10 items you didn’t know you need when traveling abroad


Traveling abroad for the first time and how to do it right

Traveling abroad can be the most rewarding experience to adventure seekers of any age. But preparing for traveling abroad for the first time can also be an emotional roller coaster.

Worrying about things to bring when traveling abroad that will help you navigate your time in a new place can take its toll on your emotional well being and suck all the fun out of the prep work!

There are a whole host of “obvious” items to bring: Passport, visa (perhaps), travel insurance, toothbrush, roadmap, tourist guide, etc. Many of those items are no different from what you’d pack to stay a week at Grandma’s house.

But there are also a lot of things that many people don’t think about until they are in a moment where they need something that is now several thousand miles away!

So to put your mind at ease, and give you a little breather, here are ten tips for traveling overseas with items you didn’t know you need to pack when traveling abroad!

1. Waterproof Watch

Watches today often seem like overkill to millennials unless you are accessorizing. After all, most of us pull out our phone when we want to check the time. But believe it or not, when traveling out and about, it can be easy to eat up battery life on your mobile since we also tend to use it as our camera, entertainment, and map all at once. Some even use it to make phone calls on!

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Because of this, having a waterproof watch that you can rely on when your battery goes dead is invaluable. It can help you plan your routes and bus times, making sure you don’t wind up in an even stickier situation than having a dead phone.

Looking for a great travel watch? Check out the Sophos Collection Watches, a fantastic unisex watch line that has a color and look for just about every style and are very reasonably priced.

They are a great watch that will be more than just a flashy accessory for your next adventure!

2. Microfiber Underwear

Wait, really? Seriously? Yes, this isn’t us plugging this in for your mom as a reminder. Comfort has a lot to do with how much you enjoy and experience things, and being comfortable at your basest of layers is crucial.

Microfiber underwear has a very different feel from your standard cotton briefs, but the benefit to these pieces of clothing is that, in a pinch, you can wash and dry them quickly in a hotel sink.

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These might not sound like your cup of tea but when you find yourself in a place that might have limited amenities, and you can’t speak the language, being able to toss your undies in a sink full of soapy water, scrub them out in 2 minutes, then have them dry within an hour, is great. They can take a rough day of walking, sweating, and hustling but help you stay feeling clean and fresh, without having to pack a month’s worth of undergarments.

The company Lapasa has perfected this type of underwear for men. Many people get away with being on the road for over a month with only two pairs of these breathable mesh briefs. They are well worth the investment because you will not believe the amount of cash you can save by not running to a laundromat every other day!

I wouldn’t dream of recommending a particular style for women but there are plenty to choose from here.

3. Automotive Microfiber Towel

This one also may sound odd, but many times if you are traveling from the US, you will be flying to your destination and checked luggage isn’t cheap. So unless you are specifically going to the beach, automotive microfiber towels are a fantastic way to squeeze a little more in your suitcase.

things to bring when traveling abroad

Waffle Weave technology isn’t new, but you might not have ever thought about patting yourself down with it. Even though it’s microfiber, the feeling isn’t as nice as a fresh cotton towel, but because of the waffle weave design these smaller towels will actually soak up more water faster​ than a standard towel. And since it’s microfiber, it will dry out easily right next to your travel underwear.

It might take some time getting used to wiping your body off with a brand called Chemical Guys designed for car care, but this grey microfiber towel will dry you off faster, save you room in your suitcase, and ensure you always know where the towel came from!

4. Soap Sheets

It’s easy to remember to toss in some germ lotion last minute. But there are some really cool places in this world that don’t take hygiene as seriously as in America. That is why we recommend grabbing some soap sheets. They are airline approved so you won’t have to haul bottles in ziplock bags around, and they are a fantastic backup plan in case of an emergency.

Travelon laundry sheets are light and take up a very small amount of space. Laundry sheets are especially important as you never know what the washing situation may be in the place you’re staying till you get there. But they also carry shaving, hand wash, and shampoo sheets to meet all of your on-the-go hygiene needs!

While on the subject of washing, as odd as it seems, in some countries you won’t find a sink stopper/plug in a bathroom so buying one of these cheap universal sink stoppers is a good idea.

5. Portable Battery Pack

This one is so obvious I almost didn’t add it, but battery packs can save your life. Or at least the life of your phone! On a day filled with sight-seeing, there is nothing worse than seeing that battery bar drain slowly away by lunch time when you know​ you’ve got another 8 hours to go!

things to bring when traveling abroad

So rather than waste time finding a coffee shop or McDonalds to charge up in, take a quality battery charger. You can plug it in at night and have in your day-pack, purse, or pocket in case your iPhone starts to give up the ghost too early in the adventure!

