Traveling abroad is an exciting, and to some degree, nerve wracking experience. Looking back at my time on the road (or in the air), I’ve compiled a list of things I needed.
1. External Battery/Portable Phone Charger
When you’re spending all day in Museums, finding the best hidden spots, or just walking around a city, you can’t be bothered to worry about your phone’s charge — and inevitably how you’re going to find your way home. Make sure you pick up one of these BEFORE you leave your home country, or rather get one wherever you get your phone. A mistake that I made was buying one in London, when I had purchased my phone in the US, without even thinking about the voltage difference between the countries. My phone didn’t explode, but it couldn’t hold a charge for anything.
2. Menstrual Cup
LAAAAADIES, I think most of us can commiserate with the horrible feeling that is being out in public, unaware if you’re…sufficiently supplied to handle the barrage of menstruation. A menstrual cup is an excellent alternative to this, it holds an insane amount of blood, rarely leaks (I’m actually not sure that mine ever has), is easy to clean, and is reusable! You don’t have to make room in your luggage for pads and tampons, though pantyliners can help keep you feeling less nervous about the cup malfunctioning, even though that’s not likely.
3. Credit Card with no International Fee
I have a Capital One card, none of which have international fees. My credit card is nothing special (lo the nonexistent credit of a student), and I’m sure there are other cards that have no international fees, just make sure you get one. Fees can rack up quickly, and while you can’t use credit cards at ATMs the same way you can a debit card, as long as you get a Visa (hopefully with a chip), you’ll be able to pay for things virtually anywhere.
I should note, however, that paying for items in cash does give you an understanding of a culture that paying with cards doesn’t. Money is fascinating, especially in the variances that occur between countries. So, don’t totally forgo cash, but you will more than likely use a card the most.
God bless the minds behind CityMapper. This app is AMAZING, and I’m convinced that anyone in a major city needs it. Not only does the app work as a direction provider, it also gives you live updates of public transportation. I’LL SAY IT AGAIN FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK: it gives you live updates of public transportatiooooooonnnnnnn. Want to know when the next night bus is arriving in London (hint: good luck with that one, bub), the app will tell you an approximate time it’ll arrive at your stop. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a gauge for how curmudgeonly the driver will be, and whether or not they’ll let you on. Walking in London at 4am, alone, as a woman, is cool though.
5. Pack More Shoes than Just your Sneakers
I am a very light packer. I can’t be bothered by the hassle that is carrying things, apparently even when I only have to do it for a total less 48 hours, when I’ll be spending two months in a location. I only packed one pair of shoes for my time in London. As such, I would like to introduce you to a lovely concept that is not even in the dark recess of the minds of Americans.
That’s right folks, less than a week in and I walked down an alleyway that had puddles, and lead me to state to the person walking with me, “It didn’t rain last night, did it?”
No folks, it didn’t.
Public Urination would continue to lead to many embarrassments for me on that trip, such as openly staring at the urinal equivalent of port-a-potties. I legitimately could not figure out what they were, until I did, and well, that was weird. Have a good pee, sir.
Anyway, if you’re going to overpack something, make it shoes. They’re kind of expensive wherever you go, not to mention breaking in a new pair when you’re walking all day is the worst.
And this way, if you get piss on your shoes, you’ll have options.