Extra money - whatever amount you plan to bring as living expenses, bring an extra $100 in case of emergencies and/or excursions you want to do! It's easy to lose track of how much money you're spending, so I literally documented 99% of every expense I made haha. I hadn't factored in costs for tourist attractions and spent more than I thought I would, but they were worth the expense :)
|Is it just me, or is every other country's currency prettier than the US'?|
Camera - if you're the sentimental type who will want to keep records of all the events that happen in your life, bringing a camera will do wonders. Whether it's your smartphone or a DSLR, anything to document the memories for your later years will be sufficient! I read somewhere that the more pictures you take, the less vivid the memory will be... But that's just one person's opinion, so do whatever you want!
Sneakers - comfortable shoes are so important when it comes to traveling abroad. You never know how far you're going to have to walk, and if you go on hikes or excursions that may require strenuous walks, your feet will thank you later for sneakers. In Mérida, there are a lot of buses that can take you almost anywhere you want to go at a cost of only 7 pesos ($0.50USD per ride), but the bus "stops" may be over 20-30 minutes away! Some of the other UBELONG volunteers worked at local schools and had walks that easily were over 40 minutes from the hostel, so wearing flip flops may not be ideal for these journeys, unless you like Indian burns on your feet... (and yes that happened to me lol)
Outlet adapter - this is super important! Many countries may use different plugs and the smartest, most inexpensive thing you can pack in your luggage is an outlet adapter. Most countries will sell them for an extremely low price so if you forget to bring one, don't fret! It should be available anywhere you travel :)
Sunscreen - let's face it. Sunscreen is oily, greasy and feels uncomfortable on our skin. But the sun is always going to be there, no matter what part of the world you travel to. Some places are at higher altitudes or just closer to the equator making for warmer climates and stronger sun exposure. Your skin is the only external barrier to your body aside from your clothes, so treat it well!! A little SPF can go a long way in protecting yourself from harmful UV rays. An added benefit of using sunscreen is that you'll have younger looking skin when you're older since you're protecting your skin from drying out!
Locks - this also is optional, but I like to make sure my belongings are secure and can't get stolen, whether I'm at a hotel or a hostel. Whenever you're traveling to a foreign country, keep your valuables to a minimum. You don't need that expensive jewelry to make it even more obvious that you're not a native!! Hide your emergency money where people would least expect to find it! I saw this clever tip where someone used a sunscreen bottle to hide their keys and wallet at the beach, so that's just one option, as I'm sure others have unique ideas as well.
Miscellaneous medicines - this is super important! Whenever you go to a foreign country, you might not be accustomed to the weather, food or water. Bear in mind that your body may need time to adjust to the different climate and you might get a cold or a fever a few days into your arrival. Pack some OTC pain reliever and fever reducer, and cold medicine if you're prone to getting sick. In regards to the different food and water, it's smart to pack Imodium or other traveler's medication in case you have a weak stomach. In Ecuador and in Mexico, it's unsafe to drink the tap water (at least for people from the States) and you're advised not to eat raw, unpeeled fruit and vegetables in case they are washed in the tap water. It's perfectly fine to use to brush your teeth and take showers, and probably to wash your contact lens cases, but I played it safe and used bottled water to clean my case.
Note: If you're traveling to a country for a long period of time, I would suggest that you get travel medical insurance. I used Seven Corners, but I know there are a lot of other options!
Umbrella - If you're going to travel, I think it's safe to say that you may need to use your umbrella at least once on your trip! I literally only had to use my umbrella once for light rains in Mérida, but hey, you might end up going some place that is known for frequent rains (unless you're going to the savannah or a desert haha).
Journal - this is another method you can use to document your travels! I obviously opted for the online journal blog, but if you're more traditional and like to write on paper, that's perfectly fine as well :) speaking of which... I have unfinished journals I should start using!
Travel Dictionary - I almost forgot about this!! If you don't speak the country's native language, I HIGHLY recommend you invest in a dictionary. I bought one for $5 USD in Ecuador and it has been my savior when I was there and while I was in Mexico. It will prove to be useful when you're at the airport, at the local shops, and when you're lost and need to find your way haha.
With that said... Happy travels! Share your thoughts on what are smart items to bring with you when you go abroad!