Since I've traveled a lot, I thought I would include a list of items that I've found absolutely invaluable in my travels. Hope it helps.
Item #1: British guy
Indispensable for looking at maps, actually reading the guidebook, doing math, carrying everything, fixing things, and taking pictures. Speaks Italian, French and English. Is also good at being tall and therefore easy to find in a crowd. Lends jacket in cold weather. Knows a lot about geography.
British guy is reading something sophisticated.
He's holding up the "games" section for me.
Downsides: You might find yourself spontaneously signing up for a marathon or cycling through the West Bank. Might possibly be a spy. Steals french fries.
Item #2: Running shoes
You never know when you might stumble across a marathon and feel compelled to sign up for it.
This is how you should tie your running shoes to your pack to ensure that
they don't fall off while you're racing to catch a train in Germany.
Downsides: You'll have to actually run the marathon.
Item #3: Petzl Tikka Headlamp
Strobe setting. Enough said. Also you can be that annoying person reading on the plane while everyone else is trying to sleep. Go ahead. Set it on the highest setting.
I didn't have any photos of just the headlamp.
I tried to find a funny photo. I even googled "cats wearing Tikka headlamps."
Downsides: It's really hard to look sexy with a headlamp on. You'll inevitably blind people while trying to talk to them.
Item #4: Scarf
Useful for covering oneself while visiting religious sites, shielding off the sun, and escaping out the window of your hotel (I've never done this, and if I did I would probably use sheets because that's what they do in the movies. But you never know. Maybe a scarf would work). Can also double as a towel.
It was windy.
Downsides: Sometimes gets caught in taxi cab doors.
Item #5: Passport
Customs officials get irritated when you try to enter a country without one. Also it's no fun to travel without at least 2 or 3 items that you absolutely 100% cannot lose or you're screwed.
For added excitement to any trip, try this: 1. Leave passports in hotel safe; 2. Forget about passports; 3. Check out of hotel; 4.Start to get on bus going to another town hours away; 5. Remember passports; 6. Sprint through town to hotel, retrieve passports, sprint back; 7. Leap dramatically onto bus with passports; 8. Spend next 10 minutes sweating profusely on parked bus while bus driver has 2nd cigarette break.
This is what a spy's passport looks like.
Downsides: Completely screwed if you lose it. For U.S. citizens: Hard to pretend you're Canadian while carrying travel documents emblazoned with USA on them.
Item #6: At least 5 books
Plenty of reading material. You can finally catch up on the entire collected works of Dostoevsky.
I just wanted an excuse to reference one of
my favorite contemporary writers
Downsides: You won't read them. You won't even look at them during the trip. You'll wonder why you even brought them. The answer to this question will elude you until you're packing for your next trip.