My first piece of advise: Take less with you. *oink*
We all know that the overpacking impulse is hard to resist. I know I am guilty of this. So, the solution is to set what I call a “settling fund”. What is a settling fund? Rather than pack for all contingencies, bring the absolute minimum and allocated $100-$300 for purchasing things after you arrive and as you travel. In my case, I no longer take toiletries or more than a week’s worth of clothing. It is a blast! Finding shaving cream, deodorant, or a dress shirt can produce an adventure in and of itself.
My suggestions is pack as if you were coming back in a week. Here are 6 Bare Essentials listed in order of importance:
1. One week of clothing appropriate to the season, including one semi formal shirt and pair of pants or skirt for customs. Think T-shirt, one pair of shorts, and a multipurpose pair of jeans.
2. Back up photocopies or scanned copies of all important documents: health insurance, passport/visa, credit cards, debit cards, etc.
3. Debit cards, credit cards and $200 dollar worth of small bills in local currency.
4. Small bike lock for securing luggage while in transit or in hostels, a small padlock for lockers if needed. You can never be sure. Safety first.
5. Electronic dictionaries for target language and smaller grammar guides.
6. One broad stroke travel guide.
That is it.
So what do you guys think? Let me know.