Pack lightly. You will have to carry whatever you pack…up stairs, or mountain sides…you never know. When packing, lay out everything you want to take, and then only pack half that amount. Planes, trains, and buses will help, but you will be walking a lot of the time. Carrying your luggage will be difficult if you pack too much.
Make sure you have at least one complete change of clothing in your carry-on luggage, and a complete set of toiletries, in case your stowed luggage does not make the trip.
Do not fill your bag with sweaters and jackets. Layering is essential. Pick one lightweight jacket and sweater. Bring only clothes that are machine washable (or sink-washable). Select dark clothes. Dark clothes will lessen your need to do wash (sounds dirty but you will learn). Avoid clothing that identifies you as American, i.e., American flags, Old Navy/Gap, American Eagle, U.S. Sports Teams etc. (You may have national pride, but it is good to blend in).
Pack one nice outfit :
- Females-comfortable slacks or dress/skirt
- Males-button down shirt and slacks
- For visits to cathedrals or churches, it is crucial to honor the traditions of the country and not appear to be unsophisticated.
Pack plenty of socks, underwear and t-shirts (and other unmentionables). Check the weather for guidance on clothes selection. Or you can consult with a travel agent or guidebook to check the temperature and weather conditions for your destination and time of year.
Passport (and visa if required). Make three copies of your picture/data sheet. Leave
one with your family in the U.S., give one to the group leader, and pack the last
in another part of your luggage. Your actual passport must be carried on your person
at all times. Travel stores sell various neck-strap wallets, or travel belts to use.
Do not carry items in a back or breast pocket. Pick-pockets are quite savvy and a
reality when traveling.
Airline tickets and photo I.D. and Insurance information, (Same three-copy rule as with the passports.) Save coasters, postcards, tickets stubs etc.
NO FANNYPACKS! They are easily removed and mark you as an American tourist.
Items to bring:
- Eye glasses, sunglasses, contact lenses and cleaning solution.
- Sunscreen and moisturizers
- Tissue packets (not every bathroom has toilet paper, or the quality we are used to)
- Sanitary napkins/tampons
- Phone card (available but more expensive abroad)
- Address book
- Adapter and voltage converter (Europeans use a different electric currency than we do. Your electrical appliances will not work. It is not recommended to bring electrical appliances, but if you must, also bring a converter.)
- Alarm clock (battery operated)
- Camera and film
- Day pack
- Guide books (Let's Go, Lonely Planet, Fodor's) and maps
- Lock and tags (label absolutely everything with a permanent marker)
- Baby wipes, anti-bacterial hand lotion
- Pocket calculator (to translate local prices into dollars)
- Sewing kit
- Walking shoes (good, sturdy, comfortable, worn-in)
- Rain jacket and/or umbrella
- Zip-close bags (great for keeping things dry, like money belt etc.)
Don't hang out only with Americans; visit with host nation citizens when possible.
Count your change after you buy things.
Take advantage of cultural events.
Always play it safe and follow your instincts.