So you've decided where you want to go. Make sure you check the weather and climate as it's no good arriving for trekking in the Himalayas when it's too wet or cold and remember - that beach getaway might be less appealing during the monsoon.
Make sure you:
Leave plenty of time to pack, and take as little as possible otherwise you'll end up dumping stuff or sending parcels home. Plus you can buy things while you're on the road. It's often much cheaper than at home anyway.
If you’re covering most of itinerary by foot take a backpack with you. A suitcase is fine if you plan to stay in one or two cities and explore from there, but it can be cumbersome if you’re going to be moving around a lot. The top loading backpacks are very comfortable to carry but it's easier to access your clothes in a front loader, but it's really just a matter of personal preference. A small daypack is also a must. Be sure to check luggage weight and size limits for certain airlines and countries.
A basic first-aid kit is important. Items you could include are painkillers, bandages, TCP, travelsick pills, mosquito repellent, emergency diarrhea remedies and sterile syringes. If you're traveling where tap water is not safe to drink, take purification tablets or a water element.
What should you take?
When packing, be prepared for any climate, especially rain. Bring clothes that will dry quickly if you are traveling in a rainy climate.
Footwear needs careful consideration. Flip-flops are invaluable for slipping on and off when visiting temples, and wearing in showers. Lightweight trainers are also vital - along with a pair of flat, smarter shoes or sandals. Hiking boots are useful if you're thinking of doing any trekking.
If you plan to visit any religious or cultural sites, you may have to cover your shoulders and legs to be respectful, so bring something other than tank tops and shorts. After you gather all the clothing you think you'll need for your trip, go over it again and eliminate half.
Your goal should be to pack light! This way you'll have room for souvenirs and other belongings you acquire along the way.
Carry the Right Things with You
Always take an extra pair of clothes in your hand luggage - there's nothing worse than being in a new country, where you don't speak the language and where the airline has lost your luggage - at least you can have a clean change of clothes this way.
Converters & Adapters
Get an electrical converter if you're heading off to countries other than North America.
Money Can Make or Break your Trip
Exchange just enough money to cover your expenses for your travels. There's nothing worse than being stuck in a new country on your first day with no local currency. Make sure your ATM card can be used in the places you are visiting (you'll find a logo like the 'Cirrus' one on the back of your card) - some places in South America won't accept this so ensure you have enough cash on hand. It is safest to take a mixture of currency with you - a credit card, some cash, and perhaps some travelers cheques. This will cover your butt just in case that credit card declines or a machine won't accept your ATM card.
Documentation to Bring
Take out adequate travel insurance and check that the cover is appropriate. Check out our insurance section and buy online. Have a valid passport and the necessary visas.
Take photocopies of your passport, insurance policy and ticket details and keep a copy with you and leave another with someone reliable at home. Also - you can store details of important documents in your online Travel Safe available with your ISIConnect account.
Other Useful Items to Pack
Games to Play - There will be times where you will be sitting around waiting for flights, buses, places to open, etc. Ensure you pack a travel game, diary or something to occupy yourself with.
Other Stuff - Money belt, padlock, umbrella, safety pins, alarm clock, sun-block, and plastic bags (for damp clothes, soap, shampoo, and other spillables).