Everyone has things they can’t travel without. I used to think those were a lot of things. But the past few months, there are only a few objects I desperately need when I travel (besides the obvious of course, like clothes, medicine and my passport). I carefully thought about what would ruin my trip and my experience of it if I didn’t have it with me and came up with these 10 essentials.
What can’t you travel without?
1. Bag & Purse
Carrying the right bag with you during your travels can make or break your trip. It is extremely important to choose a holder for all of your stuff that has certain qualities you simply can’t ignore. I have regretted each time I didn’t keep these three factors in mind:
- Sturdiness: your bag has to be able to survive some rough handling (think: airports)
- Lockability: you should be able to lock your bag to keep out the first line of pickpockets.
- Stylishness: your bag should be all the above, yet stylish enough not to ruin your holiday pics
When I travel, I prefer to bring both a large handbag and a smaller purse. The bigger one is used during the day and fits a foldable umbrella (just in case), an extra layer of clothing (like a light jacket), my e-reader, a small bottle of water and all the other stuff I usually bring (like my wallet, phone, earplugs, some sweets…). The smaller purse is for when I go out in the evenings. It fits nothing more than a housekey, a smaller wallet and my phone, but it doesn’t take up much space either.
A lot of this applies to trolleys, suitcases and backpacks as well. Choosing the right size, quality and look can make or break your trip and your memories of it.
I like to bring my Deuter 50+10l backpack, a foldable shoulderbag and a cheap purse from Primark.
2. Hand Sanitizer
Since recently, I have started taking hand sanitizer with me everywhere I go. Thinking of my 5000km road trip around Spain this past month, I worried about the public rest rooms by the road and how dirty they can be. Even when you wash your hands when you’re done, you sometimes feel even dirtier than before. Hand sanitizer coming to the rescue.!
Currently, I use Glycerona with aloe vera, because it smells like the sea and doesn’t dry out my skin.
3. iPhone (and apps!)
I have had an iPhone for three years now and honestly I can’t live without it anymore. Some say it costs too much for what it’s worth, but those people usually have a camera and an iPod. I don’t. My iPhone is an all-in-one for me and it takes up less space at the same time. (But: I have recently bought a camera anyway, but still I’d rather take my iPhone than my camera if I had to choose.)
Another reason why I need to bring my phone on every trip, is because it’s easy to stay in contact with the homefront and with new friends I make on the road. I also download a lot of apps which have saved my life in the past. Not to mention that the GPS balances out my bad orientation skills!
Since a few months I own an iPhone 6. Some of my favorite (basic) travel apps include Skyscanner, Google Translate, XE Currency, Foursquare and Tripadvisor.
I love books. But their weight is a burden when I travel. The solution? An E-reader. I currently have about 80 books on mine! Could you imagine taking the same amount with you in your backpack or suitcase? Even when you’re traveling, there can be moments when not much is happening. And let’s face it: at some point, you just want a quiet half hour. An E-reader will keep you company.
My travel buddy is a white and silver Kobo Glo, and has been for two years now.
5. Contacts & glasses (incl. Sun glasses)
I have both prescription glasses and contact lenses. Without them, I can’t see further than 20cm. Which means I can practically see nothing. So, having my contacts (or at least my glasses) with me on the road, is an absolute necessity for me. However, carrying contacts with you when you travel is annoying, but if I want to wear sun glasses I simply have to. I make sure I always buy a box for my glasses which is big enough to contain both my glasses and contacts container so I won’t lose them.
6. Earplugs & music
Nothing that helps me up a hill like an up-tempo beat or through an airport like a chill tune. Music is an important part of my travels, because I can link memories back to certain songs.
Some of my favorite travel songs include I Walk 500 Miles by The Proclaimers, Trip Around the World by Alexz Johnson and Ragtop Car by Noisettes.
Some countries (like Thailand) don’t have toilet paper everywhere. That’s where the importance of tissues comes in. Of course, there’s also always the possibility of getting sick on the road (you don’t want to swipe your snot on your sleeve the whole time, right?) or cutting your finger when falling on your butt on a hill in Scotland and sliding half way down (you know… for example).
I always have something with me to write. When I couchsurf, I write down the address and phone number of my hosts. Same goes for when I Airbnb (isn’t it funny how you can already use that as a verb?!). I write down places (and nearest subway stations if possible) I want to visit instead of carrying big travel guide books. If I meet someone on the road, I can rip out a page and write my info on it to give to my new friend. You can ask someone to write a message in another language and show it to locals when you don’t speak their language (like, when you have an allergie for example). A notebook can be useful in so many ways and it barely takes up any space.
I use small, lightweight ones with a cute print from Hema.
9. Plastic zipper bags
Zipper bags (or equivalents) are life savers! I use them for everything. You can use them to sort out your clothing per category or per outfit. While on the road, you can use them to separate dirty from clean and wet from dry clothing. If you put your liquids in them and they spill, you can prevent anything leaking onto your other stuff. Yay!
You can literally put anything in them. Including shoes, books, gadgets… Usually my holder (may it be a backpack or a suitcase) is full of stuff packed in plastic (zipper) bags. Good thing I get them for free in an endless supply! (Thanks mom.)
10. Walking shoes & flip flops
Choosing the right shoes for you is incredibly important when you travel. (Unless you only walk from your hotel to the pool and back…)
First of all, I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks flip flops are a standard part of anyone’s travel gear. I refuse to walk on hotel carpet barefooted. And secondly, for me, the right shoes are Converse All-stars. They fit my feet like a glove and I can walk in them for hours. I think my family would almost go as far as to say I live in them. Heels are not my thing, though. And I only wear flats if I don’t have to walk too far. I refuse to wear tennis shoes outside of the tennis court and shoes like Timberlands for example haven’t been necessary before. So, yeah, except for the winter months when I wear (over-the-knee) boots, my Converse and I are inseparable.
The one thing that is still missing from my travel collection? A power bank so I can charge the batteries of my gadgets when there is no plug in sight. I haven’t found one yet that has everything I’m looking for: one that is compact but not too expensive, has enough battery for two or three power-ups and has a shape that packs easily between the rest of my stuff. Any ideas?
What do you always travel with? And what is missing from your travel gear set?