Someone Should Have Told Me This Before I Left

Before I left for my trip, I dug to the depths of the Internet for tips and tricks on how to have a smooth two and a half months in six countries where I don’t speak the language.  The were basic packing tips to what to do in each city.  While these were all mostly helpful, there were other things that I wish I knew before I left.

  • I’ve said this before, but find the bed with the outlet near it.  Notice I say the outlet.  Not near an outlet, near the outlet.  These seemed to be pretty limited in a lot of rooms that I stayed in.  Bottom bunks usually help with this, if you have a choice.


  • Don’t bring as many shirts as you think you need.  A lot of events and hostels have shirts included so you end up carrying around twice as many as you started with.
  • Bring a small notebook.  I brought a bigish one, normal 8.5×11(ish) and it was too big.  I never even used it actually.  I made most notes in my phone since that was almost always with me.  And a pen, don’t forget the pen.  I lost mine within the first week though.


  • Bring Ziploc bags.  A lot of them, like, a whole box.  Various sizes too, gallon, sandwich, quart, and snack.  They come in handy a lot more than you would think.  They also get gross after a while, so it’s nice to have new ones available.
  • Download WhatsApp (or something similar) before you leave.  Everyone uses it and you can’t sign up unless you have service wherever you are and want that roaming data.  Facebook works, but I guess WhatsApp is what’s up.
  • Don’t sit near babies on buses.  Trust me.  Don’t do it.


  • It’s not necessary to book accommodation ahead of time, but can be handy.  If you want to stay somewhere popular, book ahead.  If you don’t care where you stay, wing it.  I did more winging than booking.
  • If you need water shoes, make sure they are good water shoes that stay on.  I almost lost both of mine multiple times in the ATM Cave in Belize.


  • Bring a waterproof bag!  This can be small for just electronics, or larger to use as a daypack.  This is super handy, especially if it is rainy at all.  I should have gotten one of these.  And just in case you don’t have one of these, Ziploc bags come into play!
  • Get a headlamp.  These can be used for outdoor adventuring at night or in caves or just to dig through stuff in a hostel room full of sleepers.  Also good for packing and getting things together for an early or late departure.


There is plenty more where this came from, but of course I can only think of so much at once.  Come two in the morning, my brain will be flooded with everything else I should have added, but it’s just more for later now.  I hope this is helpful, even if just a little bit.

What advice do you have for a first long term trip?  Traveling in general?

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