1. Your motherfuckin courage.
2. Dry-wick underwear and Dr. Bronner's soap.
3. An iPad fully loaded with a Google drive of documents, maps, addresses, and a running list of things you want to do and make it available offline.
4. A bathing suit and a fleece. Because one night in Berlin you may be freezing your ass off and a week later you may spend the day at the thermal baths in Budapest.
5. Sunscreen. Never underestimate the necessity of sunscreen.
6. Your international driving permit along with your state license, because in a pinch, you want to be able to rent a car.
7. Your Charles Schwab bank card because they reimburse you on all ATM fees worldwide. And along with that your account numbers to other linked bank accounts so you can actually make transfers to said ATM-fee-free account, instead of continuing to withdraw from your high fee bank account while your money sits in limbo somewhere between "holds" and "three full business days" that last a week and a half.
8. A mini speaker you can plug into your iPad or your partner’s Windows notebook for the days when you just need to do nothing but that.
10. A smartphone (of which you have suspended service) switched onto airplane mode, loaded with the apps Viber, WhatsApp, and MagicJack so you can make free calls and texts to the people back home who are wondering if you did in fact decide to go to that country with grave civil unrest and no way of flying Americans home. (Don't worry. We didn't!)
11. Deodorant. As an American, you have no excuse.
12. One book. Not three. Remember this. You will thank me at a layover in Cologne.
13. A dry-wick towel and a silk sack. Towels and linens don’t always come with the accommodation. And sometimes even when they do, you will want these.
14. A good moisturizer, because you deserve it.
15. A plastic ziploc bag so you can put said fancy moisturizer in and avoid pissing off the six foot German TSA agent who is not happy to have just stuck her finger in your exploded fancy cream.
16. Always have 100 Euros. You may not speak the language, but your wallet might.
17. Shirts that are not white, just in case one of the people in your co-rented flat might throw them all in with red linens and give you a pink wardrobe free of charge for the next 10 months.
18. A new pen.
19. The address of where you are staying in the old Jewish Quarter of Budapest that looks like the East Village of NYC probably twenty years ago. The dried puke and used condoms on the street may make you feel right at home, but wandering around for 2 hours looking for a goddamn building names “Minestrone” is in fact, not a useful way to find your flat. After two hours when you and your partner are ready to kill each other with the nearest broken down flesh-eating bacteria ridden payphone, finally ask for help from an older man named Peter who actually does remind you a lot of the Apostle Peter when he gladly whips out his phone, talks to your super in Hungarian and then walks you to your private apartment you would have never found in a million fucking years even though it was right across the street from that goddamn payphone.
20. Peanut butter.
21. Your bitchy resting face. The gypsies and the tour guides will leave you alone but the Eastern Europeans will welcome you just a little bit more.
*Bonus- Mike. Because he will think of everything you may possibly need before you even know you need it.