Before you decide to go out there and find yourself make sure to invest in a few basics and work on some skills.
Investment in good luggage
I mentioned it in my regrets posts, but I wish I invested earlier in good gear. A good backpack is probably the most important piece of gear that any traveller will purchase. And no, I don’t mean your high-school favourite with all the badges, pins and emo-tinged illustrations on it. If you’re more of a city tripper you should invest in the right carry on suitcase so you don’t have to worry about limits for every (budget) airline.
As well as good shoes
This doesn’t mean you have to go for the most expensive hiking shoes. It depends on your personal taste and budget, what type of shoe you go for. Obviously I’m not talking tap dancing or high-heels for most trips. But just make sure you have shoes with good support and ones on which you can easily trek through the Austrian mountains or wander the tough streets of Paris.
I wish every one knew the importance of travel insurance as I am now a firm believer in having the right insurance when you travel. It does not only come in handy for delays and medical emergency but also in case of theft and loss. It is easy to skip it and think ‘it won’t happen to me’, but the hassle if it does can really disrupt and ruin trips. Depending on what type traveller you are you can go for the one of or the buying annual multi-trip travel insurance if you plan to travel more than once a year.
Since we live in a ”photo or it didn’t happen” era we have to document everything – preferably in HD for super crisp proof you were at that temple, ate that unique dish or sat on that animal! Before you run out and get the most expensive DSLR you can find, get what fits for you. Just because it’s a professional-style camera it’s doesn’t mean your images are going to be instantly amazing. There are smaller cameras that will do the trick too, even some phones (especially in daylight). Plus walking around with a huge camera and lens collection is just asking to be robbed.
It’s more of a virtue and not something you can buy. If it’s not your thing then you better start, because you will need it a lot. It will come in handy when you wait for your 10 hour lay over or when you end up in a carpet shop in Istanbul and have to convince the guy you are not in need of a carpet.
Invest in skills
Another thing you can’t really buy, but life skills like swimming, listening and direction might come in handy in a lot of situations. I am always surprised people can’t swim (I am so happy my dad just kept throwing me in the creek till I learned to make it to the edge) or people who just can’t listen and are all about ‘Me! Me! Me!’ instead of ‘ That’s so interesting! Tell me more.’
Any essentials I missed?