But first, I want to stress some important and often overlooked 'to-do' items before you go on that trip:
- Make copies of all your documents, such as passport, birth certificate, full itinerary, medical records, and copies of credit cards. All paper copies should be given to someone you trust. In the event of an emergency, you'll be really glad they had those copies.
- Notify your bank and post office that you will be away.
- Pause deliveries so that items aren't accumulating on your doorstep - for example, bottled water, pet food, newspapers, etc.
- Consider notifying the local police department of the vacancy dates. Let them know if you are having someone watch the property and give them the name and contact information of that person.
Now, on to that 'must have' packing list!
1. Pack a squishable day pack that fits in your luggage. It can be a life saver when you find that you have essentials such as water bottles, a tablet device, guidebook, and purchases made while shopping. It's a great way to carry items while you're out and around. It can also serve as an overflow bag for your journey home. Don't tell me you've ever come back from a trip with less than you left with!
2. Prescriptions!!! If you are on ANY medications, pack enough for twice your trip. Why? Well, as the saying goes, "It is better to be overprepared than not!" I have a real-life example to share. Our travel agency had a client who was a heart transplant recipient. On the return trip home, all flights had been canceled and this gentleman had no extra medication. Scary situation, wouldn't you say? Well, the agent escorted the client around to all pharmacies until finally having to go to the local hospital, where thankfully, they were able to fill the prescription.
3. Bring a flashlight or headlamp, either solar powered or bring extra batteries. Glow sticks are another great emergency item with the same purpose. You never know when there may be a power outage (especially in bad weather, or remote locations). Being able to find your way around in the dark is well worth packing a small lamp.
4. Quality earplugs or noise blocking headphones. These are a must, especially for those whose sleep is less than sound. They are also great for blocking out airplane noise and environmental noises.
5. A small travel pillow and lightweight blanket can be a great comfort. There are many on the market, and it is an individual preference as to which is best for you. You never know when there will be an unforseen layover in the airport. These are also great for traveling on an excursion train or bus tour, or even if the air conditioning is just too darn chilly.
6. A comfortable, crushable, wide-brimmed had is the way to go! The sun can be unexpectedly brutal in some places. If the hat sheds water too, so much the better.
What do you think? What are your go-to, can't live without travel items?
Julie Hutchens is the owner of Ahoy Travel Co., a full service travel agency.