For a first-timer, traveling abroad is full of unknowns. Simplify the process of packing for an extended time out of the country, and get prepared to enjoy the trip. Many airlines have started charging extra for suitcases, so it is more important than ever to lighten the load without leaving essential clothes at home.
Washable Pants Convert to Shorts
Buy several pair of nylon-polyester blend pants that zip off into shorts. These can be found at outdoor recreational stores or specialty travel stores. Not only does this avoid the need to pack separate pants and shorts, the nylon-polyester blend material is washable in a sink and dries in less than a day. Shorts are fantastic for daytime sightseeing, but did you know many European restaurants and even some churches require long pants before entering? Be prepared for changing weather, when daytime trips turn into late night excursions.
Comfortable Walking Shoes
First-time travelers abroad are surprised to learn how much walking is required for sightseeing. Public transit may be convenient for getting around, but the walk to or from the station from the hotel could be at least ten minutes. Wear comfortable shoes on the plane trip over, and plan on wearing the same shoes each day. Think function over fashion. If you must, bring one pair of dress up shoes.
Zip-up Jacket With Secure Inner Pockets
Dressing in layers is critical to being comfortable when traveling. Subways, buses, museums and other tourist stops may or may not be air conditioned. Be prepared by wearing a zip-up jacket. Choose a jacket with inside pockets secured by Velcro or a zipper. Inner pockets can be used for carrying valuables such as money and passports. This is an excellent alternative to a money belt, if you are traveling in the fall or winter and anticipate wearing a coat throughout the day.
Robe or Cover-Up
A terry-cloth cover-up is useful for summer trips over swimsuits, but can double as a robe in the morning. First-time travelers who opt for bargain rates at hotels and apartment rentals may be surprised learn of the limited availability of hot water for showers. It is not uncommon in some countries for the shower to be located in a common area down the hall from the room.
Pack a hat, even if you normally don’t wear one. Weeks of sightseeing mean more sun exposure than normal, and hats also help travelers deal with missed showers due to unforeseen plumbing problems or misplaced luggage.
Several of these essential items can be worn on the first day of the trip and do not need to be packed in a suitcase, such as the pants, jacket and shoes. Find these five essential items first, and build a wardrobe from there. Pack solid colored shirts, pants and socks to allow for easy mixing and matching. Do not pack too many shirts, if you plan on buying some during the trip. Finally, consider shipping home souvenirs at the end of a long trip abroad, to save on excess luggage fees on the return flight.