Contents of my daypack: This is what I carry in my daypack...you really don't need much else other than a power bar or a Snickers in case you get hungry. The other main item that you might think is missing is my tiny Aprirorn EZ Bus mini USB external 60 gig backup hard drive...it's in my shirt pocket.
Here's a basic recap of all the items with a bit about why they are included in my bag:
Eagle Creek Matrix Tungsten Backpack with shock straps and padded laptop computer storage compartment .
Laminated currency exchange "cheat sheet" created using spreadsheet program and the latest exchange rate off the internet. Create one showing dollars to local currency on one side and local to dollars on the other in the most obvious amounts you might be spending. When you are tired after a long flight and are negotiating a taxi fare, this will come in very handy.
Zip ties and rubber bands come in handy...zip ties can be used as temporary luggage locks or to fix any number of broken items.
Battery charger (it's not in my other luggage in case the airline looses it) if the charger is with me I can still work...clothes, I can buy on location if need be.
Airline ticket wallet: great for organizing all your important and essential travel documents. Use a light carabiner to permanently attach this to some part of the inside of your pack...you cannot ever afford to loose this!
Recovery and image browsing software in case you need to recover images from a bad CF card or if you need to re-load browser software for use on your machine or someone else's computer.
Zinc helps protect against colds and if you get a cold, clinical studies prove that it's effective at shortening the length of your cold.
Inflatable pillow for use on airlines or hotels that have bad or no pillows.
Zen Nano Plus MP3 player and voice recorder for recording interviews and sounds.
Earphones for the Zen Nano Plus
Cell phone: Unlocked for use on international networks. Most other countries have pay as you go plans and all you do is buy a sim card and some minutes.
Photos that you took on the last trip are great at building friendships and rapport with people. Never promise that you are going to give someone a photo unless you mean it !
Lonely Planet guides are my favorite...easy to use and full of good info, maps, hotels, restaurants, a bit of history etc.....but don't forget to try stuff that's not in the book....be adventurous. There's more to a destination than what's in your guide book.
Left over foreign currency from your last trip comes in handy don't forget to bring it along !