Packing Travel Hacks: 18 things you should always pack for a better trip

Are you looking for some good packing travel hacks? I got your back.

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Packing for your trip to Turkey can feel overwhelming. What do I need to bring? How is it different from other places? Is there anything special I should know about?

Turkey is definitely different than the Western world both in culture and different from America specifically when it comes to electricity and conversions for just about everything.

I totally get that frustration of getting to where you’re going and realizing you forgot something. On one trip I completely forgot my debit card….that sucked.

As you prepare to travel, I hope my lessons learned will mean a smoother trip for you!

I have a few cheats that will help and a PDF you can download to make packing easier. Make sure you grab the PDF with a complete list of things you should bring.

suitcase for packing

What should you pack?

First, we should consider a roller suitcase or a backpack. Personally, I hate using rolling suitcases unless I have to because the roads just aren’t always suitable.

That being said, A backpack can get heavy.

As far as backpacks go, though, I have been loving my Osprey Porter pack because it lays flat and zips all the way down.

Allowing you to easily access things at the bottom of the pack instead of having to remove everything!

It can also be used without the straps, just using the handle on the side.

You can buy it in a variety of sizes but I got the 46L because I wanted to be able to use it as a carry-on. Works like a charm.

If you decide to go with a roller, it is totally doable just realize it may be harder.

That being said, the roller bags with 4 wheels often jolt all over the place and it is easy often to just drag the suitcase.

I also recommend using taxis with big suitcases. It makes life easier!

If I am taking a big suitcase, I will just take taxis to and from the airport to make it easier. You can check out my blog here on the best apps for travelers in Turkey.

Okay! Let’s take a look at a general list. In the end, we will look at a few considerations for items that would be helpful for specific seasons.

Electronics

1. Travel Adapter

Make sure that you pack a good international adapter that can handle the 220 voltage that Turkey uses.

It is important to note the AMPs the adapter supports.

Most only support up to 6 amps which means you can’t use high-powered (blow dryer, curling irons, etc) with them.

For instance, if you have a CPAP machine, make sure you know what are the electric requirements and bring a converter if necessary.

This is my favorite adapter. It can be used in so many countries, supports up to 8 amps, and 100V – 240V. Plus it has 3 USB slots and one Type C charging slot.

2. External Battery

There is nothing worse than visiting your favorite ancient site in Turkey and realizing you only have 10% battery left.

You can get a tiny one that is good for one charge like this one.

My favorite one is this one by Anker. They have great quality and protect your phone from overcharging.

It is a little bit heavier but it can charge multiple devices (think Bluetooth headphones, tablets, phones).

It even has multiple slots so you can charge more than one thing at a time.

3. Camera

I am a huge fan of less is more so I actually just use my phone on my camera but it is also a really great quality camera.

If you want to travel with a little extra camera, I would highly recommend the Canon Powershot.

I actually backpacked through Europe with this (a few generations older) and it was perfect!

4. VPN

This isn’t something to pack but to prepare before you go.

When I first traveled abroad, I realized I had access to more shows on Netflix when I was in England. Simultaneously, I couldn’t watch a few shows that I really loved.

With a VPN you can select your home country and watch your shows regardless of where you are!

I have been using this VPN for years and have never had a problem. And their customer service is stellar!

Documents

When packing for your trip to Turkey it is especially helpful to have printed out copies of everything. Here, paper is king!

So make sure that you print off any reservations that you have. You also want to make sure that you have the following things printed off.

1. Health Insurance

It is really good to get travel insurance set up when you buy your ticket. In case something should happen, you want to make sure you’re covered.

I like TravelInsurance.com because they have a variety of plans that allow you to choose what you need.

Make sure you print out a copy of your card and the information you need in case you need to make a claim.

2. Prescriptions

It can also be helpful to bring a copy of prescriptions with the generic name on them in case you lose yours while traveling and need to get a refill.

Make sure to check the local pharmacy as many prescriptions can be purchased here without a prescription. You may be able to save some money by buying them here!

3. Copy of Passport

It is a good idea to always travel with a color copy of your passport.

While you want to walk around with your passport on hand, it is a good idea to have a copy in case something happens to it.

In the event that your passport is stolen, you can take a copy to the embassy to make getting a replacement much easier.

Medical

Most of the stuff here will be on the PDF but there are a couple of things that I have found to be helpful as I have traveled.

Mini Travel Emergency Kit

So this kit has saved me multiple times. I just put a small portion of each just to have.

Recently I went on a trip and got bit by something and immediately regretted not having my kit with me cause all the pharmacies were closed and I couldn’t find anything for the bug bite.

While you can totally build your own, you can also buy one for pretty inexpensively. This Amazon’s Choice First Aid Pack has over 87 items for under $8.

You can always add a few things to it as well.

