10 Things to Have in Your Purse in The Netherlands

"Always be prepared" - that's the Boy Scout motto.

It should also be the expat's motto. You never know what you're going to need and when you're going to need it - especially in The Netherlands where the bureaucracy is indecisive at best and unpredictable is an understatement when describing the weather.

To help you better prepare for life in The Netherlands, here's a list of 10 things I have learned to keep in my purse at all times.

Pssst! Tyra, I think you're going to need a bigger purse...
  1. Residence permit - Once you have this, it's really the only form of identification you need. In most cases it's preferred over passports and (Dutch) driver's licenses.
  2. Camera- With all the photo ops in this country, you'll be sorry if you leave this at home.
  3. Agenda - The Dutch make plans for everything. Even a coffee date has to be scheduled at least a week in advance. The Dutch are not much on people "just dropping in." I must say, this is one of those traits the Dutch possess that I really like.
  4. OV Chipkaart (or Strippenkaart) - This is your key to getting around the country. It works on trains, trams, the metro, and buses. Just hold the Chipkaart in front of the scanner and wait for the "Goede Reis" ("Have a nice trip") signal. Be sure you always have enough money on it!
  5. Bicycle seat cover - Whether you keep it on your bicycle seat at all times or keep it in your bag to place on the seat, when it rains while your bike is outdoors, you will be very grateful for it.
  6. Key to bike lock - Always, ALWAYS lock up your bike here in The Netherlands if you want it to still be there when you get back. Leaving your bike unlocked is like leaving your keys in the car with the doors open.
  7. Sweater - Dutch weather is unpredictable at best. Though the Dutch say "april doet wat hij wilt" ("April does what it wants") you could say this about absolutely any day of the year here in the Netherlands. Just because it's hot and sunny when you leave the house doesn't mean you won't be freezing by the time you reach your destination.
  8. Poncho - If you haven't heard, it rains a lot in The Netherlands. When you have a bike commute in the rain, this is the only thing that will keep you from showing up soaked.
  9. Umbrella - See numbers 5 and 8. This is for extra protection. And you will need it. Having an umbrella in my purse at all times has proven to be a lifesaver more times than I have appendages to count on. Even if you ignore everything else on this list, don't allow yourself to forget this item.
  10. Brush - You will always cycle against the wind here and it rains more often than it doesn't. Once you get to your final destination, you will need this item to ensure that it doesn't look like you're trying for dreadlocks.
Anything else I missed or do you do have something in addition that has proven handy to carry around at all times? Feel free to leave them in a comment.