There are lots of great travel packing lists out there — and with plenty of us fleeing for warm-weather countries this month for a break from the snow and rain, we can definitely use some recommendations. I haven’t seen a list yet for what to pack if you’re destined for a place where it’s easier to buy a goat than a bottle of Purell, or where the locals think that “Samsonite” is the name of an American airline, so here are my recommendations. Believe me, there will be no room in the suitcase for your anxiety once you stuff all this in.
I. Bring to stay healthy:
- A bedbug trap, since your place of lodging is probably unable to do anything in the case of bedbugs, or can move you to a bedbug-free room. Amazon carries a decent one: http://www.amazon.com/ClimbUp%C2%AE-Interceptors-pack-passive-traps/dp/B0028Z0LDQ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1388938697&sr=8-2&keywords=bed+bug+detector
- Vitamins. Don’t underestimate how many nutrients you may lose by eating non-fortified foods in developing countries. Vitamins also help replenish your system after any bouts of diarrhea or vomiting
- Granola bars, protein bars or trail mix. Protein bars are my pick since it can become nearly impossible to get enough protein from safe sources abroad.
- Water purification tablets, or a water filter
- Condoms: these can be nearly impossible to find, depending on the religious and cultural swaying of wherever you’re visiting
II. Bring to stay clean:
- Toilet paper: as much as you have room for. I will never forget finding only bright pink TP in Morocco that practically disintegrated as soon as I touched it
- Paper towels, in case your hotel or hostel towels (if provided) are dirty
- A sheet, since the cheaper hotels, and many hostels, do not provide clean bedding
- Laundry detergent, and a few feet of rope to use as a clothesline (among other things)
- Enough hand sanitizer to sterilize a small village
- A universal rubber plug, for use in tubs and sinks. Just remember to hide it after use each day or your host could accuse you of trying to flood his or her establishment.
III. Bring to stay comfortable:
- A small, battery-operated fan, both to serve its primary purpose of cooling you where there is no A/C, and to drown out street noise. Don’t wait to buy a fan where you’re going, since it will almost always come with a cord and you’ll already be using what precious few socket(s) you have to charge your devices
- A sewing kit, if you can actually thread a needle; if you can’t, go with a few tubes of Krazy Glue like I do
IV. Bring to stay out of trouble:
- Plenty of Google map printouts, zoomed in enough to get both the English and native language script for street and place names
V. Bring for a variety of uses:
- Ziploc and plastic bags for protecting your electronics and documents from the elements Swiss Army pocket knife (remember to put it back in your checked bag)
- A waterproof container of matches, or a lighter (also to remain in your checked bag)
- A small roll of duct tape. It’s come through for me as both bag repair and medical tape in a developing country!
- A luggage lock and coiling cable (preferably one for each of your bags)
- Keychain flashlight
- World Market crinkle curtain-in-a-pouch: http://www.worldmarket.com/product/porcelain-crinkle-voile-curtain.do?&from=fn. Can be used as a beach blanket, rag, rope, souvenir packaging, modesty or sun scarf, or a privacy curtain in case your hotel window comes naked. And if you lose just about everything on your trip, including your inhibitions, at least you’ll have one last thing to wrap yourself in!