It's great to have a guidebook, something to point you in the right direction and give you background information on the places you're visiting. The mistake first-time travellers make, however, is only doing things listed in the guidebook – only visiting the restaurants, staying in the hostels and visiting the attractions that get the guidebook's stamp of approval. There's more to the world than the bits listed in those pages.
To each their own! I would rather have photos that differ to the million identical photos that other people have taken of a place. It’s a souvenir; it’s something to send my family and friends, so they can see I’m safe and happy (my mum definitely wishes I’d take my photos of myself to send her when she misses me!); it’s something I can one day show my grandkids, so I can teach them the importance of travel and show them what I spent my twenties doing.
I keep a “quick fix” kit in my cabinet and grab it for trips. It contains earplugs, a sleep mask, lip balm, ibuprofen, and extra contact lenses. I also bring flavored tea bags to relax with a cup of tea no matter where I am. As for clothing packing tips, I keep it simple with lots of black. It goes with everything and is difficult to stain! Spanish Sabores
Most importantly, luggage should err on the safe side of the standard carry-on size -- in inches that means slightly under 22 x 14 x 9 (height x length x width), or 56 x 36 x 23 in centimeters, which is the most common allowable size across airlines. Many bags claim to be regulation size carry-ons and in fact aren't, so double check dimensions before buying to avoid forced gate check.
Traveling in places where you don’t speak the language is surprisingly easy, but get ready to mime a lot. You can mime eating to ask someone if they’re serving food, mime sleeping to ask someone if there are any beds available in the hostel, and I even mimed that I needed to go to a train station by saying, “choo choo!” and drawing a picture of a train in my notepad for a taxi driver in Taiwan!
Whether it’s that steamy romance novel, thrilling sci-fi, or a dog-eared travel guide, download it before your trip. Even if at home you’re a paper-til-I-die sort, save the space and weight for your holiday. And don’t count on wi-fi to jump back into the story from your perfectly positioned beach chair. Make sure it’s on a water-resistent covered device (check out Otterbox for some serious protection for your cherished e-reader, phone or tablet).