I can think of lots of things most of us wouldn’t want to travel without, mostly because I’m sure that list changes from person to person. Narrowing it down to my own top 5 was relatively easy, though.
5. Comfortable Shoes
If you’re traveling, I’d hope that means you’re not just sitting in one place all day and you’re actually going out of your way to include the ‘travel’ part. I can’t imagine hiking for hours or driving for days or flying miles away from home to just sit in one spot once you got there. My idea of a trip is to get out and see as much as I can in the short amount of time I’ve got to do it. And that requires you to move. Which is going to require you to make sure your feet are taken care of so you can move. Trying to travel with too-tight shoes or blisters because the shoes you do have don’t fit right is never any fun and is only going to hinder you in your ability to take full advantage of the opportunities you’re presented with.
4. A Camera
I’m no photographer, but I don’t even walk out of my own house without at least my cell phone to take pictures with. I often find myself in situations where I automatically think ‘oh! I need to share this story!’ with this person or that. And pictures only help to emphasize my points. Having pictures to share with whomever you’re telling your story to later on will help them to understand where you’re coming from too and to connect to your story themselves. And not only that, but having pictures from your travels will help you remember things as well and recall stories to tell again years down the road. It’ll be a nice trip down memory lane in the future when you have physical evidence of these experiences to look back on.
I don’t know about everyone else, but I like to collect little trinkets while I’m traveling and you can’t really do that without money. I don’t usually like to buy touristy-type items like t-shirts or anything that has the country’s name or logo on it, but I do like to buy craft-art from kids on the streets, like leaves twisted and woven into various shapes, or design my own pieces of jewelry for street vendors to make for me in exchange for a little bit more money than I’d pay for something they’ve already got laid out on their tables. And we’ve all got to eat at some point during our travels. A small amount of money can go a long way if we spend it wisely. But that’s not only for us. In the case of our Cuba trip, the people we’re going to be interacting with need our money much more than we do. We could get by not spending anything extra on ourselves (after what we’ve already paid for) and make sure the people of Cuba are, at least in part, provided for more so than they were when we got there. Spending our money to take pictures of people on the street or to tip our drivers or our hosts or our guides or anyone else who helps us out in any way is really what’s going to go a long way as far as our contributions allow. And, it’s my humble opinion that no one’s ever grown poor by giving, so give freely and happily and pay it forward to everyone you can and you’ll do your small part to make the world a better and more friendly place.
2. Travel Documentation
Okay, maybe this should really be number one because, let’s face it, no matter what happens or where I end up or who I run in to or what have you, I want to be able to get back home. Even money can’t get you anywhere without the proper documentation. You can fly or bus or boat or trek your way back to the states but without the papers to prove you’re supposed to be there, good luck actually getting in. Your passport and any other documents you may need are essential to getting where you need to go and being able to return from wherever it may be that you actually end up.
1. An Open Mind
I only didn’t put travel documents as number one simply because I actually think this may be of even more importance. No matter where you go, the ability to put yourself in others’ shoes and sympathize or understand or view things in a different light is what’s going to allow you to grow as a person and get the most out of your travels. Being adventurous and really allowing yourself to dive right into another culture and take advantage of your opportunities and keeping open eyes and an open mind will have a bigger impact than anything else and will make all of your travel preparation and efforts actually worthwhile.