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There’s nothing more amusing than watching new travelers pack a suitcase. I suppose that the fact that they don’t do it often gives them an excuse to not know exactly what to leave in and take out. I’ve always maintained that the only thing you really need is a passport, cash and a debit card. While this is true, I’ve also discovered that your trip can be a whole lot easier if you have a few things stashed in your bag that you may have difficulty finding on the road or pay too much for when you realize that you need them. My recommendation is buy a bag, put the stuff on my list in it, then don’t touch it until you’re going somewhere. It’s packed and ready to go to solve every problem that you might run into. Here’s my list:

Passport– put this in your bag or a secure place that you’ll remember so that you’re always ready to go. If you don’t have a passport, get one.

Pens– have a pen in your carrying bag that you take on the plane. You’ll always be ready to fill out an immigration form and doodle on a napkin if you get bored.

Swiss army knife or Leatherman-Don’t carry one on the plane. Only in checked luggage. I’ve used the scissors, can opener, bottle opener, blade and even the toothpick and there’s nothing handier.

Shout wipes- in your toiletry bag. They’re awesome for accidents.

Flashlight– your phone has one, but a backup never hurts. A small LED one does the trick.

Zip ties– fix your clothes, secure your luggage, repair broken stuff. You’ll find a million uses for them and they take up no space.

Bungee cords– One or two can come in handy for holding things down, together or open.

Ziplock bags– great for saving seashells, coins, or organizing your electronic cords. If you’re in a wet place, a ziplock could save your phone.

Kitchen bags– one or two to keep your dirty clothes separate from your clean clothes

Toilet paper mini roll/wet wipes– There’s some great individually wrapped wet wipes that can keep your space clean. Compact toilet paper rolls are resealable and don’t take up a lot of space.

Bug repellent– a small travel size should be all you need to keep the mosquitoes away.

Lighter– start a fire, light a candle, or use it for the encore song at a concert if you’re really old.

Mini umbrella and rain parka– get a super compact umbrella and a simple plastic parka to save you and your stuff from getting wet.

Sewing kit– Just a simple needle, thread, and button combo can save your clothes and keep you from indecency charges.

Combination lock-great for keeping hotel staff honest and you don’t need to remember a key.

Plug adapter and power strip with USB– Probably the most important thing on the list. No one wants to be without a phone or camera. Get a universal set that works anywhere. If you bring a power strip, you can plug in several things and only need one adapter. Some travel power strips can actually convert 220V to 110V. Make sure that your electronics can work on the voltage in the country that you’re visiting. Cameras, computers and phones usually can handle dual voltages, but razors and blow dryers can get fried if you’re not careful. More electronics are using USB ports for charging.

Cigarette lighter USB, extra phone cord and inverter– An inverter isn’t necessary, but can be useful for charging your computer if you’re traveling by car. Get a cigarette lighter USB with 2 ports for charging 2 devices at a time.

Safety Pins– velcro, safety pins and zip ties are some of the greatest inventions of all times. A few safety pins in your bag can fix clothes and pop out the SIM card of your phone.

Hat– Having a bad hair day? The answer is on top of your head.

Camera cards and flash drive-There’s nothing worse than running out of space on your camera and missing great shots or having to delete things that you wanted to keep. A flash drive is great place to back up vacation photos in case something unexpectedly happens to your camera or phone. Pack an extra one and a card reader.

Money belt– I love the new money belts that are made out of black webbing with nylon buckles. I wear mine as a regular belt and if something happens to all my possessions, I have enough emergency cash to get home or book a hotel. Best of all, I don’t have to  take it off at the airport.

Toiletries– Have an extra set that is always packed with deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, cotton swabs, etc. Make sure that if your bag is in your carry-on that the liquids are in a container no larger than 3 ounces.

So that’s the list. You’re welcome. Put this together, stash it in your travel bag and leave it there. It will be ready to go when you need to leave without you being stressed about forgetting something. Now the only thing you need to worry about is how many socks to pack.