A funny thing happens when I book travel WAY in advance – I completely forget about it. Literally. I’ll request off from work, put it in my calendar, and then at some point, I think holy cow I’m going to Italy in 2 weeks and I have nothing prepared. Que the panic and anxiety, and there you have it – a peak into my every day life. That sounds a bit dramatic, but it’s very true, I usually end up scrambling last minute to get everything together and get activities planned, etc. For my trip to Italy, I actually relied a lot on other blogs to guide me on the right things to bring and see if there was anything special I should bring because I was going alone. I had never traveled alone. Did I need a secret under-my-clothes pocket for money? Did I need to book a photo shoot, so I’d actually have decent photos of me on vacation? Did I need to buy an Italian SIM card so my phone would work? I’m going to create a guide specifically for Italy that answers a lot of these questions, but for now, I’ve created this list of products to buy when you’ll be traveling abroad whether it be alone or with friends. These are all things I either had or wish I had brought along with me when I went and will definitely get next time I travel.
Disclaimer: In the name of full transparency, please be aware that this blog post contains affiliate links and any purchases made through such links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you.
1. A TRIPOD
If you’re traveling alone, no, you don’t have to book a photo shoot to get good photos of yourself on vacation! Save the $80-$200, and just get a tripod for your phone or camera. I knew I’d be taking most of my pictures on my iPhone, so I snagged this one for less than $25 – and didn’t have to plan around someone else’s schedule.
2. A STURDY CARRY ON SUITCASE
Before I left, I was torn over whether or not to buy a larger suitcase that I can fit half of my possessions into, or strategize my packing a bit more with a smaller one. I opted for the latter and was happy for two reasons. 1. I had to walk up and down a LOT of stairs – especially in Positano – and across a LOT of cobblestone. Even as someone who religiously works out 5 days a week, I was so thankful I only had a carry on and a backpack; and 2. I did a decent amount of waiting around in train stations. A woman traveling alone tends to be a prime target for pickpockets, and I felt much safer with smaller luggage. I will add I bought so much stuff in Florence that I had to buy a new duffel bag to bring everything back, so try not to stuff your carry on going into the trip!
3. A PORTABLE CHARGER
This might be one of the most important things you can bring with you especially if you plan on taking most of your photos with your phone. Walking around all day, using Google Maps, taking pictures, communicating, looking up restaurants/things to do and see – it all drains your battery. There’s nothing worse than having to go back to your hotel just to charge your phone! Keep in mind that not all portable chargers are created equal. I’ve used some very low cost ones in the past, and they either die very quickly or charge my phone very slowly. I currently have the one I linked here and it’s phenomenal! It charges my phone very quickly and it holds a charge itself for quite a while.
4. A CROSS BODY PURSE OR MONEYBAG
I, personally, choose to bring a cross body purse that I’ve had for years wherever I go, but a money belt like the one to the left here can fit under clothes and is probably the “safest” way to travel with cash.
5. A TRAVEL ADAPTER
If you’ve never left your home continent, you might not think of this, but different regions have different styles of outlets, so your charger, hair dryer, etc. become essentially useless unless you have one of these handy travel adapters. A universal one like the one pictured to the left is probably your best bet, because whether you’re from the US, Australia, UK, or EU, you can use it when traveling to any of those places. All you have to do is slide the appropriate toggle based on where you are and then plug it into the wall. Then, plug in whatever you’re trying to use into the universal outlet on the front.
6. A COMFORTABLE WALKING SANDAL
These sandals are actually sent from Heaven via Nordstrom. I bought these right before I left for Italy (this was a mistake; wear them a few times before walking in them all day), and they are still my favorite pair of sandals to this day. I’ve read reviews that said the second strap is a bit wide, so this may work better for people with wide feet (me), but either way, LOVE THESE.
7. COMFORTABLE WALKING SNEAKERS
This is taken right out of HeleneInBetween’s playbook. If you follow her (which you should), you’d know this is all she wears! She was also the one that hosted the trip to Italy that I’ve been writing about, so I thought I’d give a pair of white Adidas’ a try, and I’m glad I did! Very comfy and equally as stylish.