A few things I keep in mind are bandaids, a mini sewing kit, allergy pills, something like Benadryl for bug bites, nail file, clippers, floss, cortisone cream, and pain pills.

You can customize yours to yourself. For instance, if you get motion sickness, you may want to add that in case you take a fairy or cough drops if you get a sore throat often.

One thing to note is that I will be doing another post on medicine equivalents for when you’re traveling and need to find something.

Hand Sanitizer

So it is helpful when you’re traveling and just need to clean your hands. But you don’t need a ton. Turkey has something a little different but I love it even more. Kolonya.

Kolonya is similar but smells lovelier and I find that it doesn’t leave my hands feeling so sticky. Make sure you grab some to take home.

This is my favorite brand and you can find it everywhere! They have the most amazing smells!

Activated charcoal

Activated Charcoal is a great addition to any emergency medical pack. It can be used for things like:

  • Reducing bloating
  • Treat bile flow problems
  • Accidental poisoning (helps with food poisoning)
  • Help with hangovers

This activated charcoal has a high potency so you can even take just one pill and it will last longer, also more pack per pill is great when you travel.

Want to know more? Check out this article by Dr. Axe on activated charcoal uses.

Toiletries

Honestly, most of this can be purchased once you get into the country. You can stop into a Gratis, Rossman, or even most markets that have the things you need.

They will be fairly cheap and don’t have to worry about bringing them back.

The one consideration would be if you’re traveling around a lot by way of flying, you won’t be able to fly with large bottles unless you check your back.

a useful hack for language:

Pro tip: Use the google translate app. If you open the app, you can select camera and it will allow you to read live just by having the camera open on a product.

BOOM! Now you can read the bottles!

The one thing I highly recommend for traveling is a menstrual cup if you’re a woman. If you’re not just pass on along.

If you are, it makes life so much easier not having to think about that for 10-12 hours at a time! I have been using this one and love it!

Clothes

So you want to bring a ton of clothes when packing for your trip to Turkey. It may seem like a good idea but you’ll likely regret it.

While you should definitely take note when you’re booking your housing whether or not there will be a washing machine, it doesn’t mean you should bring more clothes if it doesn’t.

Bring smarter clothes. Many places have washing machines but some don’t. Even more so, if there is a washing machine you will likely never find a dryer.

What you need is clothes that dry quickly and easily or something you can wash and let dry for at least 24-36 hours.

Especially if you’re traveling with kids and know there will be a ton of dirty clothes, it may be worth it to book a place with a washing machine.

There are no laundromats in Turkey. You may find the occasional dry cleaner but there aren’t laundromats. You can’t just go wash your laundry somewhere.

1. Shoes

Everyone knows their body better than anyone else. Not only are the shoes you wear important but also the preparation before all the walking.

If you have a fairly sedentary lifestyle, I would recommend going for hourly walks the month before you leave and then upping it to at least two hours a day the week or two before.

I came and didn’t prepare my feet well enough and after months and months of walking 15k+ steps a day, I developed tendonitis.

I now only wear barefoot shoes and my foot is learning to do the work instead of relying on a shoe. Xero shoes are what I wear. I have probably 4-5 pairs of them.

I totally love @anyasreviews on Instagram. She has tons of great recommendations for shoes if you’re interested.

Otherwise, I recommend something that you can walk a lot in. Heels are not practical here with the uneven and cobblestone streets. Make sure they are stable shoes.

2. Modest Clothing

The Eastern part of the world is much more conservative in their clothes than the West which perhaps you are quite aware of.

One note I would make is that typically, the less skin you can show the better.

While it may not be a problem in some areas, especially highly tourist places, the fewer clothes you wear the more attention you’ll experience.

Of course, you’ll receive attention simply because you’re a foreigner. It is helpful if you don’t add to it, however.

When I have people visit me, I ask them to not wear shorts shorter than the knees or string camis.

There is already a misconception that American women are loose (I mean I can completely understand when all you know is American TV shows and movies) so I try to dress closer to the population around me.

3. Consider a capsule wardrobe

If you have never heard this term before it is simply a collection of clothing items that work with each other.

So you pick a handful of tops, a few bottoms, a couple of pieces to layer with, and maybe 2 pairs of shoes. Then you can mix and match.

The goal is not only to have less to bring but also that helps cut down on the many decisions you will have to make throughout your trip.

Here are some images for inspiration.

Miscellaneous

Finally the loose ends. The things you may not think to grab or think you will but might not.

Earplugs & Eye mask

I actually use a noise machine instead of earplugs but whichever works for you.

Especially if you stay in Istanbul or a bigger city, you will likely hear cats and traffic all night love.

Wax earplugs work the best for me because they really cancel out the sound and will help you sleep well.

But like I said, I actually use a noise machine when I can. I hate sleeping with something in my ear if I can avoid it.

