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Last updated in November 2020. This list was originally made with our South America trip destinations in mind but can apply to almost all destinations. Some links below may be affiliate links, which means we make a small commission off of your purchase. We really appreciate your support as we navigate a difficult year for our business during COVID-19.

TO-DO BEFORE YOU LEAVE FOR YOUR TRIP

TO

  1. Download these helpful apps for travel:

    1. ​Offline Google Maps

      1. Go onto the Google Maps App on your phone and find the offline maps tab. Then download the offline map for Lisbon and Lagos. This will help significantly when trying to find your way around without using data if you don't have international data.

      2. Uber

        1. Make sure that your Uber app is updated, the credit card information is up to date, and it's ready to use. You don't want to be stuck dealing with that when you should be enjoying yourself!

      3. ​Google Translate

        1. You can download languages offline on the Google Translate app to be able to translate offline.

  2. ​Check into your flight

    1. Don't forget to check into your flight 24 hours before departure (some airlines allow check-in up to 48-hours before). It'll make the process at the airport quicker. ​​

  3. Double Check that you have your PASSPORT

    1. Make sure you have this safe and sound!​

  4. Report your travel for your credit cards.

MAIN LUGGAGE: A BACKPACK OR A SUITCASE

Most international flights come with a free checked bag. We recommend bringing just a carry on size backpack or suitcase and then a personal size backpack or purse as a day bag. Even if you have a free checked bag, it’s much easier to travel with just a carry on size bag. Jess and I always travel with the same size bags, no matter how long we’re traveling. We each have a 45-liter backpack and a 20-liter laptop bag/day backpack.

 

We personally love backpacks as opposed to suitcases because they are easy to lug around. I love the brands Gregory and Osprey, but they are more expensive. These last several years, so, if you plan on taking trips in the future, I recommend making the investment! Here are my recommendations:

  • Great combination bag (has a detachable day bag - saves you from buying 2 separate ones) for 1 week to 6 week trip length. I have a few friends who use this and love it! The day bag attaches and detaches with zippers and the backpack also opens like a suitcase, so it's very accessible. 

  • If you’re looking for an intro backpack, I recommend this Mountaintop on Amazon. I used it for around a year, and it never failed. It even held up well during a 4 day 30 mile trek!

  • If you’re looking for an intro backpack, I recommend this Mountaintop on Amazon. I used it for around a year, and it never failed. It even held up well during a 4 day 30 mile trek!

  • If you plan on taking a trip over 6-weeks then I recommend you buying a bigger bag. I currently have an 60L Osprey that is very similar to this one.

DAY PACKS

 

Day Packs are a must! Typically on international trips, you leave all of your stuff in your main backpack or suitcase at the hostel but use a smaller bag to carry around your phone, money, jacket, camera, water, and everything else for the day. You can use anything for this including your school backpack, purse, string gym bag, or, if you want something to not hurt your shoulders while exploring all day, here's what I use:

 

  • This bag is a little pricey but incredible. I can't stress how nice it is to have a good day bag over everything else. You are doing everything with it and I believe it is 100% worth the cost. It can fit so much and feels really nice on your shoulders. It also has a netted back that helps you keep the sweat away! 

OTHER BAGS

 

Here are a few other bags that we think bringing are very necessary and shouldn't cost any money.

  • Dirty clothes bag (can be any bag from a trash bag to a HEB bag​) - needed to separate the clean from dirty clothes while traveling between places.

  • Ziplock bags help immensely when organizing everything. You could also make the switch from plastic and use small reusable bags to hold your things. Jess uses a cloth Kendra Scott bag from a past gift to hold any jewelry she travels with. 

CLOTHES

This is a very hard thing to recommend, but we will do our best! I want to point out that it is very easy to overpack. Most destinations will have laundromats, and a lot of hostels and hotels have laundry service for a cost. Of course, this just depends on your trip. We think that it is smarter to pack less and pay a little to do laundry if you ever need to.

  • One hoodie or jacket

    • This is a "can't forget" item! You'll see the climate change with each place we go, so use layers to be able to adapt. 

  • Raincoat or Waterproof Shell 

    • This depends on the time of year and your destination, but it is usually helpful. 

      • We recommend that you have something to cover yourself and your day bag.

      • For those budget hunters, ponchos can work great and is smaller to pack than a rain jacket. 

  •  One pair of jeans

    •  Good for if you want something nicer at night

  • Two-three pairs of comfortable pants (for example: hiking pants and/or leggings)

    • We prefer hiking pants, but this can be any pant that you don't mind walking all day in! 

    • These convertible pants are the best in my opinion. I have used these exact ones.

    • Jess recommends and often uses leggings for hiking. We don't recommend using super fancy leggings, though, because you could easily rip them.

  •  Two pairs of shorts 

    • ​Mix of nicer shorts, like jean shorts, and athletic shorts

    • Shorts are also nice for sleeping in.

  • One hat 

    • The best investment is in a good hat, like these waterproof ones. It's pricey, but we both love this hat and have used it for years!

  • Six shirts

    • Any mix of colors and styles work, but we recommend ones that won't take days to dry in case you get rained on.

  • One dry-fit shirt or tank top

    • ​This is in case you decide to go hiking or want something you can sweat in.

 

 

  • Underwear

    • ​The number of pairs depends on if you want to do laundry​​​ or not.

 

  • Jess recommends sports bras over other kinds. She suggests three to four sports bras and one to two regular bras.

