10 Christmas Gifts for Travelers

10 Christmas Gifts for travelers

Christmas is right around the corner, just a month away! Have you started with your Christmas shopping yet? Each year I promise myself to start in October, plus to make a list of ideas for myself so that I can share my wishes with others. This year I’ll share my list of 10 Christmas gifts for travelers which mostly consists of things that I wish for myself or have wished for in the past. Maybe it’ll help you for yourself or a loved one who loves to travel as well!

10 Christmas Gifts for travelers

1. An external hard drive (155 USD)

I got that one from Western Digital to save all my photos and memories during and after my trips. There is nothing more frustrating than losing all your pictures because something happened to your laptop.


2. A power bank for their phone (15 USD)

It is really tiny and easy to carry in your back pack when you are out and exploring new places which makes it one of the smaller Christmas gifts for travelers. Very often there is only little time to plug in your phone and charge it, so a power bank can do that on the go and save you from running out of power.

3. A travel guide (15-20 USD)

I always recommend the travel guides by Lonely Planet, simply because I myself have trusted them for the last 10 years and collected an impressive library already. Their suggestions are always thoughtful and mostly accurate, plus they cover all kinds of budgets. If you know in advance of a future destination, a travel guide as a Christmas gift for a traveler can never be wrong.


4. A bag for their DSLR (35 USD)

I own this one from Kalahari since 2013 and am not disappointed. I take it with me on all bigger trips and use it as my day pack with or without my DSLR in it. It has proven itself to be very durable!

5. Any other camera accessoires, i.e. a new lens (175 USD)

If you intend to spend quite a bit more, I promise you that accessoires for a DSLR always are  great Christmas gifts for travelers. I myself had a new lens for my Nikon on my wishlist last year, because the one that I had, wasn’t great for taking on trips.

6. A travel bag organizer (20 USD)

It is a great help when you need to stay organized, not only during a trip, but also in everyday life. It fits most of the cables that you need for your laptop, cell phone or camera. When I’m not traveling, I simply use it for storage. It makes it easier to find everything.

7. Weekend travel guide (15 USD)

The NY Times 36 Hours in USA & Canada is guide with suggestions for shorter trips such as weekends! Very well made and with great ideas! The book or rather the series make great Christmas gifts for travelers!

8. A weekender (30 USD)

This bag is cabin approved, i.e. you won’t have to check it. It’s perfect for shorter trip such as a weekend city trip. I chose the bag from Karabar because it comes with a 3 year warranty! Plus, it really looks cute, don’t you think?

9. Packing Cubes (70 USD)

I know, I know, these packing cubes from Eagle Creek look incredibly expensive, but I have tried them myself this year and I’d say that they were one of the best purchases that I made! They fit everything for a three week’s trip and they help so much to stay organized during the trip. They simply do their job very very well and they are very durable!

10. Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 (70 USD)

If you liked playing with your parents’ polaroid when you were younger, you will love the Fujifilm Instax Mini as well and so will the person that you gift it to. Easy to handle and a lightweight, so the Fujifilm can be taken on a trip for these instant photos!


All these things may seem random, but they are just not as obvious as you’d think. Still, it is mostly stuff that in my opinion everyone could use. So tell me now: What is on your list for this Christmas? Feel free to share it with me!

My most helpful free travel apps

I have to be honest with you: Traveling, and especially traveling solo, requires a lot of planning for me, before-hand and during the trip. I myself like to stay on top of all bookings and reservations, but I also hate to carry my Macbook with me all the time. This is why for my last trip I started to look into apps for my iPhone and/or iPad. Today I’ll share with you my most helpful free travel apps, i.e. the apps that helped me to stay organized in the past.

My Most Helpful Free Travel Apps

1. Airline apps

Airline Apps are simply convenient for me since they allow me to look up my flight info, access information on any airports and let me check in on time or choose my seat. So far I have used Air France, Fly Delta, KLM and Lufthansa on various occasions. All of them have worked just fine and proven to be very helpful when I was already stressed out and had to hurry between connecting flights. Can you guess how often I have to check which gate I need to find when I am tired?!

