What are my essential travel items you ask?
We now that you mention it, I’ve put together a list of my favorite gear and gadgets I’ve used and loved over the years. There’s a mix of items and if you’ve seen my past gift ideas posts you’ll recognize a lot of them. What works, works.
For a more complete guide to the items I use and love peruse my Amazon store. I have lists based on safaris, cruising, essentials, and more. I’ve also put together a list of my camera gear and accessories.
FYI – This page includes affiliate links which means if you purchase something I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.
This is another device a company sent to me to test drive. Packing a portable charger is a must today and I’m always on the lookout for models which make my life easier. I’ve used it for a while now and I really like it. It’s sleek, compact, and the integrated cords (I don’t have to worry about forgetting mine) is a great feature. I can charge my phone at least 3 times with MyCharge before having to recharge the device. Another nice touch: When you plug it into the wall you can simultaneously charge other devices too.
I won’t be without a mini power strip. It’s probably the one thing other than my phone I always have with me when I travel. I like this model by Upwade because it has two widely spaced international outlets which provide ample room for those pesky wide plugs that come with cameras and other devices, as well as four USB ports. The cord is a little longer than I need at 5 ft but I’d rather have it longer than too short. At 6 inches in length, it fits in any purse or carry-on bag.
A lot of people like universal cubes that contain every adapter known to man deployed by a series of sliders, and while I appreciate the concept, I’ve never found one that doesn’t break almost immediately or size-wise didn’t annoy me. Too clunky. This 5-piece set is great because I can cherry pick what I need and plop it into my Think Tank case (see below) which I pack into my carry-on. I use the case that comes with it to keep all the adapters together at home; I rarely take the whole shebang with me.
I use this tiny flashlight all the time. The beam is powerful and can be adjusted and it’s maybe 3″ long. I keep it in my carry-on bag in case I need to find something in my bag on a dark plane and I use a lanyard to wear it around my neck when I’m on Safari.
For traveling, I only used polarized lenses for my sunglasses which provide better protection and vision. Unfortunately, they tend to be a lot more expensive so I do my best to keep them safe. This collapsible hard case rocks because it lies flat when not needed.
This saved my life. Ok, that is an overstatement but it really helped me a lot. I rarely travel without my computer and The Roost collapsible laptop stand has been instrumental in alleviating neck and shoulder pain as a result of hunching over my computer by holding my computer screen at eye level. The Roost weighs almost nothing, is adjustable, and packs easily. There’s also an optional case (sold separately) that holds a keyboard, mouse and The Roost in one sleek pouch.
Speak to almost any ardent traveler and I bet you they’re using packing cubes. They’re ideal for keeping your clothes sorted, organized, and streamlined. I use three cubes to separate my undies, tops, and bottoms. I especially love them when I’m faced with a multi-stop itinerary–packing and unpacking is infinitely easier.
Sometimes you need a little help packing bulky or cold weather clothes. That’s when I turn to compression sacks. I’ve used these for sweaters and winter coats. They really really help.
Bags and Backpacks
I don’t remember how I first found this bag but I’ve been using it for the past 5 years. It’s incredibly durable—it looks the same as when I first got it and I’m hard on my luggage. It has 15 pockets, which I love. (I like things to have their place.) The top flap has a mesh pocket for wet clothes and it collapses for easy storage.
For specific trips (e.g. safaris) there are restrictions you have to keep in mind, wheels and weight being a couple of them. Hence, This North Face Base Camp duffel is perfect. Not too big, no wheels and stylish too. Plus it comes with its own storage pouch.
If you’re looking for a simple and less expensive duffle, L.L. Bean’s Adventure duffle is one of my favorites. I’ve used it a lot of time. It also comes with a storage pouch.
It’s always a good idea to have an extra bag in your luggage if you need it. Souvenirs anyone? I’ve used this foldable large backpack to carry towels and sunscreen in the summer and extra layers and gloves in the cold. It’s not for serious hiking but for a few miles carrying a little wine, bread, and cheese? Divine.
Beauty and Wellness
I’m pretty lucky, I can fall asleep almost anywhere but I have a more restful sleep when I can make my space nice and dark. (I especially love these on trains where you can’t shut the window shades.) Another great touch, the eyes are molded so the mask doesn’t rest on your eyelids. When delivered it comes with a small pouch and earplugs.
There are times when you’re camping or in developing countries where you just can’t trust the water. The Grayl purifier is a must according to a bunch of traveler friends who do a lot more backpacking than I. They rave about it. It removes toxins as well as virus. Can’t beat that. There’s a smaller size you can get through the company. This is kind of large and may not fit in all backpack side pockets unless it’s really stretchy.
I discovered the BugX 30 online while researching repellents for a trip to Costa Rica—mosquito central depending on where you’re staying. Since that adventure, I’ve since taken it to Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Botswana, Tanzania, and Kenya. I don’t use anything else.
- They really work. Maybe I had a few bites here and there but overall it was nothing compared to what I’ve suffered using other products.
- I LOVE the towelettes. One towelette covered my whole body. The wipe makes it easy to apply and because it isn’t a spray I don’t get the solution over everything else in the room.
- When I apply BugX 30, I wipe my socks, the bottom of my pant legs and my coat cuffs. There’s no color fading or fabric degradation.
- I put it on my hair. Yep. My hair. I cannot stand hearing mosquitos buzz around my ears. Lightly applying the Bug X 30 to my hair kept those little flying annoyances out of earshot and from biting my head.
- It doesn’t smell. Ok.. it does a little, but comparatively the odor is relatively nonexistent.
- Carrying the towelettes is infinitely easier than carrying a bottle or spray pump.
For almost everything I prefer digital. I rarely print something unless I have to and most of my day-to-day notes I write in my Notes app. But when it comes to thoughts and reflections about my trips, I still like to go old school. The process of writing longhand helps me to remember important details.
We’ve all been there right?
You wake up after a long day of travel and your eyes look tiny pillows were glued to your face while you slept. You may feel wide awake but your eyes say, “I’m overworked and I am swelling in protest.”
Or heaven forbid you broke up with someone on vacation (that happened to me, it sucked), and you cried all night. If you’re like me, my eyes react so violently to tears that afterward, I look like I’ve been beaten up by Rocky Balboa.
In these circumstances, I pull out the big guns. My Klorane Smoothing and Relaxing Patches. In short: They work.
I use them at home and take them with me when I travel. The wipes are more convenient than bottle cleaners and pack easier. They’re also great when camping for a sponge bath or when you want to freshen up in a hot/humid destination but don’t have time for a shower.
If you’ve ever been in a foreign country in a questionable bathroom stall without any TP, you know why I love travel toilet paper. It’s compact, self-contained (no unrolling in your bag) ready when you are, and there are about 1200 sheets to a roll. Ok, that’s exaggerating but there’s a lot. It really comes in handy when you’re dealing with allergies or a never-ending runny nose.
Don’t be caught with your pants down and nothing but your smile….. you’ll thank me later.