Top 20 Things You Should Almost Always Carry Abroad!

Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash

This blog is solely based on my month and a half trip to the United Kingdom as a visiting research student. However, for almost all foreign countries (mostly the European Countries) the list will be similar. The list is based just on my personal experience about what to carry from your home country.

The following gives a list of your essentials in no particular order:

  1. Relevant Documents: Pack all forms of IDs (Student Id, passport, visa etc) and important documents you require for your travel with some photocopies of the same. This is to ensure that you have an additional copy in case any of the documents get misplaced. Remember to store it in different bags and also keep all your important papers including flight tickets, student Ids and accommodation papers in the cloud storage.
  2. Universal Adapter: Every country has their own socket designs and power supply specifications, hence our home country plugs might not be compatible in most cases. Carry a country-specific adapter or if you intend to travel frequently in different countries buy a universal adaptor. Buying these in India will be way cheaper. You can check this blog to know more about the adapters.
  3. Extention Board: For most travels, you will carry multiple electronic items which will need regular charging like mobile phones, laptops, etc. It will be convenient if you buy one adapter and carry an extension board.
  4. General Medications: Certain general medicines say for fever, vomiting, indigestion, cough and cold, motion sickness, headache etc can be carried with your luggage without any prescription (although carry one if you can manage). As you travel to a new country you might notice some mild symptoms due to the climate or dietary changes. Hence it will be wise to carry these from your home country instead of buying them from a pharmacy abroad. Sanitary Napkins can also be carried in a feasible number for a shorter duration journey, along with a hot water bag if you suffer from cramps.
  5. Specific Medications: If you have some disease for which you need regular medications, you may opt to take a good number of those provided you have the prescriptions for all. Don’t rely on buying those in a foreign place if it is a short journey. Medical rules are quite strict in most places and in many cases, prescriptions from your home country are not transferable i.e. you might not be able to buy medicines with your home country's prescription without proper consultation.
  6. Backpack: In most countries abroad, you will try to explore places and travel from one part to another or if you travel as a student, as I did you will have to visit the University every day. A sturdy backpack will be the most convenient thing to carry all your essentials like passport, cash, water bottle, books etc.
  7. Reusable Water Bottle: A reusable water bottle should almost always be with you during your travel. Unlike India, where you can buy a water bottle for 10 INR, in most foreign countries (especially the western countries) you do not buy water so cheap. Instead, they use tap water which we refill as we travel places. Also, a thermos flask is not required as you can fill it with both hot and cold water in almost all taps. However, if you are a tea lover, a thermos will be a good thing to carry.
  8. Luggage Locks: This accessory will depend on your accommodation and the convenience of storing your luggage. To keep your luggage safe at all times you might need one such lock. Also, I would prefer to lock my check-in luggage at all times during travel.
  9. Cloth Bag: This is one of the most underrated yet very important things which I carried along with me. Almost all malls or grocery stores do not give you a carrying bag free of cost and it is around 200 INR per bag if we buy one every time. Hence one or two cloth bags are very convenient if you want to save money and also it is a sustainable solution.
  10. Cash and additional credit/debit cards: Though forex or international debit cards are used in most cases for payments abroad but trust me there are a lot of places that do not accept travel/forex cards. One such example is uber where you might not be able to add your card to the app. Hence better to carry some cash for an emergency, preferably in lower denominations.
  11. Boots or Shoes: It is very important to check the average weather condition of the country we are travelling to. In the United Kingdom, it is very unpredictable and you might get storms or rain at any time. Rainy weather is common as well (especially in European Countries), hence a nice waterproof shoe would be a nice pick. I carried mine from Decathlon, India.
  12. Jackets and Thermals (if a cold country): Pack a nice, warm jacket and two suits of thermal. If you are from a warmer part of the world you might find it really cold and windy right from the moment you land. Also, take a head scrap or woollen cap, gloves and socks, along with the jackets for surviving the winter. You can also buy a phone sensitive glove😉 to use your phone while wearing gloves. I did so. Note: People also say we must buy jackets from the country we travel to. This is a piece of good advice, however, do carry at least one jacket for surviving the initial days with the other accessories mentioned.
  13. Toiletries: Toiletries like toothbrushes, toothpaste, face wash, soap, hand wash, deodorants and hand sanitisers are an absolute necessity for any traveller. These can be pretty handy even during flight delays. Also, after landing in a new place you will hardly travel to a mall to buy a toothbrush. Ofcourse I would not advise you to carry those in large quantities (if travelling for a very long time ) but some sachets are definitely useful.
  14. Face Creams and Moisturisers: Carry your moisturisers and sunscreens to avoid harmful sun rays. You can also carry the immediate make-up items you need. These things might be sensitive to your skin and you might not be comfortable using a foreign product right away. So, if you are travelling for a shorter duration it is better to carry those.
  15. Spare Spectacles (if you need one): If you are one like me wearing powered glasses, please carry a spare set with you. I can’t afford to lose my glass and live without it, hence if you are having similar problems without glasses take a spare pair. It will be very expensive and also tedious to buy a new glass of the same power in a foreign country.
  16. Sheets and bed linens: Depending on the accommodation you are staying in you might not be comfortable sleeping on their mattress without a sheet, so you can take your own single bedsheet to feel at home. The same applies to the pillow cover.
  17. Small Stationaries: A box of stationery items like a pen, pencil, a notebook is always handy and wise to take. Stationery items might be expensive especially if you need some for some trivial work, once in a while.
  18. Lunch Box: If you travel as a student you might require to take your lunch from home. So carry a lunch box with you. You can also carry some snacks inside it, during any travel. I would prefer a microwavable box as most places including the university do have a microwave oven to warm your lunch.
  19. Umbrella/ Rain Coat: The United Kingdom welcomed me with a lot of rain. So, carry a sturdy umbrella, to withstand the harsh rain and wind.
  20. Food Items: The food items are pretty much available according to our needs in the major abroad destinations. I don’t see carrying excessive food items as a nice option as it will consume a lot of space in your luggage and might replace the important things I mentioned in the previous points. Food is something you will anyway purchase after a week, so I feel carrying regular items like rice or dal in a large quantity is not worth it. However, there are certain things you can carry that are worth it.
  • Indian spices are both expensive as well as rare in any foreign country.
  • Ready to Eat packets for maybe a day or two i.e. till you settle down.
  • Pickle (If you are from India, you must carry it). I did not like the foreign pickle. I carried a 100 g mango pickle bottle which lasted me the entire trip.
  • Some rice, dal, salt etc or whatever you consume in your daily diet for 1–2 days (Optional). I just carried some salt, sugar and some traditional Assam Tea. That is something I start my day with.

Other things like chocolates, snacks, breakfast items, juices etc are roughly of the same rate in most countries. So you can easily purchase those in your destination country.

Good Luck with your travel. I hope you have a comfortable stay abroad 🥳.

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