There is no better way to live life than traveling to new places and meeting new people. Equally important is to do it right. I am not telling you to be overtly prepared but packing these must-haves can make your travels less stressful and enjoyable.
There are about 15 different socket types used around the world. Hence, buying a decent universal adapter tops my list of things of must-haves. Imagine effortlessly charging your gadgets without asking your hotel for charging favors! For maximum output usage, I recommend buying an adapter with USB slots.
Ergonomic Travel Pillow
Everyone must have one of these to avoid uncomfortable flight experiences and falling on to your fellow passenger while asleep. Travel Pillows come in different shapes, sizes and serve different purposes:
- The U-neck pillow which is most common and serves the purpose
- The Turtle or Trtl pillow that wraps around your neck but I find it a bit uncomfortable
- The Ostrich pillow that you have to wear over your neck for maximum comfort although I think it makes me look funny
- The memory foam pillow suited for best neck comfort and lite sleepers
- The J pillow that supports neck and chin, especially when you are seated at the window
- Travelrest ultimate travel pillow (which is my favorite) for long-duration flights.
For some reason, I could never make sense of the airline long-duration light themes that are supposed to resemble a normal day’s light cycle. At most instances, I found the light either too bright or annoying colorful. Moreover, imagine traveling tired on a short-duration flight where lights are always turned on and a quick power nap is never possible. For a sound sleep, I highly recommend carrying a sleep mask so your favorite shade is always black and all you get is uninterrupted sleep time.
TSA Approved Luggage Lock
Based on my travel experience till date, locks provide little protection when it comes to securing your valuables. I’ve had several experiences where my luggage was tampered with and zips were broken. TSA approved locks are no saviors.
Internet is full of information to open your bags without even breaking the locks. However, some countries like the US, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and few European countries require that you adhere to TSA lock policies. It’s always a good idea to use them as standard locks for all your journeys.
Mobile Waterproof Case
With all of us glued to our mobiles for snapping more than staying in touch, a waterproof case is essential is you are planning to visit a tropical destination, get unexpected rain, are a lousy drinker or fond f taking snaps in the swimming pool or at the beach.
Apart from water protection, these covers come with a velcro band that allow you to snap the phone on your arms to prevent losing or dropping it. There are several cheap ones available online but I suggest buying a branded one to ensure your phone doesn’t make a dip along with you in the pool.
Beaches, pools or strolling around the city, you need sunscreen to protect yourself from harmful UV rays and to keep your skin tone even. You can choose from SPF 30 or 50 as per your preference. When it comes to brands, I like to stick to Banana Boat or Hawaiian Tropic and when it comes to babies, I’ve always used Aveeno.
Body Lotion & Lip Balm
In-flight dryness, chlorine in the pools, salty beach waters, cold climates or hotel-provided gels and soaps, a body lotion is your skin’s best friend and protector. I prefer choosing a lotion with natural ingredients in the cream base. For lips, I usually go old school Vaseline that works wonders in keeping them soft and crack-free.
Cabin Approved Mini Storage Bottles
Recall an incident where you were carrying your perfume, shaving gel or lotion in your handbag that was taken away at the airport? Well, I do and it feels terrible! For me every buck I earn counts and I am sure no one wants to let go of their stuff. 50-100 ml mini plastic storage bottles are real saviors and meet the international flying standards. You pack based on your anticipated usage, the tiny bottles are easy to pack, take less space and don’t break.
Laundry Soap Sheets
Laundry is a necessity and hotels enjoy the liberty to charge unreasonable amounts for it. Why not carry the laundry soap sheets and put your hands at work before going to sleep? They are easy to use, do the job and save you money that can be spent on meals, tours or recreational activities. No laundry soap sheet is skin-friendly so just pick up one from your favorite brand or anything that serves the purpose.
Digital Luggage Scale
Hopeless shopaholic? Heavy Packer? Traveling with Kids? Finding out that you have an overweight luggage at the check in counter is a nightmare. You are left with options to pay for excess or to discard a few items! Instead, be prepared by carrying a portable digital luggage scale. Keep check of your luggage weight after every shopping spree or outing and travel smart.
Another great must-have for unpredictable weather and works great as a wind shield, always carry a raincoat to stay dry. Get a long length raincoat with a hood and waterproof pockets. Pick up anything that suits your style and budget but make sure it is breathable and lite-weight.
Ipad with Offline E-book & Entertainment
There are several reasons to carry your entertainment with you. First, if you are traveling alone, there are slim chances of sitting next to someone who is fun to talk to. Second, if you are traveling with kids and universe works in your favor in putting them to sleep, you need your me-time.
Third, you are traveling using a low-cost airline or an airline that’s too cheap to offer onboard entertainment. Whatever the situation, it’s best to be prepared and have your own offline collection of music, movies, games and e-books. I prefer Ipad over a laptop because it’s slim, easy to carry, doesn’t freeze and has excellent sound and graphics.
I always carry my Sony headphones that I bought from Target for $14. They have decent noise cancellation and superb base. That’s my preference but if you want something to fit in your purse or waist pouch, buy the noise cancelling earbuds.
