Sofia Adventures
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Albania is a beautifully underrated country that should be getting far more tourism than it currently is. But we think that’s about to change.

Albania is seeing huge tourism numbers in the summer as word gets out about the lovely port city of Saranda, the beaches of Ksamil, and the gorgeous stretch of coastline that’s been dubbed the Albanian Riviera.

Spring and fall bring cooler temperatures, fewer crowds, and are the perfect time to explore the interior of the country and its cities, especially the vibrant buzzy capital of Tirana.

Winter is a less popular time to visit Albania, but still offers fantastic sightseeing opportunities, low prices, and very, very few crowds. However, it’s a poor time for both beaches and hiking, so prepare to focus on museums, UNESCO sights, and city culture.

Planning a trip to Albania and now you need to know what to pack for. Albania? Here we go!

What to Pack Everything In

Greece - Crete - Heraklion - Old Venetian Harbor Luggage

While most people think about what to wear in Albania as the most important part of their packing list, the actual most important decisions come way before that. You’ll set yourself up for success if you have the right bags – and this means everything from your main suitcase down to the small organizational bags that keep everything nice and tidy.

Here’s everything we use to keep our stuff organized on the road, with recommendations for what to bring with you for different kinds of trips.

Your Main Bag: Backpack of Rolling Suitcase?

This is the first major packing decision you’ll make before your trip starts.

Personally, Stephanie and I both prefer traveling around Albania with a backpack. Even in the capital, Tirana, the sidewalks are a little worse for wear and it can be a pain to have to drag your suitcase over cracked sidewalks and curbs with no easy onramp.

I’ve never traveled Albania with a rolling suitcase, but judging from my experience with a rolling suitcase on other Balkan trips, it’d be a nightmare if you were self-transiting around the country. On a bus tour or if you have a rental car, a rolling suitcase would be a great option.

If wearing a backpack is not feasible for you due to mobility limitations or comfort – or you simply are planning to pack a lot of stuff – it is perfectly possible to travel with a rolling suitcase around Albania, it just may require a bit more effort. For longer distances between bus/train stations and hotels, you may want to spend the extra for a taxi (I recommend getting the Merr Taxi App, but more on that in the Apps section).

Our Top Recommendations for Backpacks

I absolutely love the Tortuga Backpack for traveling Albania and I’ve brought it to Albania both times I’ve visited. I carry a Tortuga 45L Backpack because it’s compact, carry-on friendly, and don’t scream “backpacker” as loudly as other bags.

It has 3 main compartments: one with a laptop sleeve that can also accommodate other flat objects like important papers and books, one giant rectangular compartment ideal for packing cubes filled with your clothes, and one smaller compartment with organizers for passports, pens, odds & ends, etc. – plus one small outer zipper pocket for anything you want quick access to.

It also has a water bottle holder on the outside as well as buckles so that you can strap something like a yoga mat to the outside if needed. Plus, it’s quite comfortable to wear, with a padded hip belt and comfort-molding shoulder straps complete with a chest strap so that you can distribute the weight perfectly across your body in the event that you need to wear your backpack for longer than usual. Check out more specs and details here.

Our Top Recommendations for Rolling Suitcases

If you are going to bring a roller bag, I suggest getting a soft shell one that can squish. Stephanie’s personal roller suitcase is the awesome Osprey Sojourn.

Steph lived out of just this bag and a backpack for eight months and brought it to Albania and lived to tell the tale. She like that it can squish into the back of furgons and buses, and it expands to hold a ton of stuff if you plan to shop a lot while in Albania (where prices are really low on clothing and you can find some. awesome souvenirs!). You can check prices and reviews here.

Your Daybag: Backpack or Purse?

Serbia - Gardos - Backpack

Your day bag should be able to hold all the things you need for the day: water, sunscreen, wallet, any medicine or make-up you may need, a layer in case the weather changes, camera, etc.

It depends what you prefer, but for comfort, a backpack is usually the better day bag because it distributes weight more evenly across your shoulders. However, if you’re used to carrying a purse, that may be what you prefer.

We recommend investing in a day bag with some security features, not because Albania is particularly dangerous (your risk of being pickpocketed here is definitely lower than in major Western European cities), but just because travel to touristic places inherently has its risks and we prefer to protect ourselves upfront rather than deal with consequences down the line.

Our Top Recommendations for Backpacks

We both carry the CitySafe backpack by PacSafe not only on our travels but in our day-to-day lives. It’s cute, it’s functional, it’s comfortable, and it’s secure as hell. 

We’re talking about interlocking zippers (which you can then put through a second clasp for two layers of security), slash-proof wire mesh construction, and RFID blockers to keep your personal data safe.

It’s neutral enough to be unisex, it’s roomy enough to fit a small laptop, large camera, and tons of odds & edds, and it fits under the plane seat in front of you. Plus, it transitions pretty well from day to night (as long as you aren’t heading to a club). 

What else could you want? This isn’t sponsored, we’re just straight obsessed (Steph bought hers after seeing mine in action and hearing me rave about it, and she’s also been converted). Get yours today.

Our Top Recommendations for Purses

Due to our everlasting obsession with our travel backpack, neither Stephanie nor I really carry purses much for our travels.

However, Steph always brings her large Longchamp bag with her for when I want to use a purse instead of a backpack. For two years, it was her main day bag on all my trips, and it still has a place in her heart. 

What she loves about her Longchamp is that it’s durable, stylish, and can fit most of what I need for a day of sightseeing, yet it also looks totally normal at a performance or a nice restaurant. 

Since it rolls up to almost nothing, she can still bring it with her even on trips where she use my backpack, so it’s the best of both worlds! Check prices and reviews here.

If you want a smaller purse than the Longchamp, check out some of the other purses from PacSafe. Due to our satisfaction with our CitySafe backpack, we’d definitely recommend other PacSafe products like their secure purses – they have shoulder bags and crossbody bags.

Moneybelt Recommendations

Personally, we don’t carry money belts, since we carry secure bags, but we know some travelers feel a lot safer with a money belt. If that’s you, this is the money belt we recommend.

How to Keep it Organized

Bulgaria - Sofia - Packing

Just because you have the right suitcase and day bag doesn’t mean your bags will be packed right. You need to think about how you’ll organize your belongings so that everything is accessible and compact.

