Global travel is the experience of a lifetime; it gives you a chance to step outside your comfort zone, learn about new countries, cultures and people and probably have a lot of fun along the way. Although traveling independently can also be very challenging, especially when traveling for longer periods of time. Being efficient when surrounded by foreign culture and language can be daunting and can result in ‘travel stress’.
Here are 10 items I think every traveler should know about which will hopefully save you precious travel time, money and convenience. I personally would never leave home without them.
1. Sim card
If you plan on being in a single place for an extended stay, buy a local phone number. In Europe you can buy sim cards with local numbers and top up minutes as you go; without buying a new phone or signing up for a contract! Just walk into a local cellular provider and ask for a sim card. $40 and 5 minutes later you will be all set up!
2. Public transportation maps
All public transport systems have a system map. Get around hassle-free by locating the maps and timetables prior to your travels. Some (like in smaller cities) you will need to track down via the Internet. Others actually have leaflets available at transit stations. These maps will help organize your plans by locating attractions that are near to each other instead of going back and forth, wasting precious time. This item is typically free with some full system maps costing a few well-spent dollars.
3. Compression bags
This is how I traveled Europe for a month with only a carry-on bag! Pack your clothing in this special plastic bag and then roll out the excess air. You will double your capacity. What you don’t know about this item? Be cautious when packing your checked luggage because it’s really easy to go overweight with all the extra room. An overweight bag will cost you dearly in airline fees!
This lodging option holds a certain stigma for many people, but in reality, most hostels are just cheap hotels. Hostels are not just for young travelers. Most are family-friendly and many offer private rooms (at the fraction of the cost of a hotel). Cheap hostels also offer kitchen use and discounted tours which all add up to extreme savings. Do your research on hostel location and amenities and you are bound to find one that suits your needs!
Elevation changes during flights can be brutal on your wellbeing. Gum is great for avoiding or at least limiting physiological changes during travel. Whether it’s enjoying a trans-Atlantic flight or taking a bus from Bavaria to Rome, a stick of gum is your best friend and ally in combating ear-splitting altitude change!
Ok, you already know about this one, but you may not be aware of all the amazing travel benefits it has. Load it up with language apps, GPS, a good alarm clock, international time clock, public transportation maps and emergency phone numbers. Also, keep in mind that while most cellular providers offer free international use, you will need to call to add the service to your plan.
7. Universal chargers
Investing in quality adapters is essential to keeping your gadgets going. Whether you seek out international standard plug adapters or a good phone charger for vehicle travel, these items have become indispensable. For phone chargers go directly through your phone provider. I got mine free of charge and I know the quality is specific to my phone and the local wattage at my destination.
8. Travel pillow
I use these as a passenger and as a driver on long trips. Having a neck pillow on long flights or a Euroline bus trip through Europe helps eliminate soreness and aids the probability of actual sleep! Driving with one helps your endurance on the road, getting you to your destination with fewer stops.
9. Around the world airfare
Like hostels, this travel option is not reserved strictly for young backpackers. If you are serious about seeing the world, save a bunch of money by doing one lengthy trip. With an RTW Airfare you can stop just about anywhere and stay as long as you need to. These tickets are the ultimate in travel flexibility and thriftiness. The only downside is you’ll need a large chunk of time to devote to your travels to really reap the benefits!
10. Scottevest (SeV) essential jacket
I’m not particularly big on boasting about specific products but this one is an exception. This is the most amazing item on the market for inconspicuous travel. As if the fanny pack wasn’t already laughable, this jacket puts the former travel must-have to shame. The jacket/vest is super stylish and has 19 pockets (most of them quite hidden). It’s breathable, has removable sleeves and is super sleek. It comes in several colors in both men’s and women’s sizes and at an affordable $120 is probably the best travel investment you can make.