In the middle of my trip in Europe, I compiled a list of what I thought were the top 5 most important travel necessities to have with you.
I wrote this list on Day 13 of our 21 day trip. So I feel like this pretty accurately represents what I found most important at that moment. Then I checked this list again towards the end of the trip, and not only did these all still apply, I think they became even more important.
So here we go:
This is number 1 for a reason. Sleep is the MOST important thing, in my book. We stayed in hotels, HomeAway’s, AirBNB’s, and regular B&B’s during our trip. And the one thing I can tell you for sure, is that you never know what you’re going to get. Especially when it comes to early morning light and loud noise. Since we travelled during a heat wave in Europe, it was ridiculously hot. And there is hardly any AC. So a lot of the time, you depend on opening the windows and having the night air cool you off. The problem with this is, the sun comes up early and the noise levels can be unexpected. For instance, we had an early morning violinist in the apartment in Rome we stayed in (and he wasn’t even good!). And there was construction work going on near more than one place we stayed at. And one night in a B&B in Florence we had a very loud couple staying in the room next to us. I thought they were fighting but J thought they were just talking passionately (It was all in Italian, so we couldn’t be sure). Anyway, the eye mask & ear plugs were used EVERYWHERE.
This was a tough decision when we were planning this trip. Back packs or rolling suitcase? I knew that I wanted to travel light. I had read about capsule wardrobes and thought this would be a great time to really try something like that out and practice with packing good staple pieces that could easily be mixed and matched. Let me tell ya, this was a lifesaver. I had previously spent 1 month in Rome in my college days, doing a summer study abroad program, and I remembered all of the brick and cobblestone roads in Europe. I also remembered Venice (one of our stops) and all of the stairs to go up and down the bridges, along with all of the narrow sidewalks (pretty much everywhere). I decided that backpacks would be the way to go and I was happy about that decision the entire trip. It was so easy to move in and out of crowds and use the trains, while I watched all of these people struggling with 2 huge rolling suitcases. After some research, we found AMAZING reviews for this Osprey brand of backpack and I couldn’t be happier. There was a smaller backpack attached to the larger one, that could be detached and used for day trips or walking around town. I even saw this brand on other travelers all over Europe. These were durable, light weight, multi functional, and could hold a lot of stuff. We were also able carry our bags on the plane because they could easily fit in the overhead compartments. The bags were very squishable (for lack of a better word).
3. Trip Advisor
I would give this app 5 stars. We used this app for our entire trip. When we were in wifi zones (pretty much at all of the places we stayed) we would download the city we were in and check out the map and things to do. Then, when we were out of a wifi zone, we could still access the map and get walking directions (without having to connect to wifi), while also checking out restaurant recommendations around wherever we wandered off to. If we were unsure of what to do on certain days, we would check out TripAdvisor for daily tours or tips on what other visitors have done. It made for a very well rounded, delicious, and fun trip.
4. Coconut Oil + Brown Sugar
I’ve talked about coconut oil more than once (here & here). And I knew it would be an important staple in my travels. I mainly used it as a face wash, make up remover, and moisturizer (hell yes to knocking out 3 things with one product). I also packed a little jar of brown sugar to use to exfoliate with the coconut oil on my lips, face, and body. And the whole trip I kept thinking, “Good call Steph.”
There were a few nights in Europe where Melatonin was key. Melatonin is “a hormone that helps control your sleep and wake cycles.” and once again, sleep is where it’s at when you want to feel your best. I will talk about melatonin more in a future post. But I would have to say it kinda saved my ass in a few situations. Our first stop was Rome and we were doing pretty well with adjusting from the jet lag for the first few nights. Then, the night before we were going to leave for Florence, we were wired and could not sleep. I think it was part, excitement for the next city, and part, we were still acclimating to the new time zone. We took some melatonin and within 20 minutes I was out. I tried the 10 mg a few months ago and it made me feel incredibly groggy the next day. I started splitting the pills in half so I was only taking 5 mg, and that has been the perfect amount.
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Whew! That was a lot. Do you guys have any “must-have” travel items that you would never go without? Let me know if you have any questions about anything!