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Hey, world travelers...

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    Posted: 22 December 2012 at 12:49am
For those of you guys that have done some long distance traveling; is there anything you wish you'd had or wouldn't leave home without?

My brother is going to Italy for a couple weeks in the spring, and my mom and I are hoping to get him somethings that he'd like to have for it. He's got a laptop and some type of tablet(a kindle fire I think?), so I was thinking maybe some noise canceling headphones.

Anyways, I spent a couple hours today wandering through stores shopping and nothing really caught my eye. I've only ever flown around the US, so I could use the advice.

Thanks!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BARREL BREAK Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 December 2012 at 1:08am
Good socks and good shoes.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Darur Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 December 2012 at 1:12am
Honestly I usually wind up wishing I left most of the crap I have behind.

That being said, travel sized medications (pepto, ibuprofine, tums, nyquil, dayquil) and a decent lightweight bag or backpack, and water bottle/camelpak are things that always come in handy.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kayback Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 December 2012 at 1:35am
Pretty much what Darur said. Make sure you are legal carrying your meds where you go.

I can't think of any restrictions in Europe but Codine is banned in the UAE for example because it is a opiate.

Good shoes that you've walked in before.

I swear by a compass. These days you can use a smart phone app I guess, but compasses are always handy. Doesn't even need to be a fancy one. A key ring one will do. Just to orient yourself sometimes.

In Italy remember to ALWAYS get a receipt. There shouldn't be any issues, but the police can always stop you and ask for one. You'd better have one. Never experienced this myself, but it is a heads up.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gatyr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 December 2012 at 1:52am
A towel. Universally (as in throughout the universe, not the without-exception definition that earthlings have given it) recognized as the most massively useful thing to have.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote procarbinefreak Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 December 2012 at 1:56am
condoms.  You don't want to bring anything back home with ya.

Edited by procarbinefreak - 22 December 2012 at 1:57am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kayback Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 December 2012 at 2:14am
Originally posted by Gatyr Gatyr wrote:

A towel. Universally (as in throughout the universe, not the without-exception definition that earthlings have given it) recognized as the most massively useful thing to have.


I always thought a "space ship" would be more helpful.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote evillepaintball Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 December 2012 at 4:17am
I always wished I was flying in first class.  But for realsies, a good pair of pants with a nice assortment of cargo pockets is always nice to have to keep your valuables and crap close. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tallen702 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 December 2012 at 8:08am
Yeah, I've always wished I left more of my crap at home. In Costa, we didn't use our phones for anything other than pictures, never used a laptop or tablet, etc. You're there to enjoy another part of the world while disconnecting temporarily from yours.

Tell him to make sure to check his international roaming, data, and text set-up with his phone carrier.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tolgak Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 December 2012 at 9:00am
Not in Italy. Some of those streets are infested with pickpockets.

Dress similarly to locals your age. Memorize the general path to where you're going so you don't have to always maps in your hand. Don't feed the gypsys, they're way better off than you think.

Sunglasses and comfortable shoes. If you're not used to walking a lot, European cities will murder your legs.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote merc Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 December 2012 at 9:08am
this forum hates my blackberry...but here is what i tried to post.

I always left the majority of my electronics at home. They are great for the flight but add weight to your pack... A smartphone/tablet can do movies, music and wifi and weighs a lot less. Make sure you have a EU charger or don't bother bringing it...

A compass, maps (but most of the time they can be found in major cities) a towel (you can get a camping towel at walmart or other sporting goods stores), 2 handkerchiefs (sp), a pack of individually wrapped gauze and some medical tape. Some comfortable shoes and a backpack is a must.

I noticed in italy that most people wore slacks, a button up shirt and shoes (not sneakers). Might be something to keep in mind.

A second place to put money. Ie keep 50-100 euro in the wallet in your front right pocket and keep a pouch with the other 200 in your left. And only take out a few days of money at a time.

Carry everything you don't want to lose in your front pockets. Probably won't have any problems but better safe than sorry. And always keep your passport on your person (front pocket/cargo pocket)

I've never cried over carrying a warm hat and gloves before... No idea what the weather might be but you never know when it might get cold or rain... Cotton gets cold when wet, wool and fleece generally stay warmer.

Most important bring an appetite and remember "when in rome, do as the romans" (look around to see how other people act)

Just kind of ranting as things pop into my head.

You can find cheaper water/food/gifts in stores rather than shops. Look around for a grocery store instead of a news stand for water/snacks.

ps always keep water on hand and try to keep something like a powerbar or 2 in your backpack.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kayback Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 December 2012 at 12:50pm
All good advice Merc.

I went to Paris and north coast of France in the middle of summer and froze my nads off.

