Scary the first time you set out, but immensely rewarding in every aspect, traveling solo shapes you into a newer better version of yourself. Alas, not everyone's first time goes well, which scares them off the traveling trail. From theft to delayed trains (thanks Italy...) traveling has it's ups and downs which can be even more taxing when you're flying solo (literally).
To make your life a little bit easier I've concocted a list of things you will NOT want to leave at home, and a list of things you probably SHOULD leave at home before you jet set single handedly.
Some of these items I know to bring from my own experiences, and others I read from others online and avoided their mistakes! Avert all the mistakes of us once green-behind-the-ears travelers and read on!
Do Not Forget!!
YOU MUST NOT LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THIS- or without it charged!! I know when traveling you should unplug from technology, but sometimes you need to drown out a screaming baby with tunes, snap a photo, or figure out where you are going, and the fastest and best way to do so is whipping out your smart phone. There are different types of portable chargers, some that hold only one charge, and others that hold over 6!!! If you know electricity is going to be scarce I recommend the Key Power 1200mAh Battery Pack. This is the one I use when traveling, it holds from my experiences 5 entire charges for my phone in it, and it also hosts a built in LED light. There are two USB ports (so if your buddy's phone is dead too you can help them out!) It's small and lightweight- and one of the best tools I have!
Diva Cup (Guys...you can skip this one unless you're traveling with your girlfriend)
Okay, so this isn't always a necessity, but I say pack it because it's better to be safe than sorry. Not everywhere in the world sells tampons and pads, and if they do they might solely have applicators, no applicators, or only pads. Who knows what you could come across. Nothing could ruin a trip like needing tampons and not having them available (or packing 3 months worth in your bag!!), so plan ahead and pack a Diva Cup for emergencies, or just make the complete switch to #DivaCupLife.
Make the investment on the diva cup, which can be purchased from any major store (Target, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, CVS) or online, and think of how much money you will save on tampons in the long run.....#Majestic
Lock & Chain
This one is pretty self explanatory, but you're gonna want to bring a chain and lock before you head out. A chain (or wire, whatever works for you) to lock your bag to a shelf (or another bag) when you are leaving your stuff in luggage hold. You're also going to want a lock incase the hostels don't provide one in your room, or even if you're staying in hotels, lock your zippers together for checked & cabin bags to deter wandering eyes from rustling through your bags. Here is a great lock you can order off of Amazon, or you can literally walk into any "superstore" and purchase one!
Micro Fiber Towel
I CANNOT STRESS THIS ONE ENOUGH. Some hostels don't even carry towels. So if you're banking on not packing a towel and renting one the whole time (or not showering.....ew), then you might just be SOL. I know packing a towel sounds daunting, heavy, and like it will take up a lot of room, but it doesn't have to be!!! Check out any microfiber towel which packs super small, they make them just for travellers!! How awesome is the world! 😍
I used to think these were stupid and a waste of space and weight until I realized that searching for underwear when you're half naked in a hostel at 3 am is rather unpleasant. Organize your clothing types (and clean vs dirty) so you can quickly find things and eliminate as much weirdness as possible.
BLESS UP. These things are the end all be all to travel. Not really... but they are fashionable, multi-use, cover you up when visiting sacred places, dress up certain outfits, and keep you warm. If you don't want to pack one, pick one up along the way as a souvenir!
Do Not Pack!!!
Too many clothes
I think you can figure this one out- but packing too many clothes is always a fatal mistake. (okay fatal is a bit dramatic...) Once you have everything laid out that you THINK you want to pack, cut it down by at least a third, and if that still doesn't work, try again.
I am guilty of bringing hair appliances, even though I know I shouldn't. Unless you're doing a city stay (and not leaving a singular location)- it's just not worth it. If you're backpacking and traveling to multiple countries, packing hair appliances will be a struggle because they won't work in every location. They are awkwardly shaped, weight a lot, and pretty much useless if they aren't the right wattage/outlet type. Save yourself some grief and learn to do you hair sans heat.
Suitcase with Wheels
In Europe you're going to have to drag it up and down trains and over cobble stone. If you're in any other rural part of the world it's gonna be sand and mud. Cut out this annoyance if you don't have a friend to help you out and stick with a backpack and keep life simple.
Unless you're working from the road or have a really good reason to bring your laptop- they weight a ton (even my MacBook Air), and are a direct target for thieves. Not to mention the cord itself takes up too much room. If you need some form of electronic that is larger than your phone, opt for a tablet that uses the same charger as your phone. Plus if you're really enjoying your adventure, you shouldn't need to be on your computer!
A Bunch of Converters that May or May not Work
I often find that "universal" adapters are not so universal. Unless you've been to where you're going before, save the room before you leave and purchase a converter when you get there. This way it's sure to work, and usually much cheaper. (I'm talking a dollar cheap here!)