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Travel Must Haves (As Told by 33 Experienced Travelers)

33 experienced travelers share their travel must haves for both domestic and international trips.

As a travel blogger who travels 25-30% of the year, I asked 32 other experienced travelers aka travel bloggers for their travel must haves.

Below is a list of documents, goods and helpful items that we can’t travel without. They make our trip more smooth and ensure that we’re ready for any situation. Keep reading to see what we consider travel must haves.

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Documents and Necessities for Travel

Besides your passport, driver’s license and transportation tickets, here are a few documents and necessities that you want for traveling.

Emergency Card

One of the items you should always have with you when traveling is a card with emergency phone numbers on it. It is a hand luggage essential.

Obviously, this is something you hopefully won’t need but it can come in handy at the right time! There are three types of numbers that should be on it:

  • Your country’s embassy; If anything severe happens, they will know how to keep you safe or get you back home
  • Someone you trust and can call if anything happens
  • Numbers of the local police and emergency services

Keep this all on one card inside your wallet!

By Emma: Emmas Roadmap

Student ID

If you're a student, bringing your Student ID is a must have travel item for potential discounts!

If you’re a student, you should definitely travel with your student ID. It might seem unimportant as you’re probably not studying while you’re traveling. However, it can give you lots of benefits!

There are many places where you can get discounts or even free access if you can prove that you’re a student. For example, some museums in Amsterdam, Athens and many other beautiful cities in Europe offer discounts if you’re a student.

Besides that, you can get discounts at many other places such as restaurants and clothing stores. So if you want to save lots of money during your travels, don’t forget your student ID!

By Dymphe: Dymabroad

TSA Pre Check

Everyone says they can’t travel without their cell phone or chargers.  You may want to add the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry to that list.  TSA PreCheck is a trusted traveler program that helps you get through long lines quicker. It made by trip to London much easier.

With post-pandemic travel on the rise, it is worth the expense.  It costs $85 and is good for 5 years (that’s less than $18 per year).  Even better, several major credit cards offer it for free.

The PreCheck affords you the option to skip many standard airport security procedures like removing laptops, shoes, belts, jackets, and any carry-on liquids.  Because the screening is expedited, there is a designated line that can get you through security in 10 minutes or less.  It saves time and hassle at the airport!

By Tanya: Travels and Treasures


Medical, Health and Wellness Travel Must Haves

Reusable Water Bottle

A reusable water bottle is a must-have travel item no matter where, when, or how long someone is traveling. Not only is carrying your own water bottle convenient and budget-friendly, but it also helps you travel more sustainably!

In places where tap water is safe to drink, filling up a water bottle can save both time and money. Some travelers may think carrying a reusable bottle is a hassle, but there are ways to address most inconveniences. A wide selection of reusable water bottles allows travelers to select a bottle that best suits their needs.

To start, travelers can choose the size and material of their bottle. Additionally, there are options for collapsible water bottles to save space in luggage.

Finally, travelers can opt for extra accessories to attach their water bottle to their luggage or to sterilize and filter their water.

By Elaina Vieira: Mind Over Matter Travel

Portable Exercise Equipment

Resistance bands hardly take up any space in your luggage, and are a definite necessity for those who like to stay fit while they travel.

After traveling and living abroad for more than 5 years, one of our must-have travel items is portable exercise equipment. It’s important for us to stay in shape, even when we do not have access to a gym, so we’ve been carrying one or two sets of resistance bands with us around the world!

The bands can be used to do exercises for all muscle groups, and we set them up just about anywhere, whether on playground equipment, in the doorway of our apartment, or on an outdoor balcony (this is one of the reasons we always look for outdoor space when choosing a short-term apartment rental).

Resistance bands are light, easily-transportable, and well worth the little bit of space they occupy in our suitcases! A Manduka travel yoga mat is a great option too.

By Stephanie: Poppin’ Smoke

Medicine Kit

Whether traveling a few hours away or jet-setting to another continent, a small medicine kit is a must on any trip. Your medicine kit should include any prescription medications you require, as well as items like pain killers, bandages, antiseptic wipes, anti-diarrheal medication, allergy medicine and motion sickness pills.

