I’m not a very particular packer. I don’t use packing wedges, I don’t obsess about forgetting things and often I don’t even make lists of what to bring. However, whether I’m backpacking around Southeast Asia, going away for the weekend or heading out on a road trip, there are a handful of random of things I remember and always travel with.
Notepad & Pen – As more and more people just ‘do everything’ with their smartphones, I think the basics can get easily ignored. I always have pen and paper on hand for figuring out itinerary details, making quick notes and sharing information.
Baby Powder – Especially when traveling through hot areas, I keep a small bottle of baby powder to use in my hair (it acts like a dry shampoo soaking up oil between washes) and sprinkle onto my skin to help prevent the constant stickiness that comes with being in humid places. (In many parts of South East Asia you’ll see little kids specked with white powder to keep them dry and comfortable throughout the day.)
Melatonin – While I don’t take any meds to help me sleep on planes or deal with jet lag, I always have Melatonin (a natural hormone that aids your sleep cycle) supplements on hand. It doesn’t knock you out, but it does help your body feel sleepier and relaxed so sleep comes more easily.
Book – I carry a book or my Kindle almost all the time, whether I’m just out running errands or actually in the middle of traveling. You never know when you’re going to get caught waiting and can only scroll through your Instagram feed for so long!
Book Light – Usually I don’t purchase items that are good for only one specific thing, but I’m usually irritated if I’m somewhere with a lot of time and it’s too dark to read. When sharing accommodation with other people, on overnight buses or long flights where you don’t want to disturb your sleeping neighbor it’s a nice little extra to have.
Camera – Obviously. I have my little point and shoot everywhere I go.
Sharpie – You’d be surprised how often a permanent marker will come in handy.
Swiss Army Knife – Good to have in case, you know, you need to cut something…or whatever. (But mainly for a bottle opener and corkscrew!)
Chapstick – I go crazy without it.
Tiger Balm – I had heard of Tiger Balm before, but now consider it a staple after being in South East Asia for so long. Said to relieve everything from muscle aches to vertigo, Tiger Balm is a miracle herbal blend great for slathering on mosquito bites. The strong menthol scent is useful in reducing nausea or simply helping you clear your head after a long day of travel (or being stuck in suffocating Bangkok traffic).
What do you always take with you when you travel?
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Hey! I'm Alana and I've spent nearly the past decade living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, working as a writer and photographer. I started Paper Planes as a place to share local insight, special places, and how to travel well through a range of experiences — from hostels to high-end hotels, street meat to multi-course meals.
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