packing list: my 12 travel essentials

since we just booked our trip to Japan for the spring, and are planning to book our Chinese New Year trip this week, I've been thinking a lot about packing. I've shared a packing list before, but I thought you might enjoy seeing which items I consider absolute essentials when I'm traveling. [it's probably way more things than most people would consider essential... but I've never been a light packer!]

1. tissue packets. these have saved my life so many times. no napkins? no problem. messy sneeze from the overdose of perfume from your neighbor on the plane? you're covered. not to mention in Asia, a lot of public toilets don't offer toilet paper, or will charge you extra for it.

2. hand sanitizer. because the world can be a dirty place.

3. swiss army knife. I've used this for opening bottles of wine, cutting bandage tape, opening stubborn packaging, trimming nails, rescuing hair stuck in crappy hotel hairdryers, and transforming a pair of harem pants into a skirt. the only downside is that you need to put it in your checked luggage.

4. sunscreen. nothing is worse than wasting away your vacation slathered in overpriced aloe in your hotel room. even if you're traveling in winter or heading to a non-tropical destination, you should bring sunscreen. [honestly, you should wear it everyday... but let's take baby steps.]

5. benadryl. I carry this for several reasons: food and bee allergies, calming anxious travelers, helping to sleep on planes, or adjusting for jetlag. I also bring immodium and pepto pills if I can. you never know when foreign food [or airplane meals] will upset your system.

6. journal and pens. you're going to want to remember this experience. what you saw, how you felt, what the name of that tasty dish you ate was, how to spell "Ayutthaya." write it down while it's still fresh in your mind so you can remember it for that blog post you're going to write.

7. a book and/or e-reader. for plane rides and poolside afternoons. there are pros and cons to both, but pick what works for you. I typically bring both so that my iPad can double as internet access, but I don't have to worry about my electronics taking a dip in the ocean.

8. scarf, wrap, or sarong. handy for chilly airplanes, covering up at the beach bar, or making an outfit temple-appropriate.

9. comfortable shoes. I know people have mixed feelings about TOMs, but these guys have saved me from blisters and sore knees through jungle hikes, temple climbing, and city streets.

10. snacks. I cannot tell you how many times I have been stuck in an airport with nothing to eat [thanks a lot, gluten sensitivity!] but bringing a stash of granola bars has also helped when we've arrived during late or early hours and nothing is open, or when we're out and about and it takes longer to find dinner than we expected. no one likes a hangry traveler.

11. camera. the Canon EOS M has become my favorite camera for traveling: size and weight of a point + shoot, touch screen controls like an iPhone, and photo quality of a DSLR. my advice is to bring whatever camera you are comfortable with - because that's the camera you will actually use. don't forget your extra battery and charger!

12. an open mind. [not pictured] the best part about traveling is the way it can change you. be respectful of the culture you're visiting, take it all in, and enjoy learning a little more about the world and about yourself.

what do you consider YOUR travel essentials?

[linking up with Chelsea, Rachel, and Betsy for the Expat Diaries]

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