Since we normally visit warm or tropical destinations for one week or less, I had to do a little more planning for this two-week trip to France and Scotland in regards to what to pack. In France, I wore dresses (with leggings underneath on the colder days) but I needed warm clothes and layers for Scotland.
Not to mention, I didn’t know how much time I would have to do laundry considering I traveled to a new hotel almost every single night of the trip. I also had to stay aware of the weight of my checked luggage and carry on because I took a couple of flights with Ryan Air — who is notoriously strict about their baggage weight limits.
We used to travel with backpacks (you can see our packing tips for backpackers post if you are interested) but our travel style has changed over the years and the last thing I want to do is lug around a heavy backpack anymore — my camera/laptop bag alone weighs almost twenty pounds.
About a year ago, we bought a new set of hardside luggage that we have been very happy with. So far, we have only used the small carry on size — it’s the perfect size for a one-week trip to a warm destination — but I took the medium-sized luggage for this trip.
Women’s Travel Packing List for Europe:
7 Tops – 3 Short Sleeved, 4 Long Sleeved
2 Pairs of Pants
Black Leggings to Go Under Skirt / Dresses
Boots to Wear with Pants and Dresses
1 Pair of Sneakers
1 Pair of Flats (I LOVE these for travel and they brighten up any outfit.)
1 Skirt that Goes with All of My Shirts
1 Light Cardigan to Go With Dresses or Jeans
1 Heavy Coat (waterproof)
1 Cute Beanie
1 Pair of Gloves
15 Pairs of Underwear (These are small and I would rather not run out if I don’t have time to do laundry.)
10 Pairs of Socks
and Activated Charcoal Tablets
Bathroom Bag with small toothpaste, small floss, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, small sunblock, toothbrush, small face wash, deodorant, comb, nail clippers and makeup.
1 Book (I brought Nineteen Minutes
by Jodi Picoult and it was a hard book to put down!)
1 Cloth Purse that Folds Up Easily
Camera Gear & Electronics
Camera / Laptop Backpack
Canon Rebel T5
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II Camera Lens
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS Zoom Lens
Extra Camera Batteries
Iphone 4s & Charger
Macbook Pro & Charger
For more packing lists and tips — while still looking stylish — visit How to Stay Stylish While Traveling.
Luggage is not one-size-fits-all, so it’s important to consider your travel style and cater to those needs when making your next luggage purchase. With that in mind, check out the most important things to consider before making your next travel investment.
The Best Luggage Brands
I should note that brands are not everything, and nobody should pay the price for designer luggage unless they are proven durable and have a warranty. For those of you that don’t want to spend a fortune, don’t be afraid to buy those 3-piece luggage sets you see on Amazon (we’ve been using this set for 3 years and love it!).
With that said, there a few brands out there that are favorites among experienced travelers, and even come with lifetime warranties. Keep your receipts!
Samsonite: Although Samsonite luggage only comes with a warranty limited to manufacturer defects, their typical hard-side luggage is known for its durability. It’s a great option if you’re traveling with breakables, a camera, or plan on bringing back a bottle of wine from your trip. Plus, this hard-sided case has an expandable zipper which is unusual for hard suitcases, but perfect for adding a little extra space and flexibility in packing.
How to Choose the Best Luggage for Your Trip
Hard vs. Soft.
It’s important to choose the right type of luggage for your needs. Are you the adventurer type, or do you generally travel for business? Photography buff, or fashion enthusiast? A hard-sided carry-on is ideal for those traveling to areas with temperamental weather or toting cameras, as it offers ultimate protection. Soft luggage is easy to stuff into overhead compartments, and has expandability – perfect for “over packers” or people who want to bring home souvenirs from their travels. Soft-sided bags are also great for added organization!
Don’t buy a carry-on larger than what you can lift overhead! Get one that meets both international and domestic requirements. Some European airlines have smaller size restrictions for carry-ons, so limit yourself to approximately 21 x 13 x 9 and 15-20lb. in weight to clear nearly all international airline restrictions.
Also consider getting two smaller suitcases versus one large, heavy one. You may have to pay to get the extra one checked, but stuffing everything into a larger one can incur oversize and overweight fees – ultimately costing you more money in the long run.
Pack your bags only 2/3 full. Since you’ll likely be bringing home items from your trip, you want to make sure you don’t over pack your bags to the point of breaking zippers. Roll your clothes (rather than folding) to create more space.
Consider a TSA-approved lock (this Samsonite comes with one) or cable ties on zippers for added security.
Don’t buy black. Avoid the endless search of your bag in sea of black luggage by buying a brightly-colored or printed suitcase. Checked bags should be easily recognizable to save time and avoid theft or mix-ups, because, unfortunately, leaving the airport with someone else’s bag unknowingly happens all too often. If you do end up buying a black bag, (sometimes options are limited!) place a few large stickers, buy a colorful luggage tag, or tie a brightly-colored ribbon or scarf around the handle.
An under-seat bag doesn’t always mean “under seat.” Due to its compact size, these bags are technically considered a personal item – essentially allowing you to bring an additional carry-on. But if you’re traveling coach on a small or budget airline I wouldn’t suggest trying to fit it under tight seats and narrow aisles, and use it as your carry-on instead.