2. AirBnB

AirBnB LogoAirBnB is an awesome App that is just so easy to use! It lets you check for accommodation, look at pictures of the listings and you can book directly and stay in contact with your future host. If you want to book via AirBnB or already have a booking then this is really one of the must-have travel apps! I sometimes use it to just look for dreamy accommodation that I would like to stay at some day.

3. Hostelworld

nps6tqk5A must-have for all budget travelers in my honest opinion. I have booked most of my hostel accommodations via hostelworld so far and while I prefer to actually book via a computer, I love the app to have all infos such as room type, check-in dates and the address at one place. It will also alert you after your stay to leave a comment and rate the hostel so that other people can check ratings before they book.

4. guides by Lonely Planet

guides_icon2x-iosAs a huge fan of and believer in the Lonely Planet Guides, this is an app that I found out recently about: It features different city guides that you can download to have them available offline. When I started using the app, the list of cities was quite small, but it keeps growing. They even ask you to send in your recommendations on which city guides to add next! There are many more features like saving sights to a list or calculating a budget that this app offers!

5. Google Maps

unnamedOccasionally, my sense of direction is totally off and I tend to get stressed out when I feel lost in a new city. As fun as it can be to get lost at a new place on purpose: Being lost with all your luggage on your way to the hostel or while looking for a place to be, just sucks. This is where I rely on Google Maps. If it needs to be, I just follow its directions, track myself or use it to find public transportation.

I’m aware that there are many more apps out there, that others recommend in their posts. Most of them I have tried at home but actually never used them on a trip. Some I simply find confusing or it turns out that you should upgrade to some paid content. These five apps are basically my essentials, especially on trips on my own.

Now share with me: Do you have any apps that I should absolutely try? Which are your essentials  or do you always bring your laptop? I’d love to hear from you!

My USA packing list: review

Review: My USA packing list

Some of you might remember that I spent this year’s July in the US, on a backpacking adventure along the West Coast. This trip has been my first trip without a large heavy suitcase or backpack. I have to admit that I tend to overpack, mostly because I am always worried that I might forget something or that there will be some kind of emergency. I have shared my USA packing list shortly before my trip, so today I want to review this list – with a bit of distance on what was good to pack and what I could have left at home.

Review: My USA packing list

Three months after my last trip, I review my first USA packing list. Let’s hear what worked and what didn’t. | www.travelthewholewideworld.com


Things that I forgot on my USA packing list

The most obvious thing that I forgot or more or less ignored during packing was my travel adapter/ charger. For some reason I couldn’t find mine at home and was totally sure that I would find one in Seattle very easily. Turned out that it cost me almost half a day to find a decent one because all the adapters that I could find at first, were for travelers from the US going to Europe, not the other way round. I now carry a tiny USB plug in my camera bag (even though I’m back in Germany) – just to make sure I will at least be able to charge my phone next time.

Another thing on this list would be a hoodie, or comfortable clothes in general. Germans don’t wear yoga pants or hoodies very often. If they do, it is mostly for working out or sleeping, so for some reason I didn’t bring any comfortable clothing along. Also, I underestimated the weather or rather wind and rain, so that I actually loved my warm hoodie and my yoga pants that I had to buy on my trip.

Things that I could have left at home

I still love my Lonely Planet books, but to be completely honest, I didn’t use them too much on this trip. I have read a lot about people having the ebooks on their Phones and I’m sure this is a better alternative than having to carry two travel guides in your backpack. Those books get heavy after some time! I plan to change that in the future – on Lonely Planet’s last sale I purchased a lot of ebooks that should last me for a while!

Against better knowledge and against every packing list’s advice, I also packed my small travel-sized hairdryer. It even almost made it on my must-pack list because I always get sick when I don’t dry my hair! Turns out that I didn’t use it very much. In Seattle that was thanks to the missing adapter and sharing a room with people who often slept in. In Portland, the hostel actually provided hair dryers (at least there was one in each bathroom) and San Francisco was warm enough to walk around with damp hair.

