Madison’s Travel Necessities
I can’t travel without face wipes. They are the ultimate refresher for me while I am on the road. Any brand will do, but they must be moist enough to cleanse my face during my adventures. I was introduced to the magic of face wipes while on a trip to Morocco two springs ago.
Nine friends, two guides, four fellow travelers and I had been riding in a stuffy van en route to the Sahara Desert for hours. Nap after nap, radio station change after radio station change, I became more aggravated and drained as the day went on. I craned my neck against the grey, tattered seat dreaming of a shower. Out of nowhere a fellow traveler whom our group adopted as one of our own shouted against the bumpy road outside the van doors, “Anyone for a face wipe?”
I needed something. So I extended my tired hand to the back of the van and was met with a wet towelette, already feeling therapeutic in my hands. I peeled away the dry wipe from my neck and refused to open my eyes. It felt so good. The wipe was covered in oil, sweat and dirt, remnants of the stress from the previous days’ travel.
We all travel in different ways, and what we pack is very important. Whether you are a seasoned traveler or a newbie, here are ten things that should always be included in your rucksack and at the back of your mind along with a cell phone, toiletries and travel garb:
This is kind of a no-brainer, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to carry documentation with you at all times while you travel. Carry your passport and/or government-issued identification card wherever you go while traveling. It is easy to leave your papers in your hotel or hostel locker, but for new travelers I recommend you take documentation with you in a money belt or in a secure, zipped pocket in your purse or fanny pack.
Instagram has become the ultimate platform for travel diaries. Create your own catalogue of travel photos and mini-movies with this easy-to-use photo app. I recommend following @wisslaren, a Swedish seasoned wanderer, @dana_figs, a GoPro guru from Southern California whom I have traveled with many times, and @jess.donnolley, a Canadian with a good eye for a city’s golden nuggets.
Reusable water bottle
Staying hydrated does wonders while you travel. To avoid the cost of buying a plastic water bottle every time you need to refresh, I recommend grabbing a Nalgene water bottle. Nalgenes are available at Target, sporting goods stores and online.
I will never use another flight app after discovering Skyscanner. This cheap-flight-finding app is fantastic. Like Kayak and Orbitz, Skyscanner sifts through flights to find you the most frugal price. But the clarity, accuracy and surprising prices that come from this app make it one of the most useful underdogs of flights apps. Skyscanner is also available online and takes you directly to the site of purchase after you’ve selected your desired flight.
As explained, face wipes are a small and easy fix for a quick clean. Four hours until your next shower? Face wipe. Driving into the desert? Face wipe.
For readers and non-readers, a book can be put to great use when you travel. For non-readers, to save battery on your phone, skip the Facebook and Twitter for a novel. Books don’t have to be boring. I take a Christopher Moore-written book every time I travel. His books make me laugh on every page and keep my spirits up when flights are cancelled and every hostel around is booked (pun intended).
Whether you are a traveler who needs constant tunes to stay sane or a new traveler who opts out of bringing their iPod to heighten the focus of their first trip, headphones can be put to use in many ways. Some headphones are great sound-blockers, and can be very helpful for travelers who like to nap. If I am traveling by myself and would not like to be bothered while on the train or in a café, I slip on my headphones to create an illusion that I am just another traveler blasting Depeche Mode during her transits.
The Uber app is a safe, accurate and great way to escape the sometimes-frustrating system of public transportation. By inputting your credit or debit card information upon registration to Uber, you eliminate the exchange of paper money and coins whilst paying your driver. This ride-share app is available in over 50 countries, with drivers in cities from Rio de Jinero to Dublin to Hong Kong. For more information on the app, including a list of the offered countries, check out Uber.com. Uber is also a great way to get to know an unfamiliar city; most Uber drivers are locals, so ask where they get their tacos or when the next local band is playing in town. You’ll get to your destination safe and sound and might befriend a new travel guide along the way.
Embrace your fanny pack fantasies and grab yourself a money belt. They are flat fanny pack-like pouches that are to be hidden underneath your shirt. They keep credit cards, passports and other important, flat items close to your person. Money belts can be found in travel stores in airports, Marshalls and on Amazon.com. I felt very secure using my money belt when I was new to traveling. Losing a credit card or having a passport stolen can severely hinder your travels and could cost you a lot of money, time and stress. Although they are a bit goofy, money belts could save the day.
Your sense of humor
Traveling around the world can be one of the most fulfilling and enlightening experiences that you will have in your lifetime. But, like life, sometimes traveling gets tough. A good way to conquer a travel setback is with humor and patience. After traveling around Europe for the first time, I gained a sense of confidence that had been missing from my veins. So don’t forget your half-full glass while packing for your next trip. Positivity attracts new friends, new wonders and, if you’re lucky, a new perspective.
By Madison D’Ornellas