Every trip is a bit different with what you pack. Maybe it’s a warm-weather destination where most of your suitcase is dedicated to swim suits, cover ups, and sandals. Or maybe you’re going trekking in the Andes, so you need hiking boots and layers upon layers. But no matter where you’re heading, there are a handful of things I’ve learned you really shouldn’t leave home without.
A COMFY TRAVEL PILLOW: a great travel pillow goes a long way, especially on red-eyes or long-distance flights. I rarely go anywhere without mine now. There are so many different styles out there, so my biggest piece of advice is to try a few out before you buy. Go to a place like Bed Bath & Beyond and see if you’re more of the “standard u” pillow person or more of the inflatable across-the-body pillow person. My favorite is the trtl pillow. You can get it on amazon here for $30
AN E-READER/TABLET: I went back and forth about including this, because I’m in no way trying to promote getting lost in technology and playing online games the entire time. I personally try to check out as much as possible beyond the occasional instagram update. So when I say e-reader or tablet, I’m really just referring to somewhere you can store multiple books to read on flights, on the beach/by the pool, or during other down time on your trip. If you’re not a crazy fast reader and one book is enough, you can scrap this and just bring one book (maybe even consider donating it to your hotel when you leave to free up space!). But especially on longer flights, I can go through a couple books easily, so having my kindle or iPad is a much smarter packing move
THE RIGHT BAG(S): depending on how long you’ll be gone and where you’re going, you may need a bigger bag or you may be fine with a weekender. If you’re looking to travel a lot, I’d recommend investing in one bigger bag and one weekender-type. There’s nothing worse than either bringing a much bigger bag than you needed (you’re the one lugging it around the world, after all), or trying to squeeze so much into a smaller bag that you have no room to bring home new purchases! It’s also a good idea to have a day pack – if you’re in a big city, a purse will always do, but if you’re doing anything a little off the beaten path, I always recommend a day back (they’re just super easy!)
- BACKPACK: I’ve traveled with a large rolling bag before but much prefer a bigger backpack, even if I’m not camping. I just find it easier overall, and it’s hands-free. If you’re in the market for a great pack, I’m a huge fan of this pack from High Sierra
- WEEKENDER: as far as weekenders are concerned, I love the Catalina Weekender from Lo & Sons. There are multiple sizes and types, but it has a separate zip pocket on the bottom for shoes/toiletrees which is really convenient, and at least one of the colors is usually on sale. They also fit way more than they look like they can. This is the one I have (I opted for the Catalina Deluxe Small, and it’s perfect for 4-5 days)
- DAYPACK: you’ll see a recurring theme here – I really love High Sierra. And no, I get zero kick-back, I just really love their products. They usually have a sale, and the quality is great. We have two of the High Sierra daypacks that we’ll rotate between, but my favorite is this smaller hydration pack that’s great if you’re going to be hiking or doing an “outdoorsy” activities (otherwise I’d just carry a purse). It’s super slim and can’t fit much more than the hydration pack, a small wallet, and some sunscreen, but I usually dont need more than that anyway
TOILETRY ESSENTIALS: I’m including toiletries in general, because especially if you’re traveling to a third world country, you may be pretty limited in what you can find when you get there. I always bring at least a travel size container of toothpaste, shampoo, and soap just in case. But more importantly, make sure you pack things like sunscreen, aloe, and bug spray depending on where you’re going. We thought one or two things of bug spray would be fine for a group of six of us in Peru and ended up getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. We found one shop that had one bottle for sale, but even then, I wish we’d each come prepared with our own. Do you research before and see what you may need – you really shouldn’t assume it’ll be available when you get to your destination
