Yes, I decided to start with the controversial one first, but hey, after this, it’ll be out of the way. Always make sure you know about recurring conditions and diseases that you have no knowledge about in the country you are visiting. Whether you decide to get the vaccines or not, knowledge is power, make sure you know about regions, symptoms and possible treatments to remedy in that short term while you get home. It is also very important that, if you are going to be outdoors, you learn about the different poisonous animals of the region. Believe me, being from Puerto Rico, the most dangerous threat is a mosquito… so now that I am in Texas, and people tell me to watch out for snakes in bushes I’m like “what?!?!”, so yes, it is important.
Do you need a Visa where you’re going? Did you check how much time in advance you need to ask for it? Is there a fee? GO CHECK. Sometimes you need as much as 6 months and you can’t have a passport that expires within 6 months of entering said country. Also, bring an alternate ID so that in more casual places where they card you, you won’t have to be parading your passport. Do you still have your student ID? If it doesn’t have an expiration date, BRING IT! It’ll score you student discounts in museums and other visits.
This is great for long term travel or for countries that are not listed on those international phone plans. I use the T-Mobile $50 plan, although Vietnam is not listed and I wasn’t able to use it, I never missed a step in India, Germany, Czech Republic or Thailand. Here you have a choice, you either bring one in case of emergencies, for which you can find them for as little as $21.99 http://amzn.to/2jOl2Fd or you can get a smart phone to use as GPS where available for around $65.00 http://amzn.to/2wIe5q9 .
Where do I start? They are amazing. What I love about them is that whether you roll or lay flat (I roll), you can separate in a way that keeps everything neatly organized. For example: if you are backpacking through several countries, you use one cube per country or per week or per hotel (whichever), the point is, you don’t have to unpack everything to get dressed. You take out your cube and your toiletry bag, and that is it. When you are finished with that, you place it at the bottom and repeat with the other one. I chose these bago cubes http://amzn.to/2wyEZG1 because they came with plastic resealable bags, that can be used for liquids or anything that could ruin everything inside your bag, dirty clothes, wet clothes, basically anything. They are sturdy, and have been my hard-working companions during this past year. In this past year I have been to 7 countries, home and now moved to another country and they have not shown any breakage or tears and I confess, since I haven’t been in the same place for longer than a few months, they have even worked as storage cubes, so basically only the dresses that I reeeeally care about have been hung.
From the amazing quality of their product to their customer service, Grayl is the water bottle/filter you need in your life. I bought this for my trip to India but used it everywhere! The stats are excellent, check them out here: http://amzn.to/2xoMVrZ and you cant get a better product for that excellent price. Don’t want to spend $5 worth of water or get out of your hotel room? Grayl has you back too.
Vega is my go to protein. I love their single serving packets because it makes it easy for me to stay healthy while I travel. Just mix in a smoothie or with water. In India, while the food was amazing, I also wanted to know I was getting all the nutrition I needed. This is always in my mind during long term travel. So, even when you pig out on local food =), if you feel like you need a boost, these are great! http://amzn.to/2fA6LKS. Also, protein bars and even tuna packets http://amzn.to/2ytWKTc could come in handy when travelling long distances or in a budget.
My rule of thumb is: never use the cash if you can use the credit card. Also, change the money in a hub. For example: in Puerto Rico, they only bring Euros and the fee is almost 15%. I wait until my layover if I am worried there wont be any change in the next country. In international airports, the fees are usually more reasonable. In some countries, like in Jordan, they accepted Euros or Dollars even at the convenience stores. Check if the ATM’s will charge you for exchanging, most of the time, they wont. In a lot of countries, they also refund you the tax at the airport when you are coming out, if you keep your receipts, you may want to look for the signs so you can get some of the money you spent, back.
Even if you are not backpacking, a backpack of at least 18” of height still counts as a personal item, as it may contain your laptop. The other beauty of this is, that you may keep a small packing cube with at least 4/5 days’ worth of clothes in there if you organize well.
This little thing... this device helps you pee standing up. Need I say more?! Power to the people!
The greatest thing is, that even when there were no toilets, there was at least a water source to wash up, which leads me to:
Last trip I went with Dude Wipes, yes!
http://amzn.to/2x48zDj Biodegradable so I didn't feel like a horrible person for the individually wrapped packets and if you really want to, a roll.