If traveling with young children, you’ll want to have the toddler and baby travel essentials in your medicine kit too, as the dosing requirements are different for children than they are for adults. While over-the-counter medicine is readily available in most destinations, a trip to a pharmacy or even a convenience store is never fun when you have a headache, digestive issues, or any other ailment.

It is also a good idea to have some type of sleeping aid like melatonin, in your medicine kit. Particularly if you are traveling across time zones, and may need help overcoming jet lag.

By Melissa: Parenthood and Passports

Steripen

One of the best items for international travelers and hikers alike is a steripen. This small and versatile item uses a UV light to sterilize and sanitize water from any source, in just one minute. Using a steripen instantly makes tap water and river water safe to drink – no matter where you’re traveling.

Using a steripen also helps cut down on travel costs by saving the expense of the bottled water you’d be using every day during your trip. Plus, it helps cut down on single-use plastic waste in the process, helping you show a little love to the destinations you traveled so far to visit. 

By Carley Rojas Avila: Home to Havana

Travel Insurance

One thing we never travel without is travel insurance, especially now that we are travelling as a family. While we didn’t always get it as a couple, once our son came along it was a non-negotiable.

We’ve never had to use it as a couple, but we certainly had to when our son was 18 months old. We were in Lanzarote on a week-long holiday and on the second last day, our son started getting spots around his neck that were turning into blisters. This was confirmed as chicken pox, grounding us for an additional 5 days before we were safe to return home.

Our insurance paid for our hotel and flights for myself and our son. Had we not had travel insurance our extra 5 days could have cost us a fortune. Now, we never travel without it, ensuring it has sufficient cover for travelling to places such as Lapland with kids, Yellowstone or Disneyland Paris.

By Cath: Passports and Adventures

Melatonin

Good sleep habits are essential to be able to seize the day and make the most of any adventure. If you’re not getting quality sleep, you will not have the energy to be able to make the most of your time spent traveling.

Melatonin can be a great solution for occasional sleeplessness when you’re having difficulty with time changes or are unable to sleep in an unfamiliar setting. Melatonin helps to regulate circadian rhythm and synchronize our sleep-wake cycle with night and day.

A quality melatonin product is Natrol Melatonin. With a variety of options, including Kids Melatonin gummies (safe and effective for 4 years +), it is also helpful to bring some Melatonin along for the kids.

By Debbie Fettback: World Adventurists

Activated Charcoal Capsules

There are a few things that can ruin a trip. Getting sick during a trip is one of those ways! One thing I can’t travel without is activated charcoal capsules. Activated charcoal helps absorb toxins. This means it can help with a sour stomach, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and more. Activated Charcoal works quickly and can help you return to normal trip activities. 

It is good to be prepared especially when you travel internationally and/or if traveling alone. I traveled to the Dominican Republic once and experienced sickness after eating food. I was unable to find any medicine because the pharmacy was closed and the hotel offered to send me to the emergency room. From that point on, I pack activated charcoal.

Be sure to read the instructions and information regarding the recommended dosage and duration you can safely use activated charcoal.  

By Kim Hawk: Work Hard Travel Well

Emergency Food aka Snacks

Emergency food and snacks are incredibly important for your travels. Protein bars or granola bars are great, portable, option!

Whether I am taking a long flight to another continent or visiting some local sights, I will always have emergency food in my daypack or purse. As a chef, I tend to focus on food more than others: I buy food gifts, take food oriented vacations, and when preparing for a potential travel related emergency, food is the answer. So, I prepare with portable, healthy, nonperishable snacks.

Even if I’m flying first class and know I’ll be fed, snacks are in my bag. What if the plane gets stuck on the tarmac for hours, or has to circle endlessly before landing? No worries, because I packed some Balance bars or high protein bags of Shrewd food. I’m not talking about a carryon meal. In fact, ideally, I will not have to eat my emergency food. But it will always be there when I need it.

