not the ones that you've been instructed to take with you.
Instead, those that, through trial and error, automatically get placed into your backpack or suitcase immediately when you begin preparing for your next trip away. Here are five of mine.
1. A water bottle
Of all the items that help with the ease of plastic-free travel, a water bottle is the biggest no brainer.
Yet, I know plenty of people who are happy to turn up to the airport/train station or hop in their car, drink bottle free.
“Oh, I'll just buy one along the way,” they'll casually say. I find this hard to comprehend for two reasons.
The first is what I thought was a well-known fact – that having your own bottle saves you money in the long run, as well as reduces your use of plastic.
I also tend to drink around three of four liters of water a day. A water bottle is non-negotiable.
Cycling water bottles are great for traveling since they're designed to be carried and handled while on the move.
2. My travel pillow
I nearly always take my travel pillow with me. Not only for long haul flights but even a trip away for the weekend – especially if I'm taking public transport.
My particular pillow doubles up as an eye-mask, and it makes sleeping anywhere pretty darn easy.
Any traveler will agree that any device that enables you to sleep fuller and better is worth having on hand.
3. A book or Kindle
I can't fathom not having a book on my person when traveling anywhere. What can I say – I'm a bookworm!
Plus, travel consists of a lot of waiting – in lines, on transport, etc. A book will prove invaluable in helping you pass the time.
I've stuck to tradition for a long, long time – either purchasing new books to take traveling or picking up new novels along the way, from secondhand bookstores and airport newsagents.
Having finally recently invested in a Kindle (and jumping on the bandwagon way after the fact), I do have to admit that it has slightly revolutionized the way I travel. So many reads, within such easy access!
I think I'll always buy books abroad – they make for excellent souvenirs – but it's pretty special to know that I have an entire library essentially at my disposal, in the form of one small, lightweight electronic device.
4. Cold hard cash
Although many of us are living in countries that are moving steadily towards being cash-free societies – it's not the case for many other places around the world.
When I'm in London or Australia, I tend to make nearly every purchase on plastic.
Yet, I've been in other countries where I've had issues using a card and have been shocked by it – and irritatingly caught out.
Then there are many countries around the world that don't deal with debit or credit cards.
Not to mention that you can run the risk of losing your cards for no reason, or only having them fail on you when you stick them in a foreign ATM. That's why it's always good to invest in the best wallet tracker on the market.
No matter where I'm traveling, I make sure to have a bit of the local currency on hand before I get to the country if it is at all possible.
And I always carry a backup debit card in case of some financial emergency.
5. My joggers
This one is admittedly a bit of a joke. Whenever I travel anywhere, even if it's only for a week, I tell myself that I'm going to be good this time and keep up with my exercise regimen.
And you know what I do to motivate myself to keep this promise? I pack my joggers.
There they are, staring at me from my suitcase day after day. And do you know how much exercise I end up doing?
Usually not very much at all – unless you count walking around foreign cities, looking for restaurants that sell a surplus of carbs that I can gorge on at the end of the day exercise (you can't).
Staying healthy on the road isn't particularly difficult. I just happen to fail hardcore at it.
Get into the “Flow” with a good pair of headphone
When you are traveling, you might not have the convenience of a gym where you can focus on your exercises and get into the “workout flow.”
Worry not! All you need is a good pair of headphones and your workout music, and you are ready to go. However, not all headphones are suitable for workout.
There are a few important factors to take note of:
- sweatproof with at least an IPX4 rating
- fit well and won't easily slip off your sweaty head
- comfortable enough to last through your workout session; over-ear headphones should have a reasonable clamping force and ear pads with thick cushion
This story was updated in partnership with Headphonesty.
LC is an ex-expat who is currently re-exploring her home country of Australia. Follow her adventures at home and abroad via her blog Birdgehls, where she writes about travel, expat life, gushes on about various animals and bemoans her often futile attempts to go completely green. Or, you can look her up on Facebook.