I also never wore that one dress that I brought or the leggings for that matter. Maybe I’m not a dress person, I rarely wear them at home and I feel uncomfortable when I am in one and have to walk a lot. And I did walk a lot on that trip. My advice would therefore be: Only bring clothes that you would also wear at home!

Most helpful things on my USA packing list

I really loved my Eagle Creek Pack-It cubes that I bought a few months before my trip. I didn’t think that I would be able to keep up being that organized, but it turned out just fine and I actually used them during the whole time. Although they were not cheap, I can now say that it was money well spent.

I was positively surprised by the travel towels that I brought. They really looked like they wouldn’t work for me, but after a few days I was very convinced. They pack small, dry fast and were easy to wash when needed. I also sometimes used them to separate my bed from the rest of the room.

Everything else on my packing list was useful as it was! I brought just enough clothes to last for a week, so that I had to do laundry every seven days. I’d recommend that to everyone, because it means that you’ll have enough to wear without having to worry but it also fit into a small carry-on suitcase. I’d probably research more on the weather, I didn’t bring a rain coat (for example) which would have been nice to have, but could be replaced by an umbrella!

Travel Dreams – Future Destinations

Where would you go if you could choose anywhere in the world? What are your possible future destinations?

Travel Dreams - Future Destinations. Where would you go if you could choose right now? What is on your bucket list? | www.travelthewholewideworld.com

As always I have been well for three months after I arrived back in Munich. Now my wanderlust is back!

Possible destinations on my list include:

  • Canada

Canada has been on my bucket list for a while now. It’s close enough to the US so that I could do a short stopover and see some friends. I also always wanted to combine a trip through its beautiful nature with a tour of the cities Vancouver, Toronto, Montréal and Québéc. Canada sounds like an awesome mix of nature and city sightseeing for me. I even read about taking a train from one end to another, with some stop overs of course!

  • Japan

I’m the girl who always said that she never wanted to go to Japan. I simply wasn’t interested for a very long time. Now, after sharing an office for over a year with my colleague, my opinion slowly changes and I’m becoming more and more interested. Look at her blog and you’ll know why! The language barrier still scares me a bit – as well as my total ignorance of Japanese culture and history. I should maybe start reading up on that before I even think about going!

  • New Zealand

Most people dream about going to Australia once in their life. For me, this is New Zealand. I’ve been reading books set in New Zealand when I was younger and I’d love to see it for myself now. Plus, as far as I know, New Zealand has no poisonous animals! I’m very much scared of snakes and spiders – one of my must-do’s before each trip is to read up what could kill me – so I’d be probably more relaxed.

  • South East Asia

Been there, done that, one could say. But then South East Asia is so much larger than I ever imagined. I have been to Thailand and Malaysia for a month each and it has been great. It’s cheap, so a perfect for backpacking and being on a budget, the food is amazing and you are able to find your own mixture of traveling and relaxing on one of the many beaches. I’d probably try to go to Vietnam next time or Cambodia! What do you guys think?

Which one would you choose if you had to? I’m trusting my luck and will keep my eyes open for any cheap flights. It’s still a long time until 2018 when I’ll hopefully be free to wander anywhere I want, without a PhD thesis sitting on my back. It’s also nice to dream and research for places whenever I get frustrated or bored at my desk.

Stay tuned for any updates!


Munich's Christmas Markets

Munich’s Christmas markets: My top 5

How is the weather wherever you are? Still warm, sunny and all that summer-y feeling?
Well, then let’s get started with the first Christmas post for this year! A few lovely ladies in the HPL Group on Facebook have been asking about Christmas Markets in Munich. Instead of writing all my little secrets into one private message, I decided to post on here. Even though this totally comes in between my last vacation/road trip post which is still in the making!

Munich's Christmas markets: My Top 5. These are the nicest and most special Christmas markets in Munich: My personal Top 5. | www.travelthewholewideworld.com

I’m sure there are more than five nice Christmas markets in Munich and it’s up to debate which ones are in the top five. However, the Christmas markets that follow are my personal favourites, the ones that I try to visit at least once each year and the ones that I choose over the official Christmas market of Munich (in city center) which is crowded and full of tourists who don’t know better. If you are a tourist in Munich, choose wisely!

