There’s a difference between someone who goes on vacation and someone who travels.
This list is for the latter.
*This is a long one. Read this whole thing and now, you essentially travel like me.
Here is every gadget, credit card, and habit that I carry with me when I travel.
I save money.
I avoid problems.
I gain time.
All because I pack and prep like the god damn pro traveler that I am.
Tick these items off your packing prep list, and you will have learned the lessons which took me nearly 10 years to master.
#1 – Check your Passport
There are things about your passport that you don’t know!
First, make sure that you have more than 6 months validity on your passport. In other words, make sure your passport doesn’t expire in the next 6 months.
For example, if your trip begins on January 1st, 2020, your passport must be valid AT LEAST until July 1st, 2020. Countries reserve the right to put you right back on a plane to where you came from if your passport expires within 6 months.
Second, check how many pages you have left. Some countries (like Cambodia and Vietnam) don’t simply give you a stamp, they give you a gigantic sticker that takes up an entire page! If you’re running low on space, this could be an issue.
Oh, and make a couple copies of your passport to keep on hand. Black and white is fine.
#2 – GET TRAVEL INSURANCE
I would never travel without travel insurance and neither should you.
1 week. 1 month. It doesn’t make a difference. You need to be covered for everything from Lost Baggage to Motorbike Accidents.
When traveling long-term, I use IMG Insurance as the plans are more economical for bigger trips and they provide extensive coverage with everything from hospital visits to flight cancelations. Customer service is quick to handle your claim and reimburse you!
For trips under 3-months, I use WorldNomads Travel Insurance as they offer the most straight-forward travel plans ever. Pick the Standard Plan for basic travel coverage/flight delay protection or the Explorer Plan for extreme adventures like Kayaking and Rock-climbing. These plans include massive accident coverage from $100,000 to $1,000,000 – plus, evacuation coverage if you need to be helicoptered off a mountain somewhere.
#3 – update your bank cards and credit cards
As a traveler, there are two money rules to live by:
- Don’t buy flights and hotels with cash
- Make sure your debit card is compatible with foreign ATMS.
If you’re cool with traveling with your weak-ass Visa debit card, skip to listicle #4. If you want to save money and rack up travel points for free flights, I’ll break down my Bank Card Trifecta now…
I travel with 3 cards in my wallet at all times: 1 amazing debit card and 2 travel credit cards.
- Charles Schwab Debit Card – Best for International ATM Withdrawals
- Chase Sapphire Preferred – 2x points when used on flights, hotels, Uber, AirBnb, and Restaurants + Trip Cancelation Coverage (weather, sickness and other causes)
- American Express Platinum – The Most Powerful Travel Credit Card Ever + Airport Lounge Global Access with Priority Pass & 5x points on flights and hotels.
For more info (and to learn how to fly Business Class for free) check out The Best Travel Credit Cards and Travel Debit Cards.
#4 – Medications & Travel Vaccinations
No, you cannot bring your Adderall to Thailand or Indonesia. Not even with a prescription.
No, you do not need to start taking Malaria medication before you visit Southeast Asia.
And yes, you can bring Tylenol and motion sickness pills – but you can also buy them inside stores all over Southeast Asia.
Now, what about vaccinations?
Before you go anywhere, make sure you’re up to date on all the basic vaccinations like Tetanus, Hepatitis A & B, and your MMR vaccine.
Just like shopping for a travel insurance plan, your vaccinations and medications will depend on which destination you’re visiting.
The CDC Website…and your doctor who just googled the CDC website before your visit…might recommend some whacky vaccines aimed to cover people working on Pig Farms and teaching English by candlelight in remote jungle villages for 5 months. But that’s not you.
So, what about the CDC’s recommendations? Do you really need the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine? No. Do you need the Rabies series? Nah, not really. Am I a doctor? Absolutely fackin’ not, but I have lived in Asia for a very long time and have never heard of any travelers contracting rabies or Japanese Encephalitis.
Tip: Skip the high price of vaccinations at home and get your vaccinations at an international hospital in Asia for a fraction of the price.
#5 – Download this traveling organizing app
The most useful travel app ever is called TripIt. It’s an app that organizes all of your travel reservations into one clean timeline that you can access both online and offline.
You simply forward your confirmation emails (hotels, flights, tours) to Plans@Tripit.com (once you’ve registered) and your itinerary is immediately organized to the app on your phone.
Need to pull up the directions to your hotel? The link is in your app. Need the confirmation number for your airline reservation? It’s in your app. Need the local phone number of the AirBnb you’ve booked? Just click the number in the app.
You and your travel backpack will develop an intimate bond. You will sleep with your backpack, snuggle your backpack, and you might eventually name your backpack. You need to love your travel backpack!
After 9 years of backpacking and nearly $1,000 spent on testing out 5 high-quality travel backpacks, I have finally settled on a favorite: The Farpoint 40 Liter.
This backpack is everything:
- Compact carry-on bag perfect for the overhead bin
- Comfortable fit for long days of carry
- Front Open zip panel for organization
- Versatile and secure pockets that can fit big items like Nike shoes!
- Duo-Carry Function: carry as a backpack or a duffle bag
- Perfect size for a long-trip!
#2 – Anti-theft purse
It’s not just the locals you’ve got to watch for, it’s also other travelers. Pick-pocketers prey on girls who have their guard down at parties, on buses, and in large crowds.
So, here is what you need to look for when buying your travel purse:
- Zippers, not magnet or Velcro straps
- Across-the-shoulder carry
- Thick straps that are hard to break
- Classic design that you’ll actually want to wear the whole trip
For a day purse that can carry your essentials plus snacks and a sweater, the Travelon Anti-Theft Heritage Bag is the best.
For a “Just my money and keys” bag that you’ll want to wear out on the town, Travelon Women’s Anti-Theft Heritage Small Crossbody Bag is it.
#3 – Adapters & Converters
Adapters and converters are not the same thing.
Adapters only help your plug fit the wall socket. The wall plugs at home may be rectangles, but in Bali they are circles. You need adapters for things like phone chargers.
Converters fit the wall socket and convert the electric voltage. Try plugging your blow dryer into a socket with a higher voltage and POOF, you’ve just broken your blow dryer.
Electronics need an adapter. Hair tools need a converter.
#4 – A pen
Duh. But I bet you’ll forget to pack it!
Pack 5. Stick them everywhere.
#5 – PAck Light
The less things you have, the more free you are.
Save room for shopping. And if you are unsure on whether to bring those jeans, or that lotion- then you don’t need them.
Airlines typically have a weight limit per bag, which can get pretty pricey if you exceed it.
Sneaky Tip: put your heaviest items in your purse or laptop bag- airline personnel rarely weigh those. Then, redistribute your items after you go through security.
The best thing to do is buy a gadget that is both, like this International Power Adapter.
What about dresses? Socks? Makeup bags? Check out my travel store to see what I travel with!
Never underestimate the power of packing like a pro.
You dissolve problems and gain power. Yes, literal power in situations that otherwise might make you feel powerless.
Packing professionally can mean the difference between paying $60 extra because your carry-on is too heavy and being bumped up to Business Class on a 7-hour leg.
Both of these things happen to me on a regular basis depending on how well I do or do not pack before my trip.
Sign-up here and I’ll send you my Official Packing Checklist for Free.