This is my first blog! You're catching me on my trip to Colombia + Cuba, where I have learned some tips for making your trip easier, so I thought I'd share with you folks. Some of these things are obvious, some are not. So bear with me...
1. If you're going somewhere warm and coastal, bring some bug spray. Get the little travel bottles, and fill them with with stuff that's at least 20% deet. Wipes are super mobile, but they leave your hands nasty and you can only apply it to your skin. I learned this after I got bit a few times while asleep, then tried to wipe my sheets with... wipes. Didn't work too well.
2. Plastic bags: ziplocs are clutch for liquids, snacks, etc. Bring some plastic bags for dirty clothes, and to keep cameras or phones dry in your bag when a downpour catches you. Because it will.
3. Bring a little med kit with good stretchy band aids and antibiotic cream.
4. Always keep toilet paper with you- that means your day pack. Public restrooms usually don't have it and it sucks to hold it when you gotta go.
5. Having a water resistant or waterproof backpack is ideal. It rains in places outside California. A good size is 22-25L. You don't want bigger. Just pack less.
6. Bring a little fan, or get one at a touristy shop. They're nice.
7. A good hat goes a long way. You just need one. Unless you're my wife.
8. Now to the nitty gritty - you probably don't need a phone plan. Most restaurants and hotels have wifi, even in third world countries. If you think you need it more often than that, rethink how much you need to be plugged in. Also, next point...
9. Before you leave, download offline maps with Google Maps or maps.me for the cities you plan to visit. It is a lifesaver! You can do navigation through those little streets that normally would have you lost for hours. But sometimes that's nice.
10. Sunscreen: a couple 3-4oz tubes should last you a couple weeks. Leave the huge bottle at home.
11. Light jacket: great for repelling bugs, to throw on for cool evenings, or to wear over your super classy tank top when you're out for dinner.
12. Nano puff- it's your wearable, packable sleeping bag for long flights. I never go on a trip without it, regardless of hot or cold destinations.
13. Negotiate, and negotiate some more. But stay happy, smile, and make jokes if you can. For taxis, you can say "what's the special price for the day??" or "I know it doesn't take that long to get there, can you do this price?". It's good to research how long it takes to get places beforehand- like the airport to your Airbnb, or wherever it is you're cruising.
14. Headlamps. They're tiny and pack a good punch if power goes out or you stay at a remote beach too long and the hike gets dark dark dark.
15. A lens cloth. The only proper way to keep your camera lens and sunglasses clean. Life is better when these two things are clear.
16. Check Instagram for the places you're going. You can find out about cool off the beaten path spots and inspiration for that epic shot.
17. Pack your favorite bars: 2-3 per day to keep the hunger away. Our favorites are blueberry and white chocolate macadamia Clif Bars or Fig Bars. Stay away from Larabars and similar date bars if it's hot. They get oily. That's gross.