Last updated on October 29th, 2021 at 12:11 pm
My name is Frank and I run a travel agency in Bogota, Colombia. Have fun while reading!
What should you take with you on a trip?
Focus on the essentials
Perhaps the best advice we can give here is “less is more”. You don’t have to pack your entire wardrobe for a trip and you should always remember that you always have to transport luggage, be it with your own muscle power or with small, large, four-wheeled, or two-wheeled vehicles. Perhaps by boat or a small plane with space and weight restrictions.
The opposite case is also not ideal. Imagine you want to climb an icy summit, but the only shoes in your luggage are flip flops. Or your swimming trunks are missing on a Caribbean island, what bad luck!
Researching the travel destination
Every country is different and some countries also have different climates. In Colombia, for example, you can find everything from glaciers to deserts, all year round.
Therefore, you should inform yourself in advance about the travel destinations in detail. What is the climate, what are the seasons and what effects do they have, what is the local fashion? Are there any local diseases such as dengue fever or malaria or other factors that should influence your packing list?
Researching Colombia is easy because we offer you extensive information on our website. Whether climate, diseases or specific information about destinations, you can find almost everything.
Health and personal care
A mosquito repellent is probably completely essential when traveling to tropical areas. Absolutely everyone is bothered by the famous mosquitoes. Apart from that, there is a small detail, because the little mosquito is the most dangerous animal in the world.
In 2017, mosquitoes were estimated to be responsible for the deaths of 750,000 to 1,000,000 people. This animal transmits diseases such as malaria, dengue fever or Zika, among others.
The most suitable are products with the active ingredient DEET, which offers protection for at least 8 hours. However, the downside is that it causes skin irritation in some people and is not recommended for children 0-2 years old. Other good mosquito repellants are those with the active ingredients Icardin, IR3535 or Citriodiol. Repellents with IR3535 are recommended for children under 2 years of age.
However, you don’t always have to pack mosquito repellants. In Colombia for example you can buy them on every corner and it is certainly cheaper than in Europe or the USA. However, there are other countries that do not offer such extensive offers.
Tip: Search Google Images with the search term “Malaria map”. One quickly realizes that this disease is spread across the globe north and south of the equator. Unfortunately, as explained earlier, malaria is not the only mosquito-borne disease.
If you suffer from allergies or illnesses, you also have to be prepared. In Colombia, you can get practically anything, cheaply and without a prescription. In other countries, however, things look different again. In the case of strong medication, you should take the necessary precautions so that you do not get stuck at an airport check.
A consultation with a doctor before departure certainly does not hurt. They can also assess whether or not you are taking an increased risk of traveling to certain areas, for example due to previous illnesses.
In general, it is advisable to have some general pain relievers on hand when you are traveling. This helps with spontaneous headaches or muscle pain. Pain relievers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol help relieve symptoms and do not involve any major risks or side effects.
This is especially true for allergy sufferers and normally those affected are aware of their own risks. Taking an antihistamine with you can help relieve allergic reactions. An allergic reaction can include hives and itchy skin. Therefore, it is recommended to use a cortisone cream in addition to an oral antihistamine. Here, too, you should consult a doctor in advance.
First aid kit
A trip always involves risks. However, you shouldn’t let all the fun be spoiled with minor mishaps or injuries. So it is best to be prepared for such cases. You don’t have to pack a whole emergency case, but the following utensils can help immediately:
- Antiseptics (important as they prevent possible infections)
- Sterile gauze pads
- Blister plasters or band-aids
- Anti-diarrheal medication
It is common for people to experience stomach problems while traveling. This is due to a disease called “travelers’ diarrhea“. In my experience, this occurs with 95% of travelers to Peru, but is not common in Colombia, for example.
This disease is due to contact with bacteria, which are mostly absorbed through the water. However, it is not advisable to take antibiotics to treat travelers’ diarrhea. Diarrhea is generally a protective function of the body and should not be stopped immediately. Before taking antibiotics or similarly strong drugs, you should always consult a doctor.
Sunscreens are essential when traveling and in daily life. Failure to properly protect yourself from the sun can expose you to the following diseases and ailments:
- Heat stroke
- Skin cancer: More skin cancer cases are diagnosed each year in the United States than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers combined.
- Premature aging
You cannot only protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen, but also with appropriate clothing and personally I usually wear a hat.
As you may have noticed by now, drinking water in a foreign country can cause a number of problems, such as the already mentioned traveler’s diarrhea.
A water filter is a safer way to drink water because it eliminates most of the bacteria in the liquid. A good recommendation is the GRAYL water purifier bottle, which can be used to purify fresh water, which is ideal for the hotel as well as for streams or rivers (if you are a nature lover).
However, if you are mostly in urban areas, you can save yourself the water filter and buy water in plastic bottles.
Comfortable face masks
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed lives. Today the mask has become an essential part of our daily life in many countries.
If you wear glasses, a mask is particularly uncomfortable because the mask regularly causes the glasses to fog up. The mask is also more uncomfortable in hot climates than in cold climates. Anyone who wore a mask on their face for a day at over 30 degrees Celsius knows what I’m talking about. You should therefore make an appropriate selection of masks before traveling.