If you know your seat will have a bit more room (e.g. business or first class) then an under-seat bag with wheels and a handle may just be your way of getting by with an additional small carry-on! Fashionable brands like Nicole Miller and Steve Madden offer such bags with a little style at an affordable cost.
Before traveling to another country, I always consult my travel checklist. Here are 8 essential things to do before traveling abroad.
Overseas Travel Checklist:
1. Get Visa Information: Do you need a pre-visa for the particular country you are visiting? We just recently went on a trip to South East Asia. We did not need a visa for the length of time we were staying in Thailand, and we planned on getting our Laos visa at the border of Thailand and Laos. Luckily, I stumbled upon the information that Vietnam’s requirements are a little different. They require a pre-entry visa, which you can get in Thailand or Laos, but only if you are staying in one place for about 5 days. We didn’t want to take any chances, so we rushed an application to the Vietnam Embassy in D.C. and got our Vietnam visa shortly before we left on our 6-week trip.
2. Register with the nearest Embassy: Before you leave, it is wise to register with the Embassy of each country that you will be visiting. It helps the Embassy to better assist you in case of an emergency, such as a lost or stolen passport. It will also be easier for the Embassy to help you in the case of a natural disaster.
3. Travel Medical Insurance: I always purchase a travel medical insurance policy before I travel to another country. This will cover important things like emergency medical evacuation, trip cancellation, and baggage delay. We use and trust World Nomads for our travel insurance policies.
4. Required Travel Vaccinations: Check with your local travel clinic about any vaccinations that are required and suggested for that particular area.
5. Copies of Important Documents: Make a copy of your passport, any credit cards you will be bringing, drivers license and travelers checks receipts. I usually keep a copy with me and also scan a copy to send to my email. Also, bring extra passport photos of yourself for visas.
6. It’s a good idea to join airline mileage programs to earn miles for all the flights you take. We have a couple favorites such as Continental and American that we use whenever we can. If I am taking a flight and they are not partnered with either of my main airline mileage programs, I always create an account with that airline. You never know when you will be taking that particular carrier again and it doesn’t hurt to get credit for those miles. In order to be sure you get all of your mileage points, keep a copy of your boarding pass!! The mileage program will ask for a copy when you call them to find out why they have not credited your miles.
7. Print out some currency conversion charts for the currency of the places you will be visiting. If you are bringing an ipod, download the conversion rate and you can use this instead of carrying around a bunch of paper.
8. Print out common phrases for the language of the country I am visiting. If you have a guidebook, they usually have this information in them. But I don’t always want to carry around my guidebook and knowing how to say, “thank you,” “hello,” “I’m sorry” and a few other phrases are a necessity whenever I’m visiting a country.
With a business volume surpassing those of oil exports, food products and automobiles, the travel industry sends more than one billion tourists around the world every year. The soaring growth of tourism also has brought the advancement of ecotourism, showing that consumers are becoming more concerned with the negative impact their travel choices have on the environment.
There are numerous destinations we’ve come to appreciate and love for their extraordinary natural and historical wonders, including the unspoiled, serene beaches of the Galapagos, Mayan ruins found on the Yucatan Peninsula and chronicles of Rome’s legendary Empire. By continuing to preserve such fragile places, we can offer future travelers the authentic experiences of the world’s most priceless treasures.
green travelThere are many ways you can become a green traveler – far beyond hiking into the depths of the rain forest or camping in the Himalayas. In fact, it’s gotten so much easier to travel on a clean conscience. You don’t need to give up the comforts and conveniences you relish during any other vacation. Think of a paradise with sandy white beaches and calm, turquoise waters. Visualize a vacation of self-indulgence in massages, savory culinary treats and boutique shopping.
Whether you desire a peaceful getaway in the countryside, seek an exotic paradise by ship or long for the big, bustling city, a green vacation can easily become your dream vacation. With so many options for every traveler, it’s not hard to find something that’s affordable and has everything you value in a vacation – plus a few added benefits that make the trip worth taking.
Traveling Green Can Enrich Your Enjoyment
There’s no need to trade off the exciting experiences that make a vacation in order to protect the destinations you value. You may find that you’ll be able to enjoy more of the beautiful sceneries, friendly faces and unique activities as a result.
Across all seven continents, from the dazzling city nightlife to secluded villages tucked away in quaint valleys and mountains, there are hundreds of ways you can spend your green vacation. See how changing the way you encounter new places can take your vacation memories beyond the ordinary.
Travel by train instead of plane
Not only will you gain more scenic views along the way, but you’ll also escape the headaches of long security lines and lost luggage. Destinations throughout Europe and Asia, for example, offer superior rail travel that allows you to save money and conveniently explore multiple countries and cities in one trip.
Opt for bus, rail and/or ferry transportation
Save money and gain convenience in getting from place to place. In your travels, you’ll find several city buses built for tourists, which make frequent stops at many popular shopping and dining districts, museums and theaters.
In the recent years, more transportation systems are actively pursuing alternative resources in an effort to preserve the earth. Numerous bus systems fueled by natural gas, hydrogen or biodiesel are rapidly becoming a part of everyday life. Europe recently revealed plans for the very first hybrid high-speed train, which was originally engineered in Japan and claimed to cut emission levels by 50 percent.
