Every seasoned traveler knows that the right accessories and habits make or break your trip. For the last 10 years, I have been traveling the world and researching the science of adventure--what causes adventurers to lead extraordinary and fulfilling lives. In my pursuits, I have been crushed by a bull in Running of the Bulls and almost turned into a human popsicle while plunging in Antarctic waters.
However, I cherish every experience. They taught me something invaluable, and have also helped me prepare for any tough travel scenario that comes my way. Be prepared on your next trip with these travel tips and packing essentials.
As a digital nomad, I am a huge proponent of technology that makes travel easier and more fun. You'll want to take these apps and gadgets with you.
- Google Translate: It's like having your own personal translator in your pocket. The voice option makes it possible to record and instantly translate countless languages. The most impressive feature is that you can download certain languages and translate offline wherever you go.
- OK Maps: We all love Google Maps, but when you are traveling abroad, you may not have access to Wi-Fi. Charges for international data roaming will stack up fast. To prepare ahead, I recommend a little-known feature called OK Maps. You can download maps to use offline during your trip. To access it, open your Google Maps app, zoom in on the location and enter "OK Maps" in the search bar.
- Music and Entertainment Apps: My favorite entertainment apps are those you can download the content from to consume even offline: Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Spotify. Between these three apps, you can fill your phone with all the entertainment you need. If you want to bump up your intelligence, check out Memrise and download language classes. You may be surprised by how much you learn after a 30-hour transit.
Food and Drink
- Peanut Butter: Nothing is worse than getting "hangry" when you are traveling. Peanut butter is packed with protein that will help you stay energized. I bring along several Justin's Peanut Butter in squeeze packs. They don't take up much space or weight in your luggage, and they are only 190 calories each.
- Coffee: I've never had coffee, but according to Chris Bailey from The Productivity Project, it can help you adjust to different time zones. Instead of succumbing to jet lag, drink coffee up to eight hours before you want to fall asleep.
- Airline Food: Don't eat it, unless it is absolutely necessary. At 30,000 feet, the humidity on an average airplane is less than 12 percent, which is drier than most deserts. This combined with the pressure change causes us to perceive flavor differently. As a result, it is incredibly hard to produce airline food that tastes phenomenal. If you have to eat it, carry a travel Sriracha. It has saved me countless times.
- Alcohol: Find out what the alcohol prices are wherever you're going. For example, a bottle of whiskey in Iceland will cost you around $53, while champagne in Thailand is over $117. In some cases, you are better off buying a couple bottles in duty-free.
Organization and Personal Care
When you are traveling, you are often surrounded by other people in tight, contained spaces like airplanes and cars. For your own sake and those around you, keep the following on hand:
- Individual Spray Perfume Bottle: I recommend packing Travalo Black Refillable Mini Perfume Bottle Spray, so you won't smell on the road. It isn't heavy and won't clutter your luggage, so fill it with your favorite scent and go. A place to do laundry can be harder to come by than a shower. Bring travel size Febreze. Your stinky t-shirts will smell as if they just came out of the wash.
- Packing Squares: Organization is key. It will save you time and energy, and help you avoid losing track of important items. Travelon Packing Squares will compartmentalize everything inside your bags, so you can easily and quickly find what you need.
- The Right Bag: Never check a bag if you can avoid it, instead invest in the best carry on you can get. My new favorite is the G-Ro. It has massive side wheels that make moving easy and increases the internal size of the bag. Also, it has a massive USB charger built in and a GPS locator in case you have to check it. I packed this bag for a full month of travel including a Tux for a wedding and loved it.
- Charger: If you always need to charge and never know what converter you will need, pack the Tumi International Travel Charger and secondary adapter so that you can plug your devices into any outlet.
- Advil: Always carry Advil. Carrying luggage, sitting for long periods of time in the same position and general nature of transit can bring out aches and pains.
The most important travel hack that I have--sleep. If you don't sleep enough, you compromise your immune system, and it is difficult to enjoy anything. It is okay to sleep in after a late night out, but make sure to bring:
- Earplugs: Earplugs will help you get a good night's sleep even if you are on a loud plane or booked at a party hostel.
- Eye Mask: Our brains automatically begin the waking cycle when we come in contact with light. For quality sleep on the go, it is important to prevent that with an eye mask. I use the Bedtime Bliss Contoured Sleep Mask, because it fits perfectly to my face and doesn't put pressure on the eyes.
Travel has amazing benefits. It pushes you out of your comfort zone, exposes you to diverse cultures and customs and teaches you real-world skills. With the right mindset and packing essentials, it can also be a fun opportunity to make friends and create remarkable adventures.