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Tools for International Travel & Backpacking

M. M. "inquisitive designer"
The list author says: "Greetings, fellow travelers! This list contains the essentials for traveling internationally for an extended period of time, backpacking through multiple countries, staying in hostels, or even studying abroad.

MONEY:
The best way to obtain local currency abroad is to use your debit card at an ATM. You don't incur a currency conversion fee from the ATM, although your home bank may charge a small fee.

CELL PHONE:
If you already have an unlocked/quad band cell phone, just remove your SIM card before going over. Once you've arrived, buy a prepaid SIM card at a cell phone store; you'll get a local phone number and a set number of minutes/texts. Another option is to buy an inexpensive phone once you arrive.

PACKING:
A good strategy is to set out everything you want to bring, and then take away half. Remember that you can easily get by with 2-4 pairs of quick-drying undies and socks (they're the most easily washed items). Also, bundle your clothes to maximize your bag space (the One Bag Girl blog has a great video showing how to bundle: http://www.onebaggirl.com/bundling-101-a-one-week-business-trip/). You'll thank yourself for packing light once you get off that plane and put your backpack on.

OTHER:
Call your bank and credit card company before you head over. Make two copies of your passport, driver's license, and credit cards; bring one copy, and leave one copy at home with family or a trusted friend. Leave jewelry and any other irreplaceable items at home.

Happy travels!

