I feel very grateful to have been able to travel as much as I have in these last few years. Travel may not be an easy feat for all – meaning, that sometimes it can be a major cause for stress in some peoples’ lives or perhaps it’s too much of a monetary strain. However, for those able to travel (however often or on whatever budget they can afford), it can become an essential part of their lives. I’ll throw my full weight behind that statement – in that for myself, travel is essential. It stokes my creativity, inspires me and allows for wholesome views of the world as well as meeting some of the most incredible people that come from completely different backgrounds than my own.
Over these last years, I’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced nearly ten different countries. On these trips; through rushed packing or tips from fellow travelers, I’ve realized that there are twelve things that you’ll never find me travelling without. And no – I’m not just talking about someone forgetting their passport. Though – I know some in which this has happened to them. More than once. More than twice, if you can believe it.
If you’ve got a trip planned for this year – make sure you read on for my list of twelve travel essentials I’ll never be without. I promise, there’s plenty of goodies in here.
Let’s dig in.
1. Always Bring Your Passport / Identification
I know – the one sort of seems like an obvious, no-brainer. However, I think you would be surprised at the amount of people who either A) forget their passport – like at home or in the safe at their previous accomodation – or B) don’t realize that it’s necessary to board many forms of transportation. Not to mention, many AirBnB accommodations or hotels require a form of identification upon check-in.
2. Credit/Debit Cards or Local Currency
Of course, you’ll need to bring money for your trip. Whether or not you choose to splash out on souvenirs when you’ve arrived to your destination or just plan to enjoy local attractions and cuisine, making sure you have correct currency or a credit/debit card is key.
Over the course of my travels, I’ve run into many different situations when it came to paying for food, accomodation, attractions and other pop-up expenses. Every country is different when it comes to the types of credit/debit cards that are commonly accepted. Personally, I stick to using a VISA or MasterCard, as these two are some of the most commonly accepted worldwide.
Another thing to keep in mind is that these days, not every place you’ll visit will accept cash.
You read that right – some places are going cashless. I noticed this trend firsthand when popping into one of my favourite London coffee shops, The Espresso Room.
An easy tip to take from this – keep a card handy (and alert your card company that you’ll be travelling to avoid any issues), carry a bit of cash and make sure you read up on the tipping etiquette for the place you’ll be visiting.
3. Necessary Tech (and the Chargers!)
The technology brought with you on your travels will differ for everyone. In my case, my list of necessary tech is a bit long. This is what it usually looks like:
- laptop + charger
- camera + batteries + charger + memory cards
- cellphone + charger + charging case
- portable charger
- extension cord (location dependent)
- multiple adapters
Granted, this is on the more extensive side of bringing along tech for your travels – however, my tech travel essentials are higher in quantity because of my job. I need to be able to work on the go, capture imagery and ensure that my equipment doesn’t end up with a dead battery at a crucial moment.
However, there is one thing I’ll always tell people that are planning to bring tech with them on a trip. When writing out a packing list, always include “+ charger” or any other additional accessories needed for that item to work properly.
Some have slipped my mind at times – for example, a phone charger or memory card for my camera – and I’ve needed to buy one upon arrival to my destination. Ugh. Easy enough to say, though it was a small expense, I wasn’t happy that I’d forgotten something so seemingly simple.
4. Vitamins / Medications / First Aid
If I had to pick five of my travel essentials – this one would definitely make the shortlist. I’ve grouped first aid, medications and vitamins into the same category, because all three make it into the same section of my carry-on.
Let’s start with medications – if you have daily essential medication(s), obviously these become a given add to your packing list. However, some additions that I would suggest would be your preferred form of aspirin (personally, I like Aleeve or Advil Cold & Sinus) and “gut” tablets (Pepto Bismol, Dramamine or other Imodium tablets).
It’s no fun to be sick or to feel unwell on a trip – sometimes it’s unavoidable, but if you could prevent/treat a sensitive stomach or a headache, wouldn’t that be a treat? Especially if you a bit shy to approach the local pharmacy wherever you are travelling.
Secondly, vitamins are a fantastic addition to your travel bag. For example, my must-haves are Vitamin C, a Multi-Vitamin, Melatonin (a life-saver for my fellow light sleepers!!!) and a Probiotic. These may help you from picking up a cold on the way to your destination, can help balance your gut if you are sensitive to certain foods and can help you sleep.
In my eyes, melatonin is a total game-changer – and a kick in the pants to jetlag – which I think we all can agree, kills.
Lastly, you never know if you may find yourself with a small scrape or a blister from walking all day when you’re away. Keeping a handy supply of band-aids, antibacterial wipes and neosporin never hurt anyone.
Your feet will thank you later!
