My Top 10 Must-Haves For International Travel
When I decided to travel to London, Italy and Copenhagen all by myself I was overcome with excitement and at the same time complete panic. I was hit with the reality of traveling solo and making sure that I had everything that I needed so that I wouldn't end up lost in the streets of Italy. (Definitely did end up wandering lost. Definitely did survive.) I researched and I planned and I organized, but in the end, my biggest asset was my ability to adapt and to live in the moment. After all, when you are in some of the most breath taking places on earth, eating food that makes you want to propose to the chef, it's hard not to be in a complete state of bliss. Nevertheless...
These are the things that I absolutely could
not have done without!
This is the website that I used to find such a ridiculously cheap flight. My roundtrip flight cost $450. Now the catch was that I had to stop in London and stay for a night on my way to Rome and stop in Copenhagen on my way back from Rome to the United States. I mean...if I MUST.lol Airwander gives you tons of options to choose from to make your trip cheaper and you can choose how long to stay in each stop over and how many stopovers you want. Below is a video explaining the process. It's perfect for discovering new places while also saving money!
A lot of people know that Airbnb is great for finding a cheap place to stay that feels like home, which I did use it for, but it is also fantastic for booking experiences. I was able to book all of the amazing places I stayed in Italy through Airbnb, including the castle (pictured here) with hosts that made me feel like family and a view that brought tears to my eyes daily. It made such an impression on me that I had the coordinates tattooed on my body for Pete's sake! I also booked a pasta making class where I met a couple that I will probably be friends with my entire life and a wine tour of Tuscany that exceeded anything I ever could have dreamt of. Those are just a few of the ways that Airbnb helped to make my trip unforgettable.
3. Google Maps
There is LITERALLY no way I would have been able to see and do all of the things that I was able to in a short amount of time had I not had Google Maps as my trusty companion. Now, there is a distinction between the maps app on your iPhone (if you have one) and Google Maps. You will have to download it, but it is worth it. I could not believe the difference in efficiency when I switched to using Google Maps. It would even show me the bus/train times if I chose public transportation or in the case of Cinque Terre, it showed me that I could take a ferry. I did take that ferry and it was one of the most beautiful rides of my life. So put your headphones in and let it guide you, and enjoy the views.
4. International Data Plan
Remember Google Maps and how it was something I couldn't do without? Well, it won't work without data. While some carriers offer "free international data" it's very low speed, usually 2G. With Sprint I was able to upgrade to the faster data plan for $25 per week or $5 per day. When I arrived in Europe I got a text from Sprint asking if I wanted to upgrade to faster speeds. I said yes and Voila! I was using my phone just like in the States. One thing that I will share that I wish I would have known beforehand is that if your data suddenly isn't working just turn your phone off and on again and it should solve the problem. This would have saved me an afternoon of wandering. Check with your carrier before you go to make sure you understand their International Plans and spend the extra on the data. You won't regret it.
5. Portable External Battery Charger
The downside to using your phone constantly for pictures and navigation is that the battery drains fast. This little wonder saved me daily and even after my trip, I use it regularly. For under $30, you get quite the bang for your buck. This is the one that I chose and I love it. Jackery External Battery Charger Giant+ 12000mAh Thank you Amazon!
6. Packing Cubes
These are not your average packing cubes. They are Compression Packing Cubes and they have an extra zipper on the side so that after you've put your clothes in and zipped the bag closed, you zip the extra zipper to press out the air and compact even more. These are fantastic for getting everything you need into a smaller bag so that you have less to carry. I was able to take just a backpack for 11 days of travel. Thanks again Amazon!
7. Trainline EU
Trainline EU is an app that allows you to book trains all over Europe. You can see trains that are the fastest and the cheapest. It is so easy to use. I was able to book my tickets and have all the info I needed right on my phone. I can only dream of the US someday having such an efficient and cheap way to travel. A word of caution about train travel: I was very careful to always have my purse across my body and not to fall asleep on the train, but did have an unfortunate incident where I was told I had to put my backpack in the luggage compartment and not over my head as there was no room. In hindsight, I should have argued and kept my backpack on my lap or tried to fit it under my feet because it was stolen from the luggage hold. Luckily, I had my money, passport and other essentials with me and was able to finish my trip without any major hiccups.
8. Universal Travel Adapter
This one was given to me as a gift and I love it because it covers over 150 countries with US/EU/UK/AUS plugs and has Powerful Dual USB Ports. It also comes with a Lifetime Guarantee so you are set for a lifetime of travel. Amazon for the win AGAIN!
9. TicketLens App
I used the TicketLens App to book tickets to the Vatican, Uffizi Gallery, The Duomo, Galleria dell'
Accademia and several other attractions. The tickets were easy to access right on my phone and directions were very clear. I even had to cancel one time and had no issues. Perfect tool for making sure you see all you want to and save time by skipping the lines.
10. Comfy Shoes
Lastly, I cannot stress this enough; don't sacrifice comfort for style. You can look cute, but if you wear those gladiator sandals to the Colosseum, you may be proud of your ironic and totally trending shoe choice, but about an hour into the tour you will have some hard core regret. Find a shoe that you can wear with a sundress or jeans ninety percent of the time.These are the ones I got from Target with arch support. You can bring a pair of dressy shoes for a fancy dinner or something, but be careful, cobblestone streets are not kind to women in heels. Remember you aren't going to remember what you wore, but you will always remember how you felt. Happy travels!