Packing Tips and Travel Supplies
I’ve put together a list of travel supplies that you may want to bring with you on your trip. For some of the items I’ve also included a link to Amazon.com where you can buy them.
Maps – I strongly recommend buying a PopOut map before you leave. These actually contain multiple maps, typically a zoomed out overview map, a zoomed in city centre map, and a public transporation map. The PopOut maps are much easier to pull out and use than large foldable maps. You will do a better job navigating the city if you can familiarize yourself with the map you are going to use and jot notes on it before the trip.
Guidebook – I’ve used the Lonely Planet and Let’s Go guidebooks, but I think the Rick Steve’s Guidebooks are by far the best. He does a much better job of highlighting the places away from the tourist crowds which are some of my favorite destinations (Rothenburg, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, etc…) Because he has visited all of the locations himself, it’s a much more honest comparison of locations than the other books that use dozens of researchers.
Binoculars – Great for views from scenic overlooks and of church ceilings.
Money and Credit Card – I’ll get 50 euro at the airport to get me through the first day and wait for a better exchange rate at the banks to get the rest of my money. Be sure to get a credit card that does not charge you for converting to international currency. I use a Capital One card which has a 0% fee for international purchases and has no annual fee. It also has great travel rewards for your next international trip!
Passport – Be sure that your passport doesn’t expire within the next 6 months….if so, they won’t let you leave the USA!
Luggage – I put a backpack on the back of my wheelchair and hold a medium sized bag in my lap. With this setup I’m able to get around fairly easily. Packing light makes it much easier to maneuver.
Camera – Everyone has their own preference for a camera. I used to use a large camera with a big lense, but now I opt for a compact camera that has good functions for different scenes (sunset, night portrait, etc…). Many churches and museums don’t allow flashes, so be sure that you know how to turn off the flash and switch the ISO to at least 400 so the shot will come out okay. Be sure to hold the camera still!
Camera batter charger – Don’t forget to charge it!
Corkscrew / bottle opener / knife – You can get these all in one with a multitool. Rather than getting a cheap flimsy one, I bought a leatherman years ago and carry it everyday in my wheelchair bag.
Electrical Adapter – Many laptop power cords and iPod chargers will work in the US (110 volts) and Europe (220 volts) although you will still need a plug adapter like the one shown on the left. Other electrical appliances llike hairdryers will need a voltage converter. The one on the right is a plug adapter and voltage converter.
Multi-outlet adapter – If you have multiple devices and only one voltage adapter, you’ll need a multi-outlet adapter. The one below also has a built-in surge protector and 2 USB ports so you can charge iPods and other devices that connect to computers.
Inflatable Pillow – These are great for the flight over and for train rides.
Flashlight / compass / mirror – I use this multi-functional item every day when a travel…definitely a must!
Journal or digital voice recorder – Either one will enable you to capture the funny moments, details to include on picture captions, or accessibility details to send to Sage Traveling 😉
Folding umbrella – Go for a super compact one. If you are in a wheelchair you may want to bring a rain jacket and trash bag for your legs instead.
Duct Tape – Get a flat roll instead of a round roll.
Replacement inner tubes – Bring a couple of replacement tubes. My wheelchair uses a 26 inch by 1 inch tube with a Schrader valve. Schrader valves are the typical valves that are also on car tires. Presta valves are used on many road bikes will require a special pump that might not be easy to find.
Tire lever – These small tools make changing the inner tube much easier.
Tire patch – If you actually puncture the tire, you’ll want a patch to fix it.
Extra seat cushion cover – In case your cushion cover gets dirty.
Phrase books – The Lonely phrase books are cheap and easy to use. I recommend spending a few weeks before your trip highlighting useful phrases and marking the useful pages.
Cell phone – Make sure that your cell phone works in Europe and check the roaming rates before you leave on your trip. If your phone doesn’t work, you can always buy a cheap pre-paid one when you get there (cell phone stores are everywhere). Consider bringing a laptop with you and using Skype for all of your calls (2.5 cents/minute to call the US).
Cell phone charger
Laptop – I’ve traveled with and without my laptop. Pros – many hotels offer free or pay Wi-fi and you will be able to get on the internet in your room. You won’t have to navigate any steps at internet cafés. Cons – You can find internet cafés everywhere, and it adds weight to everything you have to carry.
Snacks – I carry a few granola bars with me so I can finish seeing the museum if the hunger bug strikes.
iPod / MP3 player
Book or magazine
Zip lock baggies
Glasses / contacts
Shirts – Darker colors look clean even if you wear them more than once
Underwear and socks