If you haven’t thought of this yet, you soon will. You know what I’m talking about. That moment where you wonder if you’ll really need to bring your own sunscreen, because who knows if Europe has that stuff.
When I left for the UK, I wasn’t sure how it was going to play out. Was I going to hang out for a few months then travel for six? Or work the whole time and travel on weekends? I came prepared to be a traveller, and ended up working full time.
So, which travel accessories did I bring with me? And did I ever use them?
Mini Dual Voltage Hairdryer
Our standard North American appliances don’t fare well with the higher voltage overseas. If you’re travelling short-term, it’s best to have something with a dual voltage setting.
Because I’d planned to be travelling a lot, I purchased a mini hairdryer to save space, which also had the dual voltage option. This was a great decision. I used it on all my travels and never had to worry about it not working. I just had to remember to bring my plug adapter!
I purchased a sleep sheet for staying in hostels because, well, you never know. I try to pick hostels based on high ratings, good feedback, amenities, and location, but sometimes you just can’t prepare for what you get.
A sleep sheet is a great way to keep yourself an extra layer away from whatever’s been on that mattress or touched those sheets. There’s a debate about their ability to keep bed bugs away, but I think you can actually buy a sheet that has a pesticide in it to ward them off. Regardless, you know who has been in your sheet. Invest in one.
Packable Day Pack
This was a gift from my parents for all the day trips I was sure to take. Frankly, I loved it. It folded up to the size of a notebook and fit anywhere. When I needed a nerdy little backpack to take on a hike or around a city, it was there for me. Despite the low glam factor of this item, I’d still highly recommend it.
Packable Rain Jacket
So I have a thing for packable things. Another fantastic item that I used all the time was my packable rain coat. It fit in the bottom of any bag and was perfect for those long days out when you weren’t sure which way the weather was going to go. It saved me on many a surprise rainy day!
Don’t wear one of these on top of your shirt. Those are the obvious tourists that you read about in the guide books. I love using a money belt under my clothes to keep a few valuables. Mine is flesh colour and stays hidden under my top, and I never have to worry about leaving my stuff in a hostel or creepy hotel room.
Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen
Yep. I had someone tell me that in Europe they increase the price of sunscreen so much because everyone needs it. They said I should seriously consider bringing some. So, I bought myself a decently heavy bottle, which I couldn’t even finish in the two years I was in the UK and travelling through Europe.
Don’t worry, Europe has all the same conveniences as North America. Sunscreen is one of them.
I brought a very heavy bike lock with me. I used this when I first got to the UK to attach my suitcase to the bed post so no one would run off with my ridiculously big piece of bright pink and black luggage.
This one is a toss-up. Sometimes I brought it on short trips, sometimes I didn’t. At the beginning though, it put my mind at ease to know that my bag couldn’t walk out of my shared dorm room.
I had read countless ‘first time traveller’ books that told me I needed one of these. They’re bags that come in many sizes to put valuables in to keep them from getting wet. This was recommended for when you had to take things into the shower with you; you could put all your electronics in this bag so they didn’t get wet. Sounds like a good idea, right?
I never used it. Stay in a semi-decent hostel and you’ll have a place to hang your bag in the shower. No hook? Try the door handle. These places are getting nicer as the years go by. I wouldn’t worry about waterproofing your stuff for the shower room.
Plan on white water rafting? You could probably use one of these then.
Unlocked Cell Phone
I brought a friend’s old, unlocked phone and bought a Sim card for it. Turns out, it wasn’t unlocked. My advice? Don’t bother with this one. Phone plans overseas are much more affordable than in North America. You can get a decent phone, on a not-too-long contract, for a pretty affordable price. I had a Blackberry with all the bells and whistles for £20.50 a month.
Pack of Duct Tape Strips
What the heck? I know, I know. I read in a book that duct tape is a great way to fix everything while you’re travelling. Break a strap? Duct tape it. Tear a hole in your bag? Duct Tape it. And the list went on…
I still have this pack of multi-coloured duct tape (see photo above). If you’re planning on hiking in the back woods for a year, perhaps consider it. If you’re doing weekend breaks around Europe and living in a big city, don’t worry about it.
First Aid Kit
Do it! I haven’t had a chance to use the gauze yet, but all the little things come in handy. Add extra band-aids!
Hope these suggestions help you out! Have you already done your first trip? What did you pack?