but I wanted to share some of my experiences when it comes to traveling overseas as far as what to pack, how to prepare, and what to avoid. This list is considering both solo traveling as a woman, traveling in groups, traveling with kids and traveling as a couple on a budget.
My aim is to provide useful and relevant information to travelers so that they can make the most out of their trips. By sharing my knowledge and insights, I hope to help make your own travel adventures just a little bit more fun, and avoid those oh shit moments of life in a different country.
So whether you’re a seasoned traveler or someone planning their first trip abroad, this blog is meant to be a resource to help you plan and prepare for your journey. From packing tips to travel perks, I’ve got you covered with all the essential information you need to know before you hit the road.
This may be counterintuitive depending on where you are going, but I always bring a pair of waterproof flip flops or sandals when I travel. Whether it be for showering at a hostel, stepping out for a quick bit around the corner, or walking around your guesthouse wanting shoes (some countries, especially in Asia, wearing shoes inside is a big NO NO so proceed with caution), this is an easy addition to your suitcase as it doesn’t take much room and they’re fairly cheap!
I’m a sucker for Merino Wool anything. Here’s why: Merino wool is best hand washed (hello sink washing), you can wear it multiple days and not get stinky, if you wear it hiking it dries rapidly so no getting cold after sweating, and lastly it’s incredibly soft. Some of my favorite brands are Smartwool and IceBreaker, both of which can be found at any REI. They are expensive, I know, but having good underwear on 2+ week trips is a game-changer and you will not regret it when you’re sitting on an 16 hour bus ride in Peru and things are getting stanky.
More often than not, drinking tap water across the world is a big no no. To avoid buying endless amounts of single use plastics, I always carry a Grayl when I travel. This Nalgene size bottle purifies bacteria, viruses, protozoa and head metals from water so that it is safe to drink. While it is a little bit more time consuming that outright buying water, it saves money and the environment. Which is a huge perk. One purification pod filters over 40 Gallons of water!
While you can pretty much pick this up at any major airport in case you forget, carrying a universal charger is well, critical to traveling. If you’re traveling with a laptop at all, you’ll also want to be sure that you’re outlet has surge protection, as voltage varies across different countries. There’s nothing worse than having an outlet fry a piece of electronics because of this simple oversight.
Whether it be for walking around a city, going on a hike, packing a light jacket for the after dinner stroll home or grocery shopping, having a small backpack in your travel kit is tremendously useful. Osprey makes a variety of sizes which is extremely helpful, and they pack down really small when they’re empty which is also nice. While you also want to be weary of pickpockets regardless of if you carry a bag or not, it is always recommended to be mindful of your surroundings and dont keep valuables in your pockets.
This one really is universal, and whether we like it or not as women visiting other countries we sometimes don’t have the same cultural norms when it comes to what’s appropriate to wear. Remember, regardless of what it’s like where you live, you are the visitor in their country and are not entitled to what’s normal at home. So if you’re visiting Turkey, bring a scarf to cover your head. If you’re visiting Greece, be mindful of orthodox practices where women are required to cover their lower bodies in a drape or skirt before entering any ancient churches. I have found that even a beach shawl or large scarf can be a one stop solution to this.
Obviously, if you are going to a place like London or Tokyo or Paris, you need not worry as much about this. In my experience cities tend to be more progressive and conservative customs are less likely to be enforced. That being said, if you are venturing outside of major cities always carry something like this!
When traveling abroad, more and more credit cards are accepted at shops and restaurants. This makes lots of things easier, especially safety wise, and is also a great way to accrue points. However, if you are visiting countries with less developed infrastructure or connectivity, cash is king. The American Dollar has pretty universal value, meaning that in a worse case scenario you may be able to get away with using dollars. However, having cash in the local currency is always a good idea. Therefore, you need to carry a debit card. Many banks now are promoting “Zero International Transaction Fees” so when selecting your bank, keep an eye out for this. Otherwise, you would be paying up to $5 per withdrawal and that can add up. Airports tend to have solid rates for withdrawing cash, so as soon as you land it is a good idea to get out some physical money.
In the event that something awful happens (lose a wallet, stolen etc) it is also a great plan to have a backup card. When I travel solo especially I will keep one debit card with me, and another in the hotel or among my things in a safe place. There are also safe ways to carry your cash in the form of beltpacks etc, but I have personally never had an issue being pickpocketed. Call it ego, but just keeping an eye out on your surroundings, not being obnoxious in public, and being mindful of your valuables has been a solid approach to avoiding any issues.
While the exception here is Europeans, who always seem to have the most posh walking shoes, being comfortable while sauntering overseas is a priority. Unlike in the USA, most countries around the world are not car cities – meaning a heavy reliance on foot traffic and public transportation are the norm. It is not unlikely that you will walk 6-8 miles a day while exploring a city like Rome or Istanbul and so it’s important to have shoes that are supportive. I have really enjoyed wearing Kodiak Boots, and my current pair has been to 5 countries and help up wonderfully with support.
This one speaks for itself. But our mini garmin is smaller than an apple and is absolutely handy in a situation where you’re hiking in rural northern Peru and don’t have any cell coverage and your taxi driver just dropped you off in the middle of nowhere and you want to tell your mom you’re OK.
You can pay for the service monthly, so when you’re not needing it you aren’y paying for it. Having an SOS button just sits nicely in my mind.
Ibuprofen is a precription pill in most of Europe. Meaning that if you have a sore back from walking around too much, you need a doctor note to get the pain killer. My advice? Bring your own.
For that matter, here are things I always travel with in my first aid/toiletry kit:
~My own Shampoo/Conditioner
~ Tums or Antacids
~ Hand Sanitizer
~ Vitamins like Magnesium, B12 and Turmeric
~ Any personal medications
~ Quick Dry Towel
My biggest piece of advice for traveling, is to use your mileage wisely. I have a Chase Credit Card that I opened with United in the fall of 2022. Upon completing the sign up requirements ($3000 in 3 months) I was awarded 80,000 miles. Thats enough for an international round trip flight. So while you can’t open a credit card every week (or you can, its just a really bad idea) this one checked all my boxes and the reward was right on point.
I use that credit card for all my expenses at home – groceries, dog food, gasoline, bills. Every month I am then awarded points, which I can cash in for miles. This is far and away the simplest way to access international travel for me, as the price of tickets in dollars is only going up.
The other reality, is that my travel style is not luxurious. I stay in lower end hotels or guesthouses, eat twice a day (sometimes can cook in a kitchen) and most importantly I tend to choose locations that are not known for their high costs. For example, my husband and I traveled across Turkey for 6 weeks in 2019 and our total bill for the entire time was less than $3000. That is because hotels average $40 a night, meals are cheap, and transportation is extremely affordable. Contrast that with a city like London and the price for an experience differs dramatically.
Lastly, I don’t spend money on things I don’t need. I don’t indulge in new clothes, shoes, or gadgets. I will get my nails done on occasion, but my beauty budget is minimal – I have nothing against the world of cosmetics but spending money on botox, injectables, or material alterations just is not for me. I would rather spend it on an trip.
I probably spend too much money on coffee and the occasional cocktail. I don’t have needless subscriptions. I drive 10 year old cars. I enjoy cooking, so make most meals at home. I don’t go to concerts. I probably have too many house plants. I am incredibly blessed to have family watch Atlas while we travel, because the cost of doggy day care would be the end of me.