If you’re spending some time traveling before heading off to college, deciding what to take and what not to take is an important part of your preparations. What you take, or don’t take, will affect your travel experience in ways you might not even imagine, so plan ahead!
First things first.
The first thing you should think about is your backpack because this will affect everything else. Choose a good one that features padded straps and hip belt, is waterproof, lockable, and divided into compartments. Don’t go too big as you may struggle to carry it. Keep it comfortable for you, or you’ll hate it by the end of the first week!
You’ll most likely also want to buy a day pack for day trips or short treks. Again, choose one that will keep your belongings safe, is easy to carry, and not too cumbersome. Some backpacks include a day pack!
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To choose a sleeping bag, or not to choose a sleeping bag?
Deciding if you need to take a sleeping bag is really important, and depends hugely on what you’ll be doing on your trip. If you’re planning to camp anywhere, then you’ll need one. If you’re staying in provided accommodation or hostels, bedding will be provided. You’d be better to save the space for something else.
Having the right documentation is absolutely essential, especially if you’re traveling through multiple countries as different places have different visa requirements. Make sure you have a printed and digital version of each visa if possible, as that way, they will always be accessible to you. If you’ve had vaccinations, you should keep your certificates with you as well, including your passport, flight information, and itinerary.
It’s essential to look after your health while traveling, and make sure that you know where local health providers can be found wherever you are. You should also pack a few essentials, such as any medications you’re on, insect repellent, sun protection and lip balm, malaria tablets if needed, and a first aid kit. Keep it small but useful. Include antiseptic, plasters, painkillers, antidiarrheals, water purification tablets, and perhaps, an antihistamine.
Keeping your stuff safe
Safety is also essential, and making sure you can lock things away is vital. Take a money belt, padlocks for hostel lockers and your backpack, a personal alarm, and something you can use to wedge a door shut in case you’re in a room with no lock.
Inside your bag
In terms of actual clothing, it’s best to keep things minimal, but make sure everything you pack is versatile. You can pick up things you’ll only need for a short while as you go along. Stick to shirts and tanks that can be easily layered, a couple of warm sweaters, shorts, long pants, a waterproof jacket, swimwear, a cover-up, underwear and warm socks, and of course, pajamas. For shoes, one pair of hiking boots, one pair of trainers, and one pair of sandals should be okay. Also, don’t forget your sun hat!