PS -- I've purposefully avoided adding money belts to this list, as I find them annoying and inconvenient. I keep my docs in a wallet-style holder, and I've never had any problems. Money belts are only really necessary for those venturing to countries with a travel advisory."
Gregory Baltoro 70  Backpacking Pack
Gregory Baltoro 70 Backpacking Pack
"Sporting/outdoors shops usually have a good selection of backpacks.  Some good, reliable brands are Osprey, Arc'teryx, Gregory, Lowe Alpine, and Kelty. Also check out Amazon's Backpack Buying Guide: http://www.amazon.com/Seasonal-Sports-Outdoors/b/ref=amb_link_230989822_3?ie=UTF8&node=15308561"
Cuscus Single Strap Sling Backpack 20 Inch for School
Cuscus Single Strap Sling Backpack 20 Inch for School
"Remember to bring a small urban bag like this for day trips.  For ultimate 'blend-in-ability,' wait until after you arrive to get your bag."
Space Compressible Bag BRS-9212ZG Vacuum-Seal Travel Roll Bags, Set of 4
Space Compressible Bag BRS-9212ZG Vacuum-Seal Travel Roll Bags, Set of 4
"These compressing bags are a must for backpacking, when your packing space is severely limited.  Put your stuff in and then roll the bags to get the air out."
Eagle Creek Travel Gear Packable Tote
Eagle Creek Travel Gear Packable Tote
"A lightweight, collapsible nylon tote bag is a lifesaver in a pinch.  You never know what you might need it for: groceries, laundry, shopping, etc.  Make sure to get one that zips closed in case you need to use it as carry-on luggage back home."
Master Lock 4605D 3-Foot Retractable Cable Lock (colors may vary)
Master Lock 4605D 3-Foot Retractable Cable Lock (colors may vary)
"I love my retractable cable lock -- I have this one in black.  Use it to secure your luggage to a heavy piece of furniture or add extra protection to your hostel locker.  Combo locks are best because there are no keys to lose."
Master Lock 4688D TSA Accepted Cable Luggage Lock in Assorted Colors, 1-Pack
Master Lock 4688D TSA Accepted Cable Luggage Lock in Assorted Colors, 1-Pack
"Some hostels might have lockers; some might not.  If someone really wants to get in your bag, locks aren't going to stop them; but they will stop the casual pickpocket from rifling through your possessions.  Again, combo locks are best."
Casio PQ15-1K Travel Alarm Clock with Thermometer
Casio PQ15-1K Travel Alarm Clock with Thermometer
"Hostels don't have clocks in their rooms, so this is an absolute essential.  This clock has been my trusty companion for many backpacking excursions because it has everything I need: 12/24-hour clock, temperature (Fº/Cº), date, and an alarm with snooze button.  (Acclimating yourself to the 24-hour clock can make your time abroad a little easier.)"
Victorinox Swisscard Lite, Ruby
Victorinox Swisscard Lite, Ruby
"Indispensable!  This credit-card sized 'tool box' has everything: scissors, pen, blade, tweezers, magnifying glass, light, nail file, etc.  Remember to put it in your checked baggage, or airport security will take it."
Neiko Super-Bright 9 LED Heavy Duty Compact Aluminum Flashlight - Gunmetal Silver
Neiko Super-Bright 9 LED Heavy Duty Compact Aluminum Flashlight - Gunmetal Silver
"Trust me, you'll need it."
Kwikpoint International Translator (English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Japanese, Russian, Ukrainian, Chinese, Hindi, Tamil, Telug, ... ... Gujarati, Bengali and Korean Edition)
Kwikpoint International Translator (English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Japanese, Russian, Ukrainian, Chinese, Hindi, Tamil, Telug, ... ... Gujarati, Bengali and Korean Edition)
"This booklet folds out into a huge 'map' of pictures of virtually every item you could ever eat, drink, use, wear, etc.  A great tool for travelers who don't want to bother with translating: just point to what you want."
Nyrius LT12 12 Language Global Digital Talking Translator Foreign Pocket-Sized Electronic Speaking Dictionary
Nyrius LT12 12 Language Global Digital Talking Translator Foreign Pocket-Sized Electronic Speaking Dictionary
"For those gadget-loving travelers, this is a great tool.  Twelve languages spoken and written: English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Swedish, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, and Turkish.  (Or, you could always just download the translator app on your iPhone.) ;)"
Insten® Universal World Wide Travel Charger Adapter Plug, White
Insten® Universal World Wide Travel Charger Adapter Plug, White
"This is a great tool, but remember to get a voltage converter if you plan on bringing any appliances that can't convert.  Nearly all laptops/netbooks and some cell phones can run on anywhere from 110-240 volts."
Apple MB974ZM/B World Travel Adapter Kit
Apple MB974ZM/B World Travel Adapter Kit
"If you have an iPod (or any Apple hardware), you might consider getting this adapter kit."
Departures Travel Passport Holder
Departures Travel Passport Holder
"Get a fun and unique passport cover that will be easy for you (and not necessarily someone else) to spot in your bag."
Havaianas Top Flip Flop
Havaianas Top Flip Flop
"Flip flops are a non-negotiable must-have for hosteling, since you'll be using communal bathrooms/showers.  Make sure you get a pair before heading over, though, because you'll be hard-pressed to find flip flops overseas, even in the summer."
Coleman Medium First Aid Kit
Coleman Medium First Aid Kit
"Whether you buy a pre-made kit or compose your own, make sure you bring some basic first aid supplies.  Include some backup birth control, if applicable.  And remember to bring a mini bottle of hand sanitizer."
Hearos Ultimate Softness Series Foam Earplugs, 20-Pair
Hearos Ultimate Softness Series Foam Earplugs, 20-Pair
"Loud trains, planes, and hostels require earplugs to get some critical ZZZs.  These are my favorites because you can sleep with them in (they're foam) and reuse them.  Toss them when they get nasty and whip out a fresh pair."
