Being Mission Minded << Top Ten Unconventional Overseas Packing Tips >> Guest Post


You've Never Thought of These Before 
...but you'll thank me later...


1. Bring the General Store. Yes, I saw you cringe as you read that. It totally goes against the theory of packing light and only bringing essentials- but truly, if you pack smart, it can be done- and you won't regret it. I won't travel overseas without twine, scissors (in your checked bag, please!), and tape. Ingenuity is essential, and these tools will never steer you wrong. I also like to bring a dark bedsheet- which has been used in the past to form a quick changing room (thanks to the twine and scissors previously mentioned), privacy from open windows, covering belongings from dust or spreading out on the dirt floor. 

2. Tissues, Toilet Paper, and Wet-Wipes are Your Friends. You may think they'll just take up space in your bag, but believe me, you won't regret these either. Traveling seriously wears down your immune system- throw in a change of climate, different water and cultural food, and you have a recipe for the sniffles (at best) or stomach bug (at worse). Treat your nose right and pack some good facial tissue- remove tissues from cardboard box and seal in a zip-lock bag to save space. Wet-wipes are also essential- depending on why/where you're traveling, showers (and time!) may be scarce. You'll appreciate having wet-wipes available to remove travel grime and as a quick refresher. You can't always trust the water overseas, so they're perfect for washing your face or wiping down your hands while you're out and about. And while we're on the self-care products- bring a roll of toilet paper. Laugh now, but you won't be laughing later when every bathroom you go to is fresh out. Carry it in your backpack and you have not a care in the world. 

3. Invest in Good Shoes. Traveling is expensive, and if you're like me, you want to cut down the costs as much as you can. I always buy second-hand and scour clearance racks- however, the best piece of travel advice I ever received was to invest in good shoes. Don't think of it as splurging, but as an investment in high quality with the assurance that these shoes won't let you down while you're gone. There's really only 3 pairs of shoes you need, depending on the terrain and circumstances surrounding your trip:

Boots/Tennis Shoes: I highly recommend Ariat boots. They cover your ankles, give you good traction, and are by far the most comfortable boots I've owned- as well as the most expensive, but they truly were worth every penny (I did find mine at Tractor Supply Co. on sale). They're stylish and can easily be dressed up or down depending on your outfit. These are my brown shoes, to be worn for work or with outfits with brown accessories. If you're not a boot person, go with tennis shoes that are comfortable and supportive. 

Sandals: I own a pair of Teva sandals (purchased at a discount store). There are so many different hiking/traveling sandals out there- do your research and try on lots of pairs. You don't want something that will end up giving you blisters or have straps that will let you down- thus, I don't recommend purchasing a pair of sandals online. Every shoe is different and you want a pair that will fit your foot like a dream. No flip-flops or some cheap pair here- get something with velcro and rubber. They may not be the most fashionable shoes you own, but there are certainly ones that are quite nice. These are my black shoes, to be worn for traveling or with outfits with black accessories. 

Shower Shoes/Flats: Depending on the kind of sandals you choose, it's up to you whether or not you want to wear those shoes in the shower house. For me, I don't like soaking the velcro on my sandals, so I pack a pair of cheap flip-flops. If you don't mind soaking your main pair of sandals, you could pack a pair of neutral flats as your third pair of shoes. 

4. Pack to Toss. You know you'll have lots of presents and souvenirs to bring back- but your bags are full as it is! Pack knowing that you're going to toss some things before you return home. Leave behind toiletries, even some of your "General Store" items, or clothes that have gotten stained. Know that you're going to be using up a lot of your toiletries/snacks, etc., but anything that's leftover before you have to fly home can be left behind. 

5. Feed Yourself. Don't underestimate the snacks. When you're out and always on the go, you work up an appetite faster than you realize. Cultural food is different and may not agree with your stomach- so pack lots of granola bars, trail mix, jerky, etc. I thought I brought a lot of snacks on my last overseas trip, but found that I was having to ration my snacks out within just one week of being there. You can't over-pack here, especially if you have food allergies or sensitivities. Your teammates and fellow travel buddies will want some of your food, too- and you know you have to share! Tea and instant coffee are other things that are nice to have on hand- as well as packaged electrolyte powders and instant flavored water packets to help cover the odd taste of different drinking water. 

6. Be Frivolous- Just Once. You're far away from home. Bring something frivolous that makes you smile or holds a special meaning. Whether it's a fun magazine, a family member's oversized shirt for lounging in, or a book that always encourages you, it's okay to pack it! You'll be glad to have a little taste of home while you're away. 

7. Find the Largest Water Bottle Possible. Hydration is key while traveling. As long as you have a comfortable backpack, carrying a large water bottle is never a problem. Many people I traveled with ran out of water in their small bottles quickly- but I never had to worry with my large one. It also was a good visual of how much water I was supposed to be drinking. Camelbak is another option, however, they are difficult to clean. 

8. Don't Be Afraid of Long Sleeves. The sun is hot, and although you may romanticize the idea of a tan, you really are just going to get fried. Bring loose cotton button-up shirts- especially the ones where the sleeves can roll up and are secured with a button- and tank tops to go underneath. It will protect your arms and truly will keep you more cool. Look for cotton and linen, fabrics that are breathable. 

9. Your Electronics Don't Like Travel. When traveling overseas, you will need adapters and converters in order for your American electronics to charge. This goes for hair dryers, computer cords, phone cords, camera chargers, etc. Do your research, and buy adapters with different prongs in order to be certain one of them will be able to fit into an outlet overseas. If you want phone service overseas, you will also need a SIM card from the country you will be staying in, or rent a cellphone from a popular provider there. 

 10. Journal Frequently. You may feel like you want to just experience everything you possibly can and you can't afford any downtime, but please- take time to journal. You absolutely won't regret it. You may think you'll remember to write something down once you get back home, but it just won't happen. Take the time out in the evenings or whenever you have down time- while on busses or waiting at a pick up point- and create a written record of all that you're experiencing and learning. My travel journals are some of my most precious possessions, and I am so grateful for someone who pushed me to journal. Even though I took time to write about every other day while away, looking back I wish I would have taken even more time! 

Comments

  1. Great advice! Thanks for sharing!

    Regarding travel shoes.... Definitely very important. When I went overseas a couple years ago, I got a nice pair of Keen hiking boots. I highly recommend them. They served me splendidly all through that trip, through my last one, and I still use them almost everyday. They are lightweight (great for lots of walking), and very comfortable. I realize that certain shoes are better for certain types of feet, but I really do love my Keens. :)

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    1. So happy to see you over here, Lea! Yes! Keen is definitely another brand I was looking at as well, although I was looking at their sandals. After seeing your comment, I decided to browse around on their site- they have some really nice hiking shoes, too! I will certainly have to keep them in mind.

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  2. I love these tips! Definitely will be keeping these in mind for when I travel (not anytime soon..haha!)

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    1. You never know what the Father might have in store, Rosi! <3 But I *do* know, He has some utterly amazing things planned for your days- and I cannot wait to see them unfold! You keep doing what you're doing, girl!!

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  3. Wonderful article! :) I am planning for an 5 week oversees trip, so this was very helpful for me. Thank you so much!

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    1. You are so welcome, Joy! Praying many blessings over your trip! <3

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