This past summer I had the opportunity to travel around the Western half of Turkey with my oldest sister. It was my first experience leaving the country without my parents so, to say I was nervous, would be an understatement. I found that everyone in my family and friend group had advice on what to bring and do before boarding my plane, as well as on vacation, from how to haggle down the price at markets to the whether or not I should ride a camel (Even though camels are not indigenous to Turkey). The one item that my sister preached to me should be in my suitcase: a pair of travel pants.
Here are some features of mine, that I felt were especially helpful, starting with my must have wardrobe piece: pants.
-The elastic waistband. Yes, you may look like an old lady if you wear them with a shirt tucked it, but layer them with a long tunic top and you will look traveller chiche, while never having to worry if your pants will fit as you gorge yourself on foreign foods.
-A neutral color. My pants were a sage color, which made me feel a tad like I was on safari, but they also matched almost every shirt in my suitcase; so pick your neutral and rock it!
-An appropriate material. I travelled to Turkey in the middle of July, with the temperature consistently over 100 degrees, so I chose a linen fabric, which was very breathable, allowing me to keep the burning sun and dirt off my legs without overheating them.
-The cropped ankle. Do not ignore this recommendation! The cropped or ankle pants that have ties are the best to keep the bottoms of your pants from dragging along the ground, especially if that ground is the floor to a bathroom which only contains squatting toilets (common everyone in the world besides the USA). If you have never had the experience of using a squatting toilet, let me say that unless you have remarkable balance and coordination, you will end up missing a little and peeing on the floor, or your foot, or both. So roll with the cropped ankle and have potty safe pants.
Besides pants, here are a few other items you should pack:
-Wet wipes. It is incredibly nice to be able to freshen up after a long flight or a sweaty day tramping through a foreign city, when a shower is not available in your immediate future. Just make sure to pick an alcohol free wipe that does not irritate your skin.
-A roll of toilet paper. This may sound a tad extreme, but in a lot of places outside the US you have to pay to use the restroom and the attendants siphon off an allotment of paper to each toilet user. If you are worried about space, just take the roll from the middle, fold it flat, and throw it in a plastic bag.
-A real camera. Today people are very reliant on their smartphones, feeling no need to bring a camera to exotic locations because the one in their phone is pretty darn good! But, a real camera still gives you better quality photographs and gives you the option to one day choose to leave your smartphone at the hotel and just immerse yourself completely in the culture of the country you are visiting.
Regardless of if you take any or all of this packing advice, travelling abroad will be an amazing and potentially life changing experience. Try new things, be safe, and happy travels!