Being a suitcase entrepreneur mean you are traveling on a regular basis. In today’s post, day 24 of the Natalie Sission Suitcase Entrepreneur’s 30 Day blog challenge, I have a look at travel essentials that I take no matter whether the travel is business or pleasure.
My bucket list is as long as my arm and growing every day. Every time I see some where interesting I seem to be saying I will have to go there. One of the reasons for this challenge is that I want to be able to travel more. I want to grow an online business that will give me the flexibility to pack up my bags and jet off to a far flung corner of the world to see those interesting places that I’ve got on my long list. My list includes immersion into new and different cultures, learning about how different cultures built their societies, the food and drink they consume, learning new languages, marveling at their architecture and being amazed by mother nature whilst learning and experiencing now different people live.
Some of the times I travel I will stay in luxurious hotels, other times it will be the local backpacker and sampling the market stalls for local delicacies.
Before I travel anywhere overseas, I always check the Australian Government website smarttraveller for all the latest security warnings, local laws, entry and exit requirements and health issues for each destination I’m planning to go to. Other than jaunts to New Zealand, I register my travel plans with them so I can be contacted in an emergency. It sounds over the top, however having had a friend in Japan when the Tsunami occurred made me realise how wonderful this is.
These are the things I take on the plane with me and it rarely varies no matter the destination:
Passport ( check the validity – its best to have at least 6 months validity from the planned date of return) and photocopies of the photo pages. I have dual nationality, so I often take both my passports but in different places on my person/in my bags. I leave a copy at home with a friend or family member and also place a copy in my dropbox and evernote
Visas and entry permits – before you go, it’s essential you check the visa requirements for each international destination, especially if you are going to work whilst there. Visa requirements are often different for holidays and work. Sometimes the visas and permits are sorted out at the airport on arrival however be careful as you may need to pay for your visa in cash of the country. If you know this you can come prepared with the correct amounts in the correct currencies.
Travel Insurance Details. I always travel internationally with travel insurance. My theory is if you can’t afford travel insurance, you cant afford to travel. Living in a country where basic health care is “free” it’s easy to forget (or not even realise) that an accident or illness overseas can cost tens of thousands. My credit card has a comprehensive travel insurance as part of its benefits if you charge everything on it and the cost of flights and accommodation exceed a certain amount. I always check the exclusions and the activities covered. I had thought about hot air ballooning on one trip overseas and found that wasn’t covered! Like my passport I have multiple copies, both on line, paper and copies with friends.
Driver’s Licence. If I plan to hire a car or scooter I always check whether my driver’s licence will be ok or whether I should get an international driving permit.
Itinerary and tickets – again multiple copies; paper, online and a copy at home with family or friends. My partner and I like to travel with a degree of freedom. I like things planned whilst he’s far more free spirited. Our compromise is that when we land in a new country our first night is always booked somewhere in advance (whether it is a hotel or somewhere off airbnb) and we have a rough itinerary of where we will go. (You will also find that some countries need an in country address for immigration purposes.) We often go off the beaten track and I like to let my family know when we anticipate that we will check in electronically (even if it is just a text). I always check where the hotel is, how far from the airport it is, how I will get there and how much a taxi, bus or train will be. I often have downloaded a map or have a guide book in my carry on luggage so I can orientate myself.
Spending Money and access to money – I know that money isn’t really a document but it seems to fit in this category best. I carry multiple sources and split over my body, and in separate bags. You can now get prepaid debit cards all ready “loaded” with the currency of you choice which you can slip into the ATMs at your destination without having to pay the sometimes exorbitant fees that bank might charge you for using your usual credit card. I always carry some cash in the local denomination when I arrive and I try to have lower value notes rather than a couple of big value notes. It save arguments with taxi drivers! I also carry a small purse with money for the day in a conspicuous place and have any larger sums of money tucked in pouches around my body under my clothes. That way if my bag is snatched it’s not the end of the world.
Discount Cards. Are you a student, under 26, a teacher or a senior citizen? Remember to take your identification with you, some countries offer special discounts for different types of people. It never hurts to ask whether there is a discount available? Also don’t forget global organisations that you might belong to such as the Youth Hostel Association.
