I’m the sort of person who creates a packing checklist before I travel. But even then, there are still some things I’ve regretted not packing in.
They say that all you need is your passport and cash on hand. But there are some items that are just nice to have.
Here are some travel items you should throw into your bag. Because it’s always better to be prepared, right?
- A Pen
There have been too many times where I’ve been woken up on the plane because the person next to me would like to borrow my pen. For some absurd reason, they don’t think to ask for it when I’m filling in my passenger card, but that’s another story.
Unfortunately for us, most countries still require these forms to be filled by hand before going through immigration. To save you the time and trouble, always have a pen in your carry-on baggage. Plus, the inspiration to write about your travels might also strike anytime!
- First Aid Supplies
You never know when some plasters and antiseptic ointment might save the day. I remember having to hobble painfully to the nearest pharmacy when my new pair of shoes gave me blisters. Or when I scraped my ankle at the beach and it swelled up to gigantic proportions by the time I arrived back in Singapore.
Make your life a little less painful by packing a basic first aid kit. Any injuries more serious than a scratch or bruise should be tended to by a professional. Which brings us to our next point.
- Travel Insurance Information
You’ve paid for your travel insurance, now you’ll need to keep the information with you in case of emergencies. Sure, you might be able to access the information online or through your email, but what if you happen to have no access to the internet? Not to mention, insurance companies like to have the incident reported as soon as possible.
My mother loves to insist that I print my insurance information out every time I go on a holiday. I had always scoffed at how kiasu she was, until I had my wallet stolen when I was in Hong Kong. I called up my agent and he advised that I get a police statement immediately.
You can put it in your phone too, but if you keep a hard copy of your travel insurance, you don’t even have to worry about your battery running out of juice.
Kiasu: A Singaporean term, to have a fear of losing out
- Hotel Information
The same goes for your hotel information. When your plane finally lands and you’re trying to hail a cab to your hotel, it’s always handy to have the address in print. Sometimes the driver doesn’t recognize the hotel or apartment you’re staying at, sometimes they just don’t speak your language.
I found it really helpful to have my hotel address printed in Korean when I arrived at Incheon International Airport. I couldn’t speak a word of Korean beyond “annyeong”—which means hello—and I didn’t have wifi to access an online translator. Still, the driver seemed to understand where I wanted to go.
- Your Glasses or Spare Contact Lenses
One of my biggest fears when traveling is dropping my contact lenses into the sink only to find out that I didn’t bring any spare or my pair of glasses. (It has never happened yet, fortunately.) A friend of mine had a contact lens fall out of his eye while we were sightseeing in Bangkok. Plans for the day were immediately abandoned, with us rushing to the nearest optician we could find.
You’re one of the lucky ones if you’ve got 20/20 eyesight. But if you’re part of the majority of us bespectacled travelers, you might want to double-check to see if you’ve packed your glasses or an extra pair of contact lenses.
- Ear Plugs/Earphones
You don’t necessarily need earplugs or earphones while traveling. But if you so happen to sit right beside a crying baby on an overnight budget flight, they will come in extremely handy.
Especially so if you’re a light sleeper like me. And it’s always nice to listen to music while killing time waiting for your plane to arrive. Better yet, get the noise-canceling ones. They’re a worthwhile investment.
- A Credit Card
Some of you already carry credit cards with you all the time. Some of you don’t. Maybe you don’t own one, or you don’t feel the need to tempt yourself with one. Whatever your reason might be, when used wisely, a credit card can actually get you out of unexpected sticky situations.
When I arrived at my pre-booked apartment on a trip, it looked nothing like it did in the photos. In fact, it had cockroaches running free in the bathroom—my worst nightmare come to life. I tried to cancel the booking, citing said development wasn’t part of the arrangement, but the owner refused to refund in full.
If I hadn’t had my credit card, I wouldn’t have been able to afford alternative accommodation (at a decent hotel this time, of course). I didn’t have enough cash on hand to cover the stay and the rest of the trip. I didn’t foresee having to spend more than what I’ve budgeted for, but I had a way out, kept only for emergencies like this.
- Your Student ID (If You Have One)
A lot of attractions worldwide offer discounted tickets to students, so long as you bring yours. Some of these discounts can save you tens of dollars, which can amount to plenty if you’re backpacking for extended periods of time!
If you’re not a student but under 31 years old, you can apply for an International Youth Travel Card that gives you access to similar benefits of a student ID.
There you have it. 8 items we tend to overlook, but 8 items that could mean the difference between a bad trip and a great one. What are your top 8 essentials?