Things I wish I had replaced before travelling

by Craig Sunter

Zoë is studying Psychology with American Studies at Sussex University and spent her year abroad in the USA. She is a Student Brand Ambassador for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Here are the belongings she wishes she had replaced before she packed her bags and went abroad - students, take note!

Up until last year, I hadn’t yet caught the travel bug. I had been abroad but my idea of a holiday was being somewhere sunny (hopefully in close proximity to a pool). The concept of spending a weekend exploring a city or living a backpacker’s dream across the US was completely new to me – meaning I was not as prepared as I would have liked to be! The fact is, travelling puts both you and your stuff through a lot.

When looking through my bag of broken goods the week before I was due to come home I found myself wishing I had treated myself to some new gear that would make it through my trip. Here are just a few of the more important things:

  1. The day I went to the Grand Canyon I got up at 5am and I travelled for hours. I was simply awestruck, it was totally worth the journey… and then my five-year-old camera decided to die. 
  2. Not only should you check your gear is working, make sure you have enough memory left on an SD card to fill with your photos as well as space to write down all your adventures in a travel journal without running out of paper. One of my close friends bought me a beautiful diary as a present before I left and it’s now something I treasure! 
  3. Without a doubt the most important thing on this list is your passport. Many countries will not let you in if your passport expires in less than six months and, while I did not encounter this problem, my sister did have to reapply before she came to visit me – thankfully she checked far enough in advance to do this and not be turned away at the border! 
  4. Make sure you have enough of any prescriptions you take before you leave – navigating a foreign health care system can be scary, confusing, and very different to the NHS. 
  5. Although it was nice to have my large, reliable handbag that I had already been using for a few years with me, it didn’t take long to start falling apart leaving me with lots of back and shoulder pain. I definitely recommend buying yourself a nice and sturdy backpack for your trip! 
  6. Similarly, probably one of my biggest mistakes was arriving with a very large suitcase – and I almost immediately needed to buy a small hand luggage bag that would fit all I needed for a weekend. I promise you do not need nearly as much stuff as you think. 
  7. It is completely worth splashing out on comfortable shoes for lots of walking. When your feet hurt it is so difficult to power through and see everything you want to see when blisters being the bane of your life for days afterwards. 
  8. You will be thankful for a proper durable water bottle you can keep re-filling for those long days when you don’t seem to stop moving; especially when traveling in hot climates. Dehydration is not fun, as I discovered when I forgot my bottle one sweltering day travelling in California – I did not make that mistake again!

Once you have all of that sorted, make sure to double check the Foreign Office’s travel checklist to have an amazing and safe trip!

If you want to take or - bring back - more than your luggage allowance will permit, here is a 5% discount on shipping your stuff with the brilliant SendMyBag.com - just click here!

For all of the latest foreign travel information, head to the FCO's Travel Advice website. Follow the FCO on Twitter @FCOtravel, watch their videos on YouTube and add them on Facebook to get instant access on all of the latest travel updates.

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