Have you ever been excited to go on a long-awaited vacation, only to find that you've left some things behind that didn't even cross your mind? Well, so have we. To help you with your travel and packing checklist, we're sharing our top 10 essentials for a chic and worry-free getaway.
This should be number one on everyone’s list. Sunscreen is always essential, even if you're not going on a warm-weather vacation. Ladies, we often obsess about looking young and avoiding fine lines and wrinkles. When used correctly, sunscreen helps protect our skin from sun damage and against premature aging. It's not just for packing; it's for daily use.
And to my ladies of color, don’t believe the lies and myths. Our melanin doesn’t prevent us from getting sun damage or skin cancer. We need sunscreen just like our fair-skinned sisters.
Whenever you’re choosing a sunscreen, opt for a reef-friendly option. Research has shown that sunscreen containing oxybenzone and octinoxate is harmful to coral reefs, causing them to bleach and die. Are you really okay splashing around in the ocean knowing the sunscreen you’re wearing contributes to the destruction of such beautiful sea life? Me neither. Fun fact: Hawaii is the first state to officially ban the sale of sunscreen containing oxybenzone and octinoxate as of January 1, 2021.
Mini Travel Iron
If you’re like us, you love a sustainable wardrobe and probably pack linen clothing on occasion. Linen, like a lot of sustainable fabrics tends to wrinkle easily. There’s nothing worse than arriving at your accommodation abroad to find out that your room doesn’t automatically come with an iron. If you’re staying at a hotel, in some cases, all you have to do is ask, and the front desk will have one that you can borrow. However, depending on your destination, this isn’t always the case. That’s why we recommend packing a mini travel iron. It doesn’t take up a lot of space, leaving you plenty of room to pack light. No more worries about how you’ll remain chic and wrinkle-free.
If you know you’ll be spending a lot of time on the beach, consider packing a pair of barefoot water shoes. Although water shoes are primarily used for water sports, they're also an alternative option for playing in the sand. Due to climate change and reef damage, many beaches around the world have had small pieces of dead, prickly coral wash ashore. If you know you’ll be on a beach you’re not familiar with, it’s better to be prepared to protect your feet and your pedicure.
Waterproof Phone Case
This is a must if you love to snorkel. One of the most intriguing snorkeling experiences I've had was off the coast of Thailand. It was almost overwhelming to see many brightly colored coral and fish in one area. The cherry on top would have been capturing a few of those moments, but I’d forgotten to bring my waterproof phone case. Don’t make the same mistake. Besides, it’s less expensive to bring your own than to purchase one upon arrival.
When making your travel plans, double-check the expiration date on your passport. Don't take chances. A good rule of thumb is to update it 9 months to a year prior to expiration. You never know when you might want to take a last-minute flight abroad. And as 2020 has shown us, you never know if you’ll get stuck abroad or for how long.
The following five essentials could be lifesavers for communicating and finding your way around, especially for solo travelers.
When traveling abroad, many travelers know that they’ll be out-of-touch with friends and family. Frankly, that’s usually the primary goal of getting away. But did you know that you can purchase a SIM card for your phone at most airports of the country you’re entering? Although you’ll no longer have access to your cellular network from home (check with your cell provider first), a sim for the country in which you're vacationing will provide you with internet and phone access. You really only need a prepaid plan for internet service, and you’ll see why in the next three essentials. Don't worry, it's quite affordable. And if you really want to be proactive, international SIM cards can be purchased before traveling.
If you’re well-traveled or have friends and family abroad, then you probably already know about this one. If not, listen up.
Before you leave home, be sure to download WhatsApp to your phone. It’s a text messaging, video chat, and phone app all-in-one. It’s also the primary app used by most tour guides, drivers, and accommodation staff when they need to reach you. Of course, this only works if your phone has internet access, so the SIM card is quite important.
(If you frequent Asia, it wouldn’t hurt to have WeChat downloaded as well.)
Unless you’re fluent in the local language, you may need a translator for menus, signs, and one-on-one communication. Experiencing different languages can be exciting and inspiring. With Google Translate, not only can you communicate with others, but there’s a feature that allows you to translate words on menus and signs just by taking a picture of them.
Yes, Google Maps works abroad. With internet access (did someone say SIM card), you’ll have the ability to move about freely without asking for directions. Not only does the Google Maps app come in handy for walking and bus routes, but it's especially handy when you need to take subways or other rail lines. Maybe you’ve run out of taxi fare and need to get from Sukhumvit Road to the famous Moon Bar at Vertigo in Bangkok and your only option is the metro. Just click the icon that’s relevant to you:
Universal Travel Adapter
All outlets and plugs are not created equal. You will find that you’ll need a travel adapter to use your electrical devices most places abroad. Although a travel adapter is a little thing, it’s also something that’s easily forgotten, so make sure you add it to your must-have packing list.
Which of these essentials have you used before? What else would you recommend? Be sure to download this list and share it with a friend.