By Denise: Chef Denise

Tea

I absolutely cannot live without my tea when I travel! I’ve found that tea really does vary through the world and it’s not something I can always get easily when I travel. For me there’s nothing more comforting and reassuring than a hot cup of tea, so having my tea with me when I travel is something I try not to forget.

Whether I’m on a weekend family break or away for much longer I always ensure it’s packed. I lived in the USA for a year when I was 19 and used to have it shipped over to me. I know it probably sounds overly decadent to take tea with you but in the same way as many people can’t start their day without a coffee in the morning, that’s how I feel about tea and it’s just a little taste of home.

By Nichola: Family Hotel Expert

Travel Coffee Maker – Aeropress

If you are used to starting your day out with a good cup of coffee, it’s important to keep the routine even when traveling. That’s why we always take our Aeropress with us. It fits in a backpack and makes amazing coffee and espresso. We like the coffee so much we use our travel coffee maker at home too!

With the Aeropress, all you need is some hot water and ground coffee – no electricity required. It’s a breeze to clean up afterwards too. This is really the best travel coffee maker out there! You will be pleasantly surprised at how affordable this device is and wonder why you didn’t get one sooner.

By Anisa: Two Traveling Texans

Eye Mask

Travelling can be unpredictable, and sleeping away from your bed can be a challenge. Therefore, I believe an eye mask is a necessary travel item for every traveller, and whilst it is not high tech, it can help make any trip comfortable.

It does not matter whether you are on a flight, camping, or sleeping in a hostel or a hotel. The eye mask will be one of the best items you take with you on your trip because it will allow you to get your well-deserved rest so that you feel full of energy on your trip.

What’s great is that it is inexpensive, light and compact, which means it won’t take up any precious space in your luggage! Don’t leave your eye mask behind. It’s a crucial travel accessory.

By Rachel: Average Lives


Best Electronics and Gadgets for Travel

Headphones

If you’ve ever been on an aeroplane with a screaming baby, been trying to drown out the background noise so that you can read a book or even just wanted something peaceful to listen to so that you can get some sleep, then you probably know the importance of having headphones when you travel!

One of my absolute must-have items, even when I’m travelling with just carry-on luggage and trying to pack as little as possible, my headphones will still go in my bag.

There are many different types of headphones suitable for traveling with. I personally like Apple’s Air pods because they’re small, discrete, lightweight and wireless, meaning the cables don’t end up in a mess if I have to shove them in my bag quickly.

But you can also opt for on-ear headphones, over-ear, noise-cancelling or standard wired earbuds. Whichever your preference, a pair of headphones is definitely something that you shouldn’t travel without.

By Alice: Adventures of Alice

Travel Tripod

A travel tripod allows you to take pictures anywhere you want during your travels, and is definitely a must-have for documenting your trip.

My absolute favorite travel item is my travel tripod. No matter where in the world, this small, mega light travel tripod just has to go with me. With a size of just 30 cm, it fits in any small backpack or in a regular handbag.

The best tripod for traveling is one that you can set it up anywhere you want to take level recordings on the surface. And, even better, you can wrap the flexible tripod legs around a lamp or tree! For taking pictures you have a Bluetooth remote control that works completely wireless, so you don`t have to ask strangers anymore to take photos from you. That’s so convenient! I personally use the Rhodesy Octopus Tripod but there are many more travel tripods in this style.

By Martina & Jürgen: PlacesofJuma

Bluetooth Speaker

Not many times have I happened to go for a day trip and have a BBQ with my friends, a beer on the beach or spend a week or a year backpacking, without carrying my Bluetooth speaker. It is one of the first things I pack and for sure an essential item for traveling in Southeast Asia, America or anywhere in the world.

Imagine going with your friends and suddenly starting to drink and putting some music on .. your phones. That’s not too loud, isn’t it?

I’m personally very happy with my JBL Flip 4. It is a very powerful speaker and it has a playtime of up to 12hours. It never disappointed me. Even after I’ve dropped it in the pool. Really!!

By Catalin Geangos: Travel Trained

E-Reader

One thing on top of your packing list should be an e-reader. Traveling gives you plenty of time to finally catch up on that reading list, and you don’t even need to bring that entire list with you nowadays.