This eye mask will keep you from getting woken up by that sun earlier than you want. I have really been impressed with how well it stays in place.

Reusable Water Bottle

Most people will tell you to grab an expensive water filter bottle, which you could do. If so, Epic water filters are what I use.

But honestly, the problem is not so much the viruses and bacteria in the water here but the high levels of heavy metals in the water from the old plumbing.

You would probably do even better to get large 5L bottles of water from the market and fill your bottles when you go.

Pro tip: if you use a bottle with a straw, detach it when you fly to avoid the water leaking while flying.

As you walk the streets, you will find bottled water everywhere.

And if you see these fountains, this water is drinkable and many use it regularly, though again, there may be heavy metals in the water.

Day Pack

Also, I am a fan of a crossbody bag, I realize not everyone else is. Depending on what you use on the go, there are a few things to consider.

If you want to use a backpack, something like this backpack, which deters from people gaining easy access to what’s inside would be recommended.

When you hop on public transport, make sure you wear it in front of you so you don’t whack someone or give someone easy access to your valuables.

If you are a woman and prefer a purse, I have been using a Travelon purse for years and I absolutely love it! 

Be careful though. Because of its size, it’s easy to over-fill it and then hate carrying it all day!

Make sure you carry a pack of tissues with you at all times as not all bathrooms here have toilet paper all the time.

I have made the mistake one too many times.

Money Belt

If you don’t have a travel bag or are particularly cautious of your passport and money being stolen, a great way to keep them safe is to use a money belt.

Make sure you get one with RFID block protection to keep those credit cards from being copied.

This is an inexpensive one that comes in three neutral colors.

However, the belt is worn under your clothes, that way no one can access it except you, so color isn’t typically a big deal.

Microfiber towel

I have found having a small microfiber towel quite handy when I travel.

Sometimes I just needed an extra towel and there weren’t enough or I needed it immediately and couldn’t wait for someone to bring more.

The great thing about microfiber towels is they dry fast, absorb a lot, and are incredibly lightweight.

These microfiber towels have multiple sizes to choose from, though I usually just bring a small one.

 

To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, to gain all while you give, to roam the roads of lands remote, to travel is to live. 
Hans Christian Andersen

Seasonal Thoughts

When packing for your trip to Turkey remember that it is roughly 1.25 the size of Texas. The variety of weather that this country has is vast. 

While winters are typically rainy, the temperature greatly varies just as the summer temperatures can vary.

Thus packing for your trip to Turkey can be tricky. So make sure you check out where you are going.

Spring/Fall in Turkey

Spring & Fall

You will be greeted with cool nights with warmer days. But it can also be quite rainy in some areas. 

Make sure you pack a good raincoat and if you can, get a longer one like this women’s coat, trust me.

Unfortunately, men’s coats don’t have as many options for length. If you’re dead set on an umbrella, I recommend a wind-resistant umbrella like this one.  

Make sure you look up where you’re headed and dress appropriately. Layers are especially helpful as the weather changes.


Summer in Turkey

Summer

Summer is hot in Turkey!

Make sure you pack light clothes that cover your skin but allow the wind to go through them.

Don’t forget your sunscreen. That Mediterranean sun can burn you before you know it!

This is also a good time to bust out those Chacos or Tevas. They are sturdy and can handle rough roads as well as hiking if you’re out in nature!


Winter in Turkey

winter

In Winter, you will find rain no matter where you go as it is the rainiest season throughout Turkey.

Check where you will be going and make sure you pack warm enough clothes.

Some places are extremely cold and others are mildly cold but super rainy.


Make sure you check out my other post on things you should know about Turkey before you visit. Things to be aware of and be prepared for.

I promise it will save you lots of time and headaches!

Also, don’t miss this post on packing your carry-on.

Holler when you visit Istanbul! I’d love to meet up with you and show you a few of my favorite places if I am free!

Was there anything that surprised you about these packing travel hacks?

Anything that you didn’t realize? Is there something you can’t do without that I don’t have on my list?

Read more:

Turkey vacation basics

When I plan a trip these are the websites I use. Hope they help you plan your next adventure as well!

FLIGHTS: I am a huge fan of Skyscanner and WayAaway.

VISAS: You can use the free e-visa portal here but for a few extra dollars you can use iVisa and someone else will handle any issues that may come up.

E-SIM: When I traveled to SE Asia I discovered e-sims and I’m never going back. Airalo has been easy and cheap!

TRAVEL INSURANCE: I use TravelInsurance.com for my trips abroad.

CAR RENTAL: I have loved working with Discover Cars when I rent cars in country.

ACCOMMODATION: Find the best Turkey hotel deals on Booking.com.

CITY TOURS & DAY TRIPS: You can browse GetYourGuide’s website to find just the tour you’re looking for!

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