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Last updated March 28, 2014. 

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Packing - Travel Necessities
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Below are items I think every traveler, especially those planning to stay in hostels, will need during their travels. Also check out Optional Travel Gear.
  TOILETRIES Don't overload yourself with these--they do sell soap, feminine hygiene products etc. in Europe. Click on the toiletries link to see what I brought with me on my trip.
 Lewis N. Clark Frontier Hanging Toiletry Kit, price: $16.99 TRAVEL TOILETRY ORGANIZER You can buy a toiletry bag, use a PVC mesh bag, or use a couple of sturdy Hefty-Zip Lock bags for a short trip.
TOWEL Eagle Creek Travel Towel icon (Medium 35" x 15" $17.50, Extra Large 55" x 29 $33). For $31 you can get an XL towel with a case (this is the brand I use).  Made of high performance micro-fiber, these lightweight towels wick away moisture for extra fast drying. For those with long hair, a microfiber hair towel is great--I use mine at home and when I travel.  A travel towel is definitely worth the money. A stinky, wet/damp towel in your backpack is not something you want to experience.
 Silk DreamSack You can buy a cotton/poly travel sheet for about $40 or a Silk DreamSack icon for $62-$72. The advantage of buying a silk one is that is weighs less, takes up less space, feels very nice, and offer greater protection against bed bugs. I spent the money to buy a silk one, but a cotton/poly one will work just fine. (Hostel FAQ to find out about sleep sheets.)
  CAMERA & FILM Of course your won't need film if you bring a digital camera, but you will have to bring an adaptor plug seticon and/or a voltage converter icon if your camera needs to be recharged regularly. Check to see if your camera needs this.
FIRST AID KIT Make one with things frequently needed from your medicine cabinet--don't forget tweezers or fingernail clippers. I usually put my first aid kit in a heavy duty plastic zip-lock bag or a PVC mesh bag.
SEWING KIT  you can buy a cheap one or make your own with several colors of thread wrapped around a piece of cardboard, a couple of needles, a needle threader, an extra button, and a couple of safety pins.
  SWISS ARMY KNIFE or Leatherman-type tool (you can only bring this if you plan to check your luggage). Make sure your knife or  tool includes scissors and a corkscrew, since those are both really helpful while traveling. Check here for what is permitted in carry-on luggage: http://www.tsa.gov
MONEY BELT iconKeep your money, credit cards, and passport close to you at all times. Money belts fasten around your waist underneath your clothes. I usually wear mine with the pouch in back because that is more comfortable for me. Everyday money and coins can be kept in your pocket in a small wallet or coin purse (this is the kind I carry). If you get robbed, you'll only lose that easily accessible cash. There are also pouches you can wear  around your neck or from your belt.
Guide Bag DAY BAG, DAYPACK, or  CAMERA BAG Many larger travel backpacks come with a small daypack. If yours doesn't come with one or you would like to bring another small bag with you, get a small school backpack, tote bag, or camera bag to store your every day essentials.
TSA-accepted 4-Dial Combo Lock (2pk) LUGGAGE LOCKS Combination or key locks for backpack zippers prevents people from snooping through your bag when you are in a dorm room without a locker. A larger padlock or cable lock is needed to fit hostel lockers or for securing your backpack on trains or in hostels.
 icon icon NO-CLOTHES-PIN-CLOTHES LINE icon Great for when you do laundry in the sink. The Flexo-line holds up to 12 lb of wet clothes, thanks to its surgical-quality, natural latex rubber tubing which is woven in THREE braids (not the usual two).
 icon icon SINK STOPPER iconEssential for when you are washing your socks and underwear in the sink. Very cheap and takes up very little packing space.
icon icon LAUNDRY SOAP SHEETS iconor LIQUID LAUNDRY DETERGENT PACKETS icon Wash your socks, underwear, and other clothes in the sink with just the right amount of detergent.
GUIDE BOOK(S) and PHRASE BOOK Everyone needs a guide book to help plan their trip and for everyday information while traveling. A phrase book can come in handy when you need to communicate with local people in country you are visiting.
Mini-Time Travel Alarm TRAVEL ALARM CLOCK icon If you don't want to miss your flight home or an early morning train, make sure you bring along a travel alarm clock.   A word of warning: Don't play the "snooze" game with your alarm or fellow dorm mates will be forced to kill you for disturbing their sleep.
MONEY Use a combination of ATM card (widely available in Europe), credit card (Visa or MasterCard), and travelers checks.  I only bring along a few travelers checks for backup because it is much easier just to use my ATM card. Please make sure the PIN for your ATM card is only 4 digits AND notify your bank/credit card company that you will be using your ATM/credit  card abroad.
IDENTIFICATION  Passport, driver's license, student ID, etc. Remember to make several photocopies of your passport. Leave one copy at home and hide the two other copies in different places in you luggage. You can also scan your passport and store the photo in your on-line e-mail account.

If you are concerned about protecting your passport from RFID, consider getting a passport case/wallet iconthat blocks Radio Frequency ID scanners.
SUN GLASSES I thought these were optional when I went, but I ended up having to buy a pair while abroad.  Save yourself the time, money, and squinting by bringing a pair with you.

Click here to see optional travel gear that may come in handy during your trip.

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