The saying is true: The world is your oyster — but only if you’re geared up and ready to step outside your comfort zone. Traveling abroad is hands down the best way to do that. Plus, we could all use a little more culture, right?!
Before traveling abroad, there are a million things you have to do: get your passport, notify your bank, figure out your cell phone plan, the list goes on. But the preparation goes far beyond the paperwork. Packing is an entirely different beast — but an important one at that.
We’ll let you take care of planning your day trips and dinner dates, and we’ll help with sorting out your packing list. Here are eight things you must have before going abroad:
Okay, this isn’t necessarily something you pack, but it’s definitely a must — no matter how far you travel. Apps like Uber and Lyft are no-brainers, and they work in most cities. Next up: maps. Even though you probably have Apple or Google Maps as your default, download another app just in case (better safe than sorry!). Citymapper is one of the best apps to guide you through major cities. It will give you a number of travel options — by foot, bus, taxi, subway and even teleporting (seriously). Before you leave the country, make sure you also have the local transportation apps downloaded as well as banking apps. Both will come in handy throughout your travels.
2. Comfortable shoes
There’s nothing worse than walking around on blistered and painfully sore feet. Break in your shoes well before you leave and make sure you prioritize sensibility over fashion. Bring extra socks, Band-Aids and blister pads wherever you go.
3. A bag that works for you
Some people like crossbody purses. Others like backpacks. A rare few like fanny packs. Whichever you choose, make sure it’s something you’re comfortable getting in and out of, and that can keep your personal items secure while you’re out and about.
4. Reusable shopping bag
Depending on the length of your trip, this is a must. We all have a few reusable shopping bags to our name. You know, we buy them with the intention of using them week after week, and by week two we’ve already forgotten about them. But now’s the time to pull them out of hiding! These bags can be handy for separating dirty clothes in your suitcase, packing souvenirs that don’t fit in your suitcase or schlepping food from the grocery store to your Airbnb.
5. Power adapter
Most destinations outside the U.S. have different electrical standards — that means different outlets. Unfortunately, not all hotels have USB plug-ins. This means in order to use your chargers, you need the proper power adapter. To prevent buying the wrong one (been there, done that), invest in a universal adapter that you can use from here on out.
Buy it now: Universal World Wide Travel Charger Adapter Plug by Insten, $8
6. Large scarf
Yes, even if you’re traveling at the height of summer. Planes, cars, hotels and museums can be chilly, especially when the AC is cranked on. Blankets are big, bulky and a pain to lug around. A scarf, on the other hand, can be a fashion statement and a way to keep warm. Another bonus: You can bunch the scarf up into a ball to create a makeshift pillow for long car, train or plane journeys.
7. Plastic bags
You won’t think you need them…until you do. Using plastic bags, similar to reusable ones, is the best way to keep your suitcase organized, clean and leakage-free. You can also use the bags to package up snacks, liquid products or whatever else you find along the way.
Whatever you do, don’t wait to get cash until you’re at your travel destination. There’s always a chance your bank may prevent you from taking out money or you’ll get lost trying to track down an ATM. Some banks and airports will allow you to exchange a small amount of cash, but your best bet is heading to a AAA location and exchanging money on the spot.
So, get packing!