 

 

 

  • One swimsuit

 

 

  • Five pairs of socks (+/- a couple of pairs)

 

 

  • Optional: one-two "nicer" outfits (such as a light dress)

    • Good for the photo days or going out at night if you want!

SHOES

  • Trail Runners, hiking boots, or running shoes

    • I live in my Trail Runners. I've owned and used many hiking boots and different kinds of shoes for traveling, but these are by far the most comfy and useful.

    • If you don't want to invest in new hiking shoes, any good walking shoes will be perfectly fine for travel if you don't plan to seriously hike.

  • Sandals or Flip Flops

    • ​Two words: Xero Shoes! This brand is the BEST for traveling, road tripping, and busy lifestyles, and their sandals are SO needed for travel. From the pool, to the beach, to walking around town, to short hikes, to shower shoes! The easiest way to overpack is by packing too heavy or too many shoes. Xero Shoes have been perfect for us for years. They are lightweight, fold up really well for packing, and serve so many purposes in addition to being sustainable and good for your feet. We have both the Z-Trek (the ultimate sandal for the trails) and the Veracruz (good for casual use and light hiking) styles, and we love them both. Gavin brings a pair of the Z-Trails on every trip we take, and Jess takes a pair of the Veracruz on every trip!

    • Check out Xero Shoes here!

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  • One pair of night time shoes or sandals

    • ​Not a necessity, but some people like to bring them.

    • Jess packs a light pair of sandals to go with nicer outfits at a third pair of shoes.

TOILETRIES 

 

Here is a short list of toiletries that are a must! I recommend bringing the travel size of everything to save yourself some room!

 

 

  • Natural Zinc-Oxide Sunblock 

  • Bug Spray

 

  • Chapstick

 

  • Soap/Shampoo/Conditioner

    • Bar versions are great options. ​

 

  • Deodorant 

 

  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste/Floss

    • ​They make covers that help keep them clean while traveling!

 

  • Razor

 

 

  • Lotion

    • ​Travel size only!

 

 

 

OPTIONAL TOILETRIES BASED ON WHAT YOU NEED

 

 

  • Contacts/Contact Solution

 

  • Small bottle of Advil or Ibuprofen 

 

  • Q-tips and tissues

 

  • Brush or comb 

    • ​Jess brings a mini brush. 

 

  • Makeup 

    • ​Jess recommends travel or compact sizes whatever makeup you want. A lot of activities are active, so she also recommends waterproof mascara. There are small packs of makeup wipes in the travel size section. 

 

  • Headbands and hair ties 

  • Hair tools 

    • ​Jess doesn't recommend bringing these, as they take up a lot of space. 

    • If you do want a blow dryer, there are very small compact ones that fold up. These are a better option, but the best option is using/borrowing one at your accommodation. 

 

  • It's also recommended to always pack feminine products rather than relying on buying them there. It can be really frustrating to not find the products you are most comfortable with. 

OTHER

  • Reusable Water Bottle

    • You can't drink the tap water in many countries, and many accommodations provide free drinking water that you can fill a reusable water bottle up with each day. 

  • A Pen

    • Handy for filling out forms at customs.

  • Quick-dry towel

    • ​Quick-dry towels are perfect for when you go swimming, but are used mainly for showering if the hostel doesn't provide towels. They are very compact and will dry much faster than the ones you use at home. 

 

  • Sunglasses

    • ​Don't forget your favorite pair of sunglasses!

  • Ear plugs

    • ​These can come in handy when you are sleeping in hostels, and people are snoring or come in late.

 

 

  • Eye mask for sleeping

    • ​This is great for sleeping on bus rides or when you want pitch black in your hostel room

  • Ear plugs

    • ​These can come in handy when you are sleeping in hostels, and people are snoring or come in late.

 

 

  • Eye mask for sleeping

    • ​This is great for sleeping on bus rides or when you want pitch black in your hostel room.

  • Padlock

    • ​There are typically lockers available at each hostel, so, if you want to lock those up, then this is needed.

ELECTRONICS

  • If you're from North America, you need an outlet converter when traveling to most other continents except for South America.

  • ​Phone + Charger

 

 

  • Headphones

 

  • Camera + Charger

    • We linked our camera and lenses!​

  • Optional: Go-Pro

  • Power Bank (Portable Charger)

    • ​This is great, so you don't have to worry about being somewhere with a dead camera or phone. We have both of the ones below, and the more expensive one is powerful enough to also charge our laptops.

DOCUMENTS

  • Passport! 

    • Check right now and make sure your passport isn't expired! 

    • We also like passport covers because you can keep other important information in them. sport covers because you can keep other important information in them.​

  • Cash

    • ​Many travel destinations don't take credit or debit cards. Cash is often something you must have.

    • To get the best rate of exchange if you need a different currency, we recommend ordering that currency through your bank before your trip. 

    • Although you don't want to carry a lot of cash around, it's a hassle and costly to pull money out of an ATM. I recommend bringing more cash than you probably need to be on the safe side.

  • Drivers Licence 

    • ​If you go out, you might need an ID, and I don't recommend bringing your passport out drinking.

 

 

 

  • Travel Insurance

    • ​We recommend that you buy travel insurance and make sure that your health insurance covers you abroad.

  • Money Belt

    • ​These are great to assure that no one is going to take your valuables.

    • Jess uses them, and you can wear them under your shirt. She says it helps her keep track of her IDs, phone, and money. 

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