As anyone who reads this blog is probably already aware, I’m going to Prague, Vienna and Budapest on Monday and I am counting the minutes until I can escape from the winter wonderland that is New Jersey right now.
However, before I hop on a plane – and before any of you do, either – I have to do what I dread doing most – packing.
I’m the most organized person in the world, which is precisely why I hate packing – it’s easy for me to agonize over what to wear and what I’ll need, which turns an hour-long task into a day-long task or better yet, a weekend-long task.
If you’re heading off for a spring trip soon, there are a couple of items that should definitely be in your suitcase – always. Here’s what you make sure you have ready to go before you even think about heading to the airport.
I always like to buy or check out a guidebook from the library before I go anywhere to get a lay of the land first. Even if when I initially read it, I feel kind of lost since I’m not there at the moment, it all comes together once I arrive. I do this armed with a highlighter to mark sites that I definitely want to see because there’s nothing worse than coming home and realizing you missed something major.
Personally, I like Rick Steve’s and Lonely Planet guides since I think they’re organized in very reader-friendly and photo-friendly ways. Don’t worry too much about getting the most recent version of these books – most of the major sites in these cities haven’t changed all that much in 5-10 years so don’t pay too much extra for a newer guidebook.
2. Money belt
If you’re going somewhere with a less than ideal crime rate or you will be spending a lot of time in a major city, it’s a good idea to pack a money belt, which is a skin-colored, small, thin fanny pant or crossbody bag that you wear under your clothing.
In here, keep most of your money, your passport, your ID, etc. This way, if someone pickpockets you and gets a hold of your wallet, you won’t lose what’s most important. You can get a money belt on Amazon for from $5 – $15.
3. Emergency clothing
In the unfortunate case that your bag gets lost, you want to at least have a toothbrush, maybe a change of clothes and anything else that you would immediately need since it will take a few days to get your bag back. Put these items in your carry on bag.
4. TSA-approved luggage lock
Buy a TSA-approved luggage lock before you leave as well, which can be bought for $5 – $20 on Amazon. These locks can be unlocked by the TSA – if you don’t get one like this, the TSA will break your lock if they need to go into your bag.
READ: How to pack like a pro
I find these especially necessary if you will be spending time in several different hotels – especially hostels where you may be sharing rooms – and in general, they just bring peace of mind.
5. Travel adapter
If you’re going out of the country, the outlets in your hotel will probably not be similar to the American ones that we have here and you will need a travel adapter. These are generally pretty cheap and go for under $15.
It’s a good idea to kill two birds with one stone and just got one converter that can convert into any worldwide outlet. You can get these at Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, Walmart, Amazon… pretty much anywhere.
6. Step-up converter or step-down converter
Travel adapters DO NOT convert voltage. This part requires a little research – you will need to look at your electronics’ fine print and determine what the voltage is, and compare it to the voltage of the country that you’re going to (a simple Google search will determine this).
Then, you may need to buy a step-down converter or a step-up converter. Sometimes, these outlets and converters come in one. Most laptop and phone chargers convert automatically, but many other other electronics do not, including electric toothbrushes, hair dryers and vaporizers.