Monday 10 March 2014

7 Things Every Female Traveler Needs to Pack

Note to reader: This post was originally featured on There D Goes, a lifestyle blog for women.

If you know me, you know I love to travel. I’ve gone all over the world on all different types of trips from relaxing, luxurious vacations to to “I can’t believe I did that” adventurous, budget backpacking trips and everywhere in between. But no matter where you go, there are always a few “must haves” for women travelers. Luckily, Krystina Nguyen at the travel blog, C’est La Vie, was willing to share her packing tips and recommendations. Enjoy! 

It’s your moment. You’ve booked the ticket and have the vacation time blocked for the next week, weeks, or if you’re lucky enough, months. You’ve run around the last few days finishing up work projects or school assignments. In a few hours, you’ll jump on that jet plane to backpack Europe, sip piƱa coladas on Caribbean beaches, or trek from temple to temple in Southeast Asia.

But wait…what are you going to pack?

When I took a Contiki trip in 2008, my 42 other travel buddies voted me “Best Packer.” Before every trip, I research what’s culturally and weather-appropriate and grab my Ziploc bag full of 3oz. toiletries that’s ready to go at a moment’s notice. However, whether I’m traveling for work, Couchsurfing, getting lost in the Amazon, or taking a girls trip, I’ve come to learn there are essential things that can make the life of young female much easier on her adventures!

A photo of Krystina with her backpack  
I live by the philosophy, “Take no more than you can carry” which for my petite self means minimal baggage!

1) Quick Dry Towel
Unless I’m staying with friends or at a fancy hotel, my quick dry towel is one of the first things to go into my backpack. Though extremely light, it can absorb up to 8 times its weight in water and then wrings out dry in just minutes in airy temperatures or a few hours in more humid conditions. As its super compact and folds up neatly into a pouch, I love traveling with this – great for the gym too!

A photo of quick dry towels from REI 

2) Long Scarf or Shawl
A long scarf or shawl serves as a variety of functions from keeping you comfy on cold airplanes to serving as a barrier against questionable hostel bed sheets to hiding a purse at a crowded street market. If you forget to pack one, then buying one is a great souvenir to have.

Krystina on a hike with a scarf for sun protection  
Need sun protection when you’re hiking 15 miles across Dogon Country in Mali? Long scarf to the rescue!

3) Ciprofloxacin a.k.a. Cipro (for those just in case situations)
You’ll need to see a doctor or visit a travel clinic for this one. Cipro cures both traveler’s diarrhea and UTIs. No further explanation needed.

4) Non-locking Carabiners
This simple tool has saved me on so many occasions. I’m not a fan of having a million locks on my bags, but a carabiner can make it difficult for anyone to jiggle my backpack open and prevents my backpack from opening on itself since I packed too many clothes. It’s also a great space saver to attach shoes or water bottles!

Krystina's backpack with carabiners
5) Pocket Knife
Yes! Empowering and useful, a pocket knife is any girl’s best friend. You never know when you’ll need to peel an avocado or cut open…well anything! I personally prefer the SwissCard style pocket knives as they’re shaped like credit cards and can fit into a wallet, but see what you prefer.

Krystina's Pocket Knife
6) Health and Property Travel Insurance
This is particularly important for international travelers. You never know when the worst-case scenario can happen and you always want to be prepared. Travel credit cards often offer benefits for cardholders, so make sure you know what’s available to you. For those 26 or younger, as well as teachers and students, STA Travel can provide the International Youth Travel Card which provides basic sickness and accident travel insurance for international trips for just $25. I was able to get travel medical insurance for three weeks in Ecuador for just $36 and property insurance for a year for my DSLR camera (including theft and accidents) for $99 with International SOS is popular as well. Whatever you choose, be prepared!

7) Travel Journal
Last and for me, most important, is a travel journal! While so many moments will take your breath away, jotting down a few notes on how you felt and what you did will let you reflect on how truly amazing the experience is. After you get back, you’ll want to remember that name of the incredibly delicious gelato shop or the generous tour guide that you want all your future friends to request on their journeys. Trust me. Years down the line and after the trip is over, you’ll thank me for this one!

Those are my seven. What are some of your “must packs?”

Krystina Nguyen is a career consultant and nonprofit professional living in Boston.  Her previous travel adventures include being spat on by an elephant in Vietnam, repelling down waterfalls in the Andes, and mistakenly crossing the Chadian border only to end up doing event set up at a wedding.  You can follow Krystina’s adventures on Twitter @Krystina_Nguyen and read her travel blog, C’est La Vie.