Unless you’ve been to a developing country it’s really hard to know what to bring. Things that you may take for granted are not readily available over seas. Top travel essentials for developing countries are going to be different depending on how and where you are traveling.
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My family and I are what you would consider average. When we travel we sit in coach and stay at moderate hotels. After traveling to Cambodia in 2005 I will admit that I was a bit shell-shocked. Now the country is starting is gaining momentum so buying goods is becoming easier.
This list of top travel essentials are things that I could and would not travel without when going to Cambodia. Apart from the normal travel essential like oral hygiene products and personal hygiene products this is a tailored list for traveling to a developing country.
Sleep Sack – I have stayed in some $10.00 a night hotels in Cambodia. After not being able to sleep because of bugs, hair and dried blood in my bed I decided that having a sleep sack is a travel essential. Let me be very clear. Cambodians are a very clean people. Often times the cleaning staff are country kid’s trying to make a living in the city; growing up in stilt houses with bamboo and dirt floors.
Ear plugs: These are good not only for the flight but also for wearing at night throughout the trip. In all of the major cities there is constant noise. By constant I mean 24-7 noise. While staying in the country side this last trip I realized that sleeping in the jungle has a whole set of sounds. I happen to love all the animal and bug noises but if you don’t consider taking some ear plugs.
Scarf– A good large scarf is super versatile. It can be used as a pillow or blanket on the plane as well as in the car/bus and in the hotel room.
Good walking shoes ( 2 pairs) – This is for those of you planning on only visiting Siem Reap. You will be walking a ton and most of the terrain in un-even and jagged. Make sure that the shoes you bring are broken in prior to your trip to avoid getting blisters. I wore flip-flops this last trip, I had no choice. My walking shoes were covered in mud from visiting our farm. What a dummy! My husband swears by Chucks! I love PUMAS! A major travel essential.
Eye drops – Super essential on a trip to Cambodia. Most of the roads are pretty dusty. When riding on a Moto or Tuk Tuk you will be exposed to dust, bugs and exhaust. Be prepared with eye drops.
Hydration tabs – The hot season in Cambodia is killer! Staying hydrated can be very difficult because you are sweating your butt off. My husband and his father had sever cramping on our third day in the country. Luckily I brought these hydration tabs. Also drinking a few fresh coconuts will help immensely.
Medicine – Bring all pain, cold and flu, antacids, anti-diarrheal, cortisone cream, sting Ez Ect. You can not trust the pharmaceuticals in Cambodia. Our family relies on the medication that we bring them because they themselves can not trust the medicine over there.
RFDI blocking passport and credit card holder – I don’t know about you but I don’t like my credit card or identity bring stolen. It is rampant across Asia. Place all your credit cards, ID cards and passport into a RFDI blocking sleeve or carrying case.
Pill caddy – Unfortunately my husband has many medical issues that require a daily regimen of medication. I purchased the best pill caddy. This thing is supper convenient for people who take med’s once a day. Now I take it every where with me. Top travel essential for those who need to take med’s.
Luggage strap – Traveling with a neck pillow on a long haul flight is probably the most common travel accessory. But, carrying it sucks!
Wisps – Okay, I’ll admit that I might be a crazy person regarding dental hygiene. I love wisps. They are so handy anytime on the plane and if you run out of bottled water to brush your teeth with.
Snacks – Beef jerky, mixed nuts and Lara bars were my travel essentials this trip. My husband and my father in-law are both diabetic so I always had some snacks for them. You can always buy snacks when you arrive but I like having food incase I get the munchies on the plane.
DIY hand sanitizer – You are going to need some form of hand sanitizer. Just bring it! DIY hand sanitizer is my go to. I know whats in it and also it has peppermint oil in it which doubles as a bug repellant. My recipe is here.
DIY #2 spray – Yes poop. Ha ha. I have yet to stay in a hotel in Cambodia that has a fan in the bathroom. Also when we are out in the country side there isn’t even a traditional bathroom. So smells are strong. I have been making my own DIY #2 spray for a couple of years and appreciated even more in Cambodia. Just trust me. You can also purchase it pre-made.
Toilet paper – You can buy toilet paper over in Cambodia but it’s like sand paper. If you are like me and get E coli you will be happy you brought your own toilet paper. Again trust me!
Face wipes – Face wipes are a travel essential due to their versatility. Buy some that can be used on other body parts. Washing my face, hands and arms are high on my list after riding dirt roads and there isn’t safe water present.
Lice comb – Gosh how do I explain this? My hair is down past my bottom. Getting lice is not an option. Because I do not limit my self on giving hugs and getting close to villagers I am almost guaranteed to get lice. Having a lice comb with me means that every night I brush my hair out with it. I consider it insurance for my sanity.
Motion sickness pills – A lot of tourist take boat rides and ride the bamboo train while in Cambodia. Make sure you bring motion sickness pills with you.
iPad, iPhone and chargers – Don’t go out and buy these just for your trip. We always take our apple products with us because they are able to charge with the power blocks they come with. Yes you heard right, no power converted needed. Apple makes their products with a “universal” power block. We only learned about this because we send over iPhones for our family and they told us about it. All of these are our #1 travel essentials.
First aid kit – A well stocked first aid kit is a travel essential no matter where in the world you travel. Make sure that if you are planning a trek into the jungle that you pack a snake bit kit as well.
Sunscreen – For the fair and dark alike. Cambodia during the dry season is hot and the sun is relentless. Put sunscreen on no matter if its sunny or overcast.
A good quality bag: I love my bag/purse. I was able to pack this sucker full almost all the goodies I have listed thus far. No kidding. I carried it around all over Cambodia. It fit perfectly under the seat on the airplane and looks great even as I carry it as my everyday purse.
Packable backpack – This is not essential if you are packing light. You can find a cheap backpack in many of the markets around most of the bigger cities.
Ear buds: Don’t be that guy that doesn’t have any headphones to watch the movies on the long flight. I am not an audiophile so I am content with some decent quality ear buds.
Lip treatment – My lips get so dry from the heat and the AC. Applying this lip treatment is like a spa treatment. I love it even though it’s a little spendy.
Cleansing conditioner – My hair is down past my behind so it’ s fair to say that I’m picky about what I put in it. I love the cleansing conditioners because of ease of use and also they are less damaging to my hair. As an added bonus because it acts as a shampoo and conditioner, you only have to bring 1 product with you.
Traveling to developing countries can be an amazing and fulfilling adventure. Not being prepared for the unexpected can and will ruin that trip. I know this list may seem a little excessive but for my family and I, we like to make sure we can handle any and all situations to have a relaxing vacation.
These travel essentials can be paired down for traveling to other countries that are more westernized. Just get out there and see the world already! Planning a trip to Cambodia? Read my tips for traveling internationally and to Cambodia.