If you’re on a small week trip, bringing a book or perhaps even two might be just fine. But when traveling for two weeks or two months or two years, you should definitely bring your e-reader. It’s the best travel gadget, if you want to pack like a minimalist and travel light.

When looking for an e-reader, make sure to look into a few specs: it should have enough memory to store your books, an e-ink reader is the best way to protect your eyes from too much screen time, it should work with e-pub files as they’re the most commonly used and it’s great to have a backlight option to use in the evenings.

By Maartje: The Orange Backpack

Camera

An item that I can never travel without is definitely my camera. As a travel photographer, I have used many different cameras for my trips, and one of the best ones for amateurs and beginners is the Nikon D3400. It’s a lightweight and travel-friendly camera that helps me create amazing results.

I like to pair it with many amazing Nikon D3400 lenses to equip myself for different situations. Capturing my trips with high-quality photos really helps me reminisce about the good times I’ve had on the road. I also bring a tripod a lot of times if I want to create high-quality selfies!

By Jiayi: The Diary of A Nomad

Bluetooth Adapter/Receiver

A Bluetooth adapter (or receiver) is an item that you probably never realized you needed for travel, but it’s a long haul flight essential. To use it, you plug it into the headphone jack for the in-flight entertainment system. Then with your own Bluetooth enabled headphones, you can connect to it and get the audio for your favorite movies, shows, and music on your flight!

It’s such a game-changer for flights because you don’t need to bring a separate set of plug-in headphones or buy the cheap, poor quality headphones they offer on the plane. You can use your own preferred headphones!

By Alanna Koritzke: Periodic Adventures

Tablet

A tablet is a great addition to your travel must have list! It can be easily packed into your luggage, as seen here, laying on top of an open bag.

One item I can not live without while traveling is my tablet.  Tablets are so convenient and compact they can simply fit in your carry on bag. The benefit of traveling with a tablet is that you can download your favorite shows or movies which you can watch at anytime during your travels. 

Additionally, if you love to read you can download your favorite books to your tablet.  No need to walk with multiple books. Another benefit of traveling with a tablet is that the battery life is longer.  A tablet is also a great in between electronic device in terms of size its not as small as a cell phone and more compact than a lab top and has so much functionality.

By Leticia: Chic Travel Around the World

Multiplug Adaptor and Extension

Tourists carry way more electronics than we used to. Instead of a bulky paper guidebook, we may have 2 or more devices: a smartphone to stay in touch with family and friends, an ebook for reading on the plane, a laptop for keeping up with work, and a digital camera.

These things need to be recharged, often at the same time, so a multiplug adapter and extension like the Mogics Power Bagel is essential. Instead of having devices scattered across the room wherever the wall sockets are, they can be kept in one place.

It also reduces the need to carry multiple adapters and the risk of losing one of them. And if you stay in a shared accommodation like a hostel, sharing spare sockets on your extension is an easy way to start a conversation, which is what happened to me when I spent two weeks in Singapore!

By Nicholas: Rambling Feet

External Charger

One of the most important items I can’t travel without is an external charger. While we might think we can go hours without a charge, our phones beg to differ. Whether you’re an avid globetrotter or an average commuter on a New York City subway, you’re bound to end up with a dead phone at some point.

If you’re going to be out for more than just a few hours at a time, you’ll want to have an external charger on hand. They’re your insurance policy; you’ll never be stuck without your phone in a strange airport or navigating a subway system where you’re unfamiliar.

Although there are power banks of all different strengths and sizes, the more charge it holds, the longer you can charge your device on the go. While the Anker PowerCore 20100 takes a few hours to fully charge, you’re free to move and fully recharge your phone at least five times before it runs out. 

By Lyndsay: The Purposely Lost

WiFi Extender

For most travelers, a stable internet connection is a necessity. As a result, lots of accommodations now include the internet speed in the listing description. But even so, you may arrive to discover that the internet only works in part of the house.

While a WiFi extender won’t improve the connection or speed itself, it will broaden the range of the WiFi signal. This can be especially important in places with thick stone or concrete walls.

