Here are a few items that I have found to be very important (but often overlooked) when traveling abroad.
- Plug adapters for every country you plan to visit
Small power adapters allow United States-style plugs to fit into different outlets. You can invest in fancy adapters or find them on Amazon. This is something you’ll use every day so I would suggest not buying adapters under 3 dollars… I bought an extra adapter at what I can only describe as the French version of Dollar General and it broke after two days. Also don’t wait until the last minute to double-check which adapters you need for any extra trips. For example, continental Europe uses a different adapter than the U.K. or Australia.
- An umbrella
Unless you are blessed with a sunny destination (and even so) you should bring an umbrella. Sitting on the Metro for forty minutes after being caught in the rain is not an experience I wish on anyone.
- Comfortable shoes
Especially in Paris, people tend to dress less casually than at home. You might be tempted to bring every shoe in your closet to impress the Europeans, but in this case your comfort is more important. Bring shoes you know are sturdy, good for walking, and won’t make your feet ache after a day of sightseeing. If you are still worried about “blending in”, sneakers are actually pretty common among students in Europe – a plain pair of Keds or Vans will do just fine. Or you can put comfortable insoles in those fancy leather boots.
Bring clothes that will layer well together. This will save space in your suitcase but also keep you prepared for crazy weather changes. Scarves and sweaters can also serve as makeshift blankets or pillows if you’re stuck in a cold bus, plane, etc.
- Stain remover pen
This is one of those items I never think to bring but always end up needing. I dropped Korean food on a favorite dress and had to soak it for ages to get the stain out, wondering why I had left my Tide To-Go at home. They’re not expensive and will not take up any room in your bag. Please bring a stain remover pen.