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Filling That Backpack

Have you packed a notebook? If so, it can be worth its weight in gold.

It can come in handy while riding a ferry in Greece, a train in Amsterdam or a bus in Australia or anywhere else in the world, particularly as you meet other travelers.

Information about hotels and restaurants can come from other travelers you’ll meet during your trip. That’s why it’s wise to carry a notebook, to share information and record recommendations.

Here are some other suggestions to consider when packing for an adventure abroad:

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--Make sure that you have a guidebook that fits your style of travel. Different guides are aimed at different types of traveler. Ask the managers of travel bookstores for advice. Check your telephone directory for their locations.

--Consider buying the style of backpack that allows the shoulder straps and hip belt to be hidden under a flap so that it can also look like a soft suitcase. You may not always want to appear to be a budget traveler, and you’ll likely get more use from it after your trip. Be sure the backpack has a hip belt to help reduce the strain on your shoulders and back.

--Choose clothes with patterns; they won’t show wear as quickly. Plan to dress in layers rather than trying to carrying bulky coats. Pack comfortable, flat, worn-in walking shoes. Remember that many streets in Europe are cobblestoned and heels can catch. Sandals are handy for pebbled beaches.

--Consider tossing in: large sealable plastic bags (for food, or packing damp clothing); a universal sink plug (it seems that half the sinks in budget hotels and campgrounds are missing them when you want to rinse clothes); a poncho (it will cover you and your day-pack in the rain, even when cycling, and can be used as a groundsheet for picnics or camping); a small water container (the tap water on many trains is undrinkable, so you might want to carry your own for brushing your teeth); a Swiss army knife (if it’s not on the knife, add eating utensils, plus a bottle and can opener and corkscrew).

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--Take along a popular paperback book or two for long train and bus rides. One is often enough, even if you are going to a foreign-language country, because English-speaking travelers trade with each other.

--Unless you intend to camp, it may not be necessary to carry a sleeping bag. The traditional version is not welcome in many youth hostels today. Instead, travelers are required to have, or rent, a sleeping sack made out of white sheets. The youth hostels provide blankets. Hostel operators feel that this is more sanitary than allowing people to use sleeping bags that may have also been used outdoors.

--Add a day pack for daily sightseeing items. You can store your big pack where you’re staying, or in lockers at most train and bus stations. Day packs leave your hands free to hold a map or guidebook, and they are not as easy for thieves to grab as shoulder bags.

--Don’t carry your money, tickets or passport in any type of pack. When the backpack is being worn, it’s not in your sight and can be easily razored open by a thief. Buy a money belt or pouch to carry your valuables under your clothing.

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--Your money should be converted into traveler’s checks and you should carry a separate copy of these numbers and the numbers on all other important documents. Leave another copy of these numbers with family or friends at home.


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