Trying to figure out what to pack for your next adventure? Here are 20 things I won’t go abroad without:
1. Clif Bars
Most people with dietary restrictions have long ago learned to carry an emergency food stash. My go-to is a Clif Bar, which is perfect to have as a quick breakfast before an action packed day, or as a snack. I bring 10-15 on a two week trip and end up going through most of them.
2. Travel towel
This lightweight towel has been one of the best travel purchases I’ve made. It’s particularly handy for staying at hostels, since it dries quickly and prevents you from having to either pack a full-sized towel or renting one at each hostel. It’s equally good for the beach or a pool; magically, sand doesn’t even stick to it.
I got these as a gift from my sister. I must admit that I was initially a bit skeptical of how useful they would be, but turns out they’re amazing. I have three different sizes that I use for various purposes: chargers & cords, socks & underwear, personal hygiene, or all those Clif Bars.
The vegan passport, created by The Vegan Society, tells you how to order a vegan dish in over 75 languages.
I’ve committed to writing in my travel journal every day (or at least every other day) of every trip. It’s a little laborious, but I love referring back to previous entries and reliving my experiences. Plus, it’s really helpful as a blogger so I can remember smaller details when I go back to post about a trip after I’m home.
6. Flexible but thorough itinerary
By the time I leave for a trip, I like to have a list of places I want to make sure to go in each city, as well as a bunch of optional ones. Even better is if you can lump activities by the part of town they’re in. Yes, this is a lot of work, though it also helps make the most of a trip. At the same time, plans should be flexible enough to allow you to stop at that random little book shop or follow a recommendation from a local or fellow traveler.
7. Cuddl duds
I have several articles of Cuddl duds clothing, but my favorite to travel with is this super thin long-sleeved crew neck shirt. It’s perfect for layering and all varieties of weather, plus it’s one of the softest tops you’ll ever wear. It’s also great on the plane.
I got this Pacifica blood orange solid perfume a few years ago as a gift and it’s still going strong. It’s all-natural, smells great, and you can get tons of uses out of it.
9. Luggage lock
There’s no shortage of options here. Just make sure you get one that’s TSA approved (or they’ll remove it), and ideally one that’s long and narrow for hostel lockers if you’re going that route. The stereotypical padlock may be too thick to fit some lockers you’ll come across. Bonus tip: bring an extra to put on your day pack if you’re using one.
10. Wet wipes
Just trust me on this one.
If you’re switching accommodations multiple times on one long trip, it’s hard to guarantee that all will have laundry facilities. It’s also a nice cost-saver if you’re on a budget, especially if traveling in an expensive locale.
12. Sunscreen stick
This probably won’t suffice as your only sunscreen (unless you’re vacationing under a rock), but it’s handy to carry with you for your face and neck.
13. Mini pharmacy
I learned this one from my travel companion Alicia when she kindly shared her Sudafed when I got a bad cold in Switzerland. I’m usually not someone who takes medicine when it’s not 100% necessary, but in this case it allowed me to continue to enjoy my trip rather than laying in the hostel for a couple days. Use a pill box or small ziplock bags to hold small amounts of meds like ibuprofen or Dramamine just in case.
I often get a grab & go style meal for lunch and at least 50% of the time I’m relieved to remember that I have a fork or spoon in my bag. If I’m being really prepared, I’ll even have a small plastic container to house any leftovers for later. Click the link above to see some space-saving collapsible ones.
Every now and then, when in a pinch and needing a caffeine boost, I put my coffee snobbery aside and am glad that I packed a few of these.
16. A good water bottle.
17. A money belt and/or travel purse.
This particular purse is slash-proof, blocks RFID, has closures that help prevent pick-pocketing, and has a really cool LED light inside. I use it not only for travel but pretty much every day, and I consistently get compliments on it.
18. A credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
I use the Capital One 360 card. It doesn’t have any fancy rewards but there’s no annual fee and I’ve saved a boatload in transaction fees. I also bring a debit card to use for occasional cash withdrawals. As a side note, if asked by a cashier if you want to automatically convert your receipt to a different currency (e.g., for your receipt to show your transaction in dollars rather than euros), don’t do it. A number of banks charge for this small service.
19. A photocopy of my passport.
I’ve never needed it (knocking on wood right now), but it brings me peace of mind regardless.
I like to travel light – usually just a small suitcase that fits in the overhead bin. Bringing laundry supplies and doing a load of laundry in the middle of my trip allows me to do this and still be able to lift the suitcase.
What often-forgotten items is my suitcase missing? Post your recommendations below!