The Remote Worker: Packing for a Trip Abroad
One of the most important aspects of planning for any upcoming trip is packing, especially packing for a 90-day trek across Europe while working remotely in a new country each month. Ensuring you have specific items to do your job and live comfortably has its challenges. I polled the We Roam participants on the Polaris tour to see what they'd wish they had brought and why, while including a few of my own. Learn from our mistakes, here are items that definitely deserve to be fit (or squished) into your suitcase - and a few items to leave behind.
What to Make Room For
While understandably We Roam participants were told to bring an adapter, what some of us did not consider was the fact that only bringing one would only allow us to charge one thing at a time. If your wireless headphones and computer have both been dangerously close to being dead at the same time you know what issues we faced. Bring a few. If anything, you'll make some new friends in your coworking space searching for one.
A Backup Converter
Even the most expensive and highest-promising converters can suddenly fail on you. Foreign plugs are tricky like that. While in Prague, it was definitely difficult to find a replacement for electronic items. If blow drying your hair or using an electric razor are high on your list, bring a backup.
Brand Name Medicine
As an allergy sufferer, Benadryl has been my go-to for years. I brought enough to get me through the first month, but not a 90-day supply thinking antihistamines would be easy to find. Not only are they not available in grocery stores or convenience stores, they are only available at pharmacies - which usually close at 6:00pm. When I did find a pharmacy, six tablets cost about a euro each. Other roamers reported this was also a common scenario with pain relief medication and common sleep-aids. It's best to bring enough for your entire trip.
A Water Bottle
While many travelers did bring and used their trusty Hydroflask or Swell bottles, some of the We Roam travelers did not. It was surprisingly difficult to find stainless steel reusable water bottles in both Berlin and Prague. It's best to bring yours from home if you can.
Europe can be a funny place when it comes to temperature. One minute you're sweating from the lack of AC on the subway, and the next you're freezing from the breeze in your coworking space. It's best to pack light layers to account for the rapidly changing temps and range of climate control.
An International Debit Card
While a travel credit card is the obvious choice when going abroad for any length of time, what some of the roamers found was that US cards are still not widely accepted, even in metropolitan cities like Berlin. The most cost efficient way to obtain local currency is to withdraw it from a local ATM. However, some banks have not only added a fee to each exchange, they have started charging a 3% fee on top as well. To avoid this, consider opening a checking account with Charles Schwab, Discover or Capital One.
Weather can be unpredictable no matter where in the world you live. But one of the worst things that could happen to you in a foreign country when you don't have the luxury of a vehicle? Getting caught in the rain with your computer. Invest in a compact, but effective rain jacket or portable umbrella. Those surprise Berlin summer showers won't have anything on you.
One of the Roamers brought a small portable luggage scale with her, which saved all of us at the airport before we boarded a flight strict about their weight limitations. They're surprisingly accurate, don't take up much room, and if you're flying between countries could really come in handy.
What to Leave at Home
Bringing jewelry or valuable accessories while traveling is just too dangerous of a game to play. The group has already experienced a few items that have gone missing - or lost altogether. It's best to leave delicate items or family heirlooms safe at home.
Unless you're traveling to a country like Iceland, where regular items have some serious sticker shock, save the space and try to leave full-size bottles of your shampoo and conditioner at home. Most countries will have an adequate replacement for you to purchase once you arrive.
The verdict from most Roamers on the trip? Pack early, pack light and pack smart. If it's essential to keeping your work level steady, bring it. If you will be sick without it, bring it. If there's a chance you wont need it, or it will take up weight and valuable space in your bag, leave it at home. You might be surprised what you can live without. And if all else fails? There's always Amazon Prime International.