If you're getting ready for your first budget trip abroad, consider some basic points:
Invest in a guidebook designed specifically for student-style adventure. If you have problems finding one, check your telephone directory for bookstores that specialize in travel.
Read the guidebook before you go and highlight sights you want to make a point of seeing. Guidebooks can add a lot of weight to your luggage and they may be bulky to carry, so if you will only be using several chapters, consider removing and stapling these individually so you can carry one in a pocket.
Keep a Journal
Pack a notebook to use as a journal. The best information you will get will be passed along by other young travelers you meet along the way. Record these suggestions and any names and addresses you have collected from family and friends.
Talk to your doctor about medical precautions for the areas you intend to visit. Get this under way well before your trip so you don't have to start off trying to handle luggage with an arm sore from an inoculation. In addition, some medications, such as a type of anti-malaria drug, must be begun before you leave for your destination.
Consider buying a day-pack. A light small pack is handy to carry what you'll need for a day's sightseeing, while leaving hands free to unfold a map or flip through pages of a guidebook.
Pouches for Safekeeping
Because items in a backpack are carried outside your line of vision, get a money belt or pouch so you can carry valuables such as your passport and travelers' checks under your clothing. Money pouches are sold by travel specialty shops and youth hostel services.
Before leaving home, photocopy important documents such as tickets, travelers' check numbers and passport number. Put one copy in a separate area of your luggage; leave another copy with family or friends. If you lose your valuables, this will speed up replacement.
Consider a backpack rather than a suitcase because it lets you carry the weight closer to your center of gravity (you won't tire as quickly) and leaves your hands free.
Shop for a backpack at a sporting goods store where an experienced salesperson can help determine a comfortable size. Some designs easily convert into a canvas suitcase. Make sure the pack you choose has a hip belt to ease stress on your shoulders.
What to Pack
Pack patterned clothing; it won't show wear quite as quickly. Take clothing that can be worn in layers to be added or removed as the temperature dictates, rather than taking up space in your luggage for a bulky coat.
Other useful items include a corkscrew, sink plug, multi-use knife, bottle opener, detergent and string. It's also useful to have a small supply of plastic wrap for food, laundry that didn't quite dry and various other contingencies.
If you expect to visit countries where the water may be questionable, pack a small container to carry some that's safe. You'll also find this handy for train travel because tap water on trains in many countries is undrinkable.
Comfortable shoes can add several hours to your sightseeing day. Pack some running shoes. Wear them in a bit before you go, to avoid blisters.
Most young travelers pack too much for their first trip.