I’ve done a lot of traveling over the last 3 years and to a range of different climates and locales. But no matter where I go, there are some items that ALWAYS find their way in to my luggage.
Since I travel with just a carry-on 90% of the time, one of my main focuses is finding high quality items that don’t take up a lot of space.
If you’re schlepping around a huge checked bag, or heaven’s forbid two, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. Minimize your stuff and maximize your fun.
Behold, the 22 essential items that I always carry with me whenever I travel.
Osprey Farpoint 70– The ULTIMATE pack for traveling. It’s lightweight, roomy, durable and comes with an super handy 15 liter day pack (that can zip on to the main pack). Also, the backpack straps can be stowed away and hidden so they don’t get caught. While it’s “technically” too tall for carry-on dimensions, I’ve had it on over 30 flights (including with strict airlines like Air Asia and RyanAir) and never once had a problem.
Clark’s Fury shoes (men)– The perfect traveling shoe. Easy to slip on and slip off for security checks, can be worn casually with shorts or to the nicest restaurants, and takes up very little space in your bag.
Adidas Climalite Boxer Briefs (men)- Traveling to a hot location? Cotton underwear just isn’t going to cut it! These will keep you dry all day and can be washed easily in the sink if need be.
1 pair of heavy socks– You never know when the temperature will drop. If you’re feet are cold, so are you!
A few pair of lightweight socks– Nothing stays wet longer and gets grosser than heavy cotton socks. Grab a few pairs of cotton/mesh/polyester hybrids and thank me later.
Rubber sandals- Wear them in the shower or wear them on the beach. They’re super cheap and pack really easily. Get a pair with a unique design (Go Gators!) and never have to wonder which pair is yours.
Sunglasses– If you’re traveling, it better be to somewhere sunny! I prefer cheapies from a roadside stand over expensive ones because I tend to break/lose/scratch them.
Tripshell World Travel Adapter– Don’t show up in a country unable to charge your electronics. Grab this baby and be safe in over 150 countries. Bonus: It’s got two USB ports to charge phones.
Monster Outlets to Go Power Strip– Provides four outlets and also folds up flat, which minimizes the space it takes up. This means you only have to carry one universal travel adapter and you’ll have 4 plugs available!
EatSmart Digital Luggage Scale- Find out exactly how heavy your luggage is BEFORE getting to the airport. At only 5.4 oz, this won’t be the reason you’re over!
Macbook Air 13 inch– Does everyone NEED a computer for traveling? Probably not, but if you do, there is nothing that comes close to the slim, light, and yet powerful Macbook Air. As someone who used to carry around a 15″ Macbook Pro, my back thanks me now!
Headphones- You won’t make it through an international flight without a movie. I use cheap, basic earbuds but if you’ve got the money, you might want to check out the Parrot Zik (a Gary Arndt favorite) or Bose QuietComfort 15.
iPhone– When trying to save space, nothing does a better job than substituting your old, bulky guidebooks for the convenience of an iPhone and the corresponding apps (if traveling Southeast Asia, I HIGHLY recommend Travelfish apps). I also use this in lieu of a camera most of the time.
Book Light– Perfect for when you can’t sleep and want to stay up all night reading your guidebook, planning your next day’s excursion (and those around you aren’t quite as excited)!
Hearos Earplugs– Drown out the crying baby on the plane or the late night parties on Khao San Road.
SleepMaster Eye Mask– Blinds not cutting out the early morning sun? Don these puppies and sleep for days!
Dramamine- The quickest way to make it through a 10 hour international flight? A few Dramamine and a few choice beverages!
Miscellaneous Must Haves
PackTowl UltraLite quick drying towel– When I get home, this is the one item that never gets unpacked, and therefore, I never forget it. Is soft, takes up almost no space and dries in a flash. I’d recommend the XL size. Absolutely essential.
Moleskin Pocket-sized Notebook and pen- There’s nothing more frustrating than waiting in line for a pen to fill out your customs form…to then wait in another line. Slip your Moleskin out of your pocket and always be ready to write things down, from the address of your hotel to a recommendation from a local.
Laundry Bag- Keep your dirty and clean clothes separate so when it comes time to do laundry you’re not stuck sniffing them all! A simple plastic grocery or trash bag works well too.
Hand sanitizer, travel size– It’s a dirty world out there.
Baby wipes, travel pack– There’s nothing a baby wipe can’t do.
Now, it’s your turn. What are some essential travel items you never leave home without?