To bring or not to bring — that is the question that many travelers encounter when packing their bags before a journey. Of course, the contents of an ideal backpack are highly dependent on the destination and its weather conditions and cultural customs. For example, if you were traveling to Vietnam, you would benefit greatly from bringing a mosquito net and repellent. So here is a general list of travel tips and necessary items to include in a sturdy bag:

What to Pack for an Adventurous Trip

1. Water bottle with a built-in filter

Acquiring clean and safe drinking water while traveling abroad can often be a challenging and expensive task. Water filtration bottles solve this dilemma with an internal carbon filter that allows you to fill up your bottle with water from any tap to immediately hydrate yourself. The LifeStraw is another portable water purification tool — it’s a lightweight straw enabling you to drink directly from streams and puddles. It’s also used by leading non-governmental organizations to provide humanitarian relief in developing countries worldwide.

2. Comfortable shoes

To prevent sprains and injuries while you trek, you should invest in a pair of good-quality hiking boots to ensure that you’re ready to conquer most terrains from wet meadows to rocky hillsides. Conversely, if you plan to exclusively explore towns and cities with well-worn paths, you may prefer to wear walking or running shoes to more properly accommodate your pace and feet’s comfort.

3. Chamois towel

Towels are multi-functional necessities that come in handy no matter if you’re taking a bath at home, slogging through muddy marshland, or hitchhiking through the galaxy. Even better than a standard bath towel is the super absorbent chamois towel since it’s not bulky and takes less time to dry after being used.

4. Cell phone

An inexpensive flip phone or smartphone can be a fundamental device in an emergency. Whether you need to call the police or inform your family of your whereabouts, a cell phone will provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones. Moreover, with a smartphone, you can download offline maps and full language dictionaries before you embark on your travels. This way, even if you’re without reception or an internet connection, you won’t be hopelessly lost and unable to communicate with locals.

5. Packing cubes

Made of thin, durable material, packing cubes are like nesting dolls that organize your belongings. You can roll your clothes — instead of folding as that takes up more space in your bag than necessary — into one packing cube and store your electronics in another. With packing cubes, every category of stuff (e.g. clean clothes, dirty clothes, toiletries, etc.) has a proper place and can be easily compressed in your bag.

6. Sun protection

Sunburns offer an unpleasant experience that is easily avoidable. Remember to wear sunscreen with an appropriate SPF, a hat, and sunglasses to prevent developing flaky, lizard-like skin as well as skin cancer.

7. Trash bags

You may not need to take out the trash while traveling, but trash bags prove to be quite versatile since they can double as rain ponchos for you and your backpack. Also, in case any of your clothes or belongings becomes soiled, trash bags will keep them separate from your clean items.

8. Journal and pen

If you experienced something but then forget about it entirely, did it really happen at all? A journal can serve as your daily or weekly record of events — from mundane, trivial happenings to noteworthy experiences — so that you’ll remember the finer details of your trip. In a year or so, while thumbing through your journal to recall seemingly inconsequential and life-changing memories, you’ll be thankful that you wrote them all down.

9. Travel credit card

Why pay costly foreign transaction fees when you can own a travel credit card to bypass them? You can also garner travel rewards points for purchasing things that you normally buy. This way, you’ll accumulate credits toward your next trip and actualize your dreams of adventure and travel.

10. Common sense

This isn’t something concrete that you can stuff into your backpack, but it’s arguably the most important item you’ll need. Before you embark on your journey, conduct research about the cultural customs and proper etiquette of your destinations to avoid offending citizens. Be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts when you’re faced with possibly unsafe circumstances. I highly recommend the nonfiction book The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence by Gavin de Becker, best-selling author and national security specialist. The book details the subtle signs of potentially dangerous individuals and situations.

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This article was written by Justina Tran.