EARPLUGS/A GOOD PAIR OF HEADPHONES: the type of plane/train/car sleeper you are will determine which will be best for you. I have to listen to something to fall asleep (anything other than a screaming child kicking the back of my seat at least!), so I go the headphones route, though sometimes a good pair of earplugs will go a long way. These earplugs will only set you back $6 for 14 pairs, so they’re worth having in your bag just in case. If you go the headphones route, keep in mind that while some of the over-ear ones are better at noise cancellation, they also may effect your level of comfort if you’re trying to sleep against the headrest or your neck pillow. I’d recommend a test run before the big trip
IMODIUM: even if you’re traveling to a first-world country, you never know what you could come into contact with, so I always recommend traveling with Imodium so you can nip that pesky case of traveler’s diarrhea in the bud as soon as it starts. No one wants to spend a vacation in the bathroom, and again, you never know what you’ll be able to find when you get to your destination (nor do you want to be uncomfortable and having to search all over the town for some remedies)
YOUR PLANE WARDROBE: it’d be hard to leave without this assuming you’re wearing it, but it’s still important to note! My go-to travel wardrobe includes Tom’s or some sort of sneaker, a simple tee, a pair of my favorite lululemon wunder unders, and I like to have a light sweatshirt if I’m on a plane because it’s inevitably going to be freezing at some point during the flight. I also never go on any flight longer than 4 hours without compression socks. I don’t know if it was a matter of age, but all of a sudden I started noticing my ankles would swell on longer flights, so I find them super helpful in avoiding that! Amazon has a bunch, but these are my favorite. And remember, it’s crucial that you make sure you’re comfy, especially if you’re traveling a long distance
A TRAVEL WALLET: my favorite is this one. It can fit cards, your passport, plane tickets, and cash all in one compact wallet that wont take up a ton of space in your bag
A PORTABLE CHARGER: there are a million different portable chargers out there, but there’s not much worse than being in a beautiful place and your phone dies…for a number of reasons (you’ll miss out on that perfect ‘gram-worthy shot, but more importantly, can you find your way back to your hotel?!). A decent portable charger shouldn’t cost much, and you can just charge it up when you charge your phone when you come back from a day of activities. Amazon has a ton, but this is one of the ones I use
PACKING CUBES + LAUNDRY BAGS: packing cubes are really helpful for organizing as you pack, and this set is my favorite because it gives you different sizes. Laundry bags are great for keeping your clean and dirty clothes separate, plus if you’re staying somewhere with laundry, it makes it a lot easier to just pull out the clothes you need washed. These laundry bags are my go-to.
YOUR CAMERA OF CHOICE: depending on how “into” photography you are, this could be your iPhone, a straightforward point-and-shoot like the Canon Powershot, or a DSLR. I usually have my iPhone and my DSLR handy for trips (I recommend the Nikon D3400 for beginner DSLR users; Canon is just as great of a company, my first DSLR was a Nikon so I’m partial to the brand). I’m always a be-in-the-moment-first traveler, but some sights are beautiful not to capture so you can look back at them later and feel grateful for the experiences you’ve had
ADAPTERS + CONVERTERS: If you’re traveling domestically, don’t worry about this part, but if you’re going internationally, you’ll want to make sure you’re stocked up with adapters/converters, and yes, you’ll likely need both
- Adapters allow you to fit your plug into a different wall socket. You’ll need these for sure if you’re traveling internationally. This site is really helpful for determining what type of adapter you need, and note that if you’re traveling to multiple countries, you may need multiple adapters (or one that is set up to handle multiple outlets). If you have multiple devices, you’ll want multiple adapters, but you can get them for pretty low cost on amazon
- Converters change the electrical current of your devices, and you only need them if you’re traveling with something that isn’t dual voltage. For instance, the iPhone wall plug has a built in converter, so you just need the adapter for this device. But things like camera chargers, hair dryers, and flat irons all require an energy converter
- My go-to travel pack includes this multi-outlet adapter (so we can charge multiple iPhones at once) and this converter (so we can charge things like camera batteries and portable chargers, or I can use a hair dryer/flat iron)
What are your “cant leave home without it” travel essentials?