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10. Any type of reading material such as books or magazines. One of the cons of traveling is that it includes lot of sitting and waiting. It might seem like a minor thing to pack right now, but trust me: when you’ve got hours to kill on the plane or in the train, and the too-friendly person sitting next to you wants to talk (and talk and talk), you’re going to want that book to tune him out. Also, you will be lucky to find any reading material in your native language when you’re in a country where almost no one speaks it.

9. Medicine. If you’re on prescription it is not likely to be forgotten. But you should always have with you a pain reliever and an anti-diarrheal too. You will probably be able to get some wherever you’re going. However, often dosages in different countries differ.

8. If you are taking medicines under prescription, I don’t think I have to remind you about taking them! But the problem arises when you forget to take over-the-counter medicines such as pain reliever and anti-diarrheal(just in case you can’t resist the cuisine that your stomach isn’t ready for). Of course, you can probably get over-the-counter medicine wherever you’re going; however, often dosages in different countries differ. And don’t forget the pediatric versions if you’re traveling with a child.

7. Camera and related accessories. Okay, so I love to take photographs and related accessories for me include my laptop with Adobe Photoshop installed (since I like to download often) and a few lenses. But I realize that for most, this might be a bit too much. So you should at least take an extra memory card, if you’re not planning on downloading images while you’re on holiday. Just don’t lose it. And while we’re talking about it …

6. Chargers. What can be more disappointing that arriving at your destination, ready to get out there and take some pictures and realizing that your camera is dead, and you forgot your charger at home! The same thing could happen with your laptop or cellphone, so always remember to pack your charger.

5. Guidebooks, phrase books and maps. There are so many great ones in the internet so why should you pick up a mediocre one at the hotel’s lobby? My advice is to grab a couple of guidebooks, maps and phrase books and tuck them into your carry on luggage.

4. Travel documents, and photocopies of travel documents. If you’re going to travel overseas, you’re going to need a passport for sure. If you’ve never applied for a passport, be sure to give yourself plenty of time ahead of your trip to apply for one. Once you have it, hold on to it like Grim Death because this is your way in and out of foreign lands. Also, be sure to check if you are also required to have a visa to visit your vacation destination. Often this information is available on the web. What if you lose your passport? That’s where your photocopies come in. Yu should make copies of your passports and keep them in a different place from where you keep your passport jus in case you get robbed.

3. Cell phone. It might not seem a good idea to carry a cellphone on vacation — after all! you’re immersing yourself in a whole new land! a whole new culture! — but even if you never plan to turn your phone on while you’re vacationing, it’s good to have it, if only to make sure your ride will be pick you up when you return, or you plan on meeting someone locally, and they need to contact you, or, God forbid, you find yourself traveling during a state of emergency.

2. Small travel bag. I’m talking about a small bag that holds nothing more than a wallet, the cell phone, the travel documents and my passport. This accessible bag will be very helpful specially in the airport.

And finally, the Number 1 thing you must pack first before going abroad:

1. An open mind. Traveling means experiencing a new culture and sometimes, that whole new culture doesn’t include things like a McDonalds, or even Starbucks. So relax, and soak it all in.

While I was writing this, some of my friends helped me out with some other important things that must be mentioned.

* Lip balm and moisturizer. It was startling how many people, men and women, said that they would die without their lip balm and hand moisturizer. “It’s the airplane air,” was the common statement. “It dries me out.”

* Earplugs and/or MP3 player. If you’re a light sleeper, these can be invaluable.

* Journals. Even if you’re not much of a journal writer, go ahead and toss a small one in your bag you never know when inspiration might hit. There’s something about travel that brings out the Ernest Hemmingway in everyone.

Marina K. Villatoro, the Travel Experta, has been living in Central America – Costa Rica and Guatemala for the past decade. Traveling with her family to all parts of Costa Rica and Guatemala, she now loves organizing vacations for people and offers first hand experience. Contact her for advice and to plan your perfect trip!

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