Discover new places by foot
Several of the world’s most enchanting sights are set off from main roads, hidden in remote valleys, at the base of a glorious waterfall or in other places only accessible by foot. Take advantage of many unforgettable ways you can capture amazing panoramic views and up-close experiences through hiking, biking or canoeing to unique attractions.
Consider renting an eco-friendly car
If you need a vehicle for taking day excursions far from your hotel, think about using a car-sharing program like Flexcar or Zipcar, which offers eco-friendly cars with low fees and convenient pick-up and drop-off options. You can also reduce car emissions by renting a hybrid car or the smallest car that can comfortably accommodate you.
It Pays to Be an Educated Consumer
It goes without saying that the best kind of traveler is a prepared one. Just in the past decade, there have been many more travel options made available for responsible tourists, offering bigger ways for individuals to make an impact for the good for the environment.
Use environmentally responsible services
Hundreds of hotels have a linen reuse program, recycling bins for guest use, energy-efficient lighting, low-flow toilets and showers and alternative energy sources. Restaurants, tour operators, car rentals and other travel service providers are also finding new ways to keep up with travelers going green.
In addition to the U.S. Green Building Council, organizations like AAA, GreenSeal and Sustainable Travel International have launched green certification programs. States have followed suit in creating rating systems or minimum standards designed to help move businesses towards greener practices. Certified businesses frequently display their green stickers (the Green Building Council’s LEED certification is the most widely recognized), making it easy for responsible tourists to spot them.
Get the facts on reducing carbone missions
Many major airlines are taking action to reduce their impact on the environment. You may notice that some have switched over to electronic ticketing, cutting down on paper consumption and waste. Now leisure and business travelers are investing in “carbon offsetting”programs. This option allows you to calculate how much CO2 your vacation will produce and purchase credits from emission reduction projects (such as solar and wind). Plan to research the airline or nonprofit organization and its alternate energy projects before you invest any money.
As travelers reach the far corners of the world, they are faced with the responsibility to preserve the fragile environments they visit. This idea of traveling responsibly is called ecotourism, conscientious travel to protect the environment and nourish its many cultures.
In the spirit of exaggeration, the neglect of eco-conscious travel is akin to filling in the Grand Canyon to build a coffee shop. While we all love a good no-whip, extra-hot mocha, our priorities should be aimed at the preservation of this planet’s natural and cultural treasures.
By focusing on the impact of our actions and using a little TravelSense, travelers can make the right decisions to positively affect the world around them. To start eco-traveling, please follow these guidelines compiled by ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members know how special our planet is, and why we must take good care of it.
(1) RESPECT OUR FRAGILE PLANET
Sure the planet feels solid beneath our feet, and it can hold its own against the big boys in the solar system. Yet the Earth’s ecosystemâ€”the scenic surface features which we stand next to in picturesâ€”is a fragile infrastructure dependent on balanced and cyclical nurturing.
Think of it as the Earth’s hair. It looks great now, but the more we tread on it, the messier it becomes, until one day the planet wakes up completely bald. Unless we combine our efforts to help in its preservation, the unique and beautiful destinations we buy expensive cameras to photograph may not be here for future generations to enjoy.
(2) LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS
Take only photographs, leave only footprints. These two simple phrases sum up the heart of eco-tourism. Do not leave litter of any kind, and do not take any souvenirs from historical sites and natural areas. In some instances, like taking a piece of the Great Barrier Reef, it’s a crime.
In the wilderness never disturb anything that you can avoid disturbing. Leave all the pretty rocks where they are; your desk will survive without another paperweight. The “it’s only one rock” attitude goes out the window when a million people each take one rock from one forest.
(3) THE ROAD MOST TRAVELED
Following the basic rules of ecotourism can be as easy as following a well-marked trail, because on the well-marked trail is where you should be. Always follow designated trails and resist the urge to explore the forest.
Do not disturb animals, plants or their natural habitats, and hopefully they will not disturb you in return. You were told a thousand times as a child to not tap the aquarium’s glass, so consider each ecological wonder a special aquarium.
(4) EDUCATION IS A TERRIBLE THING TO WASTE
Increase the size of your brain and educate yourself about the geography, customs and manners of the region you plan to visit. The invasion of foreign values can damage a culture more than a bulldozer in some regards. Get to know the culture before you arrive and know which of your actions or standards may not be accepted smoothly.
Tourism provides a positive boost to local people. Attending local events encourages indigenous pride and cultural heritage, enabling many traditions to be preserved. These traditions present a more lasting, honest perspective of the destination than any postcard ever could.
Respect the privacy of others and always ask before photographing people. Some Australian aborigines believe that photographs steal their souls. Why you may not believe this to be true, respect their beliefs slide the camera back into backpack.
Also be respectful of local people’s land by asking permission before entering buildings, shrines or sacred lands. Showing respect will gain you the most treasured of souvenirsâ€”trust.
Souvenirs are a vital part of every trip, special for their uniqueness and direct mental link to a fabulous vacation memory. As a concerned eco-tourist, do not buy products made from endangered plants or animals, such as ivory, tortoise shell, animal skins and feathers. Purchase souvenirs from local artists to keep cultural traditions alive.
