There are a lot of articles about what to pack for a trip to save money and travel light. I never researched those before when I went traveling and looking back now, those articles could’ve saved me some trouble. Today, I wanted to talk about my packing hits and misses. Since my finances right now isn’t making it possible for me to go anywhere and the crisp fall air and blue sky is making me really want to just pack and leave, I thought I’d write about what not to pack and what to absolutely pack next time I go somewhere. Just to prepare for the future awesome trip I’ll take and to calm myself down again in the process of talking about it and reminiscing .
1. No to Flat Iron:
The biggest one item I regret taking is my flat iron. I took this to my Europe backpacking trip. I didn’t even need it at the time since I just got a Japanese magic hair straightening perm, so my hair was shiny, straight, and ready to go. But my best friend asked me to bring mine so she can use it. I didn’t think much of it since it’s thin and small. I just stuck it somewhere and it didn’t take much space at all. But that wasn’t the problem. We were in London and my best friend plugged my flat iron in to warm it up to get the temperature high. She was putting make up on while waiting and I was done with mine at the time, so without even thinking I just grabbed the iron and put some of my hair to straighten it. I smelled something burning and heard a sizzling sound. I was wondering whether the host family was cooking something. I placed the iron down and my friend had this weird face on. I looked in the mirror and the part of my hair that I used the iron on was fried and looked like they sort of melted together into this squiggly mess. I was horrified. My hair was short so I couldn’t put it in a ponytail or anything. I just wasted the $300 I spent on the straightening perm and all my Europe trip pictures were going to have me in a cap or 100 bobby pins to press my burned hair down. Because of the voltage difference my flat iron was basically melting itself. I specifically asked the Best Buy worker when I was buying the outlet converter if it’s ok to use it on a flat iron and he said yes.
2. No to Converse:
I love wearing converse. It goes with everything and it’s easy to pack too. But if you’re planning to walk a lot, your feet are going to suffer. The bottom of these shoes are flat and there’s no cushion what so ever. Maybe you could add some kind of gel sole on the bottom, but without any support, you’ll regret walking in those shoes. My heels felt like they were cracked and filled with heavy metal while walking everywhere in Europe. So these shoes don’t count as comfy shoes in my book.
3. Yes to Band Aids:
I guess you don’t need band aids if you’re not on a backpacking trip since hotels have them and you don’t have many occasions needing these. But during my backpacking trips to Europe and Costa Rica, I just didn’t have enough of them even though I thought I packed enough. If you’re walking a lot, your toes or heels might get blisters and cuts and band aids can help you cover them up and act as a cushion. I also found myself getting many little cuts and scrapes from just being outside, packing and unpacking constantly, and carrying my big backpack everywhere running to catch a train along with other mishaps. You want those wounds to be covered up. At times, it can act as a tape if you want to bind something small together.
4. Yes to Antibacterial Ointment:
Like I said in number 3, I got many cuts and scrapes, so before putting the band aid on, you want to put the antibacterial ointment to avoid infection and help the wound heal nicely. I especially needed this because right before I went on a Europe trip, I got my nose pierced. It wasn’t a good idea to get it pierced in the Summer with my oily skin on the road, but it’s what I decided to do. Of course, it got infected in the beginning of the trip. I had to constantly put the ointment on to make sure I don’t end up with a keloid on my nose. By the end of the trip, it calmed down and there’s no bump on my nose thankfully.
5. Yes to Money Belt:
Our money belt was made by my best friend’s mom. So it wasn’t one of those bulky ones that’s sold at the stores. It was made out of a thin but strong fabric and the size was just perfect for the passport. We put the passport, credit or debit card, some cash on our belly belt the whole time. Losing money would totally suck, but losing a passport would suck even more. At the time, I was still not a US citizen yet, so losing a green card or a passport would mean it would even take longer to get back to the state. Yikes~
There are other things that I was glad I took and others that I didn’t need to take, but these 5 things are the ones that stick out in my mind. I really hope to take another backpacking trip to Europe sometime in the future. Just dreaming about it give me butterflies in my stomach.
What are your travel must-have items? What are your don’ts?