All travel items are essential but some are more essential than others. Clean socks and underwear are a given, but in the early planning stages you should focus on the must-have, can’t-live-without items listed below.
They are the crucial first steps in planning a successful trip to Europe, Australia, Asia, or anywhere else on this planet.
A passport is your most important travel document, fo shizzle.
For those of you who don’t know, it contains a photo, an ID number (which is required on all sorts of travel documents) and blank pages for foreign customs officials to stamp when you enter (and sometimes leave) their country.
In countries that require a pre-arranged travel visa (see below), a visa will be stapled or stamped into your passport and later validated when you arrive at that country’s borders.
Citizens of the USA, Canada and the UK need only a valid passport to enter many European countries (Australians and New Zealanders are not so lucky). The Web is another good place to search for up-to-date visa requirements.
A travel insurance policy – one that covers theft, medical treatment, emergency evacuation and personal liability – is must. Would you drive a car without insurance? Imagine traveling in a place where you know no one and don’t speak the language….fuggedaboutit!
Get it and get peace of mind. Check here for free travel insurance
The first step is to calculate a realistic budget that suits both your bank account and your desired style of travel. Backpacking or not, be realistic. Even if you go the cheap, backpacker style, you’ll still need to account for days that you want to splurge. Going out to clubs in Ibiza can cost you 50 bones just to get in, let alone their $20 drinks. So, start saving all the duckies you can- right now!
The second step is to establish safe, dependable methods of accessing your cash while abroad (ATM card, credit card, travelers checks, etc).
Lastly, have a secure method of transporting your money and valuables (eg in a money belt, neck pouch or belt pouch).
Money belts are the preferred way of carrying and hiding your documents under your shirt or around your waist hidden underneath your pants/shirts/skirt/dress, etc…
Just don’t wear it like this woman. That’s the wrong way to wear your money belt.
Backpacks and Travel Gear
How do you go backpacking without a backpack? You don’t, homies, so listen close.
Imagine giving a piggy back ride to your little 7yr old nephew for a month. That’s kinda what you’re in for.
You’re literally going to be married to your backpack for the length of your trip. So, like the love of your life, you better select the right one.
For some of the best backpacker backpacks on the market and top of the line travel gear like men’s and women’s light weight fleece jackets, money belts, etc…. I would check out your nearest outdoors sporting goods store. It’s the kind of thing that you really need to try on to see what works best for you.
Stores like REI, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sports Chalet, Big 5, etc… or any mountaineering store will have a variety of backpacks for men and women to try on.
Other Useful Documents
The following passes and ID cards may save you heaps of money and time when traveling in Europe.
Deciding which, if any, you need is an important pre-trip exercise, as they’re mostly cheaper (and often easier) to purchase before leaving home.
These offer a flexible, low-cost way of getting around Europe. Seriously, pound for pound, this is THE BEST WAY to see Europe.
If you plan to visit more than a few countries on a single trip, you will definitely save money with a rail pass. The most common passes are Inter-Rail (for European citizens) and Eurail (for non-Europeans), both of which offer unlimited travel within a set number of days in many (but not all) European countries. Both passes also cover some bus and ferry services.
The Eurail Pass explained- Cheap Eurail Passes and info here.
Have questions or other tips that budget travelers can use? Leave a comment below!