Extend this idea and dine in locally owned restaurants, exploring the gastronomic scenery is just as important as visiting the main attractions of a destination. Choose locally owned and operated lodges, hotels, tour guides, and take advantage of local taxis, buses and car rental agencies.
(7) ECO-FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS
The easiest ecologically saving action to undertake is to support conservation-oriented organizations already working to preserve the environment. Select responsible tour operators and guides whose practices are based on sound eco-conscious beliefs.
Maintain an eco-friendly attitude when choosing destinations to visit. Encourage organizations to subscribe to environmental guidelines. TravelSense urges organizations to adopt their own environmental codes to cover special sites and ecosystems.
(8) IT’S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL
Globetrotting with the world in mind provides a more satisfying way to travel; challenging you to learn about the places and people you visit and help sustain their fragile environments, economies and cultures.
Through increased awareness and an earnest desire to help protect natural and cultural resources for the good of the planet and for the generations yet to explore, you can trek to the four corners with a positive impact Travel with purpose.
I was once a young naive traveler who often let my guard down while traveling. I didn’t want to be bothered with worrying about my things getting stolen. These days I travel with a lot more expensive electronics than I did in my younger years, so my level of comfort has changed.
Let me tell you a little story. I once knew a girl who had been traveling all over Western Europe by herself. Towards the end of her trip she got sick with the flu. While feeling miserable during a train ride from Prague to Amsterdam, she found a cabin all to herself, put on her headphones, and fell asleep to the melodic sounds coming from her ipod.
She felt safe inside her cabin since nobody else was there to steal her things. She was very smart to bring a money belt on this trip, but after the first couple weeks of travel, she decided it was unnecessary. In the midst of feeling tired and sick, she left her money belt in her travel backpack, which was right next to her while she was sleeping.
The next morning she awoke in Amsterdam feeling groggy and extremely sick. While exiting the train, she reached into her money belt to grab a few Euros to buy a croissant.
“What the hell?!” Where is the 250 Euro I had in here?”
After running the events of the previous night on the train through her head, she recalled waking up a few times to German men in uniforms opening the cabin doors, pointing flashlights into the cabin, then closing the doors. “They are just security officers, checking on things,” she thought.
Well, they sure did check on things. They also helped themselves to 250 Euros from the girl’s backpack. They were nice enough to leave her passport and ATM card. Thank god for that!!
Okay, so if you hadn’t already figured it out, that story was about my younger self. I’m a little ashamed that I actually let that happen and that I wasn’t more careful. In order to help out other travelers, I’ve put together a short list of tips for keeping your belongings safe.
Tips For Keeping Your Belongings Safe While Traveling:
While Sleeping on a train, bus, crowded hostel room, or any other public place, always keep your money, passport, credit cards and camera memory cards on you. Preferably in a money belt. Most likely you will wake up if somebody tries reaches down your pants while you are sleeping. At least I hope so.
Always keep your valuables (ie. camera, laptop, or anything else you don’t want stolen) with you. Don’t put them under the bus or give them to a taxi/van driver offering to put your bags in the trunk. I always keep my bag on my lap. I also keep a couple different stashes of money and credit cards. I keep most of my cash and cards on me (in my bra or money belt) and the other half somewhere hidden in my bag — that way I won’t be stuck with zero money if something happens. The only exception to this rule is when I’m sleeping in a public place (in this case, I keep everything in my money belt.
If I’m sleeping on a train or in a public place, I use a lock or PacSafe for my small backpack and lock it to something secure or sleep with my arms around it. I also recommend this slashproof backpack when riding on public transportation. (Oh, and I would suggest not listening to your headphones while sleeping in a public place.) Check out our Pac Safe Camera Bag Protector Review.
I now use a small PacSafe purse when walking around in a city. It’s big enough to carry my wallet, passport, phone, and a few other items. I’ve also tried the bra stash when I don’t want to carry around a purse. I have sensitive skin and the Eagle Creek bra stash doesn’t irritate my skin.If I decide I don’t want to bring a small backpack on day trips, I’ll carry this padded camera bag.
When booking a hotel or hostel, make sure it has good reviews when it comes to security and they offer a locker or in-room safe.
I always purchase travel insurance and make sure it covers my valuables if something were to happen. I use World Nomads because they have a great reputation. They also offer insurance for digital nomads who want extra coverage for things like laptops, camera gear, phones, and iPads. You can also look into covering these items if you have a homeowners or renter’s policy on your home.
Don’t get wasted and walk around alone in unfamiliar territory. (Which is something I also did in Amsterdam, but luckily nothing bad happened).
Common Travel Scams to Look Our For While Traveling:
Be on the look out for anybody who is offering to help you with your bags at a train or bus station. We once had a guy who didn’t seem to work at the station, but was offering to help people with translating the announcements and informing them when their train had arrived.When our train arrived he followed us to our cabin and offered to put our bags on the top shelf for us. I refused to hand over my small bag. I later realized he was probably going through people’s bags as he was putting them up top because you couldn’t see from outside the cabin.