5. Noise Cancelling Headphones
If you’ve been on a plane, a train, a bus or a car with any number of other people – you’ll know what I mean when I say, sometimes all you want is a bit of peace. Travelling can be a bit chaotic – especially on planes if there’s a little one who’s become upset, chatty passengers or the relentless coughing that always seems to accompany a flight.
Noise cancelling headphones have become a staple in my travel essentials because they block out most external sounds and make listening to podcasts, music or movies much more enjoyable.
I’m currently using a pair by Lenovo, but here are a few of my other favourites:
6. Laundry Supplies
Typically, I’ll take any chance I can to bring less luggage. In the last year, I’ve been doing quite a bit of solo travel – and let’s be honest here, who really loves schlepping around tons of luggage by themselves?
That being said, laundry essentials are a must. My current go-to picks are wrinkle release spray, powder detergent packets and a tide pen for the anticipated coffee stains that I know will be on anything white I bring with me.
Being able to do laundry on the go, whether where you’re staying has laundry amenities or you have to do a “sink-laundry” job, you’ve got less dirty clothing that you’re bringing home with you and you can pack less!
7. Keep Cup / Reusable Water Bottle
One of my goals in this new year is to reduce my overall plastic usage. Hence the reason a keep cup and reusable water bottle made my list of travel essentials.
You can bring both of these items through TSA airport security as long as they’re empty (you can refill after you’re through!) and they also allow you to carry your beverage of choice with you on the go whilst carrying the benefit of being good for the environment, too.
Another benefit to bringing a keep cup with you on your travels, is that many cafés and coffee shops now offer a discount if you use one. Discounted cappuccinos? I’m all in.
Here are a few that people are currently raving about, if you’d like to pick one up for yourself:
8. Makeup / Skincare / Hair Essentials
Have you ever seen the people that will have a face mask on during a flight? Admittedly, I’m one of them – and yes, we are aware that they look hilarious. Skincare is something that I will never, and I mean never, forget to pack. I’ve had very sensitive, blemish-prone skin for years – and if flying (and travel in general) has taught me anything, it’s that dry air is no friend to me. Or my skin. Or my hair.
Point being, bringing a little bag of my essential skin and hair products is something I’ll never not do. Keeping your skin and hair healthy on the go not only improves your confidence, but it can make you feel better, too. I also bring a small kit of makeup with me – thank you Sephora for your makeup minis – as well as a set of travel brushes.
Travel minis are a great way to save room in your carry-on, and to be frank – I don’t think I’ve travelled with full-size products in nearly a year.
9. Antibacterial Wipes / Hand Sanitizer
I am an avid germaphobe when it comes to travelling – especially in the height of cold and flu season. In my opinion, one of the worst things that can happen on a trip is to be sick for its duration. That being said, hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes are two things you can always find in my carry-on.
Pro tip: planes especially can be very germy. Take a second to wipe down a tray table, arm rest or screen in your area to minimize exposure to any bacteria or germs on your nearby surfaces. Especially if you’re planning on eating during the flight.
10. Travel Adapter(s)
In any travel essentials list that you’ll find, a travel adapter is often close to the top. Depending on your destination, the outlets and power voltage may be different than that of where you live. If you’re bringing tech, styling tools or really, anything that would need a charge or to be plugged in, a travel adapter is a must.
Granted – this primarily applies to international travel, however, an adapter is never a bad thing to have.
11. Foldable Bag(s)
I love looking through other people’s’ travel essentials. A few weeks ago, I came across a YouTube channel that had a foldable bag as of their top picks.
Throughout my travels, I’ve always brought a foldable bag with me – whether it be a reusable shopping bag, a lightweight backpack or tote bag. Never realizing that they’re often not thought of, a bag like this really comes in handy for picking up food from the supermarket, helps you blend in more with the locals (no need for the garish plastic souvenir-shop bags) and not to mention, can help you transport your purchases safely back to your accomodation.
12. An Open Mind
The last on my list, but surely one of the most essential things to bring with you on your travels is an open mind. This makes my list of travel essentials, because without an open mind, you can miss out on so many things.
Traveling, whether local or international, gives you the opportunity to engage and explore new places, try new things, invigorate your thinking and challenge you to step out of your comfort zone.
One thing I always look forward to on every trip is the ability to embrace new ideas, new ways of thinking, find new opportunities and create lifelong memories. You’ll never know who you may meet – and who knows, they may even change your life.
Keeping an open mind opens the door for deeper personal connection as well as allowing for personal growth. No two people you’ll meet on your travels will be the same. Because of this, you’ll be able to build wholesome views of the world we live in and can give you greater appreciate for life itself.
What did you think about my list of travel essentials? Are there any on this list that you won’t travel without? If I’ve left out any that you think are total must-haves, let me know! I want to know all about your essentials and what makes your trips even better.
Until next, xoxo.
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