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Ever find yourself packing and unpacking certain items for every trip?These items seem to be essentials. Things you always want to have with you. In effort to save time and streamline my packing, I noted what things I was always grabbing. Now, I ensure that I never leave home without these 16 things in my bag. You will want them in your bag too!

Passport or ID

It sounds like a no-brainer, but I am always sure to pack this. I also keep a copy during a trip and one in a safe place back home. We also securely store extra copies. In the event we lose identification, it will be easier to replace.

I also research activities we will be doing during our trip to see what kind of I.D. is required so I know what to bring. On a trip to Panama City, we rented bikes for the day. They required your passport or I.D. as a form of collateral. Knowing this, we packed an additional identification card. No way were we going to leave passports with them.

Some activities require I.D. as collateral.

SPF Chapstick

If there is one thing I cannot stand, it’s having dry lips. Even worse, is having sunburnt dry lips. I always bring a tube of chapstick that has SPF in it. I carry it everywhere.

SPF Lotion

Being fair skinned, I have the tendency to burn. There have been too many times where I have gotten too much sun early in a trip and it has put a damper on the experience. It doesn’t matter if our trip is to somewhere tropical or not, I always have some form of an SPF lotion with me. Even on cloudy or snowy days, you can still get burnt. Look for chemical-free options to be more environmentally friendly.

Candula Salve

I received some of this salve as a gift and during a trip to Thailand, I was so glad to have it. The backs of my hands developed itchy, irritated bumps. A little bit of this cleared it up in no time. Now, I always travel with a bit of it.

Crossbody Bag

First, let me say that I do not understand how women can travel with their massive over-the-shoulder bags. It baffles me! Not only are they cumbersome and tend to be heavily overloaded, but they are a target for pickpockets. I always travel with a small crossbody bag. The small size forces me to limit what I carry. My back and shoulders thank me for this. They also serve as a bit of a deterrent as they make theft a bit harder. I love my anti-theft Travelon purse! It has RFID blocking, locks and anti-slash protections.

Small, cross-body bags are ideal.

Pen

Yes, I always travel with a pen. It amazes me how many people do not have one and they are not always readily available. I believe that having a pen in your possession will become even more essential as we move into post-pandemic travel. Borrowing and sharing will be much more frowned upon. Dear fellow international flight passengers, please do not ask to use my pen to fill out your customs cards anymore!

Extra Headphones

They take up virtually no space, so I always have a pair of extra headphones. Generally, they are not high quality. Historically, I grab them whenever the flight attendant is handing out (as long as they are the individually wrapped ones) and store them in my bag. Now, I’m glad to have a few spare pairs as this will likely go away in the new normal of travel.

Hand Sanitizer and Wipes

I was a germophobe before it was cool. Seriously, don’t travel without these two things. Use them a lot. Just do it. And for the foreseeable future, add in some reusable masks while you’re at it.

Hand sanitizers and disinfectants are a must.

iPhone and iPad

These days, traveling with a phone is a no-brainer. Not only is it my form of communication, but also a camera and source of information. I also take my iPad. It is essential to surviving long flights. I download movies, books, magazines, games and more. These two items are the electronic hubs of travel gear!

Compression Socks

I can’t say I take these on short domestic flights. But, if we are traveling on long, international flights I always have them. I swear they help with swelling after 10+ hours on a plane. My feet feel a little less tired too. They also serve as a reminder that I’m getting a little older…

Nike Gel Flip Flops

I am sure people think I am crazy on this one, but I cannot travel without my Nike Gel flip flops. I have struggled for years to find the ideal travel shoe, but what I have in my mind doesn’t seem to exist. These flip-flops often fill that void. Most shoes end up hurting my feet after a long day. However, these have never caused me any pain or issues. Even if they are not my primary travel shoe, I always have them with me. They offer a nice break from other shoes and take up minimal space. Your feet will thank you if you bring along these flip flops too.

Flip-flops on the streets of Prague.

Resusable Water Bottle

Many years ago while visiting Madrid, I did not take a reusable water bottle. I was on a limited budget, but realized I was spending 5 Euros per day just on a bottled water. I wised up and started refilling one bottle each morning before I left the hotel. Not only did I save a ton of money, but this also started my path on reducing waste while traveling. Now, I won’t travel without a reusable water. I prefer the kind that store flat as they take up limited space.

Mini First Aid Kit

We assembled a mini first aid kit a few years ago and always travel with it. It’s nothing fancy, but has some basic necessities in it. A few band-aids, an assortment of over the counter medications (allergy pills, pain pills, heartburn relief), super glue, eyedrops, etc. Guess what? We usually tap into this little kit at some point on every trip.