South America and other parts of the world have their fair share of scammers looking to steal your money and valuables. Swindlers can create elaborate plans to trick you into letting down your guard and steal your belongings before you even know what hit you.A friend of ours got his money and passport stolen while trying to leave Argentina. The scam involved three people. The first part of the plan was to put a white cream on the back of our friend’s shirt without him knowing. Then an older lady informed him there was something on his shirt and offered him a tissue to wipe it off.He took off his backpack in order to reach the back of his shirt. When he turned around, he saw a man running away with his bag and he wasn’t able to catch up with him quick enough to eliminate losing his passport, money and camera. He was then forced to stay in the country and endure the long and expensive process of getting another passport.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times. If something seems out of the ordinary, just keep walking and don’t take off your bag for anything.
I’m not saying the world is a horrible place or that you should be scared to travel. As long as you are careful while traveling and stay aware of your surroundings, especially in transit, you will be fine and able to enjoy your travels. These are just a few tips and stories that might help you avoid the same mistakes others have made. Ninety to ninety five percent of the time you don’t need to worry and you will encounter genuinely friendly people.
Traveling alone doesn’t have to seem lonely. Personally, my solo travel jaunts have always been very fulfilling experiences, where I’ve learned a great deal about myself. Nothing gives you quite the same chance at self-discovery as travel, and when you’re setting off by yourself that opportunity doubles. Solo travel does mean that you’ll be facing every little bump and challenge by yourself, but relying on your own ingenuity also means realizing how capable you really are! Keep these tips in mind to help you discover your best self on the road.
Have a Plan
While it’s not necessary to fully map out every minute of your travel vacation, it is good to know your basic itinerary in advance. Make sure you know important data like flight info, your hotel address and phone number, and any emergency contact information beforehand, and that you have access to one or more copies of it. Keep the information in your phone. Print a copy and keep it with your important documents. Being prepared now helps avoid complications later.
For added support and security, give a copy of your itinerary and contact information to a loved one at home and check in regularly by phone or email.
Don’t Panic When the Plan Changes
Trains will be late. Your suitcase will break open. You will get lost and be wholly unable to find your hotel in the maze of unfamiliar streets. It’s okay. Complications and chaos are a natural part of travel. Even though solo travel means less baggage to manage and less people to corral, it won’t fully eliminate the risk. The difference between a travel horror story and an exciting adventure to share later is all in your willingness to adapt in the moment and your attitude in hindsight.
Take a deep breath, find somewhere to sit and think (preferably with WiFi access) and come up with a new plan. You’ll get there when you get there and it will still be enjoyable.
Remain Open to New Opportunities
One of the best parts of traveling alone is that you don’t have to stick to the itinerary if a better opportunity comes along. With no one to coordinate plans, you’re free to change them! This can be as simple as deciding which activity to pursue in the moment, checking out of a hotel early, or even staying later if you’re having too great a time to leave! Just make sure to adjust your itinerary’s important information and to let anyone who might be expecting you know about your change of plans.
Always Carry Important Documents
Always, always, always carry your emergency documents hidden somewhere on you. Hidden travel wallets are perfect for this purpose. I also keep a photo of my passport on my phone and in my email, just in case.
Include identification (your passport or a photocopy), emergency cash or a credit card (make sure it will be compatible with local currency or ATMs), and contact information for the hotel where you are staying, as well for anyone who you might be checking in with regularly. This will not only help you in case of a minor trouble (pointing at an address is much easier than trying to speak a foreign language if you end up lost) but can also be used to keep your loved ones informed in case of an emergency such as unplanned hospitalization.
Sample Packing List For World Travelers
If you are going on a backpacking trip where you will be lugging your bag around constantly, you will want to keep your bag as light as possible. We like to keep our bag weight below 30 pounds, so it’s important to find a backpack that is light to begin with. This pack is great Teton Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack.
You don’t want to be stuck with a bag that weighs 7-10 pounds by itself. Check out our post on choosing the best travel backpack to find out more about bags that we suggest. If you can’t manage to keep your bag under 30 pounds, shoot for under 40 pounds. If you keep it under 40, you won’t have to pay baggage fees on most airlines.
This packing list will vary depending on where you will be traveling and what the weather will be like. If you will be traveling to both warm and cold regions you are better off not lugging around the heavy warm clothes for the entire trip. You can either ship the warm clothes home once you reach warmer climates or buy the warm clothes along your trip if the cold destinations are at the end of your travels.
I won’t leave home without these items:
* Charcoal Pills Activated Charcoal Tablets, 250 mg, 125 tablets – These work wonders for traveler’s diarrhea! Instead of just keeping you from pooping (which is what Imodium does) the charcoal absorbs the bacteria in your body so you can get rid of it on your next bowel movement. They use a stronger dose of this for people who overdose on medication and I’ve also been told it can work for people who are allergic to certain things. If you take it, it helps with the allergic reaction.
* Antibiotics for Traveler’s Diarrhea – A back up for bacteria that is beyond the help of charcoal pills. (Cypro or something similar) I’m personally allergic to Cypro but this is what is commonly prescribed for traveler’s diarrhea.
* Hand Sanitizer – Travel Size
* First Aid Kit
* Bug Repellent
* Poncho or Travel Umbrella
* Vitamin C
* Coco Luxe Moisturizing Coconut Oil (Travel size!)
