10 essentials to pack when going abroad

I just returned from a five-week trip around the world, where I logged nearly 27,000 miles. I have been traveling for more than twenty years, the past five as a professional travel blogger. Needless to say, I have a bit of experience with international travel. In no particular order, I have come up with a list of ten essential items to pack when going abroad. I hope these ten tips will be helpful then next time you plan your vacation.
10 essentials to pack when going abroad. Photo of Mike Shubic in a sea of luggage

1) Empty Water Bottle. It is so important to stay hydrated when traveling, and it’s frustrating when you are forced to pour out a full bottle of H2O before going through security. Many airports now have filtered water stations on the other side of security in which you can fill your bottles up. It also saves a lot of money since many airport vendors charge more than $5 for a bottle of water. To save space from carrying a bulking water bottle, you might want to consider a flexible/collapsible one by Hydrapak.

2) Packing Cubes. These things are great to help you keep things clean and organized. I have a number of packing cubes in different sizes and styles. Two brands I can recommend are Lewis N. Clark and Eagle Creek. The Eagle Creek ones I have are strong, but very lightweight. The Lewis N. Clark are water-resistance, which are perfect for putting saline solution, shampoo, and other items that may have a tendency to leak at high altitudes.

10 essentials to pack when traveling abroad. Photo of Packing cubes by Lewis N Clark

3) Go-to Pair of Shoes – It goes without saying that comfortable shoes are a must when traveling. I think it’s important to have a single pair of very versatile shoes. I love and recommend Keen Newport sandals…they are rugged and very comfortable…great for light hikes, water activities or even a long stroll without the feet getting sore or blistered.

4) Luggage with 4-wheel spinners – Until I got my first piece of luggage with 4-wheel spinners, I had no idea what I was missing. Luggage with four wheel spinners allows you to effortlessly navigate your baggage through hotels and airports, while also piling on handbags and other items you’re traveling with. Here are some spinner bags I have and recommend: Samsonite Cruisair, Delsey Helium Titanium and UgoBags (customized luggage).

MikesRoadTrip customized Ugobag

5) Back-up Battery – Today we all carry around a number of electronic devices and it is imperative to have them charged when we need them. Believe it or not, finding an outlet is not always an easy task. I have been to a number of airports where I could not find a single place to power up, or, the few available were being used. Having a backup battery can keep your phone, tablet and other devices working until you can find a place to plug in.

6) First-aid Kit – When traveling internationally, it can often be difficult to obtain some basic necessities. Here are some suggestions to have in your international first-aid kit: Tweezers, small scissors, antibiotic ointment, alcohol rubs, needle, liquid bandage (I find this better than a traditional band-aid, and it’s also good at minimizing blister hot spots), antibiotics (food poisoning), hydrocortisone (for inflammation and itching), aspirin and ibuprofen, anti-diarrhea tablets and laxatives.

10 essentials to pack when going abroad by MikesRoadTrip.com10 essentials to pack when going on an international trip by MikesRoadTrip.com

7) Travel documents – Be sure to have a photocopy of all of your essential travel documents—from your passport, drivers license, credit cards to any any visas. I would also go a step further and take photos with your phone. Keep one copy on your phone, and one in the cloud (using a service such as DropBox).

8) Quick-dry clothes – It can be a challenge finding a place to wash clothes while traveling. It’s one thing to wear most clothing multiple times, however undergarments are the exemption. ExOfficio and Icebreaker make some great quick-dry clothing .

Mike wearing an Icebreaker shirt. Photo by: MikesRoadTrip.com

9) Power adapters and converter – Depending on the country you’ll be visiting, there is a strong likelihood that your electrical plug will not work. It’s important to know the difference between an adapter and a converter. An adapter simply allows you to plug in your device into an outlet. A converter will change the voltage so as not to destroy your electrical item. I have found that converters are often not necessary (which will save you a lot of money), and that adapters will most likely suffice. You see, most electronics today have a converter already built in, from computers, electric razors, to phone chargers. Just look on the back to confirm. The exception is often hair dryers or curling irons, these items will often require a converter.

10) Insurance – Unforeseen mishaps occur all the time when traveling, so having travel and medical insurance while traveling abroad is a smart idea. For trip insurance, I’ve used RoamRight and Allianz. Thankfully, I’ve never had to make a claim, however several folks on this past trip around the world I was on, did (with Allianz). For health insurance in Europe, check out UKEHIC.

I hope these top 10 essentials to pack when going abroad was helpful. If you have any questions, or, have some additional suggestions for readers, please leave a comment below.

Mike Shubic

Mike Shubic is a seasoned road trip travel video blogger, traversing the byways of the world looking for those hidden gems of the road. From unique destinations, unexpected discoveries, creative cuisine, intriguing inns to exciting attractions…the road is his page. The experiences are his ink. And every 300 miles, a new chapter begins. Whether you live vicariously or by example, Mike will do the exploring so you can have an adventure.