5. Winter Tollwood

Technically, this isn’t an official Christmas market, it’s more than that. Winter Tollwood which takes place each year on Theresienwiese (Oktoberfest place) has its equivalent in summer – Summer Tollwood. It’s a festival with concerts, theater and a huge market that sells all kinds of food and goods. This year’s motto is “bewegt” (moved) and it deals with mobility and sustainability. I love to just walk around and look for Christmas presents there!
When: 23.11.2016 – 31.12.2016
Where: Theresienwiese (U 4/ U 5)

4. Christmas Market at Weißenburger Platz

This Christmas market has a very nice atmosphere, it’s located in Haidhausen on a circular square, so you will be able to get lost and walk in circles after a few Glühwein. Enjoy the lights there and watch out for locals enjoying their end of the work day!
when: 26.11.2016 – 24.12.2016
where: Rosenheimer Platz (S-Bahn)

3. Pink Christmas Market

The Pink Christmas Market in Munich is a special place to be! Organized since 2005 by Munich’s LGTB community, it’s a meeting point not only for the gay scene of Munich, but also for the entire community of the Glockenbachviertel! Granted, it’s small, but it offers a unique atmosphere and great food and drinks!
when: 24.11.2016 – 23.12.2016
where: Stephansplatz (U 1/ U 2/ U 3/ U 6 Sendlinger Tor)

2. Christmas Market at the Residenz

They say it is the second largest Christmas market but that shouldn’t scare you away. Of course, there are always lots and lots of people there, but in this case location is key. You’ll walk through a stone gate into one of the squares of the Residenz. Surrounded by the former royal palace of the Bavarian monarchs you will find exclusive sellers of arts and crafts and – of course – food.
when: 21.11.2016 bis 22.12.2016
where: Residenz (U 3/ U 6/ U 4/ U 5 Odeonsplatz)

1. Medieval Christmas market

The medieval Christmas market is by far my favourite. I love to meet there with friends for some honey wine and a boar sandwich. It’s a special place to be, so different from most of the other markets. The stalls don’t sell your typical Christmas knickknacks, that’s very refreshing!
when: 24.11.2016 – 23.12.2016
where: Wittelsbacher Platz (U 3/ U 6/ U 4/ U 5 Odeonsplatz)

If you have time during your stay in Munich in December, make sure to visit at least one of the markets. My very special advice would be: Do a tour! Start at one of the markets for a little walk and then either take the subway or if it is not too cold, walk! That way you won’t feel bad if you eat and drink all of the good stuff! And make sure to drop me line which one you liked best or if I missed one that you really loved!

Take care,


Happy in Hipster Portland

I have been remarkably busy here in Hipster Portland, hitting my pillow always around 10PM and being asleep within a few moments.

Portland is as the title of this post suggests a very hip town. I don’t think that I have ever seen so many vegan/organic places or a food aisle that long with just organic products. I’m still very fond of supermarkets, there is a Trader Joe’s nearby that I will probably visit tomorrow to buy snacks for my long train ride.


Yesterday, I spent a good portion of the day with some other people from the hostel watching the Euro Championship. I hated to see Germany lose against France but also felt it coming during the game. Nevertheless, we had a good time. Portland is famous for its microbreweries, so we watched in a local pub. I didn’t try the beer though as it was noon and I had planned to do more sightseeing later.

Powell’s book store

Unfortunately I only made it to Powell’s Bookstore that day. Powell’s is this huge and very famous bookstore with the size of a block (imagine a Karstadt full of books). They actually give you a map for that place as it is oddly sectioned. It took me a while to navigate and after looking for one book for half an hour I asked someone and was handed actual directions! Very friendly staff! I then had to turn around because it started to rain and I hadn’t brought my umbrella (silly me, I was so sure it wouldn’t rain).

