Are you a frequent traveler? I am. Being an avid traveler, I’ve learned from experience that there are certain things I should always travel with because they make my life so much better. This is a list of my personal travel must-haves; use it as your personal checklist when traveling!
1. Universal Power Adapter
Different country clusters use different power socket heads. For example, countries in the European Union use a circle-shaped two-pin plug (see below), while United States uses a rectangular-shaped two-pin plug (see further below).
Hence, you need a universal power adapter to use your power chargers in other countries—the adapter makes it possible to connect your electric device to other types of power sockets. You can get such adapters in any D.I.Y. or appliance store.
Here’s a handy chart of plug adapter shapes by country: http://www.europlugs.com/Design_Review_Polices/Plug_Adapter_Country_Chart.htm
2. International Debit Card
With an international debit card, you can withdraw money at any ATM machine in the world at a nominal fee. (I use the DBS Debit Card powered by Visa which charges $5 SGD for every withdrawal, regardless of the amount.) Not only that, you can use the card just like a credit card, except that the amount is directly deducted from your savings account rather than put on credit.
The nominal withdrawal fee is a huge plus over credit cards where you are subjected to cash advance charges and high interest rates. I was once forced to withdraw money in London using a credit card because I was running low on cash, and was charged an exorbitant fee due to the interest rate! Never again would I withdraw money using my credit card again.
Walk-in to your local bank and ask about international debit cards. I got mine in just five minutes and it made my recent Africa Trip so convenient because I no longer had to worry about ensuring I have enough cash on hand.
3. Ear Plugs
When traveling, there are times of long commute (such as on the bus, train, or plane) which are perfect for catching a few winks. However, just because you want to sleep doesn’t mean the environment will be conducive for sleep. I often encounter screaming kids and chatty adults who make it hard to get any rest at all.
My solution? Ear plugs. They may not block out 100% of the noise, but they are the next best thing to sleeping in a noise-free environment. They are fantastic on the plane too when there is a lot of white noise in the environment (I’m guessing the plane engines), as well as just people walking around / talking in general.
Check out ear plugs on Amazon:
- Flents Quiet Please Foam Ear Plugs ($9.75)
- Etymotic Research ER20 ETY-Plugs Hearing Protection Earplugs ($9.05)
4. Sleeping Mask
Sleeping masks help you to get a sound sleep in a lit environment). I used to think that they don’t matter; but after using them, I realize that I do get a sound sleep when I have a sleeping mask on.
Some airlines like Qatar actually offer it as part of their in-flight amenities and you can keep that for future use. In any case, you can also buy one at an affordable rate. Check out this Dream Essentials Sweet Dreams Contoured Sleep Mask ($9.95 only) which comes with ear plugs and a carry pouch.
5. Local Currency
No matter how many credit/cards you have, it’s always good to have some local currency on hand. Some shops simply don’t accept cards while some shops may have minimum order amounts before cards can be used. (In Singapore, many shops have minimum orders of $10 or $20 SGD for credit card usage.)
Go to your local money changer and get your money changed before you go. Some changers offer better rates than others, so do your research first if you are planning to change large amounts of money. For those of you in Singapore, Money changes at Mustafa (at Little India MRT) and The Arcade (at Raffles Place MRT) offer pretty good rates.
6. Travel Kits for Toiletries
Instead of packing and repacking your toiletries like skincare, hair care, and dental items every time you travel, why not have separate travel kits? This means having travel-sized shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, tooth brush, tooth paste, facial foam, and so on all packed in your luggage and ready to go whenever you travel. This way, you no longer have to pack these stuff whenever you travel.
Even if you stay in places where such amenities are provided, it helps to have such toiletries available. For example, there was once I was in a hotel which didn’t provide hair conditioner (weird). I had to go all the way to the mall to get a bottle of conditioner as my hair is quite dry; otherwise it becomes highly tangled after the shower.
7. Passport, Visa, and Travel Itinerary/Receipts
Passport—goes without saying. Perhaps the more useful point to ensure your passport is not within six months of expiry—airlines will not let you check in otherwise.
For visa, make sure you look up the visa requirements for the country you are traveling to. If you require a visa, budget sufficient time to get the visa before you travel. Visa HQ is your one-stop spot to check visa requirements.
Having your travel itinerary and booking receipts for your airline and accommodation on hand makes it easy for you while traveling.
8. Notebook and Pen
Last but not least, I can never travel without my notebook and pen. There are times when I run out of battery for my laptop while commuting, when I want to brainstorm on ideas, or when I simply want to quickly pen down some thoughts and ideas, and these are times when my notebook and pen come in handy.
For you, your notebook can serve as a travel log. Not only that, traveling makes for a great opportunity for self-reflection. Use your notebook to jot down your reflections on self and life and possible plans for your life moving forward post the travel.
Of course, there are other obvious things like laptop, mobile phone, and clothes which I didn’t include in this list. It’s easy to think that everything is important and want to pack everything when traveling, but minimalism is the key. Have a safe trip and enjoy your travels! 🙂