Packing Cubes

I don’t know how I traveled before packing cubes, and I never want to go back! Packing cubes are extremely helpful for organizing your luggage and keeping it that way so that when you want to extract one shirt from your bag, you don’t end up exploding your whole bag open.

I have used several different brands of packing cubes, and I prefer durable ones. I use the big one for dresses, skirts, and jeans, the medium one for t-shirts, and the small one for underwear, bras, socks, etc.

Cosmetic Bags

A set of cosmetic bags are so useful! In addition to using it for your make-up, you can also use them to stash odds & ends like earplugs, an eye-mask, pens & pencils – things that usually get lost at the bottom of your bag.

I like to have one for makeup, one for hair accessories, one for toiletries, and one for cables and electronic accessories. 

If you don’t have a bunch of cosmetic bags lying around from old make-up purchases, you can pick some up off Amazon. I think these are particularly adorable.

Pack-It Flat

This is one of my favorite packing finds! The Pack-it-Flat toiletry bag is the ultimate way to keep all your toiletries packed.

What I love about is is that it packs, well, flat like a book, rather than most toiletry bags which make big bulky squares that take up way too much space and are annoying to deal with. This is a definite upgrade from my cosmetic bag system. 

Travel Wallet

A good travel wallet meets a few criteria: RFID blocking, plenty of room for coins, room for bills and receipts, plenty of card slots, and can fit a passport.

I use a PacSafe travel wallet that does all of that and looks cute doing so (I chose the denim).

Laundry Bag

Whether you’ll need to do laundry on the road or you’ll wait to do it at home, it’s essential to have a bag to keep your dirty laundry separate from your clean clothes.

While that can easily be just a grocery bag, I love this cute travel-themed Kikkerland laundry bag which is easy to hand over to someone on laundry day.

Canvas Tote

We recommend bringing a tote with you wherever you go to reduce plastic waste! Albania has had a lightweight plastic bag ban in place since 2018 to address the country’s waste issues, so we recommend bringing your own totes.

This is also great for doing small errands or when you don’t want to pack your whole day bag, and is absolutely essential for any trip that includes a day at the beach, lake, or pool.

I use one I bought at Flying Tiger in Milan, but you can find a ton of cute tote bags on Amazon.

Ziploc Bags

You’ll thank us for this when all your stuff stays dry your entire trip. I always pack my liquids in a Ziploc bag (plus you need one if you’re traveling with liquids in your carryon). 

Pack all your liquids in Ziploc backs so that if something breaks or opens, the liquid stays inside the bag. Stuff a few extras in your luggage for any liquid purchases or if you need to keep a wet towel separate from the rest of your luggage.

I like to have a mix of small and large bags so I’m covered in most situations. 

Coin Purse

If you don’t live in Europe, you might be surprised just how quickly coins stack up in your bag when traveling around Europe. While Albanian lek are mostly in bills, there are the occasional coins that can definitely add up and get lost at the bottom of your wallet. In the States, I never bothered with a coin purse, but living in Europe I find that it’s essential. I have one with a flower pattern like these.

5 Essentials You Don’t Want to Forget

If you only read one section of this post, make it this one. 


While travel blogs are great, we also definitely see the benefit of having a good paper guidebook in hand to refer to in your on-the-ground travel. We recommend the Lonely Planet Western Balkans for your travels in Albania!

Travel Insurance

It’s always a good idea to be covered when you travel abroad in case of theft, illness, or accidents. Steph and I have been paying customers of World Nomads for three years and counting and are happy to recommend them to fellow travelers for the clarity of what they cover, the efficiency of processing claims, and the ease of renewing while still on the road if your trip ends up being longer than expected.

Rain jacket

Albania can rain throughout the year, and nothing ruins a travel day worse than not having the proper clothing for it. I strongly recommend this Marmot PreCip jacket (here’s the women’s version; here’s the men’s), which is totally waterproof and will keep you going strong throughout whatever weather is thrown your way. If you don’t want to carry a rain jacket, at least pack a travel umbrella.

Comfortable Walking Shoes

Albania is full of rough-for-wear streets, hilly vistas with beautiful views, and pristine beaches that require serious hikes to get to In fact, the country is beautiful but you have to work to see it.

Pay close attention to our shoe recommendations below, but don’t order new shoes right before your trip! Give yourself a few weeks to break them in. The earlier you can get any new shoes you need, the more time you’ll have to get them comfy. You don’t want a blister on the road!


I’ve written a whole section on what should be in your mini medicine kit, but this especially goes for any prescription medications you may need from back home. It’s not always possible to get the same exact medication in Albania (I’ve learned this firsthand, when I couldn’t get my trusty Pepto-Bismol when I was having stomach issues), so be sure to stock up on what you need!

Tirana - Albania - Pyramid Piramida

Quick Overview of Weather in Albania

If we’re being perfectly frank, many people outside of the Balkans have no idea where Albania is on a map, let alone what the weather is like here.

They might have a vague sense that Eastern Europe is cold, but that probably means they think everything east of Vienna is Siberia in winter. I reality, Albania is just north of Greece and much of it is at a similar latitude to Southern Italy.

So you’re forgiven if you don’t know what to expect from Albania’s weather. Another complication is that fact that the country covers many different terrains. The weather you find in the mountains will not be the same as what you find on the coast, and vice versa. 

We’ll describe the weather in Tirana, but be aware that it will be much colder in mountains like Theth and Valbona and warmer in Saranda and along the coast.

Spring in Albania warms up significantly from month to month. Average lows go from 6-12° C (41-54° F) and average highs rise from 61° F to 75° F (16-24° F) by the end of the season. Bring your rain jacket, as you can expect at least some rain about 1/3 of the days, but you’ll find beautiful sunny days in between.

Summer in Albania is nothing short of hot! We’re talking average highs of 29 °C (84 °F), which can be daunting when you’re climbing fortresses, roasting on beaches, and sightseeing outside all day.

Luckily we’ve escaped some of the insane European summer heatwaves the last few years, and you can always cool down along the Riviera or escape to the mountains if you find the cities too hot. 

Albania - Himara Albanian Riviera - Gjipe Beach
The beautiful Albanian coast

There will still be summer rainy days to help cool you off as well, so an umbrella is key here (as a rain jacket will be too hot) These showers usually last a few hours and do not typically last for most of the day.