Street markets

I later went to an art festival in the Pearl District with my roommate Julia. This time with an umbrella. Rain in Portland is different from rain at home, very often just a light warm drizzle. Still it becomes annoying after a while.

weird ice cream flavors

Later that night, I joined a group of people to this very special ice cream place where they have all those funny flavors such as olive oil or cinnamon snickerdoodle. It was a very nice dessert!

My day today started a little late, I had just installed Pokemon Go and I am already really addicted. Most of this morning I had to catch Pokemons and level up! It is so much fun!

Portland Art Museum

I then walked over to the Portland Art Museum to get my dose of culture. It’s a neat place, they have a wonderful collection of Native American Art which is of course new to me, but also a smaller collection of European Art (that is on display). The Modern Art is in a connected building which I didn’t expect to be that big. I only took some pictures (plus that very weird selfie).

The rest of the day was spent on a major shopping walk though I ended up ordering half of it on Amazon (thanks Prime!). TBC tomorrow when I hopefully will know more about nice boutiques!

Portland is very very lovely, I like it a lot and would have rather stayed here longer than I did in Seattle. People are so friendly and some actually say hello on the streets.

I will now go on and relax a bit. Maybe catch more Pokemons!

Talk to you soon!


How to handle jet lag

I know there are probably more ways to deal with jet lag than I can count. Everyone I know has his or her own way and idea what is best.

However, since I feel that I had a bad case on my hand and am now (on Monday) more or less getting over it, I decided to share how I have handled it so far.

1. Keep hydrated!

Drink, drink, drink… Water is best, so no coffee (or just a small amount). Tea is okay I guess or I have been drinking a lot of a soda that is called VitaminWater which I remembered from Ohio. It says zero calories, so not sure about that, but it tastes so good!

2. Get into a schedule!

The worst that you can do is arrive and go to bed (depending on what time it is). I arrived here around 2PM and I was naturally exhausted after being awake for almost 24 hours. I could have gone to bed at 6PM when I arrived at the hostel, but I stayed awake until 10 PM. That meant a lot of yawning and I swear I blacked out a couple of times. But it also meant that I only woke up once during the night and almost slept for 10 hours. The nights after that I would also wake up once, check the time and go back to sleep.

3. Keep moving!

It can be challenging to keep busy and not decide to go to sleep, take a nap or just chill somewhere all the time for days. I figured out that for me it is better to keep walking, see things, get my mind off of being sleepy. I do have blisters now and my feet hurt (on Saturday I walked 15km – so proud of myself), but it also meant that I was tired enough to sleep at night when it would have been hard because my body was on Munich time.

4. Eat something!

With me, jet lag means also loss of appetite. Basically it seems like my body doesn’t know what time it is and thus decides to concentrate on other things than being hungry. It is important to have regular meals with some greens and vitamins! Get on a schedule for that as well! Have breakfast, even if it means getting up earlier than you want, eat a small lunch and have dinner!

What do you do against jet lag? Any helpful ideas out there?



My US West Coast Packing List

As most of you know, I will be going to Seattle, Portland and San Francisco in a few days. I’ll be staying in these three cities for a total of 19 days. These days will be almost equally divided between these three cities where I will be living in hostels. This will actually be my first try to not pack as much as usual. I tend to overpack. First of all, I always worry too much, so I try to be prepared for all occasions. And then, I never want to do laundry, so I try to bring enough clothes. So, this time, different approach: I have read so much about different ways to travel only with carry-on and I wanted to give it a try this time. This is my US West Coast Packing List:

This time I divided my bags and I made a table to sort which bag is going to hold what:

I’ll be travelling with my Kalahari camera bag, my Herschel Backpack and a smaller Carry-On suitcase which has four wheels and has been proven to be very convenient for travelling.

Camera bag

My camera bag will fit into my backpack and is, of course, holding:

I added a plastic bag, in case it might rain. My camera bag will be my daybag as well, even though it doesn’t look that nice, it can hold all the things that I need when I’m adventuring.