Suitable clothing for the travel destination
Some travelers think it is a good idea to bring their entire wardrobe with them. Vanity eats the brain, I can only say about that. Use common sense and remember that you can wash while traveling. You should therefore not pack 10 different variants of the same clothing item for every occasion.
Tips for warm weather
In warm climates, it is advantageous to wear light-colored clothing, as these do not heat up as much. Clothing made of linen and cotton is also breathable.
Tips for cold weather
In cold weather, warm socks, boots, and gloves will help (hands and feet are among the areas that suffer most from the cold). You can also wear jackets, sweaters and coats for colder areas. Instead of a thick down jacket, you can also pack several thinner clothes and use the onion principle.
Note: The tips above are just general guidelines.
Shoes are probably one of the most important items of clothing. Most of the time you walk a lot when traveling and should therefore choose suitable shoes.
We suggest the following types of shoes:
You should have at least a pair of comfortable shoes that you can generally wear.
There are different types of boots. One thing they have in common, however, is that they are tall and protect the feet and usually also the calves. I would never have believed it, but here in Colombia rubber boots have become my most loyal companions.
A light hiking shoe is the perfect universal shoe and can be worn everywhere, not only in the city, but also on hikes, obviously. I would say that this shoe covers 95% of the needs, but can heat up the foot quite a bit in a warm climate. For high alpine hikes, however, you have to upgrade to specialized trekking shoes.
Sandals are available in a wide variety of models and are the ideal travel companion. These don’t take up much space and can be carried almost anywhere in the shower, on the beach, when traveling. However, the benefits are limited to hiking or cold climates. In addition, if you wear sandals here in Bogota, you are immediately identified as a foreign backpacker.
Socks are an important piece of clothing when traveling. These protect the foot and keep it fit for traveling. Anyone who has already been out and about with wet socks for a long time knows what I’m talking about. The result is likely to be sore feet and a feeling of discomfort. You should therefore always have spare socks at hand.
In addition to the typical socks, compression stockings can also be useful. This type of clothing is particularly recommended for the elderly. This is to prevent the famous economy class syndrome.
Economy class syndrome means that sitting on a plane for hours without being able to move can develop thrombosis in the limbs, causing the legs to swell, hurt, or tingle. However, thrombosis is not to be trifled with because it can lead to death.
Based on personal experience in the family, I strongly recommend that you deal with the topic of thrombosis before traveling and buy a pair of compression stockings. Believe me, it’s worth it.
There are several types of waterproof clothing. There are jackets, plastic covers, ponchos, waterproof pants and probably a lot more. A small umbrella can also help. My personal favorite for long hikes or stays in rainy areas is the waterproof poncho.
There are several regions in Colombia with very different climates. In the Pacific region, it can rain up to 300 days a year. Rain is less uncomfortable in very warm areas like the Caribbean. When hiking in the lost city (Ciudad Perdida), clothing made of synthetic fibers, which dries quickly, is sufficient.
What you should avoid is cotton clothing, which takes forever to dry.
A microfiber towel is a real all-purpose wonder. It has hardly any weight, can be packed up small, can absorb a lot of water and dirt, and is easy to wash and dry.
External cell phone battery
The mobile phone is an inseparable companion these days. That doesn’t change when we’re traveling. We need our cell phones to take photos, listen to music and keep in touch with our family.
There are places in the world where there is little or no electricity. For example, when visiting the beautiful Tayrona National Park here in Colombia, the number of electrical outlets is limited. In the desert of La Guajira, there is sometimes only electricity in the evening or no electricity at all.
A constant energy supply can sometimes be difficult, especially when traveling with no fixed starting point. Of course, there are also power outages at the stupidest moment, when the battery is almost empty anyway.
On my travels through Colombia, I have to charge up to 10 different devices each evening. Therefore, depending on the destination, I always use every opportunity to draw electricity from somewhere. An external battery has helped me a few times.
Local SIM card
In today’s connected world, it makes a lot of sense to connect to the internet even on short trips. Even then, in Colombia, you don’t always have access to the Internet everywhere, but that’s a different topic.
In the following link, we have a solution that convinces us.
Universal power adapter
Anyone who has already traveled abroad without the appropriate preparation and their charger plug did not fit into the socket will never travel abroad again without an adapter.
Fortunately, there are a variety of adapters that work in different countries around the world. Remember that cheap comes at a price. These are our recommendations:
- JYDMIX universal adapter – includes USB ports
- Lencent international adapter – includes USB ports
Items for long journeys?
What is the best way to pass the time when the bus will be on the road for three days? We have a few suggestions below.
A tablet, a Kindle or a good book for very long journeys
Nowadays, when you travel by bus or plane, you are usually offered entertainment. However, you should always have an alternative ready. Anyone who has already traveled by bus in Colombia will appreciate a good book or a Kindle.
A travel pillow
This article is not essential for survival for all travelers. However, depending on travel sensitivity and needs, a travel pillow can be an extremely useful companion, because good sleep and thus a comfortable journey are priceless.