* 1 or 2 Combo Locks – eBags TSA Accepted Lock 4-Dial Combo (2pk) (Blossom)
You can use this for lockers and while sleeping on trains or buses. I always use one to lock my valuables in a section of my bag and the other to lock my bag to something secure.
Take a peek inside our travel camera bag here.
* Camera – This camera is great for traveling and takes amazing pictures! Canon Powershot G10 14.7MP Digital Camera with 5x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom
* Camera Battery Charger & Extra Batteries
* Camera Memory Cards
* Voltage Converter SIMRAN 200 WATTS DELUXE STEP DOWN VOLTAGE CONVERTER MODEL SMF-200 FOR FOREIGN TRAVEL.
* Small External Portable Hard Drive – Toshiba 640 GB USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Dive HDDR640E04XR (Rocket Red)
We use this for backing up photos. Some people bring DVD s and have a camera store transfer their files to the DVD. However, we have not had much luck finding competent places to do this in many 3rd world countries.
* Hidden Travel Wallet – Rick Steves Silk Money Belt, Natural
Keep your passport, money, and travelers checks in your money belt at all times. I wrap them in a Ziploc when I’m in humid areas otherwise my passport gets soaked with sweat.
* Pacsafe: Pacsafe PacSafe C25L Camera Bag Protector This is a much safer route than locking your bag with just a combo lock since somebody can easily cut the canvas.
* Earplugs – This will save you many hours of sleep!
* Ziploc bags – These can be used for many things and it’s really nice to have a few on hand.
* Headlamp – I can’t tell you how many times we were thankful that we brought one of these Petzl E41 PBY Tikkina 2-LED Headlamp, Black and Yellow
Toiletries – Small shampoo, conditioner, razor, soap, deodorant, brush, nail-clippers, half or less roll of toilet paper, sunblock, toothbrush/paste
Misc Items – Ipod touch & charger, earphones, lighter, notebook, small roll of duct tape, 2-3 pens, 1 book which gets swapped while on the road, guidebook if needed, waterproof watch
So now that I have filled my bag with all the necessities I usually set out my clothing on the floor. This is where most people tend to over pack and I have been guilty of it many times in my life. Once I have decided what clothes I want to take, I put half of it back in my closet. Trust me you will not need it. You can get by with just once change of clothes if you really want to. You will not regret your decision to take less clothes, but your back WILL regret taking too many!
I usually separate my clothes into a couple of small vacuum bags. Travel Space Bags – No Vacuum Needed!
They keep my bag organized so I’m not constantly digging through the entire bag when I need something. I like to bring an extra small bag for dirty clothes. They also compress your clothing to create more space.
Here is what the rest of our packing list looks like:
Hiking/Trail shoes and a pair of sandals
5 Shirts – including 2 tanks, 2 t-shirts and one long sleeve (You can get away with less if you are prepared to wash your clothes in the sink)
7 Pairs of undies – These don’t take up a lot of space.
2 Pairs of socks – 4 if I’m going somewhere that I will be wearing them every day
1 Sundress – Good for beach days and to throw over a swimsuit
1 Pair of shorts
1 Pair of pants only if I’ll be going somewhere cold
Everything the same as the ladies minus the sundress and add an extra pair of shorts.
Before we leave on an overseas trip, we always consult our handy Overseas Travel Checklist to make sure we didn’t forget to do anything important.
In light of a recent unfortunate event at Yellowstone National Park where a man was killed by a Grizzly bear, and since we just returned from a stay in this park, we feel a post about how to stay safe in Yellowstone would come in handy for many travelers who are planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park.
Everything You Need to Know for Camping in Yellowstone National Park
Bear Safety in Yellowstone National Park
We visited Yellowstone in the springtime, when bear cubs are abundant, so we were advised to only hike in groups of three or more, carry bear spray, carry bells and make lots of noise in order to keep from surprising any bears.
Although bear attacks are extremely rare in Yellowstone National Park, it’s a good idea to keep these things in mind before hiking or camping in the area. Up until this year, there had not been any bear-caused human deaths in Yellowstone since 1986. In the recent attack, park rangers have stated this mother bear behaved normally and was merely defending her cubs from a perceived threat and this is why it is wise to make noise in order to prevent bear encounters.
When camping in Yellowstone National Park, don’t leave any food, crumbs, eating utensils, pots, pans, cosmetics or lotion in your tent or at your campsite.
Basically anything with a scent is advised to be locked up when you are away from your site. I was surprised to learn that Yellowstone park rangers advise people to lock these items in their car. I know some places say everything has to go in the designated bear boxes, but we left our stuff in the car and it was fine.
We were told the bears generally don’t come into the campgrounds and if they do, they shoot them with rubber bullets. I guess they have trained them well.
Now, if you are backcountry camping that is a different story. I would say just starve yourself and don’t bring any food at all to be safe, but I guess that advice isn’t very helpful.
Tips for Backcountry Camping
1. Check with the ranger station before heading into the wilderness and make sure you are following all of the rules for that particular area.
2. Sleep at least 100 yards from where you cook and store your food. Don’t sleep in the same clothes you wore while cooking food and keep your sleeping gear odor free.
3. Hang your food bags, clothes you wore while cooking and eating and any garbage at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet away from any tree trunk.