Google Drive Trip Document

A few years ago, I started creating documents in Google Drive to plan and organize every trip. Now, I cannot travel without this essential item. Here, I track flight or train information, hotel names, confirmation numbers, tours and activities, and other key information. This information allows us to travel with less paper and is especially important on trips with complicated itineraries such as our adult European Backpacking trip. These are one-stop shops to reference everything we need to know for any given trip. Just make sure to turn on the setting to make the document available offline.

Power Bank

Because charging up your phone halfway through a day out isn’t always possible, we always carry a power bank. We use our phones a ton while traveling. Taking pictures and videos, as well as using apps can be draining. Power banks are items that also do not take up much space, so we always make sure to have one that is charged up with us.

Tide Sink Packets

These little gems take up such little space but are another staple of our travel packing. We are never without a few of them. Whether you are simply removing an unintended stain or washing clothes in the hotel sink half way through you trip, you need these! Do not travel without them!

Whether you realize it or not, travel clothes are filthy!

These 16 items are always with me on any given trip. We have found them to be essential items and are always considered standard packing. You may find that you do not need to pack all of these things. But, if you’re unsure of where to start with what to bring, this is what we would be sure to include.

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22 Comments

  1. What a great idea – be packed with essential items before the trip is ready to launch. Good, practical suggestions for anyone who likes to travel.

  2. Interesting list. Funny – I never use chapsticks at home but on travels, my lips tend to get paper dry, I don’t know why that is. Therefore, from time to time, I need to throw out a whole collection of chapsticks from around the world. And I totally agree on the gel flip flops. I’m wearing Birkenstocks now since I ruined my right heel when I was walking around in regular flip flops an entire day in Sao Paulo. It took me about 18 months and a couple of visits to the doctor to get rid of the pain. Now it’s sensible sandals for me, never mind how I look in them.

    1. Having issues with your feet while traveling is the worst! I was certain I might end up in an emergency room in Spain due to an issue I once had – all related to wearing tennis shoes during the days prior!

  3. Your tip about researching ID requirements for visiting sites is a great one. In Japan we were surprised that so many places required our passport to enter. Our packing list too has a few new things added – even for short one night stays. One bag is our sanitizing bag with wipes, masks and gloves. That might be an addition to our packing list for some time! Your list was a good one to cross check our packing list spreadsheet!

  4. I agree with so many of these items! Especially cross body bag & the lip balm. I can’t understand the handbag option either although I’ve never used an anti-theft one so I may need to look these up. Also instead of Google Docs I use the Tripit App & genuinely couldn’t travel without it now. It sounds like it does all the same things but I have used it at immigration (prove when I’m leaving a country) as well as a few times when it has informed me that the dates I’ve booked are wrong, with overlaps or even the wrong month! It has allowed me to make the changes I need as the data is all taken from the confirmation emails. Great list, thanks for sharing!

    1. I used Tripit several years ago, but it didn’t always import all the information I wanted. Perhaps I need to revisit the app.

  5. You have listed all essential stuff to carry while going for traveling. Keeping tide sink packets is a good tip and I do carry tiny pouches of detergents to wash stained clothes in hotel wash basin. Also keeping passport/ID and power bank is my first priority when I pack my travel backpack.

  6. There’s always new ideas when we read other traveller tips for travel. For me the reusable water bottle is the big one where it’s safe to drink the tap water. Like you said – saves so much money. Thanks for the handy list.

    1. It’s a natural salve derived from marigold! Has many uses from treating minor skin irritations, sunburns, treating wrinkles and more!

  7. I usually pack most of these things. We also have our own medical kit that we always bring. It’s in one bag, so we don’t forget essentials on trips. I always bring pens with me (one always seems to be done during the trip).

  8. The powerbank, pen, extra cheap earbuds, and keeping copies of my documents on-line (and in my phone) are things that have saved me on more than one occasion. OK, the earbuds are more of a luxury but just think what happens when your primary goes out on a longhaul and you have 10 hours before landing.

  9. Awesome list you have here! I usually pack many of the things listed except for the tide sink packets — which I think should be a must for me since I tend to spill things during meals lol 😀

  10. This is such a great list to remember for when packing! A cross-body bag is a must and also agree about a pen. I’ve been on a flight before where we had to fill out customs cards and no one within 4 rows of me had a pen and took everyone about an hour to share the 1 haha!

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