While I work to create my Packing List and Packing Tips post, here are some tips that I used for my first solo trip:
- Invest in a good backpack. I bought the Osprey Aura AG 65 Pack from REI. There will likely be times that you cannot check in right away, and will get off the train and immediately sightsee. I enjoyed having a backpack with a waist belt that contoured to my body, it helped relieve some of the pressure on my back.
- Only pack what you can carry. Remember that you might want to buy things on your trip, so leave room for you to add weight. I would say to challenge yourself to cut out one packing cube worth of clothes (trust me, you won’t wear it all anyways).
- That brings me to my next time – Use packing cubes. These are a huge space saver (if you use them correctly. I bought the Shacke Pak from Amazon. Honestly the large ones were too big, and took up too much space in my pack. I would suggest buying more of the small size.
- Bring multiple (TSA approved) locks and a retractable lock. When you are sleeping on the train, you will want to lock your bag in place.
- Quick drying towels will be your most valuable purchase. I bought the Sunland Microfiber Towel. I definitely suggest buying the largest towel they offer. I also bought a smaller towel for my hair. There is nothing worse than putting a wet towel in your pack, so trust me, this is MUST.
- Make copies of your passport, license, and credit cards in case something is lost or stolen so you have proof of identification. I would also suggest saving them on your phone as well. I kept my originals locked in my bag at the hostel, and put the copies in my day bag or purse.
- Filtered Water Bottles. I am not trying to be boujee here. You never know how tap water in another country will react with your body. I loved my Brita Filtered Sport Bottle because it made me feel better about filling up, no matter where I was.
- Comfortable shoes. Trust me, I get it- We are all going to post our pictures on Instagram, and we want our whole outfit to be cute. But also trust me, there is nothing worse than having your feet hurt by 10:00AM with a whole day left ahead of you. I was averaging over 40,000 steps a day, and I was so glad to have my Adidas on, rather than the cute flats or sandals I brought.
Helpful Booking Sites:
- Hostelworld – This site is great for comparing prices and areas. The best part is that they also have an app, which contains all of your trip information (Booking Reference Number, Hostel Contact Information, Booking Summary, Directions, and more)
- StudentUniverse – SUCH CHEAP FLIGHTS. Seriously the best site if you are a student, faculty, or 25 & under.
- STA Travel – This is such a great site that offers Discount Cards for: Students, Youth (12-30 years old), and teachers.
- Alex in Wanderland – I love Alex’s blog. She has such great information!
- The Blonde Abroad – This was the very first travel blog I started reading.
- The Savvy Backpacker – Perfect website for students and anyone traveling on a budget
- Girl vs Globe – This blog is all about traveling responsibly, sustainable fashion and vegan food.
Other Helpful Sites:
- STEP – Smart Traveler Enrollment Program run by the U.S. Department of State. STEP allows you to enroll your trip with the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate, which allows them to contact you if there is an emergency. They will also send you safety information about your destination country.