The price varies between $30 – $100 depending on the brand and durability. If budget is no problem for you then go with Bose QuietComfort series . If you wan to stick to a budget, go for one of the models from Sony or Xiaomi.
Headphone Jack Splitter
Mobile entertainment on loud speaker allows you and your travel mate to enjoy songs or movies together but it bugs the hell out of someone sitting in the same airline row who wants to take a nap.
Worse, imagine watching something before going to bed and the sounds wake up your toddler. Thanks to the genius who thought of making the headset splitter. It allows you and your travel partner to plug in 2 separate headphones into one jack, without disturbing people around you or waking up the little ones.
There are slim chances that the hotel you are staying in runs out of power or faces a power cut. However, if you are vising a small island or get caught up in a storm situation, a portable torch can be really helpful. Moreover, torches are an absolute necessity if you are planning to take camping trips. The cheap LED torches are easily available online for less than $10.
Disposable Razor for Him & Her
Always carry a decent pack of disposable razors in case you forget to carry your regular razor, lose it, accidentally break it or want to shave your legs or back. Many hotels provide you razors on request but those are just terrible. The blade quality is so poor that you’ll be left with several cuts on your face and body.
GPS is a must when you are traveling to a new place. Finding walking or driving directions, looking for a fuel station, hospital or even nearby restaurants, GPS can be your best guide. Traditional GPS devices are expensive and troublesome to carry.
Thanks to offline GPS apps these days that come with voice instructions and do not eat up your internet data. The best trick is to use Google offline maps which allows you to save several areas on your phone along with voice instructions for free. I always save offline maps a day before I travel so that I have the most updated maps.
Language Translation App
Traveling to few Europe and Asian countries can be difficult if you cant ask for directions, speak to the cabbie, read the signs and order food at a local restaurant. There are several translation apps such as Microsoft Translator, Google Translate, TripLingo, iTranslate etc. that more or less do the same job but Google’s translation app leads the pack with free offline translation packs for more than 100 languages. It also comes with the ability to translate by pointing your camera, snapping an image, handwriting, typing or through voice.
Wine Bottle Opener
Most of the people carry their wines instead of ordering at the hotel but not hotel provide you with a wine opener in the room. Requesting one usually takes 15-20 minutes of wait that kills the moment. I’ve experienced this twice in Washington and Orlando and finally decided to buy a mini opener.
If you are visiting a country that has unpredictable weather or if you are traveling to a tropical destination, a mini umbrella is super useful. It ensures protection from rains and harmful UV rays.
Although mobile apps have taken over printed maps, I still recommend everyone to carry at least one printed map for quick reference. Personally, I use Lonely Planet’s maps which are waterproof and come with quick guides, tips and transportation routes.
Backpack That Charges Gadgets
If you use multiple devices and a power bank is not enough as a backup option, you may want to buy one of the gadget-charging backpacks. These bags are stylish, easy to carry and come with an in-built power bank and/or solar panels, capable of charging your ipad, laptop and mobiles. HP, Eceen, Lifepack, Kopak and TYLT are some of the most reliable brands.
Waterproof Toiletries Organizer
Everyone uses a toiletries pouch but hardly people use an organizer that is waterproof and has several compartments to organize shave, brush and skin care essentials. I prefer quick access and like keeping my skincare miniatures dry and clean.
It’s good to stay organized and keep your passport, boarding pass, travel insurance, id card, international driver’s license, passport photos or cash for the day at one place. I don’t recommend carrying or storing your credit or debit cards in the wallet. Instead, use pre-loaded USD currency cards with double authentication features that can’t be used without a unique OTP sent to your mobile phone.
Sim Card Adapter Kit
Sim cards come in 3 sizes – standard, micro and nano. If you are planning to buy a local sim card in a new country, there is a possibility that it won’t come with all three frames. These sim card adapters can be bought for as $2
Hands are the primary carriers of germs when you travel abroad, meet a lot of people,visit lots of places and touch a lot of things. It’s a good habit to occasionally sanitize your hands and avoid catching infections and allergies.
First Aid Kit
Accidents can happen while shaving, walking at the beach, cutting an apple etc. It’s always smart to carry a mini first aid kit that contains all the essentials such as wound cleaning gauze, bandages, antiseptic, insect repellent and over the counter painkillers.
These are extremely useful for cleaning your hands after a meal, wiping sweat and dust off your face and helpful when you are traveling with kids. Always make sure you buy wipes that are made from non-woven fabric that are baby-friendly.
Baggage tags are used since the concept of travel started and since most of the bags these days look similar, tags allow quick identification and avoid mix ups at the airport. I advise you to buy tags that are at least partially water resistant.
Wifi Hotspot & Power Bank
Wifi hotspot allows you to connect multiple devices securely connect to the internet. Some companies allow you to rent the device with several hundred dropping locations worldwide so you pay for your preferred package and renting the device.
Others require you to buy the device and then you have hotspots that work with your current mobile service provider and switch automatically to a partner network in a new country. Hotspots by RoamingMan, TEP and SkyRoam have been highly rated by travelers around the world. Power bank is also a necessity if you heavily rely on your phone for entertainment, apps and GPS.
– Roving Frenzy