Anker is a brand that has been hailed as tough, durable, and quality beyond compare by the long distance hiker communities. It can charge most phones up to three times on one charge of it’s own and is small enough it can fit comfortably in your carry on!

This is the Anker battery pack I have been using for the past year or so.

6. Wet Wipes

Bathing with wet wipes is a classic army trick that a lot of travelers will turn to if amenities are not all they’re cracked out to be. But they can also serve as great backup plans if you’re on the move and don’t have a napkin for your street food mess or have a bathroom emergency when some jerk used up the last of the TP.

Wet wipes are found world wide in the baby section of most department stores, but HyperGo has specialized in designing these on the go packets specifically for travelers looking for a portable “rinse off”.

7. Merino Wool Socks

That may seem specific, but wool socks can be your best friend, especially if you are walking around for hours. These socks aren’t limited to just hikers either. By the end of a long day of historic castles and art museums, you might find they are one of your favorite things to bring when traveling abroad.

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Merino wool is renowned for its softness and its antimicrobial wicking ability. This means that at the end of a day stomping around in the jungles of India or the African Serengeti, the natural properties of the wool have not only helped keep your feet dry, but they also help keep them from smelling​ when you wrench those trail runner’s off your sore bunions.

By far the best company to get merino socks from is Darn Tough. This company prides itself on indestructible socks in both men’s and women’s styles. So you won’t sacrifice that adorable outfit you packed for the sake of an ugly yet functional knee high socks.

Their socks are built for comfort, fashion, and better still, they have an unconditional guarantee. That’s right, if you manage to put a hole in their sock, they will replace it no questions asked. “Our unconditional lifetime guarantee is simple and without strings or conditions. If our socks are not the most comfortable, durable and best fitting socks you have ever owned, return them for another pair. No strings. No conditions. For life.”

8. Compact Rain Jacket

Believe it or not, there’s a lot of places you can travel that will be sunny one day and then dump a literal monsoon on you the next. That’s why compact, reusable rain gear is essential. As we’ve said before, comfort is paramount in traveling and no one​ likes traveling wet.

things to take abroad

An umbrella was probably on your list of things to pack already, but we also highly recommend using some form of reusable, packable poncho or coat. It will do a better job of keeping your clothes dry, especially if there is any, wind involved.

A lot of people give ponchos a bad wrap because they tend to think of the cheap plastic disposable kinds that sticks to your skin.

Terra Hiker, however, has a great color selection in packable reusable ponchos that can also in a pinch be used as a shelter tarp or simply a waterproof blanket to sit on while enjoying a quiet, but dry, evening by the lake.

9. American Plug Adapter

Spoiler alert; when traveling abroad for the first time you will find that most countries don’t use the same kinds of plugs we use in America. Which means when you go to plug in anything, it can be a vexing experience. No matter how hard you mash and push, they will not cooperate.

international travel essentials

This is why having a few spare adapters can be handy for those times you need to charge phones, battery banks, computers or just use that blow dryer you just had​ to bring from home.

If you plan on going anywhere in the EU, the Middle East, India, or Sub Saharan Africa, make sure you grab a couple of Ceptics international power adapters.

They are lightweight and will allow you to replace your phone charging brick while also allowing you to plug in your laptop at the same time! They even have USB ports to charge your phones and tablets.

10. A Small Bottle of Your Favorite Condiment

traveling abroad for the first time

A lot of our suggestions today have been practical, and this may seem slightly trivial. But sometimes, even when you are specifically heading out to experience new things and new flavors, you can find yourself homesick for a little taste of “normal”.

A friend of an American missionary once asked if there was anything he could send from home that he missed. The missionary answered a case of French’s Mustard because you couldn’t find anything even remotely close in terms of flavor. A little squirt of something familiar can make all the difference.

Designed specifically for Sriracha, these condiment key-chains might help you keep your sanity after a week of “bland” British food. Or they can add a splash of home to an otherwise exotic meal. Whatever the case, trust me, it can come in handy.

Enjoy your trip

Travel is an exciting world where you can get so hung up in the gadgets that you can’t afford the trip. So as should be the case with every ​“must have” list, take it with a pinch of salt. Don’t forget the point​ of traveling which is to have new and exciting experiences!

I just hope some of these international travel essentials suggestions help you in that regard, whether it be keeping your feet from smelling, or keeping that phone charged so you won’t miss one Instagram worthy moment.

Happy traveling!

John Parker

I have been traveling around the world since the early 70s and living overseas too. I have also been a private pilot for many years. About me page - https://travel-easier.com/about-me-travel-easier/

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