These are a few essentials you must carry on any trip. Yes, apart from your toothbrush.
I have deliberately kept the list short, because, who in the world can remember 1500 points. 🙂
Let’s keep it at an easy-to-remember 7 essentials –
- Travel Documents – Personal identification documents, (voter’s ID card, driver’s license etc) tickets, Passport, Visa, Insurance, Hotel Booking confirmations and any other correspondence you may have had with the tour operator, trekking guide or your contact in the other city.
- Guide Book – a perfect companion as well as a source of information for those long waiting periods at the airport or those sleepless nights. it doesn’t have to be a 200-page behemoth. Essential information about your destination – should cover climate, terrain, food, language, customs and rules. Use this information to pack accordingly. There is no sense in packing strappy heels for a place that is located in hilly terrain.You also wouldn’t want to pack all your woolens for a place that is warm all the year round – even in winters!
- Camera – Don’t forget your camera, extra batteries, USB or microSD card, charger cord etc. You’ll probably be taking lots of pictures, to be able to relive these memories later. At the same time, in an attempt to capture everything, don’t get so lost in the camera so much as to not enjoy the real view. There are some things you must experience with all your senses, and capturing the moment in your mind like a video would better than a still photograph ever could be.That’s also why sometimes you need to leave your camera behind – to be able to absorb and soak in the experience in its entirety.
Live events, wildlife safaris, trekking expeditions, walking trails, places of religious importance are best enjoyed without a bulky camera to tow along, especially when you may not even be allowed to take pictures. However, for city sight-seeing tours, or a night cruise or even a sunset walk, by all means, shoot away and capture those beautiful sights to take back home with you.
(Consult your guide book or your local guide/host to check whether photography is allowed or not. At some places, it may even be allowed but not advisable! Afterall, you definitely do not want to disturb the animals in their natural habitat or offend the locals by taking their photographs)
- Map – Have a local map handy and take time to study it – memorize important roads and highways, local landmarks and understand routes and directions to your accommodation.Many years ago, my maternal grandmother, who was visiting us, got lost while out alone. However, having earlier memorized names of some major roads, she simply asked for directions for one such famous city centre road, and from there found her way back to a familiar spot in the direction of our house. Despite being new to the city, no one could have taken her for a ride, and she reached home safely and comfortably.
(She had insisted that the auto driver explain the entire route to her, and boarded the auto only when she was satisfied, having heard the names of places she knew to be on the correct route. She also kept a lookout for familiar landmarks lest he take a wrong turn or went off-road.)
- Foreign Currency – this could be a pre-loaded travel card, or good ol’ hard cash.
I would suggest travel cards (alongwith some cash kept separately) when travelling international – since you have an option of loading them with a certain amount in the local currency of your destination, making it more like a debit card from a local bank (but without really attaching your bank account to it so your financial details remain private and safe). This offers a multitude of advantages – gives you the benefit of the currency exchange rate, makes purchases and transactions in the local currency easy and hassle-free; and comes a host of security features. Not being attached to your bank account, and loaded with only a limited amount, they hold less value to scammers and fraudsters. They are also much easier to replace than your usual credit card and replacement cards can usually be quickly dispatched at a short notice to a foreign address.
Avoid using debit cards and credit cards for transactions. They usually attract heavy surcharges, also called “foreign transaction fees”. Incase of refund or in the event of an incorrect transaction, the money would take several days or even weeks to be credited back into your account.
You may use your debit/ATM card for cash withdrawals, although this transaction attracts a charge too.
Incase of cash, make sure you have some currency in US Dollars, as this is readily accepted and exchanged everywhere. Also, understand the local currency and the denominations well. You do not want to be handing out a note of 1000 bucks mistaking it to be a tenner!
For more information about traveller’s cheques and travel cards visit this link: Travel Money Options – Cash, Cards and Cheques
- Medicines – Don’t forget to pack your prescription medicines (you may choose to skip non-prescription ones) . You may not get them easily in a foreign country, especially if these are available only on a doctor’s prescription. Have a back-up supply in different bags, just in case your luggage gets lost in transit. Also, have a doctor’s prescription handy with you, since some countries, like UAE, have a very strict drug policy, and a lot of medicines without a prescription are considered/classified as “drugs”.Make sure you read up before hand, what medicines are considered “over-the-counter” in your destination country, and which ones are not. Common medicines like antacids, asthma inhalers, etc are easily available over-the-counter in most places. Avoid carrying too many medicines, if they would be available in your destination country. Also, have a list of instructions on your person if you are suffering from any ailments. In the unlikely event, that you are unable to communicate clearly, a passer by may conduct a quick search of your baggage or your person to check for any medicines that you may be carrying. A written note advising them of your medical conditions along with a list of instructions for them to follow or what medicines to administer you immediately would help them save your life.
- Emergency Contact Numbers -Always carry (on your person) contact details of your family, friends, your family doctor back home and also your local host, travel agent or guide. Incase of any untoward incident, emergency respondents should be able to promptly reach the right people in order to check for your medical history. This is especially required if you are travelling solo, or on special expeditions like a nature walk or mountaineering expedition – where there may be a risk of injuries or health hazards.
The above points are easy to remember and can easily be followed. There are many more things that you may be tempted to carry, but if incase you forget to carry or pack any of the other things, they can easily be purchased elsehwere. The above however, are irreplaceable and should be part of your essential travel kit in order to have a pleasant, memorable trip.
Have more essentials to add to the above list? Share your views and feedback in the Comment box below.