4. Upon arrival of a new campsite, check it over carefully to make sure no garbage or food was left behind by previous campers. If you find anything left behind, it is wise to sleep at least 200 yards away from the cooking area.
5. Human waste and water waste should be disposed of properly.
How to Plan a Trip to Yellowstone National Park
Preparing for a Camping Trip to Yellowstone
If you are flying to Yellowstone and bringing camping gear with you, remember to leave the propane and butane tanks for your grills at home. You will have to purchase these on your way to the park since they will not allow them in carry on or checked bags.
Nighttime can get cold in Yellowstone, even in the summer. We were certainly not prepared since we had to take a flight and didn’t want to pay to check more than two bags. If I did it over again, I would have paid $23 more each way for one more checked bag so that we could bring our sleeping mats and maybe even another warm blanket. We ended up spending more than that buying a sleeping pad that we ended up having to just throw away before we hopped on our flight home.
If you do forget mats to sleep on, you can take Scott’s dirtbag advice and raid the cardboard recycling bin. By the third night we were so freezing and in need of cushion that we used flattened cardboard under our tent. It actually works pretty well.
Another option is to purchase really good backpacking gear, which is a good investment if you do a lot of backpacking or camping where you need to fly to your destination. We have been on dozens of camping and backpacking trips since our trip to Yellowstone, so we have finally come up with the perfect backpacking and camping packing list.
Yellowstone National Park Packing Tips
First Aid Kit: J&J sells an inexpensive mini first aid kit.
Mosquito Repellent: The mosquitoes can get pretty thick in the spring and summer. You will want a good insect repellent. We brought this one because it was small enough to add to our pack.
Camping Stove: We have done extensive research on the best and lightest backpacking gear for these types of trips. This backpacking stove is tiny, weighs next to nothing and it heats stuff up fast.
Cookware: We just bought this tiny cookware set for backpacking trips and it’s extremely compact.
Sleeping Bags: This sleeping bag is great for backpacking and it gets excellent reviews.
Tent: We love this lightweight Marmot 2-person tent.
Sleeping Pads: These ones are amazing!
Backpacks: If you are looking for a durable, light, and inexpensive backpack, we recommend the Teton Scout.
Solar Charger: We carry this solar charger to charge our phones and camera batteries.
Dress in Layers: The weather can be fickle year-round. During the summer, night temperatures in Yellowstone average 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit and during winter the temperature reaches negative numbers.
Packing for a trip can be overwhelming. You don’t want to bring an unmanageable amount, especially in a carry-on bag, but you don’t want to miss anything important. To make sure you’re prepared on the plane, bookmark this carry-on packing guide with a list of our favorite products to help make your next flight a breeze.
I travel with a lot of camera gear as well as a laptop, so my carry-on bag is packed full of electronics. This means I have to carefully consider every item that goes into the small top compartment of my backpack. I use the Lowepro Fastpack backpack, which has enough room for all of the items listed below as well as a Sony A7II camera body, 3 lenses, and a GoPro.
If you don’t carry around a lot of camera gear, then this bag is perfect for carry-on items, plus it doubles as a cute handbag for day trips once you are at your new destination.
Passports & Credit Cards
First, and most importantly, don’t forget your passport when traveling abroad (and any other important identification documents). You’ll need them to go through airport security checkpoints as well as in emergencies like missing belongings or canceled flight re-booking. It’s a good idea to make copies of your passport and credit cards and keep them separate from the originals in case they are lost or stolen.
If you have prescription medications or supplements, packing them in your carry-on bag is the safest way to ensure you’ll never miss a dose.
Bringing relief meds for headaches, allergies, or motion sickness will also give you the means to reduce such symptoms right away, and vitamins like Vitamin C and acidophilus can help protect you from germs.
Are your cell-phone, laptop, or other electronics flying with you? Make sure they’re secured in your carry-on and don’t forget their chargers!
I always pack a portable charger (we use this one) for times when I don’t have access to outlets, such as on the plane itself or when exploring during a long layover. Finding outlets in some airports can be tricky and you don’t want to be stuck without power on your phone — especially if you are traveling solo.
Bring Clothes, Just in Case
Hopefully, you’ll never have to deal with lost luggage, but it never hurts to be prepared. A change of underwear, socks, and an extra shirt can help you stay fresh until your belongings are returned. If you’re traveling to a tropical destination, consider bringing your swimsuit in your carry-on, too, so you won’t have to miss out on any water time.
A comfortable cardigan or light jacket can also double as a blanket during air-conditioned flights. I’ve found the perfect long cardigan for travel and it always comes on the plane with me. Don’t count on airlines carrying blankets for every passenger — even on overnight flights.
Toiletries are a must for long flights. Travel deodorant, gum or mints, and a travel folding toothbrush are standard items that I bring on all flights.
Stuck without a shower? Biodegradable Wipes keep you clean and smelling great with tea tree oil, peppermint, and ginseng.
Clean & Clear’s oil-absorbing sheets are one of my favorite things to pack in my carry-on because they keep my face oil-free and can even be used over makeup to restore a matte finish.
I also like to carry a travel-size package of antibacterial wipes to clean my arm rests and food tray on the plane. It’s a great ice breaker if you offer one to your neighbor as well.
