2019 has been a whirlwind year of travel for me. I’ve visited countless new places — Grand Cayman Islands, St. Thomas, Salt Lake City, Utah, plus more — and packed a carry-on a dozen times over. In that time, I’ve learned what my travel essentials for every trip are, no matter the locale — and what I can (and should) leave home to save myself money and space.
Best Travel Essentials
Here are the 24 travel essentials I always bring with me wherever I go so I’m always prepared for anything that life throws at me while on the go. It’s a great list to refer to for any upcoming trips you may have yourself.
If you tend to overpack like me, it’s vital to get a spacious and durable handbag that can hold all of your necessities. I have a black leather duffle from Parker Clay that I bring with me on all of my trips, which has compartments for my phone, keys, headphones, and all my other travel essentials.
While my aforementioned Parker Clay bag can double as an everyday bag and a backpack, it’s quite big to be lugging around with me all the time. So, I also pack a crossbody bag in a neutral color or one matches all of my outfits I’ll be wearing on a trip that can hold what I need on a daily basis, like my hotel or AirBnb keys, wallet, and phone.
A spare change of clothes
My worst nightmare is an airline losing my checked bag for days on end and I’m stuck in a foreign country with no clothes but what I wore to the airport.
Protective case for gadget(s)
Cardinal travel rule: protect your technology in transport! Amazon has a host of cute and affordable cases for laptops, iPads, and other gadgets.
I carry a small umbrella everywhere I go so I’m always prepared for unexpected rain — and I highly recommend that you do, too (especially while traveling). I also bring a cute raincoat with me with a hoodie for extra protection.
The biodegradable Shower Sheets from Yuni are incredible and I carry them with me everywhere. They’re individually wrapped wipes that you can use to clean yourself whenever you’re feeling a bit sweaty and groggy, like after a long haul flight. I also pack feminine hygiene wipes from Summer’s Eve for freshening up my lady bits. They also come in handy when I’m in a bathroom that doesn’t have toilet paper.
I rarely use the toiletries at hotels since I bring my own on each and every trip. Drugstores like Duane Reade and CVS, as well as stores such as Whole Foods and Target have a wide range travel-size toiletries you can buy and put in a small pouch to bring on your travels.
Travel-size makeup is the best, like mini concealers, primers, setting spray, and tinted moisturizer. Since they’re so small, my makeup bag ends up feeling so light and I’m still able to carry all of my holy grails.
Sitting in a plane seat can get uncomfortable after a while. For maximum comfort, I bring a neck pillow (I have one from Casper that I love).
On every trip, I bring a small pouch with everything I need to access mid-flight in my handbag. It’s filled with two or three pens, my medication, a lavender roller (great for their calming effects) and hand sanitizer. My favorite travel pouch at the moment is from Holly & Tanager.
I love documenting my travels, whether that’s through capturing video and photos or writing down in a small journal about everything I’m experiencing. I also like bringing a flexible notebook I can easily fold up in my handbag for taking notes on work trips.
My phone battery is perpetually low, so I make sure to have a portable charger handy so I’m not stuck somewhere with a dead phone with no way to contact anyone or get home since I can’t use Google Maps.
Seeing the slightest hint of light in the night disturbs my sleep, so I use an eye mask at night. It’s also great for when I want to take a nap on the plane and completely block out any sunlight.
Not every plane has TV screens on the back of each seat, which can make for a pretty boring flight, especially if you have no other form of entertainment. This has happened to me one too many times, so now I carry a lightweight book with me on every trip to keep myself occupied just in case I find myself in that situation again.
My headphones are essential for drowning out any surrounding noise on airplanes or whatever environment you’re in. I usually bring my Apple ones as well as ones from brands like JVC Gummy earbuds, as they have great audio quality and are affordable, so if I lose them I wouldn’t be too upset.
Extra USB cord
I usually have a backup USB cord that I can plug into my laptop to charge my phone just in case I lose my main charger.
Lysol and disinfecting wipes
Even if I’m staying in a hotel, I like to bring a travel-size Lysol and disinfecting wipes to clean surfaces I’m going to touch to get rid of any lingering germs. I also wipe down my plane seat with wipes, as planes aren’t always properly cleaned before each flight.
A pack of hand tissues is in my handbag at all times so I can easily clean up any spills or messes on myself or surfaces or blow my nose.
Sunglasses are important for blocking out the sun and protecting my eyes, especially when traveling to warm places where it’s sweltering all year round.
Tide to Go
I never leave the house without my tide to go pen. It’s awesome for getting rid of stains on my clothes after something accidentally spills on it if I use it immediately after it happens.
First aid kit
Accidents happen. That’s just a part of life. I like to prepare myself for the worst by traveling with a first-aid kit from RiteAid stocked with bandages, bandaids, and alcohol wipes. I also bring ibuprofen and diarrhea meds in my handbag.
Universal travel adaptor
When traveling internationally, I make sure to bring a universal travel adaptor just in case the country I’m going to have different wall sockets than the outlets in America so I’m still able to plug in my chargers to the wall.
No matter the weather, you should always wear sunscreen! I personally like this travel-friendly sunscreen mist from Pixi Beauty that I can spritz on my face throughout the day. Another favorite sunscreen of mine is the Unseen Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40 from SuperGoop, which goes on clear and looks great on all skin tones.
A copy of my passport
Like I said, I’m always prepared for the worst case scenario, like losing my passport in a foreign country so I make sure to bring two color photocopies of passport and put one in my wallet and another in my suitcase.
What are your travel essentials, pretty birds? Share with us in a comment below!