Autumn in Albania is beautiful, but keep in mind that the weather will turn chilly by the end of October (I once learned this the hard way, freezing my butt off in a hostel in Berat!).

Average fall temperatures in Albania start out at 21° C (70° F) in September, dropping to 16° C (61° F) in October and 11° C (52° F) by November, with much colder nights. I wouldn’t plan to hike after September – I once was about to plan a trip to hike from Valbona to Theth in October, but freezing weather and potential snowfall made that impossible.

Make sure to pack your rain jacket, since Albania in fall is pretty drizzly!

Winter in Albania is actually not so cold, but you’ll want to be prepared anyway with layers and proper clothing The winter weather in Albania is pretty stable, usually around 8° C / 46° F. Average lows dip down to just above freezing, around 2° C / 37° F.

If your plan is to sightsee, keep in mind that you should dress to feel much colder since you will be outside for long periods of time!

What to Wear in Albania For Women 

Tirana - Albania - street art

Albanian women generally dress up a bit, especially in cities. Though you shouldn’t feel the need to “compete” with them, you may feel out of place if you pack all t-shirts and jeans.

We like to mix it up with dresses, skirts, casual tops with jeans, and lots of outfits with leggings. In my opinion, leggings and a dress are more comfortable than wearing jeans on a long, hot Balkan bus ride, and they look more like what you’ll find Eastern European women typically wear. 

While Albania is a majority Muslim country, it’s also very secular and not conservative in the slightest. Wear whatever you feel comfortable in. If you’re a hijabi woman, rest easy as your hijab will not elicit any stares here. Religious diversity is celebrated in Albania.

While you’ll find a few observant Albanian women wearing scarves, in general, most women will not. There is no reason to wear a scarf unless you want to, or if you are visiting a house of worship that requires one. If they do, they will be available to borrow.

We’ve created two separate packing lists: one for spring through fall, one for winter. You may want to adjust the packing list slightly depending on the season: for example, you may decide to leave the heavier jacket at home in the heat of summer, and swap a summery maxi dress for extra leggings in spring or fall. However, there’s enough overlap that we’ve combined it all into one spring/summer/fall list.

What to Pack for Spring, Summer, & Fall in Albania


2-3 tank tops: Great for layering, and you may want to add a few more in the summer. We like these ones.

2-3 V-neck shirts: In case you want a little more coverage, or if you’re traveling in spring/fall, these are also great multi-purpose separates. We recommend these ones. I also love to have a simple striped T like this one.

2 long sleeve shirts (fall/spring only): You won’t need these in the summer, but in fall, they’re wonderful to have. We recommend these ones.

1 chambray shirt: Perfect to wear as a shirt in spring/fall or to wear unbuttoned as a light jacket on a summer night – this shirt is so versatile that it’s become my packing must-have.

1 mid-weight jacket: There can be some surprising weather sometimes even in the summer in Tirana, so I still recommend one medium-weight jacket like this denim jacket or a faux leather jacket.

2 pairs shorts (summer only): You likely won’t need these in the fall or spring. For summer, I recommend 1 loose pair of linen shorts and 1 pair denim shorts.

Lightweight scarf: Great for too much A/C, surprisingly chilly nights, surprise church/mosque visits, or dressing up an outfit you’ve worn too many times. We like this one for all the color choices.

Black cardigan: Great for cool nights in summer and dressing up fall and spring outfits; we suggest this one.

2-3 pairs black leggings: I love leggings so much – for sleeping, for lazy days, to avoid chub rub, to make a summer dress fall appropriate. We recommend bringing a few pairs if you can (we suggest these).

1-2 pairs skinny jeans: 1 in summer, 2 in fall or spring. We like these ones, but jeans are so personal, so bring your favorites.

2-3 skirts: We love skirts for travel! In summer, I love midi skirts and maxi skirts, whereas in spring and fall, I prefer mini skirts that I can wear with leggings and boots.

2-3 summer dresses: I try to buy dresses that are great for summer but can transition well to fall and spring with the right accessories. We think this one and this one are super cute!

Maxi dress (summer only): I love maxi dresses for summer, but they don’t transition as well as shorter dresses for fall. Here’s a simple black one we like.

Shoes & Sandals

Travel sandals: Depending on what you’ll do in Albania. If you’re just going to be walking around the cities, I love Birkenstocks and live in them about half of the year. If you’re going to the beach, pool/spa, or staying in a hostel, also add on a pair of simple rubber flip flops.

Comfortable but cute sneakers: Gone are the days where I can comfortably wear flats for a day of heavy sightseeing! I strongly recommend a stylish pair of sneakers like these black Nike running shoes for your busiest city days.

Ankle boots: I definitely recommend a water-resistant pair of ankle boots for rainy days, cold weather, or going out at night if you want a more dressed-up option. These Teva ankle boots are adorable yet comfortable.


No-show socks: Nothing worse than socks that clash with your shoes! We like these no-show socks.

8+ pairs underwear: Bring one pair for every day of travel you want to go without doing laundry, plus one extra. If you need new travel undies, we recommend these comfy quick-dry ones.

2-3 bras: Depending on your needs and activity levels. I usually bring 1 bra and one bralette, but if you’re active you may want a sports bra or if you like to wear backless or strapless tops/dresses you may want adhesive or strapless bras. If you want a quick-dry travel bra, we recommend this one.

Sleepwear: I personally love having dedicated sleepwear – this silky pajama set is so comfortable!

Jewelry & Accessories

Headbands: Great for keeping hair out of your face or hiding greasy hair if you need to! We think these are ultra-cute.

Jewelry: Pick cheap statement jewelry and leave heirlooms or expensive jewelry at home. Theft is rare in Albania, but it’s better to make yourself inconspicuous.

What to Pack for Winter in Albania

Turkey - Istanbul - Istanbul in Winter Snow Selfie Stephanie


2 long sleeve shirts: Great for layering with skirts and leggings or jeans. We recommend these ones.

2 pairs skinny jeans: We like these ones, but bring your favorites that are already broken in if you have them. A little looser is better so you can fit an extra pair of leggings underneath if it’s super cold.

2 sweater dresses: I love cute sweater dresses like this one for cold winter days.

2-3 skirts: I prefer above-the-knee skirts that I can easily pair with leggings in winter.

3+ pairs warm leggings: I personally wear fleece-lined leggings nearly all winter long because I’m sensitive to wool. However, merino wool is ultra-warm (and non-microbial and odor-resistant) so I recommend a pair of merino wool leggings if your skin can handle wool.

