One of my favorite parts of studying abroad is my weekend excursions to other cities in Spain and beyond. But with all this weekend travel raises the problem of what to bring. With most budget airlines, you can only bring one bag and honestly that is all you want. Traveling light is so much easier and a lot more flexible. You can hop off the plane and start exploring right away, no need to worry about rolling around a clunky bag through the busy streets of London. So if I only have one backpack, what are my travel essentials? Besides the obvious need for clothes and toiletries, I have come up with a list of 5 of my more unique travel essentials.
1. Inflatable Neck Pillow
If there is one thing I have learned about traveling, there is a lot of waiting. Waiting for the plane, waiting on the plane, waiting for the bus, waiting on the bus, you get the picture. There is a lot of waiting and sitting when traveling. Having a nice collapsible neck pillow, you can sleep easily on the plane and the bus. My neck pillow of choice is from REI and can be inflated with only a couple of good breaths. It has allowed me to catch up on a little on sleep and easily fits in my backpack.
2. Microfiber Towel
As a student traveler on a budget, I have spent many nights in hostels and have a lot more to go. One of the downsides of staying in a hostel is that you have to provide your own towel. Nothing is worse than having to fill half your backpack with a damp towel. I have found using a small microfiber towel works great because it is easy to pack and dries extremely quickly. It is not luxurious, but it does the job and is easy to pack.
3. Collapsible Water Bottle
A major difference between the States and Europe is that water is not free. When you go to a café or restaurant, you have to buy bottled water. And because of this added expense, I can find myself going without water and getting dehydrated. I bought a collapsible water bottle that is easy to fit in my bag and roll up when I’m finished. I can fill the water up at the hostel or airport, and it does not have the added weight of the traditional plastic water bottle.
4. Small Travel Journal
I believe one of my favorite souvenirs that I will bring back to the States will be my travel journal. While studying abroad, you see and experience so many new things and in order to remember places, sights, people, and food, it is easy to write it down all in one place. I chose a small moleskin journal because it is easy to fit into my backpack, as most of my entries have been written on a plane or bus. The journal is going to be a special book for me to look back on my experiences abroad and I am more likely to bring it everywhere with me because of its small size.
5. Quality Backpack
Lastly, a quality backpack is really important in traveling. You want a backpack that is comfortable and fits your back and shoulders as you will be walking a lot and filling it to the brim on your week long trips. I have a North Face that is full of little zippers and pouches that help you organize all your little things as well as two larger compartments for clothes and shoes. I do not think it is necessary to buy a backpacking type of backpack unless you are truly backpacking. For the kind of traveling I have done, hopping off the plane, exploring a city, and finding the hostel, a standard backpack has served me well.
Hope this list is helpful and gives you an idea of some unique things to bring for studying abroad. Travelers, what would you add to this list? Have you found anything that you couldn’t imagine traveling without? Leave a comment below!