What to pack for a Dictatorship

Dear Reader,

Packing is a pickle, especially for people like me who tend to bring almost… everything.
A few months ago I received a question regarding packing instructions and advise for sporty countries. I thought that was a really good question because it will definitely vary depending on where to go.

DO NOT try and take everything with you. Exhibit A above.

Based on internet and common sense, it is easy to pack a suitcase if you go to Thailand, or Spain, or Jordan. But what about the special countries? Like North Korea? Yemen? Or China? Does the packing rule change? As these countries sometimes present warnings and limitations because of their governments (China, though, is not exactly a dictatorship but does present many limitations) sometimes there are rules set out in advance to prevent any difficulty for and from the visitor. Like North Korea. Myanmar didn’t have ATMs until couple of years ago, so rules and recommendations need to revised from time to time. For North Korea, I wasn’t warned about any specific rule regarding clothing (except the one piece of cloth for a formal visit to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun), but I distinctively recall the pre-tour information pamphlet with recommendations. Let’s see the bottom lines on packing:

  • Do not pack any religious book with you. You can’t play with this topic as it is highly sensitive in most sporty places (North Korea, Palestine, Yemen, China, etc).
  • Pack light and with the necessary, do not pack too many pieces of clothing, remember that is always best to travel light with the necessary items. If you find a pretty shirt, you’ll buy it in the moment, but depart light.
  • Photo equipment: bear in mind that professional cameras with lenses up to 250mm might not be allowed in some places. For the rest consider that in many places you won’t find lenses and other camera items, so pack them with you.
  • As ATM machines may not be available, bring lots of cash with you in sufficient quantity for the duration of your trip (Eur and USD will both be fine). Don’t waste time and space for travellers cheques. Just cash.
  • Lots of gifts like tobaccos and cigarettes, pens, mainly intended for bartering and gifts. Very useful items 😉 used by Stanito and Travel Buddy.
Cigarettes are always well accepted
… and chocolate too.
  • Wet Wipes are always a must-have for a number of reasons.
  • A torch or flashlight. This is a fundamental item. The best countries are those that are sporty, do not always expect light everywhere and have your own.
  • Take with you a useful passport. Many passports are not accepted, like in North Korea a South Korean passport will not be allowed to enter the country. Here is a list of friendly passports and here as well.
Everybody likes Italians, that is a certainty, and Chileans. Although Chileans are a more rare sight in sporty countries.
  • Notebook in case you want to write down interesting things you hear or see.
  • Minimized toiletries: we girls are specialists in finding teeny tiny tooth pastes, shampoos and creams. If you know you’re going somewhere where you will not find these items, use small containers.

Follow these rules and you’re good to go 🙂 !

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16 thoughts on “What to pack for a Dictatorship

  1. Hi, I saw that you tagged Iran. Understandable when you write about what to take with you when traveling to dictatorships 😉 However in case you are really interested in visiting Iran, take a look at travel reports I have posted on Iran from non Iranian travelers: http://theotheriran.com/tag/foreigners-in-iran/
    On the blog (if you browse to the photos tag) I have also a lot of beautiful and sometimes very surprising photos from nature, architecture, people that might be interesting to you.
    I hope you enjoy the posts.

      1. Tonino my dear 🙂
        Chileans we are so few and cool. Also another nationality that is almost always well accepted everywhere and you are the perfect example of it 🙂
        Your blog also is tillible bkm !!

    1. Hi Frank,
      I’ve been to China, North Korea. Myanmar this year. Planned on going to Iran and Yemen last year but I had to cancel at the last minute.
      North Korea is interesting, all the Asian countries have enchanting landscapes that are so worth seeing at least once.

        1. Can’t stop it 🙂 it’s stronger than me: I love traveling!
          Yes, when I think of a destination I start investigating on travel tips all the time. The cases of Iran and Yemen came from the recommendations from our tour operators prior to the trip. I’m glad you like my adventures, Frank 🙂

  2. This was a very cool article to read because simply, I’ve never even considered traveling to some of these places but truly value your perspective and love that you made the travel seem effortless.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Stacy.
      These places are the ones I prefer the most because there is so much to discover and tell about. The name ‘dictatorship’ is tricky because it invites to think of something dangerous, but in reality most of them are super safe due to the astonishing control from their governments.
      If you have the chance to explore any of them, please go 🙂 you won’t regret it.

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