1 ultra-warm parka: With low temperatures around freezing, and occasional dips below freezing possible, don’t forget a warm enough jacket. If you’ll travel in winter frequently, I recommend a winter jacket like this North Face parka. It’s a little pricy, but it literally comes with a lifetime guarantee and they will repair or replace it for free if you ever have any issues with your coat. I’ve owned mine for nearly a decade.

Ultra-light down jacket: For less cold days or for layering it underneath your parka for the truly cold days. This rolls up and packs easily in your day bag so it’s good to bring along – I have one really similar to this.

Shoes & Sandals

Ankle boots: For cold weather shoes that are still good for going out at night, we suggest these Teva ankle boots.

Waterproof leather boots: For snowy days and super cold weather when you still want to be comfortable, I love these knee-high Blondo boots and have owned them for over a decade.

Snow boots (optional): If you want a dedicated snow boot – we suggest these ones.


6+ pairs wool socks: Wool socks will keep your feet so much warmer than your standard cotton socks! We suggest these affordable yet cozy socks.

8+ pairs underwear: Bring one pair for every day of travel you want to go without doing laundry, plus one extra. If you want underwear specifically made for travel, we recommend these comfy quick-dry ones.

2-3 bras: Depending on your needs and activity levels. I usually bring 1 bra and one bralette, but if you’re active you may want a sports bra too. If you want a quick-dry travel bra, we recommend this one.

Jewelry& Accessories

Winter scarf: Albania can get cold in the winter, so you’ll definitely want a warm winter scarf like this one.

Touchscreen gloves: You’ll want to cover your fingers and still be able to use your favorite touchscreen devices, so we recommend gloves like these which are compatible with your smartphone.

Fleece-lined knit hat: You lose a lot of heat from the top of your head and ears, so a fleece-lined knit hat that you wear tight, like a beanie, is a fantastic choice. Pick a colorful one for cute photos!

Jewelry: Go with inexpensive statement jewelry and leave heirlooms or expensive jewelry at home. 

What to Wear in Albania For Men 

Tirana - Albania - Toptani mall

Albanian men tend to dress smartly in the cities, especially compared to Americans and Canadians. While you don’t need to bring a tux (unless your itinerary calls for one) we advise you don’t dress like a “schlubby tourist” either. 

Clothing items like khaki shorts and white sneakers scream “tourist,” which can also be a safety hazard in cities where pickpockets target people who look like oblivious westerners. Instead of dressing like you just left boy scout camp, think sophisticated European style.

What to Pack for Spring, Summer, & Fall in Albania

Keeping in mind which season you’ll be visiting in (and our overview of the weather in Albania above), here’s what we suggest. Adjust the items and layers slightly to better match the season. 


4-5 everyday shirts: Whether your go-to everyday shirt is a t-shirt, a polo shirt, or something with a bit more style, bring enough that you can go with only doing laundry twice a week. Make a few of these long sleeve shirts in early spring and in the autumn, but during summer long sleeves aren’t necessary. 

1-2 collared shirt: Bring a nice collared shirt, like this Oxford shirt, for a date night, if you decide to go to a performance, or even just to enjoy a bit of a fancier night on the town.

If you’re traveling single, this will also come in handy for going out, though you might want to make it something that can go from sightseeing to the club.

3-4 undershirts: If you wear undershirts, bring them. Expect to be doing laundry 1-2 times per week during your trip, so bring enough to cover half a week (plus you’ll be wearing one as well).

1-2 pairs of shorts: Summer in Albania can be brutally hot, and in this situation, you will be happy to have some shorts. Just avoid shorts that look overly touristy. We think something like these jean shorts would work. Again, avoiding khaki is for safety (but it’s also about fitting in). 

The cut and style of the shorts you choose will really make a difference in how Europeans perceive you, but remember that men in Europe rarely wear shorts. Therefore, all shorts are statement shorts (and the statement that you’re making, typically, is rob me).

2 pairs of jeans: The sophisticated-yet-still-fun older brother of the jean short, this is what most tourists in Europe end up wearing to fit in yet still be comfortable. While European men wear slacks or dress pants more than jeans, a crisp pair of jeans is almost always acceptable. While we always appreciate a good dad jean, for Europe think more of a relaxed fit like these Levi’s

1 pair of wrinkle-free dress pants: While you can wear ironed jeans out on a nice evening, you’ll probably feel more comfortable wearing a nicer pair of slacks. Get one with a wrinkle-free fabric like these so you don’t have to worry if your accommodations don’t have an iron handy. 

1 medium-weight jacket that can handle rain: There can be some surprising weather sometimes even in the summer in Albania, so bring a jacket that can handle rain and a bit of wind. We like this Colombia rain jacket.

1-2 pairs of swim trunks: This is dependant on your itinerary, but I think it’s always a good idea to bring something to swim in. Whether you spend time on the beaches of the Riviera or just want to enjoy the pool at your hotel, it’s nice to be able to relax a bit. 

Note that many older men will opt for the Speedo. This is one area where we do not recommend a North American tourist to try to fit in!

You can choose to show a bit of your personality in your swimwear, by going either super traditional like these trunks or something with a bit more flair, like these pineapple swim trunks.

Shoes & Sandals

Travel Sandals: If you’ll be in Albania during the summer, sandals are a great idea, especially if you’ll be spending time walking around the cities. Consider a sports sandal like these leather athletic sandals or a pair of  Birkenstocks.

If you’re headed to the beach or even just a communal shower in a hostel or gym, you also need to pack a pair of rubber flip-flops.

Comfortable Sneakers or Walking Shoes: If you’ll be doing a lot of sightseeing (and most likely, you will be) bring a pair of functional shoes that can support your feet at the end of a long day. We suggest getting a pair of Chuck Taylor’s (avoid white pairs) or something like these Sketchers

Boots: If you’ll be doing a lot of hiking in Albania, like doing the Valbona to Theth trail, bring a pair of sturdy hiking boots like these Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots. If you’ll be walking around doing mostly normal sightseeing, opt for something like these Timberlands instead. 

Dress Shoes: You don’t need something super fancy, but if you are planning to have a nice night on the town with your partner then you should bring a pair of shoes that will go with a slightly nicer outfit. For example, these Oxford sneakers will transition better from day-to-night than a typical sneaker will. 

