Rule #1- Be you. Be comfortable.
If there is something you need or use on a daily basis, find a way to bring it with you. For me, I always like to have a blanket and found that Vera Bradley has an amazing travel pillow that attaches nicely to your bag and unfolds into a soft blanket.
There have been times where my adventures have taken me places that the majority of my friends and family would consider “unsafe”. My best advice for this kind of situation is to be careful listening to the opinions of people who have never been there. Don’t go into any adventure being paranoid or skeptical, because what you are looking for- you will find. Instead, I encourage you to realize that while there are “bad people” in the world, they are far outweighed by good people.
Rule #2- “Packing Light” is overrated.
I can’t tell you how many people and experienced travelers have told me how important it is to pack light. I have really tried to do this several times. Why? I have no earthly idea. Maybe this works if you are traveling within the United States where you can always conveniently pop into a Target or Walmart to get anything you don’t have. The reality is, if you might need it- bring it. When you leave the US, do not expect to be able to buy what you need.
When I went to China, The Great Wall was FREEZING cold and I wound up buying some crazy polar bear hat and scavenging every shop I could just to find a coat that would fit me (sizes in Asian countries run a LOT smaller)!
I know it’s not always convenient to have extra luggage but the way I see it is that I can always pay someone a few bucks to help me get my bags to and from and then we both win!
Rule #3- Bring an Extra Bag
It really sucks when you are having a once-in-a-lifetime trip, find an amazing souvenir and have NO luggage room to bring it home. Does it cost more to check one more bag for the flight home? Obviously! Is $75 worth having a precious tangible memory of one of the best experiences of your life? I certainly think so.