Vaccinations. Standards of hygiene and medical care are very different in some countries. I visit the doctor well in advance of any planned trip just in case I need a vaccination that requires more than one dose or a period of time to have maximum efficacy. You also may need proof of vaccinations on entry and exit of certain countries. Australia, for example requires proof that you have had a yellow fever vaccination before they will let you re-enter, if you have visited a country where it occurs.
Medications. Check you have sufficient quantities of all the medications you will require on your trip. It is best to carry a letter from your doctor stating that it is your medication, the amounts and quantities you take and leave them in the original packaging. You may also need to check the the medications are legal in the country you are visiting.
Mosquito repellent and sunscreen. Don’t forget to check out if you are in a malaria zone too!
Glasses and Sunglasses. If you wear contact lenses don’t forget your cleaning and storage solutions. If you are carrying them on to the plane be sure to check the size of the bottles.
Small first aid kit.
Wet wipes. How versatile these things are, I wonder how I coped with out them. Great to wipe your hands or utensils clean before you eat, wipe your face when you’re sweaty, clean up small scratches, wipe dust off yourself, freshen up if there is no shower and last but definitely not least can be used as toilet roll if you are in a tight spot.
I always carry pawpaw ointment – it’s great for little grazes and cuts and as a lip balm.
Diarrhoea medication – After eating fish in Fez (DON’T) and purging the entire contents of my body very quickly this is a must have. A local who took pity on me gave me some crushed cumin. A teaspoon washed down with some water three times a day soon stopped the eruptions from both ends. So now we take some in our first aid kit where ever we go.
Travel sickness prevention – I get seasick which can ruin a great boat cruise or longer ferry trip.
Iphone – Remember to turnoff all your notifications and really consider all the things that use data on your phone before you use it. Those phone bills can be a whopper if you’re not careful. Or perhaps consider getting a global SIM card for your travels. Natalie Sisson has got a great blog post on phone options here.
Camera ( and if going to somewhere with reefs or we will do snorkeling the underwater/waterproof camera). Charged with heaps of extra memory (SD Cards)and a spare battery so I can capture all the special moments of travel. I also take a special USB stick that I can put the SD card in and download to the computer. Special occasions I will immediately (well as soon as possible) upload the photos to dropbox.
Chargers for the iphone, kindle, camera and all things electronic (though sometimes I do admit that apart from the laptop and iphone charger the other chargers go into the checked luggage). Don’t forget to take the correct adaptor with you.
Laptop or Ipad. I have only just got an IPad so I’m looking forward to not lugging around a laptop on my next overseas trip.
Headphones. If you find it hard to sleep with noise (think trains or buses) you might want ear plugs as well.
Book or kindle. I love my kindle as I can store so many different books on it, and be part way through several of them! If I change my mind about what I want to read mid flight It just means picking a new title out of the library I’ve preloaded.
Notepad, pen, pencil and watercolours. Yes I do a bit of drawing so I have a little pack of watercolours and a pencil case I take along with me on most trips. I use the notepad to also journal my trip, put down random thoughts that occur as I travel.
Torch – I have a small torch which is powered by shaking. It is invaluable. My partner loves his small head torch – though it uses batteries.
Scarf. I always carry a big silk scarf or cashmere wool pashmina with me when I travel. They are so useful – you can wrap it around you when you are cold, fold it up for a pillow, use it as a head covering when visiting religious places, sit or lay on it. In a big emergency it becomes part of my first aid kit and can aid tying splints or as a sling.
Snacks – a variety of nibbles to eat on the plane. I also take my empty water bottle and fill it up just before I get on the plane. I’ve found I can do this most places.
Presents. I carry little presents as give aways. Often this is some pencils with Australia written on them or some little kangaroos or koalas. These are great if you are staying with families as the kids love them.
Airplane over sea – Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
World Tour Bags – Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Suitcases – Image courtesy of Victor Habbick at FreeDigitalPhotos.net