The Tourist Pieces to Pack on Your Journey Abroad

If you’re an Internet hound (and a travel junkie) like I am, you’ve probably seen oodles of stories about why you should put away your fanny pack, running shoes, backpack, and lame Cape Cod t-shirt and try to “blend in like a local.” It makes sense, right? When in Rome, do as the Romans do, and when in Capri, stop standing around in your binoculars with a blotch of sunscreen dotted on your nose like Nigel Thornberry.

However, even though it’s important to be open-minded, adapt to the culture around you and not wave American flags all over Europe, I don’t necessarily feel like adopting some tourist dress codes is a bad thing. So pull out your guidebook, strap on your sunglasses cord, and read on about what pieces it’s OK to bring on your trip overseas… yet accept that no one is going to ask you for directions in Paris anymore.

1. Sneakers. Since it was 800 degrees in New Orleans the August that I went (as I’m sure it is every August), I obviously packed loads of cute and light sundresses and sandals. Athletic shoes serve as a cardinal sin for dresses. However, one day in, my poor feet were dying from stomping around all day on the concrete sidewalks and cobblestone in the extreme heat. Do yourself a favor and pack one pair of athletic shoes (invest in a pair in a cute color and style if you have to) for that day or two when you literally can’t walk another foot in those precious flip-flops. Your blisters, and your walking tour guide, will thank you.

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2. Electronic cord. These look kind of lame tacked onto your iPhone or camera, but when you’re looming over the 300 foot drop of Giotto’s Campanile of Florence, you’re going to wish you had a little assurance that your $500 electronic isn’t going to fall to its sad, sad death onto a pile of unsuspecting high school tourists. Check some out on eBay here.

3. Oversized purse. Back home, if you find me at a mall, restaurant, bar, or anywhere in between I probably won’t even have a bag – I’ll be stuffing my keys and phone in my pockets like a dude. However, abroad is a different story. You’ll never know how much water you’ll have to steal, maps to keep, stuff you’ll buy, or food you’ll get for free. Plan ahead and get yourself a cheap shoulder bag that you can cram all your stuff in.

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4. Map and guidebook. I’m going to consider this a piece of tourist attire because every (smart) tourist you see wandering (with a purpose) around Barcelona has one strapped in front of their face. Is everyone going to know you’re not a local when you’re furiously flipping pages to figure out where Park Guell is? Yeah, obviously. But you will find it, and you won’t spend the whole afternoon searching, either. They’re worth the investment (and the lameness).

5. City tee. The truth is that no one wants the magnet, ugly jewelry, weird mini statue of the David, or any other overrated souvenir you were going to buy them. Why? Because none of these items really have any utilitarian value. You know what does? A well-made, kind of funny tee that someone is going to wear to work out, wear to bed, or maybe wear to the airport on their next trip. There’s a reason people hoard their college sports team t-shirts – because we love them. Especially if a tee says “Oktoberfest” on it.

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Don’t Forget Me!

So now that, even though I hate to admit it, I’m pretty settled back home in New Jersey, I guess I should start blogging about something other than how much I wish I was in Italy…

I’ve seen a lot of pretty extensive packing lists that are supposed to “help” us on our journeys across the pond, but in reality, I’m not going to forget to bring socks and who’s who to tell me how many pairs of underwear I need to bring?! Which is why I am putting together this short packing list that will hopefully help you out no matter who you are or where you’re going. DON’T FORGET THESE THINGS!

1. Guidebook and map. Can you buy a guidebook and a map in basically any place that you are going? Yes, yes you can. Will it be a quality guidebook? Yes, it probably will. Will it be cheap? No, no it will not. Which is why I’m telling you now that you should probably order your guidebook online (I like Amazon.com) because you’ll get it for like five bucks versus like twenty and you’ll get your pick of the litter. You can read some reviews, sample the pages, the works. Personally, Frommer’s are usually a solid pick. Also, if 2013 is $20 cheapest and 2012 is $5, just friggin get 2012. How much do you really think Florence-or anywhere else-has really changed in the past year.

2. Ear plugs and eye mask. When traveling, sometimes you don’t know where you’ll be staying, what it will be like, (or who you will be sleeping with). It’s always wise to pack an eye mask for those window-facing beds and ear plugs for those baby-ridden planes. And you also never know who of your supposed “best friends” snores. Seriously you’ll be glad you did.

3. Travel pillow. And I don’t mean one of those stupid neck pillows- what if you have an extra seat and you wanna lay on your side? What if you’re in a hostel and the bed feels like your best friend’s futon? Save yourself (another) $20 and steal the surprisingly soft plane pillow.

4. Refillable water bottle. I absolutely LOVE my Water Bobble, a plastic water bottle with a built-in filter you change every two months (the 34.5 ounce is a good choice). These bottles will save you money and possibly your life on one of the many unbearably hot summer travel days. With these, you can fill up your water from any sink and feel safe knowing you’re not going to contract some rare disease. You can get these from any department store really and they go for like $20 but are worth it. I know Brita makes them too but they kind of have a weird taste to them.

5. Flip flops. Your shoes break. The shower is nasty. Somebody finds a pool with an unlocked gate. The possibilities are endless for why you need a grimy pair of flip flops.

6. Hand sanitizer, lotion, and a chapstick. These are all tiny things that fit into your purse but come in handy when you get sunburned unexpectedly (whoops fell asleep on the beach again) or the airport is making you feel especially nasty.

7. A book. Even though I hate buying books (because I know I’m only going to read them once and that’s what the library is for) having them while traveling tight is not a bad idea because you never know how long it’s gonna take to stand in that line or how boring the tour is gonna be. It’s always kinda nice to leave your book behind for the next curious traveler that comes your way. Plus this way, you have less stuff coming home than you did leaving! Now how cool is that!

8. EXTRA Converter/ Charger. No, NOT one. Seriously just don’t. Especially when abroad, these babies burn out like it’s nobody’s business and then you are up the creek without a paddle. Just bring an extra they go for like $5 on eBay! SERIOUSLY HOW CHEAP ARE YOU 

I wanted to get to ten but this is all I got for now. CIAO!