After traveling overseas several times, I decided to compile a list of my backpack essentials. We all cross our fingers and pray that our bags will make it to our destination, but it doesn’t always happen. My advice: Always have a backup plan.
Eye mask and earplugs
Okay. You don’t need to pack these because the airline usually provides them. However, I used to leave them on the plane, but I’ve paid the consequences by staying in a hostel that was above a bar that didn’t close until 3 am. On an overnight bus to Paris, I was grateful that I had slipped the airline’s offering into my backpack. They can be used anywhere, and they don’t need to be charged.
People will normally tell you to carry your own hand sanitizer and toilet paper just in case. I just bring a package of wipes in my backpack. They are great for freshening up in the airport, but I have also needed them later in my travels. If you end up having to use a “squatty-potty”, you will appreciate having wipes afterwards instead of hand sanitizer. If you don’t have the option of showering for a few days, wipes can be a lifesaver.
I recommend bringing your own mini-pharmacy because you never know how you are going to react to medicine that you are not used to. If you don’t bring anything else, bring the pepto. You can buy Pepto-Bismol in tablet form, so you don’t have to worry about carrying the liquid through security (or having hot pink medicine all over your backpack!). If something looked like it is going to upset your stomach, take a half a dose of pepto before the meal.
When I went to Kenya, my luggage didn’t. In fact, it is still missing…ten years later. I bought two outfits at the local Nakumat and washed clothes in a bucket for the remainder of my trip. Since then, I always keep a spare outfit and a mini-toiletries kit in my backpack. When my bag was delayed on my way to the UK, I was prepared.
I used to always wear my coat on the plane because I never had room in my bag for it. Now, I pack it in my backpack in case I get cold on the plane. If I end up buying too many souvenirs, I wear the coat on the way home and use the extra space to pack.
If you’re bringing a laptop and camera, you will most likely need to buy an adapter. Get one before you go. Like most things, they are expensive in the airport. Check the voltage on your electronics. If they are dual voltage, you will not need a converter. You may blow a fuse if you use a converter with a dual voltage electronic. Side note: Do not try using blow-dryers or straighteners with an adapter or converter. Just buy a cheap one if it is a necessity.
I didn’t put them on the list, but electronics should never be checked. I have friends that have almost packed their adapters in their checked bag. If you have a layover in an international airport, you may need to charge up before the second leg of your trip.