My backpack will include:

  • my camera bag
  • my Apple iPad mini + Logitech case
  • all chargers and cables
  • my two Lonely Planets for Seattle and San Francisco (I just can’t leave them)
  • small notebook and pen
  • small plastic bag with medication and liquids that I want to bring on the plane with me
  • my scarf (against the cold, or to use as a blanket or pillow on the plane)
  • phone, money, tickets, passport etc.
  • small bag with an inflatable pillow, Ohropax
  • my collection of sunglasses
Carry on suitcase

I decided a few days ago to check my small suitcase simply because I am too lazy to carry it with me during the layovers that I have. I purchased Eagle Creek Pack-It cubes though to hold most of my things. I’ll be bringing:

  • shoes: Minnetonkas, Birkenstock-like sandals, flip flops for the shower
  • travel towels
  • travel-size hair dryer (it was shortly on my list to be left at home, but I get a cold very easily when I don’t dry my hair)
  • two pair of pants (1 jeans, 1 slacks)
  • dress + leggings
  • underwear+socks for a week
  • my umbrella
  • Bikini
  • seven tops
  • three cardigans or pullover
  • toiletries

Am I missing something? As always, I keep checking my list over and over again, fearing that I might forget something very important!

My must-pack items

It’s exactly 8 days until I am leaving for this year’s adventure. Since I won’t rent a car this year, but will be travelling by train mostly, I tried to plan ahead and think about what I really and absolutely need to take with me and what will be unnecessary baggage. Still, I noticed that there are a few things that I depend heavily on, especially while being abroad:

Sunscreen and skin care in general

Since I can remember, my skin has been high-maintenance. I get breakouts from almost everything such as food, dust, sun or stress. Since travelling combines many of these factors, I am careful to pack all of my skin care things. This time I will bring my favorite cleanser from Sebamed in a travel size and probably stock up on the things I used while I lived in Ohio which was mostly from Neutrogena or AcneFree. Both work fine for me.

As I have very fair skin, I usually end up with a sunburn within the first two days even if it is cloudy. Last time I went whale-watching and even though I used sunscreen, I ended up with a nasty burn and blister on my nose. It took me a week to get rid of it otherwise I would have ended up looking like Rudolph on my friend’s wedding pictures. This trip I thus come prepared: First of all Neutrogena Clear Face Sunblock Lotion with 30 SPF which I like a lot because I don’t feel like I bathed in oil after applying it to my face. The second sunscreen that I am bringing is a foundation with 30 SPF from Shiseido. It is one of the few foundations that don’t cause breakouts with me and that I can use everyday.

My Iphone and other technical stuff

I know I am a typical smartphone addict. My iPhone holds all of my everyday information that I need, all of my contacts, my calendar, my music. I have tried travelling without my phone, without service or without data, simply relying on free WiFi in restaurants or cafés. It doesn’t work for me so far. I hate having to stop somewhere to connect my phone to Wifi in order to look up some places or to google the way. I love using Twitter and/or Instagram when I’m travelling and posting pictures right away. Call me spoilt, but my Vodafone service works all over the EU which is why I decided to go with an American SIM card this time. I’ll probably be able to tell you more after the trip when I can say for certain that it worked. As of now: I ordered a SIM from SIMbee online for 30 USD. I will have unlimited texting and calls within the US, plus 300 MB of data (after that it will become slower), plus a certain amount of free calls worldwide.


Usually, I’d say that I’m a heavy sleeper. I never wake up to any noise outside because I have got used to it, I guess. When I travel, however, I feel like I sleep more lightly which means that in hostel dorms I constantly wake up due to noises. Two years ago, in Boston, I got really mad at the A/C in my dorm room that couldn’t be turned down and kept making so much noise right above my head. The staff at the hostel was very sorry and they provided me with a dozen free pairs of ear plugs. I have to admit that it takes some time to get used to them, but since then I don’t travel without Ohropax anymore.

A scarf

Be it summer or winter, I always bring a XXL scarf which I can use as a scarf, a blanket or a pillow. Air conditioning can be cold even during summer and when you have to spend some time freezing, a scarf can safe you from getting sick. Been there in Thailand where I caught a bad cold from air conditioning on a bus (didn’t have any blankets) and had to stay in bed for three days missing out on a good time on Koh Samui.