Dream Essentials Sweet Dreams (TM) Lightweight Contoured Sleep Mask Kit with Earplugs, Travel Pouch, and Black Eye Mask
Dream Essentials Sweet Dreams (TM) Lightweight Contoured Sleep Mask Kit with Earplugs, Travel Pouch, and Black Eye Mask
"If you're staying in a hostel, I cannot even begin to tell you how essential a sleeping mask is."
Eagle Creek Travel Gear Comfort Travel Pillow
Eagle Creek Travel Gear Comfort Travel Pillow
"A neck pillow is another essential item for getting some sleep while traveling.  I recommend an inflatable one (so it can be stored compactly) with a removable cover that can be washed, like this one."
Comfort Plus 220 GSM Microfleece 3 in 1 Travel Blanket, Red and Black
Comfort Plus 220 GSM Microfleece 3 in 1 Travel Blanket, Red and Black
"This travel blanket can also be used as a neck or lumbar support pillow.  If you get cold easily while traveling, get this; otherwise, feel free to skip it."
Cocoon Cotton TravelSheet
Cocoon Cotton TravelSheet
"Awesome for hosteling, especially if you're wary of the sheets/pillows.  Easy to wash, folds compactly; perfect for backpacking nomads who want just a little touch of something familiar each day."
Cocoon Ultralight AirCore Travel Pillow (Colors May Vary)
Cocoon Ultralight AirCore Travel Pillow (Colors May Vary)
"Wary of hostel pillows?  You may want to bring your own, like this camping one, which folds compactly.  If you're limited for space, though, skip this."
Smile Toothbrush Holder (2pk)
Smile Toothbrush Holder (2pk)
"These cute toothbrush covers are deceptively clever: the smiley face facilitates air flow to help your toothbrush dry, and the suction cup on the back sticks to a mirror or other smooth surface."
Case-Soap - 1 - each (Assorted Colors)
Case-Soap - 1 - each (Assorted Colors)
"Bring some kind of sealable, waterproof case for your soap."
ALOKSAK Water / Sand Proof Dry Bags
ALOKSAK Water / Sand Proof Dry Bags
"These waterproof bags are great for transporting wet/dirty clothes or other items that you want to keep separate from the other contents of your bag."
Coleman Exponent Pack Towel,Large
Coleman Exponent Pack Towel,Large
"An affordable, super-absorbent pack towel will take up virtually no room in your bag and will air-dry in 1-2 hours.  This size (L) will suffice as your primary bath towel.  It comes with a little multi-purpose mesh bag that also facilitates drying if you're on the go."
McNett-NETLINE CLOTHESLINE W/ CLIP WH
McNett-NETLINE CLOTHESLINE W/ CLIP WH
"Loop the ends of this clothesline around a doorknob, desk chair, shower head, bed post, etc., and stick any wet clothes through the slots in the braid (no clothespins necessary!)."
Fox Run Laundry Hooks, Set of 10
Fox Run Laundry Hooks, Set of 10
"Clothespins with hooks on top -- perfect for drying clothes wherever you might find the space."
Travelon Set of 2 Inflatable Hangers
Travelon Set of 2 Inflatable Hangers
"Don't let these fool you; they're multi-purpose.  These hangers fold up flat and take up almost no space.  They're great for air-drying clothes, and in a pinch can be used as neck/lumbar support pillows."
Maggie's Soap Nuts. (5 Loads) 100% Natural Laundry Soap. Grows on TreesTM.
Maggie's Soap Nuts. (5 Loads) 100% Natural Laundry Soap. Grows on TreesTM.
"Use these amazing soap nuts to hand-wash your clothes.  They come in a little travel pouch and can be re-used.  Grown on trees, no harsh chemicals, 100% biodegradable and natural.  Don't bother with the Woolite packs -- be a true citizen of the world and use a product that's better for you and the Earth!"
NEW Suction Sink Stopper Bag Stoppers PP22014 046224220145 PLUMB PAK PP22014
NEW Suction Sink Stopper Bag Stoppers PP22014 046224220145 PLUMB PAK PP22014
"If you're going to be washing any clothes in the sink, you've got to have one of these tiny, flexible, inexpensive sink stoppers."
ExOfficio Women's Give-N-Go Bikini Briefs
ExOfficio Women's Give-N-Go Bikini Briefs
"If you want to pack lightly, you should consider getting some lightweight, air-drying undies.  Wash them at night and hang them to dry while you sleep.  Using this method, you could easily get by with 2-4 pairs for your entire trip.  ExOfficio and Patagonia are two great brands quick-drying activewear."
Diva Cup Diva Cup 1 Pre Childbirth
Diva Cup Diva Cup 1 Pre Childbirth
"My fellow ladies, don't waste precious packing space with tampons or pads; get a reusable cup.  Several brands are popular in the US, including the Diva Cup, Moon Cup, Lunette, and Miacup.  I cannot stress how indispensable this is, not only from a space-saving perspective but also from an economic and environmental perspective.  Love, love, love my Diva Cup."
Go Girl Female Urination Device, Lavender
Go Girl Female Urination Device, Lavender
"Here's another one of my travel must-haves for my fellow ladies.  As a backpacker, you never know what the bathroom situation will be.  This device is also great for cramped bathrooms on planes, trains, and buses."
Kindle Keyboard 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 6" E Ink Display
Kindle Keyboard 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 6" E Ink Display
"If you're a voracious reader, you can save a lot of packing space with an e-reader tablet.  My spouse swears by his e-reader on overseas flights!"
Lewis N. Clark No-Jet-Lag Homeopathic Flight Fatigue Remedy, 32 Tablets
Lewis N. Clark No-Jet-Lag Homeopathic Flight Fatigue Remedy, 32 Tablets
"Although my personal philosophy is along the lines of 'just deal with it,' if you're really bothered by jet lag, you might try this homeopathic remedy. :)"
The New Backpacker's Guidebook: Tips & Insight for Getting the Most Out of Overseas Travel
The New Backpacker's Guidebook: Tips & Insight for Getting the Most Out of Overseas Travel
"A great guide for the first-time international backpacker."
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