8. POCKET WI-FI
This is something I actually didn’t bring with me that you might benefit from. Don’t make the same mistake I did and forget about your phone plan until right before you go. Luckily, I have AT&T and they have a nice plan where you pay $10 per day and can use your phone exactly how you would in your home country when you’re abroad. I even called Italian numbers and wasn’t charged any long distance fees. BUT, if your cell phone carrier doesn’t have something like this, than a pocket Wi-Fi device can be a life-saver. You just need to buy this device and then activate it for the amount of time you’ll be gone, then keep it around for your next trip and do the same. There are companies that you can rent them from so you don’t have to spend the money up front, but if you plan on traveling abroad a lot, it might be worth the investment to buy one yourself.
9. A JOURNAL
This is also something I didn’t bring with me, but I bought as soon as I returned. I took notes every day about what I did, where I went, what I saw, and any funny/remarkable things that happened so I could write about them later, but it would have been so nice to have a journal to write everything in. It makes me happy knowing that one day my kids or my grandkids might be able to share in my experiences through my first hand accounts of trips I took.
10. A BACKPACK
This one might be a no-brainer, but a backpack can come in handy so much when traveling by yourself or with groups if you don’t know how long you might be out for. You can only fit so much in a comfortable purse and you don’t want to be walking around all day with a heavy bag on one shoulder. This isn’t the exact one I have, but it’s very similar and has the features of mine that I love including a strap to easily hook it to your suitcase handle and an easy-access charging port that you can see on the picture above, so you can attach your portable charger and charge your phone right from your backpack!
11. TRAVEL SLEEPING ACCESSORIES
This is a must have for me on long flights. I’ve never felt so comfortable sleeping than I did with a neck pillow and ear plugs. AND this one will shrink down into a small pouch. Highly recommended to help long flights go by in a flash!
12. TRAVEL RAZOR
I hate packing full size razors without a case – I’m constantly worried I’m going to stick my hand in my bag and pull it out with scratches from my razor. That’s where this comes in. A small finger-and-thumb version of Venus’ razor that uses the same detachable razor heads as their full size options. It even comes with a plastic carrying case so there’s no worries about injuries with this one. I even use this at home, too, because I just like how it fits in my hand better than the full size version.
13. WATERPROOF FOLDER
This is something I didn’t bring with me to Italy, but I will never make that mistake again. As annoying as it may be, you need to print out an bring a copy of your passport and license along with hotel, flight, and excursion confirmation numbers/emails. As you may have read in my blog about the truth behind traveling alone, I never expected my phone to completely die on me and it would have been much less of a hassle if I already had everything printed out as a back up. Learn from my mistakes, people!
14. WATER BOTTLE
Water abroad (at least in Europe) isn’t always free! Some restaurants require you to buy bottled water and won’t supply tap water for free. So, to avoid paying upwards of $6 per meal for water, simply bring your own! This is also obviously very useful for long days walking around potentially in the heat. This one comes with three different tops in a variety of sizes and colors. I, personally, love a water bottle with a straw and sip top, but really any bottle will do as long as you stay hydrated.
15. A GOOD CAMERA
I know most people settle for photos on their phone, but if you’re going to a place with historical sites and beautiful sceneries, do yourself a favor and invest in a good camera to be able to look back on those photos and feel like you’re back in that atmosphere. You’ll likely cherish those photos forever, so you might as well make them good! This one even has bluetooth making it easy to transfer photos right to your phone without the use of pesky cords.
Are there any other items you swear by when traveling abroad? Let me know in the comments below! I know there’s things I’m forgetting, just like there’s always something I forget at home when packing for a trip.
I got most of these items from Amazon, as you’ll see if you follow the links. I’m the perfect combination of lazy and busy to REALLY enjoy Amazon Prime. Where do you buy your travel necessities? I’m always open to new sources!