Setting up a WiFi extender is easy using the password of the router. You’ll first need to plug it in where the connection is strong to complete the setup. Then move it to an area where you need a stronger signal.

By Julien Casanova: Cultures Traveled


Packing Related Travel Items

Backpack

I’ve carried my lightweight fjallraven kanken on every trip in the last 10 years. I would not do a trip without it as long as it holds together. So far it looks great after dozens of trips around the world. My most memorable was my first solo trip to Colorado with my minimalist backpack.

I can’t travel without it because it’s lightweight and has a minimalist and elegant design. It has a few well designed pockets but not excessive. Each feature serves a real function and is used with each trip. It looks good and smart. It’s easy to care and clean. 

I like to use the same backpack each time because every thing I need has a specific spot. It reminds me to take everything I’ll need on the trip. During the trip, it’s easy for me to find everything. It’s a loving companion that’s always there for me. 

By Jyoti: Story At Every Corner

Packing Cubes

When it comes to packing your bags ready for your next adventure, packing cubes are an absolute essential item.  Having packing cubes of various sizes allow you to organise your clothes and items so you can quickly and easily find what you’re looking for.  So as soon as you reach your dream destination, you can reach straight in and find your swimsuit without wasting any time or having to unpack your entire bag!


They will also help you pack more efficiently and save space to allow you to take more of your favourite things with you.  Whether you want to arrange cubes with ready to go outfits, or separate clothes by climates, you’ll find your bag instantly becomes more organised!  Furthermore, packing cubes can double up to serve as a pillow in a crunch, or a laundry bag.  They really are a travel game changer!

By Sophie & Adam: We Dream of Travel

Gallon Sized Ziploc Bags

One of my must-have travel items is a gallon-sized Ziploc or resealable plastic bag. I very rarely carry them empty, however. They are incredibly helpful when packing a carry-on for flying with kids, because you can pack diapers, extra clothes, and blankets in them. Then, squeeze out the air to compress the contents and save space in your bag.

And as an added bonus, if you have nowhere to put trash or need to carry a wet bathing suit or spilled-on T-shirt, the bags double as trash and laundry bags that can lock in moisture and smells.

By Katie Dillon: La Jolla Mom

Upcycled Reusable Tote Bags

My choice of reusable bags are made from upcycled material such as old sheets and lace curtains. As a traveler I love the bags. They are a practical size, lightweight and rolled up to a small convenient size that fit easily into my pocket, backpack or the glovebox of my car. The individual patterns and colours of each bag is fun, and they are super easy to wash.

I have found many uses for the bags. Mostly I use them for food and other shopping or for carry items to the beach or on other outings. I went a long time traveling without the bags. Now that I have them I would never travel again without them!

  • Get upcycled reusable bags on Amazon.

By Emma Kelly: Our Wayfaring Life


Must Have Travel Items for Adventurers

Trekking Poles

Trekking poles are a must-have during travel, especially when doing some hiking. They are useful during easy hikes. But most of all, they are beneficial during moderate and strenuous trails like the Subway hike in Zion NP or a hike to Havasu Falls.

The main advantages of walking with trekking poles are that they provide stability on uneven ground when ascending and descending. Moreover, they reduce the load on the lower limbs, especially the knees, making the whole body participate in the walk. Trekking poles relieve the joints and the spine. Thanks to the poles, we can avoid tipping over or slipping because they help to maintain balance.

They provide additional support when we lose strength. They help when crossing streams, muddy terrain, or crossing snowfields. With trekking poles, you can gain more control when descending. Finally, with trekking poles, you often feel less tired.

By Agnes: The Van Escape

Hiking Shoes

I bought my hiking shoes from REI right after visiting the USA the first time, and they have since been with me.

Whether I go for a short weekend getaway or a long backpacking trip or camping, I always take my hiking shoes with me. I love hiking and I always manage to find hikes in most of the destinations I go to.

Be it a short hike to a waterfall or an arduous hike to see the sunrise, the hiking shoes always come handy. The ones I own are waterproof and also have mud shields that add a layer of protection. 