Underwear & Socks

7-8 Pairs of Underwear: While we expect you’ll be doing laundry once or twice a week, it’s nice to be able to go an entire week with clean underwear if you need to. If you want to invest in a few new pairs, get something like these quick-dry boxer briefs so that when you do hang your laundry to dry, they dry quickly. 

7-8 Pairs of Socks: Only you know if you like your socks with a bit of flair or if you’re a socks-blend-in kind of guy. If you want no-show socks, get something like these quick-drying ones. No one wants to put on socks that didn’t get completely dry before an entire day of sightseeing.

1-2 tee shirt and shorts for sleeping: Whatever you sleep in, bring one or two. If you sleep naked, don’t book a room in a hostel dorm, please. (Yes, this has happened.) This pajama set will keep you from getting in trouble in any shared sleeping situation.  

Jewelry & Accessories

Wrist Watch: If you’re a watch guy, bring it. Unless it’s a super expensive watch or a family heirloom. In that case, leave it at home and use your cell phone to tell time. 

Any personal jewelry: If you wear jewelry, bring it, especially if it’s an important item like your wedding ring. However, anything that’s a family heirloom or insanely valuable, leave at home.

1-2 Hats: If you don’t feel dressed without a baseball cap or hat, bring one or two options. 

What to Pack for Winter in Albania

Use the packing list for spring, summer, and fall section above as a guide, but with the following additions and substitutions. 

Bulgaria - Borovets - Snow Covered Pine Trees


A Winter Coat: Upgrade the rain jacket to a real winter coat. Remember that when you’re traveling somewhere new, you will spend significantly more of your day outside than if you are working or living somewhere. We suggest something like this North Face Parka which will last for decades.

1-2 Wool Baselayers: The key to dressing for winter in Albania is layers. You want to be able to get warmer when needed, and then be able to remove the layers if the weather changes. Adding a wool base layer under your shirt is a great way to get some extra warmth in. 

Long Underwear: You can make your jeans sightseeing-in-winter ready by pairing them with some long underwear. 

1-2 Sweaters: Another great way to add in an extra layer is to wear a light sweater over your shirt, giving you a bit more warmth with an option to still put your coat on if you need even more. We like these v-neck pullover sweaters.

Shoes & Sandals

Waterproof Leather Boots: Upgrade your boots to the waterproof variety, like these Timberlands. Trust us, nothing is worth than walking eight miles sightseeing on cobblestone streets in waterlogged shoes.

Waterproof Sneakers: If you still want to spend your days in sneakers, get a waterproof pair like these Columbia Waterproof hiking boots.

Snow Boots (optional): If the forecast during your trip calls for lots of snow, then you’ll be happy to have a pair of snow boots with you. We like these from Sorel.


7-8 pairs of wool socks: Upgrade you regular socks to warm, wool socks to keep your toes toasty warm even when it’s freezing out. 

Flannel Pajamas: Upgrade your t-shirt and shorts to flannel pajamas. This is especially important if you’ll be staying in hostels or hotels in historic buildings. 

Jewelry & Accessories

Winter Scarf: Add a thick cable knit scarf or cashmere scarf to keep the wind out. 

Waterproof Touch-Screen Gloves: You probably know that you’re going to want gloves, but there are a few finer points to consider. You’ll want waterproof gloves in case it’s snowing, and touchscreen capabilities so that you can continue to take photos and navigate with your cell phone. Check out this affordable pair from Finger Ten.

Fleece-Lined Knit Hat: Don’t waste your time bringing any winter beanie. Get one that’s lined with fleece to keep as much of your warmth as possible. We like this one from LETHMIK


While you can obviously pick up a lot of this once you’re here, we don’t like spending a ton of time on errands once we are in Albania. Instead, we like to actually spend our time exploring Albania!

Keep in mind if you’ll be staying in smaller towns or villages, you may not have quick access to a store after hours. You’ll almost always be able to buy an emergency toothbrush no matter the time of day if you’re in Tirana, but everywhere else, you’ll be. out of luck!

Toiletries for Women

We’ve outlined everything we typically bring. However, we usually bring travel size versions so this doesn’t take up much room in our backpacks. It would be traumatic and heavy to carry around full-size bottles of liquids in a backpack.

Hair Care & Bathing

Shampoo & conditioner: I love shampoo bars personally since I try to pack carry-on only and reduce my plastic consumption. I like the ones from LUSH as well as these ones from Amazon.

Dry shampoo: We all have those days when showering is hard – dry shampoo will perk up any oily locks.

Brush or comb: Whatever you use – I like this small travel-sized one.

Hair ties: If you have long hair, you’ll likely want some hair ties.

Hairdryer & straightener: Optional, but if you do your hair at home, you’ll probably want this when you travel as well. If you’re coming from outside of Europe, you’ll want dual voltage.

GoToobs: For your favorite shampoo/conditioner or body wash/lotion from home, I love these squeezy silicon GoToobs.

Body wash and lotion: Either full-size or in carry-on-sized containers like above.

Skin Care

Moisturizer: Travel will beat your skin up. If you use moisturizer at home, bring it. If you’ve never used moisturizer before, you really should start. You’ll be happy to give your face a boost before heading outside all day. 

Facewash: For washing all the dirt, dust, smog, sweat, and other travel-related impurities off your face at the end of the day. Make sure you bring a travel-sized version, like this travel Clean & Clear. 

Tweezers: For emergency chin hair situations and the like – you know what I mean. I always carry tweezers like these.

Sunscreen: You can buy sunscreen here, but it’s likely cheaper at home or bought online in advance. I love this solid Neutrogena sunscreen. Who doesn’t love a good solid for liquid swap? Great to keep in your bag without worrying about sunscreen explosions

Razor & refills: It’s not always easy to find your brand on the road. I use Venus and I can’t always find it every place I shop in Albania, so I’d suggest bringing from home. Here are the razor + refill cartridges.

Anti-chafe balm: If you have thick thighs and are traveling in summer, this stuff works miracles! Vaseline also works great.


Bulgaria - Sofia - Sofia Opera Selfie Stephanie Allison

Foundation: I love this Benefit Oxygen foundation because it doesn’t make me break out and it’s very lightweight coverage with a bit of SPF.

Mascara: I love Urban Decay, but YMMV.