I now carry a wind/water proof jacket wherever I go. It is a super light weight one that folds up "in to a pocket", but it doesn't really. It does fold up small though and it is light.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote merc Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 December 2012 at 9:57pm
(generally using the word "you" to refer to anyone reading this)

that reminds me. i try and keep 2 heavy duty ziplocks and an industrial trash bag in the laptop pocket of my backpack... i have had to use the ziplocks before but been lucky enough to not need the trash bags. but they could come in handy...

a small bright flashlight is a must. if you find yourself in the middle of nowhere at 0100 with a 13km hike ahead of you it can be your best friend... trust me... its great for safety and can be used as a deterrent against aggressors at night.

a pen and a small note pad are also handy. not everyone speaks english but if you draw a picture of where you are trying to get a lot of times they can point you in the right direction.

people in shops spoke great english when i was in most countries. but not all will/can speak english. most young people in a transit area (train or bus station) can speak english. also people look distinct over in europe. (i would look for dark skinned people in germany knowing they were not german and would be more apt to help me in english)

"WC" stands for water closet. signs that say "WC" will point you to the restroom.

keep clean shaven and if you can leave your pack at the hotel it will help you not look homeless... people will be much more apt to talk to you or sit next to you when you dont look like a bum... (found that one out by experience)

look for things out of place. in the paris airport there was a man wearing a balaclava (mask/hood) and a motorcycle helmet right outside the exit for international flights (inside the building). we made eye contact and he watched me as i walked by. may have been nothing but it gave me a bad feeling.

be polite and smile at people. makes you look less intimidating. personal space is much different depending on where you are but dont let someone touch on you. dont be afraid to step back or put your hand out infront of you if a vendor tries to get in your face. generally a smile and nod or "excuse me" (or what ever the local word is) will combat the "rudeness" of creating distance.

Tp, wet naps and alcohol wipes can be your friend... might not be a bad idea to keep some with you... in a bind one of the handkerchiefs mentioned before can be used...

the jacket that folds up into itself is a great little gadget. small, light and compact but can keep you dry/warm when needed.

not condoning it but a lot of times if you pretend to be a "dumb american" and act like you have no idea whats going on you can get out of some trouble...

chineese/asian food is ordered the same way in every country... hold up a few fingers for whatever number meal you want...

totally have to agree with memorizing where your going. if you do get lost focus on a point where you can feel safe (i like my back to a wall so i can see anyone coming at me from the front) and get to that point before you break out your map.

edit: make sure everything has a set place. put everything into the same pocket every time. (in your pants and in your backpack) lets you grab snacks, glasses, map on the go and cuts down how much people can see in your bag.

money doesnt go back in the wallet. take out what ever note you need to pay and stick your wallet in your pocket. when you get change stuff it in your pocket and wait until your in a safe place to restock your wallet. (just remember you have loose cash so you dont lose it)

Edited by merc - 22 December 2012 at 10:01pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BARREL BREAK Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 December 2012 at 10:02pm
Personally, I would recommend leaving the laptop at home. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SSOK Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 December 2012 at 10:11pm
Learn some phrases in some language that isn't native to the area. Gypsies tend to prey on western, English speaking tourists and answering them in some former Communist language tends to get them to leave you alone. Even if it is gibberish.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote usafpilot07 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 December 2012 at 10:55am
Thanks guys, I appreciate the ideas and will forward the advice to him. Definitely wouldn't have thought of a lot of this stuff.

Edited by usafpilot07 - 23 December 2012 at 10:55am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Santa Chewp Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 December 2012 at 10:06pm
Not about things, but my main traveling tip I learned: You'll be happier with experiences than with the money.

There were times when something would cost $20 euros and I'd decide I shouldn't do it, I should save the money.  Then when I got home there's no difference of if I have the $20 in my pocket or not, but I felt really bad about the things I decided not to do because of money.  Obviously there is a limit, and a budget can be really important to actually make it to the end of your trip, but always remember you're there to experience it and live in the moment while you're there. Not just to put a pin in a map and say you've been there.


Experiences over money.


*edit*

Also Merc makes great points.  Get a small and bright flashlight that turns off/ on with a switch.  You DONT want one that you have to hold a button or something silly to keep the light on.  If you can get one that has a small clip, that's even better because holding a flashlight in your mouth while you dig through your bag isn't fun.  Notebook is mega important. You'll think about things, have ideas, need to write down directions, phone numbers, travel times, etc.  



Also unless you NEED it, I wouldn't bring the laptop.  1) theft sucks and 2) unplug for a bit. You can easily check email and such in almost any city.  

I also definitely agree with leaving the backpack somewhere safe when you can.  Not only does it make you look like less of a tourist, you will feel like less of one too.  Also dress comfortably, don't go overboard and buy a tillie hat, zip off khakies, hiking boots etc. You'll look like an ass, and stand out anywhere as a knob tourist.  Being yourself is the better alternative.  


Edited by Santa Chewp - 25 December 2012 at 10:10pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tolgak Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 December 2012 at 11:38pm
Originally posted by Santa Chewp Santa Chewp wrote:

Also dress comfortably, don't go overboard and buy a tillie hat, zip off khakies, hiking boots etc. You'll look like an ass, and stand out anywhere as a knob tourist.  Being yourself is the better alternative.

Is there some underground tourist subculture I haven't heard of? I've seen this crap everywhere. The mountains of Germany and Bazaar in Istanbul are not exotic locations. Neither are NYC subways, Yosemite, Ontario streets, and Tennessee caves.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Santa Chewp Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 December 2012 at 4:31am
I remembered something else: mesh bags.  Get a couple smallish mesh bags and put your socks/ underwear in them.  That way they're all together when you need to dig out dry socks, and you can have an easy system of what's clean and what's not.  It's just nice not having to dig back and forth through a top-loading backpack under all your stuff to try to get new socks/ underwear.  


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