Regardless of how much you love to travel, packing can feel like a horrible chore. Don’t you wish you could just apparate to your next destination, like in Harry Potter? Hell, I’d even use floo powder if it meant I didn’t have to sit around deciding how many pairs of socks I should bring on my next trip. I’m a pretty seasoned traveler, and I still always end up taking far too many or far too few socks…. Why can’t I figure this out?!?!
As confusing as packing can be, there are a few essential travel items that I take with me just about everywhere I go. I’m sharing them with you now in hopes of making your travels (and your life in general) easier. Because I’m a carry on traveler on 9 trips out of 10, you KNOW you can trust me on these. I’m not giving up valuable real estate in my pack for just anything!
I used every single one of these products regularly, and many of them even when I’m not traveling. Check them out and let me know what you think. Did I leave out one of your favorite travel products? Tell me in the comments!
I bought a travel towel for a trip to Costa Rica a couple of years ago, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. In fact, I love my microfiber towel so much that I often use it in my daily life. It just dries SO fast! It’s like a miracle! Also, when it’s folded up into the little pouch it comes in you can also use it as a pillow. Or, if your towel is damp, you can stuff the case with a couple of clean shirts and use that as a pillow instead. I’m not going to lie, the pouch is just as valuable as the towel itself!
A sarong is one of the best investments I’ve ever made. It’s a shirt, it’s a dress, it’s a scarf, it’s a towel. A sarong is whatever you need it to be in the moment. I bought mine in Belize 8 years ago for what seemed (at the time) like an exorbitant price ($20 USD). But now that I’ve used it regularly for almost 10 years, it seems like a steal! I held off buying a microfiber towel for years because I figured my sarong was adequate, but I’ve never regretted bringing both.
I don’t often travel with checked luggage, but when I do, I’m glad for a way to distinguish my black Samsonite suitcase from everyone else’s. These fun luggage tags are sure to do the trick. These are the only item on this list that I don’t actually own. Instead of using these, I use a colorful bracelet that I bought from a street vendor in Chiapas. If you haven’t had a chance to visit Chiapas yet, these tags will do in the meantime!
This daypack is often my “personal item” when I travel, but it’s also so light and compact that I can easily fit it inside my pack. I love it for day trips because it has just enough space for my camera, water bottle, snacks, and a light sweater inside. It also has a sleeve for a water bladder, but I’ve never used it. I really think this pack is the perfect size — just big enough to fit the essentials, and not so big that it can ever get very heavy. If you’re looking for an even more compact option, this lightweight pack looks like a great alternative.
A water bottle is an essential travel item. After years of purchasing $5 bottles of airport water, I finally started packing my own bottle, and, not only am I saving heaps of money, but I’m also doing my part to eliminate waste! There is a seemingly infinite selection of water bottles out there, many of them lighter and more compact, but I am loyal to Hydro Flask. It doesn’t leak, it doesn’t give my water a weird plastic taste, and it even keeps it cool! Plus, it can double as a thermos in times of need! I’ve definitely filled mine with coffee a time or two, and not only does it keep it warm, but it doesn’t maintain a gross coffee flavor for weeks afterward. As a bonus, it comes in a whole rainbow of colors!
If you’re a backpacker, you NEED to have this in your pack. Campsuds can be used to wash dishes, clothes, hands, and even your hair. It’s also biodegradable so you can use it guilt free! I don’t actually take this on every trip, but if you know you’ll be needing more than one type of soap, it’s a fantastic option. There’s also a citronella version which supposedly repels bugs.
I recently purchased a portable battery pack, and it has been an excellent investment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been crouched in a weird corner of the airport with my phone plugged into a sketchy outlet, just trying not to get trampled by other travelers as they rush by. This device essentially solves that problem. It also saves you from having to waste time sitting in cafes waiting for your phone to charge when you should really be out sightseeing. Just throw it in your purse, and you’re all set for the day!
I’ll be honest, I bought a portable charger and a Mophie case during a boxing day sale. At the time I thought it was overkill to pick up both, but I’m really glad I did. The Mophie case is fantastic for extending my phone’s battery life, meaning I can use the battery pack for my other devices– Kindle, GoPro, etc. The only downside is that, unless you have bluetooth headphones, you won’t be able to use them with your iPhone while using the case.
I was skeptical about Kindles at first. I thought nothing could beat the tactile experience of reading a real book. The Kindle quickly proved me wrong because it solves so many other problems that readers face. Firstly, it’s backlit, meaning you can read literally anywhere, at any time of day, even if the lighting is terrible. And, my favorite of all, you can fit hundreds of books on a single device (that happens to be smaller than the average paperback), meaning you don’t have to choose ahead of time which book you’ll read during your trip.
Kindle editions of books are often less expensive than paper copies, plus, if you have a library card you can probably access your local library’s catalogue of titles right from your device! It’s still not quite the same as flipping ACTUAL pages, but… life is about compromise 😛
I have at least 2 of these in my purse at all times. I often forgo bringing makeup when I travel because I’m honestly just too lazy to wear it, but lip balm is essential. Sleep deprivation, as well as altitude and climate changes, can leave your skin feeling parched, and chapped lips are not a cute look for travel photos. This lip balm leaves your lips feeling silky smooth!
Dry shampoo is super handy for long travel days and backpacking trips, or basically any adventure that keeps you from showering regularly. A little bit of dry shampoo can leave your hair looking, feeling (and even smelling) fresh. Only you will know the truth.
Hopefully this isn’t TMI, but a menstrual cup has revolutionized my travel experience. You can wear it swimming, hiking, and everywhere else, without having to figure out how you’ll conceal it or plan bathroom breaks around it. You need to empty and clean the cup every 10-12 hours, so it’s usually pretty easy to plan your day with that in mind. It also solves you the stress of trying to find feminine products that you trust while exploring a foreign country. Another bonus, the cup packs into a small, inconspicuous canvas bag that you can slip inside your toiletry bag or purse.
Wet wipes are so handy when you’re traveling, especially if you frequently visit places where running water, and/or well-equipped bathrooms are tough to find. Having these on hands makes it easy to wash your face or hands in a pinch.
The Osprey Farpoint 40. I genuinely love this pack! It’s compact, but somehow just the right size to fit everything I ever need. It doesn’t have a steel frame, so it doesn’t weigh much, and the padded straps make it pretty comfy to wear even when it’s full. Zip the back flap closed to conceal the straps, attach a padded strap (like this one), and you can port it around like a duffel bag! The bag also features a handy key pocket and a padded laptop sleeve in the front compartment.
Pin this post for later if you found it useful! And, if you think there’s anything I left off the list, let me know in the comments.