Blush: I prefer creme/gel to powder to avoid breakage and subsequent messes– I suggest this awesome Tarte cheek stain.

Red matte lip stain: Red lipstick is our ultimate travel hack. I use the matte lip stain from Sephora and it works a dream and lasts for ages.

Concealer: I swear by Make-up For Ever concealer – it’s the best I’ve ever used, and I used to struggle with serious acne.

Dental care

Toothbrush: I have a small folding toothbrush and I love it for travel, as I always break or lose the clip-on caps.

Toothpaste: Whatever you use at home will do! Steph’s mother, who’s a dental hygienist, keeps her stocked with travel-sized tubes of Sensodyne

Floss: Because your mother will know if you don’t use floss. (Or at least Steph’s will). 


Sunglasses: Either prescription or regular, depending on needs

Reading glasses: If needed.

Glasses: If needed. If you have a back-up pair, it’s nice to have two in case one pair breaks. (Or be able to switch between a pair of glasses and contacts).

Hard Glasses Case: If you bring glasses or sunglasses, have a hard-shell case like this one to keep them safe when you’re not wearing them. Travel can beat up your glasses if you don’t store them properly. Remember that if you have very large or wide glasses, you might need a larger case. 

Contacts & saline solution: If needed. Note that saline solution is considered a medical supply and you are allowed to bring more than 100 ml in a carry-on. Make sure that your contact case has screw tops like this one and is not the kind that just snaps shut. Otherwise, you might find yourself with lost contacts. 

Note that if you typically wear contacts, it’s a good idea to bring a backup pair of glasses in case you hurt your eyes. This happened to me on a trip to NYC once, and I had to wear my prescription sunglasses all weekend since I couldn’t get my contacts in my eyes (and forgot my glasses). 

If you’re flying transatlantic, keep your glasses in your carryon. Long flights tend to dry out your eyes, and you’ll be happy to have the option to switch to glasses if the need arises. 

Personal Care

Whatever you need for your period: I personally prefer a Diva Cup as it’s reusable, eco-friendly, comfortable, and can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time. Others may prefer tampons or pads. Bring whatever you need to feel comfortable, as you may not find your exact brand in Albania.

Condoms or birth control methods: If you may have a little… romance in Albania, bring your own birth control methods, whether that’s condoms, birth control pills, or something else.

Toiletries for Men

While we know that men and women travel with many of the same toiletries, there are typically (though not always) a few differences. 

Hair Care & Bathing

Shampoo & Conditioner: While some guys don’t mind using whatever shampoo comes with the hotel, we know that many of you guys are way more particular than that. If you have a shampoo preference that’s very specific, bring it with you. 

If you want to minimize your plastic use, pick up a shampoo bar like the ones at LUSH or these ones from Amazon

Also, it’s possible that your accommodations won’t provide shampoo and conditioner. Check ahead. Worst case scenario, you can pick some up in Albania.

Brush or Comb: I like traveling with a travel hairbrush, but if you prefer combs then I wouldn’t worry about getting a smaller version since it will lay flat in your bag.

Hair Accessories: If you have a particular hairstyle that needs accessories, bring a few. 

Hair Products: If there’s a hair product that you use every day, bring it. Keep in mind airline carryon restrictions for liquids. 

GoToobs: For your favorite shampoo/conditioner or body wash/lotion from home pick up some GoToobs.

Body wash and lotion: Either full-size or in carry-on-sized containers like above.

Skin Care

Moisturizer: Travel will beat your skin up. If you use a moisturizer at home, bring it. If you’ve never used a moisturizer before, you really should start. You’ll be happy to give your face a boost before heading outside all day. 

Facewash: For washing all the dirt, dust, smog, sweat, and other travel-related impurities off your face at the end of the day. Make sure you bring a travel-sized version, like this travel Clean & Clear. 

Tweezers: For emergency splinters, etc. I always carry tweezers like these.

Sunscreen: You can buy sunscreen here in Albania, but I don’t recommend it. I once bought a bottle of “sun milk” that claimed to be SPF 50 before sitting out in the sun all day, and I and ended up with sun poisoning and had chills and flu-like symptoms for days. Buy the good stuff from recognizable brands or better yet, buy it online in advance. I love this solid Neutrogena sunscreen. Who doesn’t love a good solid for liquid swap? Great to keep in your bag without worrying about sunscreen explosions

Razor & refills: We know that the type of razor you use is very particular. If you use an electronic razor and live in North America, keep in mind that the voltage in Europe will fry your razor.

We suggest bringing a good handheld razor instead, like the Gillette Fusion5 and a few extra razor blades.

If you prefer to get a shave with a straight razor at a barbershop, you will be able to find barbers in all major Albanian cities. However, we can’t vouch for language barriers, since these kinds of shops rarely get tourists. 

Anti-chafe balm: If you tend to chafe when you get sweaty, this stuff works miracles! Vaseline also works great. Keep in mind that you will be walking in the heat for long periods of time in summer, so if you’ve EVER chafed it’s better to be safe than ruin your vacation. 


We know some men wear make-up every day and look absolutely fabulous doing it. We don’t have product recommendations for men’s make-up looks but bring what you love from home. Just keep in mind liquid limitations on airplanes and try to minimize your makeup kit to the smallest workable version. 

Dental care

Toothbrush: This small folding toothbrush will keep your teeth clean and your bag light.

Toothpaste: Whatever you use at home will do! Steph’s mother, who’s a dental hygienist, keeps her stocked with travel-sized tubes of Sensodyne

Floss: Because your mother will know if you don’t use floss. (Or at least Steph’s will). 


Sunglasses: Either prescription or regular, depending on needs

Reading glasses: If needed.

Glasses: If needed. If you have a back-up pair, it’s nice to have two in case one pair breaks. (Or be able to switch between a pair of glasses and contacts).

Hard Glasses Case: If you bring glasses or sunglasses, have a hard-shell case like this one to keep them safe when you’re not wearing them. Travel can beat up your glasses if you don’t store them properly. Remember that if you have very large or wide glasses, you might need a larger case. 

Contacts & saline solution: If needed. Note that saline solution is considered a medical supply and you are allowed to bring more than 100 ml in a carry-on. Make sure that your contact case has screw tops like this one and is not the kind that just snaps shut. Otherwise, you might find yourself with lost contacts. 

