Don't you dare leave for your next trip without packing these vacation-saving essentials. They're all readily available, and will keep you comfortable, prepared, and ready for anything vacation can throw your way.
Copies of All Travel Documents
Picture this: You're having the time of your life in a far-off land, maybe so much fun that you notice your purse or wallet is no longer in your possession until it's too late. It's gone, and with it your cash, credit cards, and most alarmingly, your passport.
Before you leave, make sure to have a readily available copy of your passport, whether a photocopy in your suitcase, a scanned version on your phone or in your email account, or a copy left with a trusted loved one back home who can email it to you in a pinch. This copy will make for a speedier replacement of your travel documents at a local consulate office.
Contact Info for Credit Cards
Keep a running tab of the credit cards in your wallet, plus the cards' customer service numbers in case your cards are lost or stolen and you need to freeze transactions. The cash in your wallet may be long gone, but at least you won't have to finance a thief's credit-card shopping spree.
First Aid Kit
You never know when you're going to need a first aid kit in a hurry. For example, my daughter went horseback riding on the beach in Nicaragua, totally unaware that she had developed a severe (but thankfully, non-deadly) allergy to horses. Within minutes, she was covered in rashes, her throat had tightened, and her eyes were so inflamed that her contact lenses popped out. Moral of the story, be prepared for most first-responder ails with epi pens, stomach-relief pills, antibacterial cream, and other first aid kit basics.
Few things are worse than being uncomfortably cold. Be ready for cool days by packing a foldable jacket. With today's advanced textiles, thin layers provide maximum warmth. Look for space-saving pieces that fold into their own pockets like this Levi's Packable Jacket.
In some parts of the world, seasons are either dry or wet, either or and not much more. But you don't have to be in the tropics to experience sudden downpours. Be ready for unpredictable weather with a rain poncho. Go for the $5 grab-and-go variety found at most convenience stores, or stay dry in style with fancier rain-resistant, yet very packable, version like the highly rated Rainrap.
This may very well be one of the handiest inventions: GoGoGolosh—over-shoe galoshes that break neither the bank nor disturb the perfectly matched outfit. When Mother Nature delivers a downpour, slip on these easily packable galoshes over your footwear. The non-skid soles will make even Parisian cobblestone streets navigable.
A plastic bag is an indispensable packing item for smart travelers. Pack a few and use them to separate dirty from clean clothes in your suitcase, to take to the farmers' market, or for soiled items.
Depending on your budget, you can invest in heavy-duty vacuum or compression bags, or simply pick up a box of freezer bags (not just regular zip-top bags) for just a few bucks. I've found Ziploc-brand bags as large as two gallons on the grocery aisle shelves.
Every parent knows not to leave home without them. From wiping the fold-down tray on the plane to refreshing your dirty hands, wipes are another must-pack travel item—and one that is readily available at most pharmacies and grocery stores.
For facial wipes, quality and pricing runs the gamut, but it's easy to find good quality wipes at a decent price. I like L'Occitane at $12 per pack and Burt's Bees at just under $15 for a two-pack bundle.
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