A lack of toilet paper is common in most public restrooms, in some countries more than others. (I’m looking at you, Korea!)
Keep a small pack of tissue in your bag just to be safe.
A quick word of advice for the ladies: Girls, practice your squats now. Western toilets aren’t that common everywhere, and there are plenty of urban places where the word “toilet” still means “hole in the ground”.
2. Money Belt
Pickpocketing is common in any area with crowds, from subways and buses to all major tourist attractions. There’s a variety of money belts out there, from the bulky belts that hold your passport, cards, and the kitchen sink, to the unnoticeable that work great for a few bills.
Don’t confuse these with fanny packs, which scream “tourist”; money belts are to be worn under your clothes, with the zipper flat against your body.
If you’re really adverse to the money belt, at least consider keeping a little cash in your shoe. That way, in the worst-case scenario, you won’t be stuck somewhere without a way to pay for a cab.
3. Reusable Shopping Bags
A good reusable shopping bag folds into its own little pouch to slip in your pocket or purse, but holds tons of stuff when you pull it out.
Check out these ACME bags, made from unrippable nylon material, for less than $6.
I have two, and I’m always surprised at how much they hold, from a few days worth of clothes to a pineapple spending spree at a Brazilian market.
Save yourself all the plastic and paper shopping bags with one of these.
They’re also great for a day at the beach, picnics, or emergency situations when your shampoo bottle starts leaking in your suitcase. (The material is super easy to wash.)
4. Water Bottle
I’m a water bottle addict, but I always feel guilty going through so much plastic. For a day out, bring along a reusable bottle that you can fill up at fountains and in cafes.
If the local water is a little sour or you’re picky about drinking filtered water, try this BPA-free bottle from New Wave. It looks like a regular plastic bottle, but with a built-in filter that you can remove to use in other bottles.
Most reviews say the bottle doesn’t last longer than a few months, but for $8, you’ll surely get your money’s worth. Just make sure not to leave it in a hot car; several users have reported finding a plastic blob in the backseat after a few hours.
5. Pocket Flashlight
Forget camping; a pocket flashlight really comes in handing when you’re searching for your wallet in a dark bar or desperately fumbling around a port-o-potty at 2am.
For a bright light that truly is pocket-sized, check out Pak-Lites.
The tiny LED light resembles a Leggo, and snaps on top of a 9 volt battery. Pak-Lites have been used by the U.S. Air Force, the American Red Cross, and FEMA. Prices range from $10 to $30.
Blisters hurt, particularly when you’re wearing shoes made for style and not comfort (which is why I stick to Havaianas).
But if you’re out to look good, you’ll need a band-aid or two on those toes before the night’s over.
Nuts and/or dried fruit (should we call it “city mix”?) are great for a quick source of calories. Plus when your $75 entree arrives looking like something that would scare Anthony Bourdain, you’ll have something to accompany your side salad.
8. Cab and Hotel Information
It’s easy to feel excited about tackling that foreign subway system first thing in the morning, but by the end of the day (or maybe in the wee hours of the next morning) you might not feel so energetic.
Before heading out for the day, jot down the number of a cab service and the address of your hotel so you’re sure to find your way back.
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