Note that if you typically wear contacts, it’s a good idea to bring a backup pair of glasses in case you hurt your eyes. This happened to me on a trip to NYC once, and I had to wear my prescription sunglasses all weekend since I couldn’t get my contacts in my eyes (and forgot my glasses). 

If you’re flying transatlantic, keep your glasses in your carryon. Long flights tend to dry out your eyes, and you’ll be happy to have the option to switch to glasses if the need arises. 

Personal Care

It’s important to plan ahead for your personal needs before you leave for your trip. This means packing condoms or the preferred birth control methods of you and your partner. If you don’t have a partner traveling with you, but hope to meet one once you’re here, bring condoms from home. The brands here can be different than what you’re used to.

You also want to think about any sex-related prescription drugs you use at home. If you use Viagra at home, bring it with you (but also bring proof that you have a prescription). 

Miscellaneous Items to Pack for Albania

Albania - Berat - Ottoman Houses

Reusable water bottle with filter: While you can drink the tap water in some of Albania, such as Tirana and Saranda, if you’ll be visiting a lot of small villages or doing some hiking, I recommend a filter water bottle like the GRAYL. If you’re sticking to big cities, a regular reusable bottle will do just fine. This one is cool because it’s collapsible!

Mini bathroom kit: For poorly stocked bathrooms at bus stops, you’ll be happy you have this! I carry a small hand sanitizer and these wet wipes.

Travel umbrella: Rain is not always predictable in Albania – have a small travel umbrella stashed away for unexpected showers.

Hiking boots: If you plan to come to Albania to hike, you’ll definitely want your hiking boots! I recommend these Ahnu hiking boots for women, and these Keen boots for men.

Trekking poles: Not needed, but if you like them, you’ll want to bring them. I recommend these travel-friendly poles.

What to Put in Your Medicine Kit

Serbia - Belgrade - Pharmacy Allison

Pepto-Bismol: This is my favorite medicine for when I have stomach trouble as it’s not really as harsh on your stomach as Imodium, but they don’t sell it in Albania (I learned the hard way). Bring some from home.

Imodium: In case of any stomach emergencies (read: diarrhea before a long bus or flight), Imodium is a good option. You can buy it in Albania (I have), but if you have diarrhea, you probably don’t want to be communicating that to a confused-looking pharmacist. Bring some from home.

Painkillers: Aleve works better for me, but YMMV. I also bring some Excedrin Migraine as I’m prone to migraines. 

Pedialyte hydration packs: Perfect after drunken shenanigans (like doing a bar crawl in Blloku), long hikes, or just plain dehydration because you suck at adulting. Made for kids, but work just as well for hungover adults. I buy these ones.

Bandaids: For blisters, small cuts, breaking in shoes, etc., bandaids are always handy to have.

Tiger balm: I discovered this is Southeast Asia and left obsessed. It’s great for aftercare for bug bites, nursing headaches, rubbing on aching muscles, and basically anything. You won’t find it in Albania, so buy it online.

Mosquito repellent: You can bring ones with DEET or without DEET, or I love having some of these mosquito repellent wipes that I can keep in my bag in case I suddenly start to get swarmed and don’t have my regular repellent with me.

Motion sickness pills: Great for bus rides especially on mountain roads – I buy these non-drowsy ones. You can also try these natural motion sickness bands which use acupressure to reduce nausea – they actually work pretty well.

Technology & Accessories

Serbia - Belgrade - Laptop

Camera, lenses, and chargers: I use a Sony A6000 with a kit lens and the 18-105mm f4 lens, which is a good starter camera that is lightweight but not quite professional caliber. Steph uses a Nikon D810 which is better but more expensive and bulkier. If you want a smaller camera for video or adventurous travel, a GoPro would be perfect.

Smartphones: Then again, more and more often, we find ourselves taking photos with our smartphones and leaving our bulky cameras in our bags. I use an iPhone X and Steph uses a Samsung Galaxy.

Kindle: We love having our Kindles with us when we travel, especially in places like Albania where the selection of English-language books is often small or nonexistent. Keep yours safe in a cover. I use one like this one.

Laptop and charger: We both use Macs as our travel and work laptop, but if you just want a cheap laptop for travel, a Chromebook is a good choice.

Extras for Hostels 

Sleep mask: Any will do, but for the year or so that I spent living out of hostels, I loved my contoured sleep mask!

Hearos ear plugs: I tested many earplugs when I traveled around the world staying in hostels – Hearos are the clear winners.

Mini combo locks: Most hostels will have lockers for you to use, but most do not come with their own locks. I prefer mini combo locks to locks with a key as it’s harder to forget your combination than to lose your key.

Travel towel: Great for hostels where you may have to rent a towel, but we also just recommend this towel in general as its awesome.

What to Pack for Studying Abroad, Working Abroad, or Homestays

Albania - Berat - Berat Castle

If you’re coming to Albania to study abroad or you’re going to be doing a homestay with friends or on an official homestay program, there are a few extra items you need to pack.

First, bring a small gift from your home city or country (something that you wouldn’t get anywhere else). For example, if I was coming from Philadelphia to study abroad in Albania, I’d bring little pins of the Liberty Bell, American Flag pins, or something small that screams “Philadelphia.” These are given to teachers, administrators, friends, and anyone else you think will appreciate a little taste of your home.

If you’re American, keep in mind that generally, Albanians love Americans, so anything quintessentially American will be well-received!

For work abroad, bring enough to give to administrators, your higher-ups, and any coworkers. 

For homestays, bring something a bit larger, but you only need one for your host family. So instead of little pins, you might bring a nice snowglobe or a box of candy or local jam. 

When Steph’s family hosted a German exchange student, she brought me a necklace from Germany and a few bars of Milka chocolate for the family. Even though it’s been twenty years, Steph still remember how delighted she was to get a small piece of Germany!

For these items, small tokens do the trick. Your gifts don’t need to be extravagant. It’s the thought that counts! 

Important Documentation

Crete - Heraklion - Cosmote Passport

Make sure you remember to bring these important documents with you when you come to Albania!

Your Passport is the most important piece of documentation that you need (they probably won’t let you on the plane without it)! However, just having your passport tucked into your travel wallet isn’t good enough. You need to make copies before you leave.

Scan your passport and email it to yourself. Then print out three hard copies. Hide one in your luggage, one in your day bag, and give one to your emergency contact at home. (You can also email it to this person). 