Also since they are heavier than any other footwear I own, I make it a point to put them whenever I take a flight to save on packing.

By Deb: The Visa Project

GORE-TEX jacket

In Scandinavia there is a saying: ‘there is no bad weather, only bad clothes’. Picking the best jacket for a holiday can be difficult. But that is only until you have tried your first GORE-TEX jacket.

GORE-TEX provides a good combination of water resistance and wind proofing. It is also breathable so you will stay cool and dry whether you are sightseeing in the rain, walking along a windswept beach or hiking in the Himalayas.  

It is lightweight and packs down small so takes up hardly any of your luggage allowance.

To make sure weather does not ruin your holiday plans, bring a GORE-TEX jacket on your next trip.

By Kristin: Adventures With Ensuite

Clothing Layers

Layers are absolutely key when traveling, and my go-to layer is my Patagonia Nano Puff! This jacket packs down small and is perfect to throw on if it gets a little chilly when wandering around a new place or sitting on a plane. In fact, you can even squish it up to use as a pillow if you need to.

Outdoor adventures are my favorite way to explore when traveling, and the Nano Puff is an excellent mid-layer for hiking as well. In fact, I always include it on my backpacking packing list because it is so versatile. I’ve had my Patagonia Nano Puff for years now, and I basically never leave home without it.

By Allison: She Dreams of Alpine


Hygiene Products for Traveling

Menstrual Cup for Travel

Although it isn’t the first item you think of stuffing into your suitcase, I absolutely could not travel without my menstrual cup.

After living in Asia, I discovered first-hand how difficult it can be to get hold of sanitary products in certain places. In that location where I lived, there were no tampons available and only pads on offer – not ideal for a hot and humid climate. Since that day, I invested in a menstrual cup for travel and have never gone back.

In fact, I even use it when I’m not on the road. It’s comfortable, environmentally friendly and saves me huge amounts of stress and money trying to find suitable products whilst I travel. I’d recommend one to anybody who has periods!

By Sheree Hooker: Winging the World

My Own Bath Towel

If you're expecting to visit hostels definitely bring a towel with you during your travels. It's a must-have item, especially if you find out a hotel doesn't offer free linens.

At first, it may sound a bit silly to bring a towel with you whenever you travel. Towels are big, take a lot of room in your pack, and it’s a standard for most hotels to provide guests with bath towels, so why bother? However, for backpackers who usually prefer staying in hostels, campsites, cottages, and other accommodations where towels are not a standard amenity, packing their own would be necessary.

There are also travelers (us included) who prefer to bring their own towels at all times whether it’s a luxury hotel stay or a backpacking trip because, why not? There are travel towels that are small and lightweight and can still serve its purpose. A microfiber towel, for instance, is easy to pack as it takes up very little space in our bags and dries quickly. Also, a towel that was cleaned personally or by a trusted cleaner is always a great option.

By Dea Mariano: Jea Wanders


Miscellaneous Travel Must Haves

Wine Wings

If you’re a wine lover and you like to bring home a bottle or two of vino for a wine tasting at home, then a set of Wine Wings is the perfect travel accessory.

This nifty product was designed in the US by a pilot. In essence, it’s a custom-sized bubble sleeve that fits snugly around a standard wine bottle, protecting it from breaking in transit. Wine Wings can also be used to transport olive oil, spirits, or even perfume – any bottle with a volume of up to one litre. A double zip-lock and triple seal prevents leakage, while the inner sleeve is removable for easy cleaning.

They’re are absolutely part of my travel must haves. I bought my four-pack of Wine Wings ahead of my first visit to Kakheti, the main wine region in the Republic of Georgia, and I’ve kept a couple in the bottom of my suitcase ever since. This is an excellent travel hack for those who like to travel light as it gives you the ability to put your wine in your suitcase instead of carrying heavy bottles in carryon.

If you’re bringing home 6+ bottles of wine though, you’ll want to read about this wine luggage for flying internationally.

By Emily: Wander-Lush


I hope this list of travel must haves helps you with your next trip abroad!

If you felt like we missed anything, feel free to comment below.

Thanks for stopping by! xo, Sarah

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