Travel pillows are usually relatively inexpensive. Their con is they usually take up much space. Some recommended brands are:
Another item that can help you have a more comfortable trip is earplugs. Not all countries are like Japan or Switzerland, where loud conversations and noise in public, on the bus, or on the plane are not tolerated. As a Swiss citizen in Colombia, I realized that loud music or noise, in general, must be expected everywhere at any time of the day or night.
Headphones are undoubtedly good friends when traveling. Not only do they provide excellent music enjoyment, but provided that they also have a microphone, they can be used to make excellent calls. Insulated devices also help to protect yourself from outside noise.
Taking photos while traveling
If you are a photography enthusiast, especially during trips, you should keep the following items on your checklist:
Camera or mobile phone
The big question these days is whether I really need a professional camera for good vacation photos. I am always out and about with various devices and have to admit that there are many different solutions today and the most expensive is not always the best.
You can also take good pictures with compact cameras (which are known to have neither a long focal length nor the best quality). The camera is the tool, but the person is the artist.
Nowadays, cell phones are of great quality and there are apps like Camera FV-5 (for Android) or Pro-Camera (for IOS) for photography and FiLMiC Pro for video that can be used to mimic some of the features of professional cameras. For my YouTube channel, I recorded some videos entirely with my mobile phone. The quality is absolutely impressive.
There are even several (amateur) competitions that you can take part in with cellphone photos. The quality of cellphones is so good that there are even festivals for short films made exclusively with cell phones. In Colombia, for example, there is Smart Films, in which several participants made impressive short films using only their mobile phones.
Camera backpack or bag
Cameras and lenses are expensive and you want to protect them from damage. A good backpack or a bag with appropriate compartments, also being waterproof is the ideal case. In some countries, however, you shouldn’t necessarily show that you might be storing much more expensive items in your expensive “Hermes” photo bag.
Again, less is more, and a little camouflage can’t hurt. I am often out and about with my free university backpack and keep my camera, lenses, and drone there.
The right lens
From my own experience, I know that the quality of the photos or the film recordings can be traced back to the lenses used. However, especially on difficult terrain, it is tedious to carry kilos of lenses with you.
Here it is important to have the courage to leave gaps and be prepared to compromise. Think about the kind of pictures you mostly want to take and pack the right lens for that.
Multiple SD cards
A few years ago I had the opportunity to travel to Guaduas, one of the Colombian heritage towns, with some friends to take photos there. One of my friends had an SD card failure and we spent at least an hour looking for a store to buy a new card.
Doesn’t cost a lot, doesn’t take up a lot of space, but the benefits of the additional security are enormous. I, therefore, recommend always having spare SD cards with you.
These are good options:
- SanDisk 64 o 128G
- Lexar Professional 128G
Batteries or rechargeable batteries
Depending on what kind of devices you are traveling with, you should be prepared for the fact that you cannot tap electricity at every corner. I therefore recommend that when selecting the device, you should ensure that it can be operated with either batteries or rechargeable batteries. This provides additional flexibility.
If only batteries are possible, always keep reserve batteries with you.
Laptop and external hard drive
On my last trip, I recorded around 300 gigabytes of films, photos, and audio. First of all, not all of this will fit on my laptop, and secondly, such a trip and the loss of the material will cost more than a couple of additional hard drives.
I therefore always travel with at least two additional external hard drives and I also save my data in the cloud at every opportunity.
Other useful things for travel
Documents should always be available in a physical form, because electrical devices always involve a certain risk. Photocopies are also very helpful. What information should I always have at hand?
- Personal information (ID, passport)
- Emergency contact
- Travel documents and tickets
- Insurance contact
Swiss Army Knife
One item that you should always have with you when you travel is the famous Swiss Army Knife. This is probably one of the most versatile and useful items in the world. I probably have around 10 different versions of them.
Many Swiss army knives have more than 15 functions. These have scissors, screwdrivers, blades, small saws, bottle openers, etc. Another advantage is that they do not take up much space. In countries like Colombia, however, you have to expect that such an object will be taken away by the police during a check. I prefer not to talk about where the knife ends up in the end.
Some good Swiss Army knives are:
- Victorinox Swiss Army Knife (more than 15 functions)
- Victorinox Work Champ Swiss tool (For pros)
Whether you want to travel with a backpack, a suitcase or a sailor’s bag, that’s a matter of taste. There are always advantages and disadvantages.
Suitcase with wheels
This type of case has the advantage that you don’t have to carry any weight on your shoulders. However, a trolley case is not suitable for hiking.
One consideration is the purchase of an intelligent suitcase, such as that offered by SAMSARA, for example. This product is ideal for those who travel with valuables since it has applications such as a geolocator and warns every time it is opened.
I own a variety of backpacks and lately I’ve mostly been using a completely waterproof model. There is so much to choose from here, however, we cannot discuss all of the aspects.
There is also a large number of offers here. Some are perfect to wear covertly. You should buy a product according to your needs and intended use.
- Zoppen travel wallet with RFID blocking
- Access Denied passport cover with RFID blocking
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