Your First Time (in a new destination): A Packing List from Someone with Experience

Gear Guide, Travel Tips — By Alexi Ueltzen on May 7, 2009 at 9:53 am

Lots of people are nervous about their first time *ahem* traveling to a new destination – especially when it comes to packing. They get worried that they won’t be prepared, that they’ll arrive and their trip will be crippled by what they did or didn’t remember to put in their suitcase.

But we at NileGuide want your new travel experience to be smooth, enjoyable…exciting, even! That’s why we’ve compiled the following list of packing guidelines and recommendations guaranteed to make your first time as magical as possible.

Read on for our list of “first time visit” gear essentials.

1: Protection

Why: Because traveling is a slightly risky business. Whether it’s travel insurance, a money belt, or Triple Action Pepper Defense Spray for your purse, that extra layer of safety can let you relax and enjoy your trip. Figure out what will set your mind most at ease and sign up for it. You’re going on vacation, not taking a week off to worry about pick pockets and Giardia.

2. Something to set the mood…

Why: Whether it’s an ipod full of language lessons, a novel set in your destination or a (shameless plug) personal Itinerary chock-full of exciting things to do and places to eat, you should take something that gets you excited about where you’re traveling. Don’t travel because everyone else is doing it – have fun with it!

3. A Camera

Why: Because reading your journal entries out loud to your friends afterward really isn’t the same. Take something compact so that you can easily snap shots without looking like this guy (see image on right) for your entire trip.

4. FMBs (Flexible, well-Made Boots)

Why: Comfy shoes are a must for any first-time visit. Traveling on foot allows you to really absorb a new destination, whether it’s temples in Tokyo or the cherry trees in Washington DC, and there are few things more miserable than blisters. Shoes are too heavy to over-pack, so if you don’t KNOW you’ll use them, let the extra pairs stay in your closet with the rest of your Vans/Manolos/Sperrys.

5: Lubrication

Why: You’re entering different climate zones, and while a sunburn and chapped lips are pretty minor on the “injury” scale, they are supremely annoying. Throw in sunblock lotion, chapstick and bug spray so you can keep your mind on the sights, and not on how much your backpack straps are hurting your toasted shoulders.

Remember, practice makes perfect; the more you travel to new places, the more you’ll learn what makes sense for you and your suitcase. Do you freak out when your underwear is dirty? Pack an extra pair (or a tiny bottle of detergent). Can’t handle bad breath? Be sure that a toothbrush and gum are always on your packing list.

Do you have any special packing techniques to share? Tips for first-timers? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Alexi is a resident gear junkie at NileGuide. Have a question about travel gear? Shoot the gear junkies an email at

Suitcase photo courtesy of TheGiantVermin/Creative Commons,
Money Belt photo courtesy of Richard Faulder/Creative Commons,
Photographer photo by garryknight/Creative Commons
Tags: boots, camera, essentials, first time, gear, gear junkie, packing, suitcase, travel

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