At almost 30 countries and 30 US States (and counting), I’d consider myself relatively experienced in this travel industry. And through this experience has come with tons of trial and error, heavy on the error! I’ve developed these sort of “travel rituals” that I follow on any of my adventures, including having my travel must-haves!
- Cell Phone: It may be obvious to always travel with my cellphone, but here are a few things that I always make sure to do with my phone before/during my travels. For reference, I have the Iphone 11 Pro Max.
- I use my phone (in addition to my camera) to take photos. I typically free up space by transferring my photos to my computer so that I have free reign to capture anything I want/need to travel. These newer phones have amazing camera quality, so often all you need is the vision and a great editing app, and you really don’t need a camera!
- I don’t always activate my AT&T international service while traveling, at $10 a day it’s not cost effective for extended trips, so I’ve made sure that my phone was unlocked so that I can easily purchase a SIM card at my destination to gain use of my cellphone to make calls, use the internet/social media apps and even use apps like Google Maps for navigating. When I’m opting for the SIM card option, I will typically make my purchase in the airport once I arrive at my destination, the folks who are working at those kiosks have always been patient when helping me to select the ideal plan and inserting the SIM card! Wondering how you can unlock your phone? Check out THIS article, or do what I did and call your mobile provider. With AT&T the phone had to be paid in full in order to unlock this feature when I did it in 2019.
- I have the following apps downloaded (they’re always downloaded) and also download offline versions of whatever I’ll need.
- Google Translate: This way, not matter how fluent I am in the language of the country I am visiting, I have some basic ability to converse! You can download offline versions of a specific language so that you can use the app regardless of having service/wifi!
- Globe Convert: I use this app if I’m traveling to a country that doesn’t use USD as their standard currency to help me to convert my money in real time. I’ve found this extremely helpful when I’m in markets trying to “haggle” or understand what prices are being thrown at me!
- Google Maps: Helpful to navigate, whether I’m renting a car and transporting myself or using a ride sharing service, I tend to turn my navigation on to follow along the route!
- Airline Apps: I love Delta, so I try to fly Delta where and when possible, so I have their and other airline apps downloaded. If anything is wrong with my flight, any changes, updates, etc. having the app provides immediate updates, often quicker than email communications, and I’m usually able to communicate with a customer service rep or make immediate changes quicker, right through the app! I have Delta, Jetblue and American apps always downloaded on my phone, but if I’m flying with Southwest for example, I’ll download their app for that trip.
- Priority Pass:
2. Power Bank: These are available everywhere at this point, and often for as low as $5 USD, so no excuse, make sure to grab one and pack it. In case you don’t know, a power bank is a portable charger. My biggest pet peeve is traveling with people who don’t carry any cash or people who always let their phone die, these people clearly aren’t imagining every worse case scenario where having your phone or some spare cash are the only things that will save you, but I am! I do not like for my phone to die while I am at home, I for-damn-sure don’t let it die while I’m abroad. Aside from potentially missing a great shot, I like to know that if I needed to reach someone, my phone being dead wouldn’t be a barrier for me! So step 1) purchase a power bank 2) pack your power back 3) make sure your power bank is charged!
3. Chase Sapphire Reserve Card/$100 USD in Cash (Or it’s equivalency)- So maybe this is two things, but both are equally important! I mentioned above that I think all folks should carry some cash on hand, honestly you never know what’s going to happen. You might need cash for tips, for places that don’t have the infrastructure to support credit card or Apple pay transactions, for local markets or for technical issues (systems just may be down and now you have no way to pay). Despite my push for “cash being king”, I do swear by my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, that’s bae! I wrote a post on travel credit cards a while back, you can find that HERE, in addition to more detailed and updated information in my travel guy available HERE! My card comes in handy both pre and during trip, from coming with built in travel insurance to cover me for any incidentals to having a concierge service to help navigate popular restaurants, hotels, excursions and helping me to book, in addition to tons of other benefits in between including TSA Pre-Check/Global Entry and Priority Pass membership! I book my entire trip on my card and in turn, earn that insurance coverage that I mention AND points for future travel! Though I love and swear by travel cards, I also use it more like a debit card to an extent, I pay my card off every month, only charging what I can immediately pay off.
Here’s a list of some of my other favorites that I like to keep in tow:
Passport: I assumed this was obvious, but I wanted to be sure to mention anyhow! If going on an international trip, this a must have to even get on your flight! If you do not have a passport, but want to travel, I highly suggest you apply ASAP as processing times have been lengthy due to Covid-10 related delays! In my E-guide I provide a ton of tips and recommendations, including steps to getting or renewing a passport, grab your copy HERE. Know that countries have varying passport requirements, some requiring your passport be valid for up to 6 months after your trip or requiring ample empty (w/out stamps) pages to be stamped such as Mexico, Canada, the UK and Germany. In addition to looking up any visa requirements, you want to be sure to make sure your passport is also good to go!
Canon M50: As I try to level up my content creation and simply capture the memories, I invested in a new camera and have been trying to remember to pack and use it while traveling! I purchased mine at Target but it can purchased almost everywhere cameras are sold.
Travel Sized Lysol: Even before covid-19, I was a part of the “disinfect everything” movement. If 2020 taught us anything, it was that most of us were not practicing the best hygiene routines and that most places we frequented, practically never got cleaned. I like to use Lysol on everything from my seat area on the airplane to remotes, toilets, and linen in my hotel room. It’s not paranoia, just extra protection and something I picked up from my grandma! I always keep some form of disinfectant in my bag!
Notepad/Pen: I like to journal on my travels in addition to taking notes for my blog! Not a must, because I can always take notes on my phone if I have to, but there’s something about putting a pen to a piece of paper that I’ll forever love!
Universal Travel Adapter: A universal travel adapter is a plug adapter that allows you to plug your electronics into walls with sockets differing the one used in your home country. Not all countries have the same outlet/plug type, thus requiring a different charger, but opposed to buying units specific to each country, I suggest purchasing one that is Universal-this way you’ll be able to fit your device into any hole type! I got mine off of Amazon and just do a quick google search before traveling to see what charger type is used in the country I plan to visit, I usually just pack it regardless as there are 5 plugs on my unit which is convenient to charge multiple things at once! Note: you may need a travel adapter (changes plug types) and a separate converter (changes the electric power output.
First Aid Kit: In this, I included Band-Aids, alcohol wipes, Neosporin and other items that would help with a minor injury!
Comfy Sneakers: Should be a no-brainer, but pack comfy shoes in your bag, even if you don’t anticipate wearing them!
Fem Care Products: Even though roughly 1/2 of the world’s population has gone through or will go through menstruation, it’s still such a weird and taboo topic, and in certain countries around the world, these products are not easily accessible. Even if you’re clear on when your cycle is, I always carry a few tampons/pads to have on hand, just in case!
Hair Care Products: This shouldn’t really come as a surprise, but not all markets cater to the hair needs of Black Women, so I usually carry the things that I need so that I do not have to go without, typically a few styling products, my hair scarf, and a shower cap!
Shower Shoes: Whether I’m staying at a 5 star resort, or even give in to hostel life, I carry shower shoes just in case! Usually just a cheap pair of flip flops that I don’t wear outside of the bathroom!
I hope you enjoyed this short game of “What’s always in your bag?” I’m curious, what’s something you can’t travel without? Come join the conversation on IG: FitFlyFlournoy