With each new travel adventure comes another thrilling round of packing luggage.
Packing your bags is the first step in any journey. It’s one of the most important things you do, and is often the biggest pain in the ass.
Forgetting to pack certain items can be a traveler’s worst nightmare, especially if you plan on being away for a long time.
I’ve been on many different trips over the past few years, so I’ve become pretty good at packing my life into a suitcase.
Though a lot of the items in my bag change depending on the destination, there are fifteen things that never leave my side when I travel. Most of them provide comfort and support in times of need, while others just help with spur of the minute fun.
If you’re looking for some packing advice, don’t forget to include some of my packing essentials for your next big trip!
Nothing is worse than not being able to sleep when you’re tired. Earplugs save your life on planes, trains, buses, ferries, in your hostel or hotel, you name it! And they’re so easy to pack. They’ll really come in handy the next time there are crying children on your plane or your hostel mates stumble home after a big night out.
2. Meds from home
Drugs from home are often overlooked because people assume they can get meds anywhere in the world. While sometimes this is true, try finding drugs that match your symptoms when everything in the pharmacy is in a different language. Or what if you get a sudden UTI on a faraway island that is nowhere near civilization? I’ve started bringing a small arsenal of drugs with me every time I travel. They’re so small and easy to pack but really save your life when a random cold, sinus infection, UTI, seasickness, or food poisoning decide to crash your vacation. Especially if you get sick at a time/place where it’s hard to get to a doctor.
3. A day bag with a zipper
I cannot stress the importance of a good day bag. You’re going to want to carry some things with you when you’re out and about sightseeing, so investing in a solid backpack or cross-body bag with a zipper is really important. You’ll want a zipper to help prevent pickpocketing. This is something you will be using every single day overseas, so make sure you love it and it works for you!
4. An umbrella/poncho
I can’t tell you how many times a personal umbrella in the side pocket of my backpack has saved me from a torrential downpour. It’s small, convenient, and will always get used when you need it most. I keep a poncho and umbrella on me at all times and I’ve always been grateful I’ve had them.
5. Fun clothing and toys
Though not an essential for most, fun items are an essential for me. I always pack silly shirts, socks, hats, floaties, card games, etc., to keep things interesting. You never know when you’ll stumble upon a theme party where you’ll need a silly shirt. Every boat trip is always spiced up with a little captain hat. Long travel days or lazy days around a hostel can always be made more fun with a deck of cards. Any little thing that can make an environment more fun, always does. Trust me.
6. A Fan
A fan/umbrella combo are my favorite secret weapons for my day bag. When you’re outside in the blazing heat with no A/C, a collapsible paper fan will help cool you off in no time.
7. Portable Charger
I don’t go anywhere these days without my heavy-duty power bank. Fully charged, it can charge my iPhone up to six times, and has two separate USB ports so I can charge more than one item at once. These are perfect for long day trips or locations that don’t always have power.
8. Wet Wipes
Another necessity of my personal day bag. These are great for refreshing yourself during long plane rides, cleansing your hands, and doubling as toilet paper in countries that don’t always provide that luxury. They also take up minimal space!
9. A reusable water bottle
Reusable water bottles will save you tons of money when traveling while helping cut down on plastic use. These days most places have water re-fill stations you can use. It’s such a smart idea to always keep water on you, and a reusable water bottle will come in handy more times than you think.
10/11. A multiple outlet plug for your travel converter
Ok, so this may be two separate items. But it’s crucial to bring a travel converter with you so that you can use your electronics overseas. A good universal converter will work anywhere in the world, so investing in one is a great idea. I also love to bring an outlet plug with multiple hookup points so that I can charge many things at once. I can’t tell you how many times a hostel or hotel room only had one power outlet, which makes it difficult to charge items all my electronics. A small multiple outlet plug will eliminate the stress of charging your goodies.
12. A sarong
A sarong is one of my favorite items because it’s so small and so versatile. You can lay on it at the beach, you can use it as a bikini cover up, and I also use it as a towel. It’s super lightweight, so it dries easily and is ready to be packed up again in no time without worrying about a mildew smell or getting your clothes wet.
13. A good book
Nothing is better for a traveler than a good book. From long travel days to lazy days in the sun, a good read will do you wonders.
14. Laundry detergent packets
This is a new item I’ve started traveling with, but it’s one of the handiest! When you’re frequently having to get your clothes washed, having small packs of detergent makes it so much easier. It takes no time and money to wash your clothes in the sink wherever you are staying. Just hang them to dry and they’ll be ready the next day. They’re convenient, inexpensive, and small enough to take with you!
*Bonus: A backup cell phone.
I haven’t always traveled with a backup cell phone, but let me tell you, I wish I had. I’ve had one phone water damaged, one screen shattered, and one phone stolen while traveling. And I’ve seen many people lose and ruin their phones too. So, I plead with you: if you have a backup phone of any kind, do not hesitate to bring it. Traveling without a cell phone is impossible, so if something happens to yours you will likely be spending a good chunk of money to buy a new one. A backup could save you tons of money if something bad were to happen to yours. So, if you have an extra, bring it!