You get to a stage in traveling life where the packing and booking aspects become second nature to you. I can explain. You guys reading this and maybe not having travelled a lot, get excited when you have booked a trip. Two or three days before you start the packing dance. Out comes the suitcase, maybe needs a clean, no idea what the lock combination is anymore because it’s been over a year. You have made a list of what you need. And it depends on the country and the climate as to what you pack. Warm weather, cool clothes. Cold weather, warm clothes.

I still get excited about my next destination, but living out of a suitcase means I have a system of packing and preparing that makes it almost robotic. I still leave stuff behind but nothing essential.

  • Passport
  • Cards or cash
  • Camera and/or phone
  • Spectacles
  • Medicines

These are my essentials. Without a passport, you can’t even leave the country. Cards are great to book accommodation online and book flights with, but in countries I have travelled to, cash is still king. I still take a camera and rarely use my phone for taking holiday snaps. You want quality and room. A small digital is just the thing. If you wear glasses, then you better not leave them behind. If you can’t read or see anything, it’s a pain. True, you could have done a laser eye surgery and got rid of those glasses. If you think you still have time for it, you can search here for your nearby eye treament center. If not, you can buy another pair overseas. It takes over a week to get prescription glasses in the UK. It takes only 45 minutes in China.

By medicines I mean any prescribed drugs you need to take. Aspirin and hay fever tablets can be purchased in pharmacies in nearly every country. Of course, you may not be able to check the street value of Tramadol or any other drugs everywhere (like you can check in the US). Also, watch out for traditional medicine cures in some places, they might kill, not cure.

All the extra stuff you take with you can be bought if you inadvertently forget to pack them.

  • Tip – when I travel to places like China, the Philippines or Vietnam and Thailand, I pack hardly any clothes. I usually buy them there. Clothes are so cheap in those countries and I like to travel light. A carry bag and a backpack, that’s it.

My biggest challenge is trying to find the traditional dish of the country in which I am travelling. It’s not always apparent and it’s not necessarily what appears on the internet as the ‘national dish’. Walking down back alleys and getting away from the mainstream of that village or city may bring you to a place frequented by only locals. That’s usually a good sign. If you can’t speak the lingo, then hopefully there might be some pictures on the menu or on the wall. Knowing a few words will help and in many places, you unexpectedly meet people who speak English. Not always, though.

Tip – be careful eating street food. It’s rarely hygienic and possibly full of short cuts in cooking and preparation. The locals have cast iron stomachs. They love it and it’s super cheap.