By Lauren Linhard –

I’m back! From where you ask? Ireland – the Emerald Isle, my very first trip abroad. I spent the last two weeks driving through the Irish countryside, exploring gorgeous cultural sights and drinking my way through five Irish cities. It was amazing! And as an added bonus, everything went smoothly because my travel buddy and I were prepared.

Here’s my Wanderlust Must List for getting the most out of your next trip:

WhatsApp – Wish you could send your friends a picture of the Cliffs of Moher? What about drunkenly call your mom from the terrace of a pub in Limerick to tell her you got a tattoo? Well now you can! And you can do it for free using WhatsApp, a cross-platform (meaning it works with all phones) texting and calling app that runs off wi-fi connection. Kiss unexpected roaming charges goodbye – as long as you have wi-fi, you’re golden.


Selfie Stick – Chances are you’ve probably made fun of someone using a selfie stick, but the hard truth is it’s an essential  too, especially on a trip with just one or two people. Sure you can ask a kind stranger to take a photo of your group, but what happens when you go on an amazing remote hike and there is no one but you? Answer: pull out that selfie stick everyone made fun of and snap an awesome shot.

International Credit Card – Nobody really likes adding a new credit card to their wallet, but this one is 100 percent worth it when traveling abroad. Benefits can include trip and rental car insurance, no foreign transaction fees (some regular cards charge 3 percent or more of every purchase), coverage for lost or stolen baggage and higher spending limits. If you’re concerned about using the card outside of travel, put it in an envelope with your passport – that way you won’t be tempted to use it if you’re not traveling abroad or booking a trip.


Backpack – This all depends on the type of trip you are taking – hiking vs cruise vs abroad, etc. – but some type of backpack should always be on your packing list. A purse is not going to cut it, especially one that is too tiny to hold the beautiful souvenirs you found at some hole-in-the-wall shop. Investigate a simple crossbody sling bag. They are super comfortable, light and have a ton of pockets to stay organized. It can also double as a great carry-on bag.