If you make sure you always have access to a copy of your passport, even in cases where everything is stolen or you don’t have access to the internet, you’ll be able to get an emergency one made if your passport is lost or stolen (or damaged). 

A Passport Holder to protect your precious passport. Did you know that you can be denied boarding on your flight if your passport has visible damage? I’ve seen it happen, and it doesn’t matter how much you scream at the poor airline employee, they aren’t going to change their mind.

If you’ve taken our advice and will be using a travel wallet during your trip, then keep your passport safe in the passport pocket during your trip. 

If you will be doing a lot of water activities like enjoying the Albanian Riviera or taking a boat around the coast, then you might want to pick up a waterproof passport holder to make absolutely sure your passport doesn’t get ruined during your trip.

Your Travel Insurance Policy Information in case you need to make a claim during your trip. I like to use the same system as I do with my passport – three hard copies and a soft copy. Make sure your emergency contact has a copy of your insurance policy information as well. In certain (unpleasant) situations, they will need to file the claim on your behalf.

>> Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here <<

Driver’s License for renting a car or driving in Albania. While you’ll still need to bring your passport with you to pick up your rental car, a driver’s license is required if you actually want to be allowed to drive the thing. This also works as an ID when you don’t want to take your passport somewhere.

Credit Card & ATM Card Information in case your cards are lost or stolen. I use the same soft and hard copy system for my cards as I do for my passport and travel insurance information, with one major exception. I don’t send or leave a copy with anyone. 

For your copies, make scans of both the front and back so you have every number you need (including the phone number to call from overseas). 

Student ID or Senior ID so that you can utilize any available discounts. Some museums and heritage sites have discounts for students and seniors (and it never hurts to ask if one is available).

Tour Confirmations for any pre-booked activities in case you can’t get internet access for check-in. Where required, you should have printouts of your confirmation, but other companies will allow you to use an electronic ticket or even their app.

This is one reason we book our own activities through GetYourGuide -because you can easily organize all your booked tours in their app. 

Accommodation Confirmation for every place you’re staying. While you can reasonably expect to be able to check-in without producing a copy of your confirmation, bring it anyway in case of an emergency like they’ve lost your reservation or you can’t remember the name of your hotel to give to your taxi driver. That way, you also don’t have to hand over your smartphone to your taxi driver, which can lead to uncomfortable situations at times, especially if you’re a solo woman traveler.

Another reason to make sure you have your hotel information is to make sure that the charges align with what you’ve booked. I’ve been in a situation where I was charged more and had additional fees that were not in my original contract. 

That’s one reason I prefer to use to book my rooms. They have pretty flexible cancellation policies and I have a number to call for customer service in case there’s a problem. 

Transportation Information for your flights, buses, trains, and car rentals. I use the app TripIt (see the App section) to organize these things, but you’ll also want to save the emails and print out any tickets or boarding passes before you leave. 

You’ll also want to have the instructions for using ground transportation to your first accommodations, especially if you won’t have data or will be arriving after dark.

Books about Albania

Here are our favorite books about Albania that you can read before your trip or bring with you while you’re here, plus our recommendation for a great guidebook and travel journal. 

Lonely Planet Western Balkans is a great guidebook for your visit to Albania, and it’s great if you’re also visiting any combination of the following countries: North Macedonia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, and Slovenia. It can be really hard (sometimes impossible) to buy a physical guidebook in English once you’re in Albania, so if you like having your guidebook in your hands you will need to bring it with you from home.

A Travel Journal so that you can write down your own experiences and musings from your time in Albania. This is also a great place to jot down phone numbers and other important pieces of info so that you have this information available offline somewhere. 

Apps to Download Before Your Trip

Cell Phone - Instagram - Apps to Download on your phone before your trip

Here are the apps you want to download on your phone before you leave home. 

Merr Taxi for calling taxis without any hassle in Tirana. It requires cash though, unlike UBer.

Google Translate so that you can easily get out of any jams caused by language barriers. You can even use the photo setting to translate menus and signs (provided you have wifi access or a data plan).

Google Maps for navigating while on the road, especially for walking in cities and driving on roads. You can even download the maps for the cities you’ll be visiting before your trip so that they are available to you offline.

Moovit for using public transportation since the times are routes are more reliable in the Balkans than Google Maps.

Skype so that you have a way to make phone calls on the road. This will come in handy if you need to call your bank if something happens to your credit cards. 

Facebook Messenger for staying connected with family back home for free. Alternatively, you can use Whatsapp or Viber. Some tour companies (especially small ones) will use Whatsapp or Viber to communicate logistics as well.

Instagram because you know you want to post the gorgeous Instagram pics you’ll take in Albania. We also love using Instagram for trip inspiration when in new places.

Adobe Lightroom Mobile for editing your travel photos on the road. While Adobe for Desktop is a paid service, the mobile version for your phone is free.

iTunes, Podcast Addict, or other Podcatcher if you like listening to podcasts on your trip. 

Dropbox Mobile for backing up cell phone photos as you travel. This is important in case your cell phone gets lost, broken, or stolen. I like to back mine up at night over wifi (don’t back up over cell data unless you have unlimited data). If you use an iPhone, double-check that iCloud is backing up your photos, otherwise get Dropbox or another third party app.

Your Airline App if you’re flying in or out of Albania so that you can utilize mobile check-in and avoid having to print your boarding cards. 

Tour Company Apps for any pre-booked activities. We book our tours on GetYourGuide and then use their app to keep the confirmations and itineraries organized. 

TripIt for organizing flights, hotel accommodations, and tickets. I really don’t understand how anyone gets around without it!

More Albania Travel Resources

If you’re going to Albania, we have a goldmine of resources for you to take advantage of! First, check out this guide to planning a trip to Albania. It’s a good starting point for planning your trip.

Next, check out our 1, 2, and 3 week Albania itinerary ideas. Here’s a guide on Tirana Instagram spots, the best restaurants in Tirana, and the best traditional Albanian food to try.

We also have a list of the most beautiful places in Albania to help you plan an awesome trip!

We publish new content nearly every day! Bookmark our pages on Albania and the Balkans so that you don’t miss out on any new info or resources that we publish before your trip!

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is a good idea for traveling in Albania (or really, any part of the world)! Steph and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.

While the Balkans are perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, so it’s better to play it safe.

>> Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here <<