You can easily bring your preferred lotions and other liquids from home by using your own travel-sized containers. I fill small contact cases with my favorite lotion for the plane. If you have a few different creams, lotions, or liquids essential to your self-care, you can get a pack of 3 for under $7.
We all know how dry airplane air can be. Pack some chapstick and eye drops to keep you moisturized and comfortable.
An eye mask and earplugs are essential for helping you get some sleep, whether you’re taking the red-eye or just catching a nap. I always pack a pair of comfortable, noise-isolating headphones to play white noise or music to help me sleep. Most airlines don’t offer headphones free of charge, so I use these to watch movies as well.
Carry a reusable water bottle to fill up after security. This reusable water bottle is something I’ve recently added to my carry-on packing list. I don’t have much space in my carry-on backpack due to camera gear, but this one can be rolled up and crammed into small spaces.
Stave Off Hunger
Airplane snacks can be unhealthy, unfulfilling, and may not take food allergies into consideration. Packing your own snacks means you’ll have what you like and what you need to nourish your body, without paying extra for food.
on your own is a fun way to have new experiences and expand your boundaries without worrying about synchronizing multiple people’s wants and needs. It can be a truly inspiring way to get to know your own limits — just not that great when you need an extra pair of hands to snap a quick picture for the memories. Luckily, technology makes travel self-documentation much easier (and we all know everyone wants to display their best shots from their travels on sites like Instagram).
I travel solo on about eighty percent of my trips, so I’ve had to learn a few tricks along the way. Here are some of my top tips for taking great travel photos as a solo traveler.
Set Up a Tripod
Bringing a tripod is a tip for good photography even if you’re not traveling solo, but if you want steady photos, they’re a must. Tripods will help you avoid the blur and warp of out of focus or unsteady shots. For smaller cameras, the Gorillapod line and similar flexible tripod products are great for keeping your camera steady even on the most unstable of terrain. Their ability to wrap around poles, skis, railings, and other surfaces means that you have the freedom of setting up shots even in tight urban settings too.
I personally use the Manfrotto line of tripods for my heavy 5D Mark II and I’ve been able to set it up in some precarious places. I also carry a digital timer remote and set it up to take photos every second so I don’t have to constantly run back and forth just to get a couple of different angles.
Use a Selfie Stick
Yes, using one may look silly, but selfie sticks are still incredibly useful for taking pictures on your own! By extending the range between the camera and the subject (likely yourself) further than a natural human arm span, it allows the frame of the photo to be expanded. This way you’ll be able to fit more of the background into your photo and you won’t come home with a million unflattering close-up photos of yourself. I personally love this selfie stick because it’s all-weather and they offer a money-back guarantee.
Using a Selfie Stick to Take Great Travel Photos
Attach a GoPro
If you’re looking for the perfect action shot or want your video and photos to come from a first-hand perspective, then attaching a GoPro to your gear while you surf, ski, bike, or even bungee jump can be a great way to capture the experience. Furthermore, the wide range of mounts available mean that you can capture images with the GoPro in environments where other cameras may fear to tread — like underwater or tumbling through the air. We use the Hero4 Silver because it’s the only GoPro with an LCD screen to frame and view your shots.
Using a GoPro to Take Great Travel Photos
Here I used a GoPro and a selfie stick to get a wide shot
Ask a Stranger
Whether you have specialized gear or not, there’s always the option to reach out for help from someone new. After all, you’re not traveling just to look at a foreign place or culture, you’re there to experience it, to take part in a different world or way of life. Photos can be a great way to capture memories from your trip, but starting an interaction with another person, even if it’s just asking for help with your camera, is a great way to make them.
You won’t always get the best photos with this option, but my trick is to ask someone who is carrying their own DSLR camera. I like to give people an idea of how I would like the shot framed before I hand over my camera as well.
Photo Tips for Solo Travelers
Install Photo Editing Software or Apps
Ok, so you’ve taken the perfect selfie: now what? What you do to the photo after you take it can be just as important to the character of the photo as how you set it up. Most cell phones come with a built in image editor which allows you to do basic editing, such as slapping on a filter or cropping and rotating the image, but experimenting with other apps like ProCamera or Snapseed will give you further options such as color correction, noise reduction, and curve adjustment.
For photos not taken with your phone, I recommend Adobe Bridge and Photoshop for editing software. Plenty of photographers use Lightroom as well. It’s very similar to Adobe Bridge, but it’s a little easier to learn.
Consider Upgrading Your Gear
You’ve probably heard the old saying, “It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer who takes good pictures.” While I agree that you don’t need $10,000 dollars worth of photography gear to take a great photo, megapixels do count for something. I regularly take the exact some photo with my iPhone as I do with my Canon 5D Mark II and the photo from my camera always wins. A nice camera with more megapixels means your photo won’t look grainy after editing, you can crop the image and still have a decent quality photo, and you have more options — like taking the photo in RAW instead of JPG and bumping up the ISO for night shots.
The 5D Mark II is a little overkill for the everyday photographer, so I usually recommend that travelers start out with the Sony a7 Mirrorless or the Canon Powershot G16 Point and Shoot camera. For more information about some of the photography gear we use, visit our travel resources page or our travel photographer’s camera kit post.