Comfortable shoes

Shoes are always a big question mark on my packing list. They take up so much space and still I can never decide on which and how many to bring. They are often the reason that I overpack. I guess gone are the days where I only brought my trusted Converse and a pair of Havaianas to walk around. Lately I had issues with my knees and I know for certain that I will need comfortable shoes on my trip if I don’t want to take an ibuprofen every night. So far (list is not finalized yet) I decided on my Bata shoes which feel like Birkenstocks but don’t make my feet look that big, a pair of sneakers with insoles and my Minnetonkas. I’ll also bring old flip flops for showering in the hostels, just to be safe. Since I like to go shopping anyways, I’ll have a reason to go if it turns out that I really need more shoes (I always do) or that one of the pairs I brought isn’t comfy enough. I was thinking about buying these sandals from Crocs which is something I thought I’d never say about anything from Crocs.

What are your must-pack items? Is there anything that you can’t live without while being abroad? I’m curious!

5 things to bring with you on a roadtrip…

Probably the most exciting thing of last year’s trip was the fact that I was going to rent a car on my own and drive a lot – also on my own. Most of you might know that you have to be 25 to rent a car in the US or you will have to pay a fee to ensure them that you’ll bring back the car in one piece. So obviously the last time when I was still under car-rental-age, I was not allowed to drive the rental. Picture my excitement this time! I seriously love driving, especially when it is an automatic car! I started planning my road trip almost right after I had booked my flight and I also rented the car at that time. However, there are still things that I couldn’t totally prepare for, some of them I even had to learn the hard way. Read about my “5 things to bring with you on a roadtrip”:

1. Bring your own GPS!

I know most rental car companies offer them in addition to the car, but bringing your own GPS ensures that it is updated and has all important addresses pre-programmed. Insert all the places that you want to stay right away, as that will save valuable time. After most days I didn’t feel like sitting on the bed and type in my addresses for the next day, when there is either so much going on around you or you are simply dead tired and you just want to go to bed. I used my old TomTom that I bought in 2009 and updated the maps for USA and Canada beforehand when I had enough time at home. It cost me around 25$ and an evening of installing, but I had a GPS that I (kind of) trusted and knew how to work with.

2. water, water, lots of water… and snacks

It’s really important to stay hydrated while driving and always have a bottle of water next to you. I started driving in Boston after a few days exploring the city with a bad sun burn and just my luggage on me, no water, no snacks. The thing is that you will have to focus a lot on the road and on the unfamiliar car so that you forget to drink and eat or that you are hungry in the first place. It’ll hit you the moment you leave the comfy air-conditioned car… so stock up on your supplies!

3. Music

It’s nice to travel alone but it can also get really quiet in that car when there is no one to talk to. I enjoyed listening to the radio for a while but when you drive longer distances you’ll notice that the channels change a lot and you’ll probably get annoyed as well of the static sound echoing in your car. So it’s a great idea to make your own CD beforehand, and that will even increase the excitement!

4. Knowledge of traffic rules

Brush up your knowledge of the local traffic rules and look up how to react in certain situations. The first minutes after renting the car, I met a school bus on the road and I actually had forgotten that it is a big NO-NO to drive past it when it stops. Everyone honked at me and scared me so much that I almost drove into a fence. I felt like I would get arrested after that, so that was terrifying! Avoid that by spending 10 minutes before the trip googling traffic rules!

5. Lots of money… cash and credit card

Even though gas is a lot cheaper in the US, a road trip can still get pretty pricy after a while. So try to calculate beforehand how much you will have to spend on gas and make sure to have enough money on your credit card. Also, try to find out how much you will have to pay on tolls. I actually had to leave the interstate in Manhattan during rush hour and drive through some really sketchy neighborhoods in order to find an ATM because I had only 3 $ left. The next toll bridge ended up costing 17 $ so I was actually glad I did find an ATM. Try to plan ahead and maybe ask some locals about how much it will be!