I’m (finally) starting to get my head around packing for my trip, so I thought I’d share the few things that are simply a “must” for any trip I take! Regardless of where I’m headed, I always have the unspoken things I absolutely have to bring with me. There are so many things to bring on any given trip, aka why packing can be so stressful. So here’s my list for my top 10 travel essentials that I never leave home without!
If I’m switching time zones, it can be a pain to set and reset my watch. But it’s always super helpful to know what time it is for planning the day—when a certain museum opens, how much time you have before a site closes, when the last bus is, etc. You also don’t have to bother random people for the time, or constantly be pulling your phone out.
2. Water bottle
If you are in a country where it’s safe to drink tap water, there is no reason why you should buy plastic water bottles every day when you suddenly realize you’re thirsty. Not only are you being friendlier to the environment by reusing, but it is also SO much cheaper to not buy water! If you bring your own water bottle, you don’t lose money and you don’t degrade the environment. Win-win. (Don’t forget to dump your water out before you go through security at the airport.)
I have never gone on a trip without a camera, and my pictures are one of my favorite ways to remember my best moments of a trip. I’ve recently upgraded my camera and I’m now using a Canon Powershot SX410 IS—it seems to be a great fit for me since it’s still a small point-and-shoot camera, but takes higher quality pictures than my old camera. We’ll see how well it does!
An everyday essential if you’re staying in hostels. Most hostels will have some sort of locker/place for your stuff, and it’s always a good idea to lock it up and keep it safe when you’re staying in dorm rooms. A lot of hostels have locks to rent or buy, but that costs money—so bring your own lock and save a little bit! Make sure you only use a TSA-approved lock if you’re locking your checked luggage when flying, otherwise the TSA will break the lock and rip your bag open.
I love keeping a journal when I travel. I don’t always have time to write every day, but there are always moments (waiting at airports, on a long bus ride, out to eat by yourself, etc.) that it’s nice to have something to do. It’s a great way to remember specific things you liked (or didn’t like) about your trip! My “Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost” journal was a graduation present and is probably my favorite journal I’ve ever had.
6. Comfortable shoes
There are a lot of people out there who want to look really nice every day when they travel, and bring heels/boots/flats/whatever to look cute. I am not one of those people. I’ve been wearing Brooks trainers (and recently got the newest Ghost 8 for my trip) and swear by them—I can walk miles and miles and my feet still won’t hurt. Shoes that you’re comfortable walking in are essential!
7. Sandwich bags/plastic bags
One of my favorite items of all time. Bags come in handy all the time when you travel, and it’s always nice to be prepared. I know plastic bags are bad for the environment—but they are unbelievably practical. Sandwich bags are perfect for when your shampoo bottle suddenly starts leaking, when you want to take a muffin from breakfast to snack on later during the day, when you absolutely need to keep some papers dry for the rest of your trip, etc. Regular plastic bags can also do all of these, as well as helping to keep wet items separate from the rest of your stuff, or acting as a laundry bag for your dirty clothes.
If you’re staying in hotels, you’re basically set so ignore this one! However, if you’re hostelling it I always recommend bringing a towel. Some hostels offer towels (of varying quality) for free, some don’t. Even though it may seem like a small charge for a towel (usually 1-5€), if you’re staying at more than a few hostels that can really add up. Even if a towel takes up a lot of space, depending on how long you’re traveling a towel can save you anywhere from 1-30€ +.
As an American, every electronic I have is set for the US. So when I travel abroad, I need to bring an adapter for all of my chargers (phone, laptop, camera, iPod, etc.). This is also something that you might be able to rent or buy at a hostel, and definitely something most airport/train station convenience stores will try to sell you at incredibly expensive prices. It’ll save you money to not buy it on the go! Mainland Europe uses a two-pronged adapter for their outlets, while the UK and Ireland have a 3-pronged adapter that is different to the rest of European outlets.
There are some people who can sleep anywhere, all the time. I am not one of those people. It’s really hard for me to fall asleep if I’m distracted, so I always take an eyemask with me. It helps block out the light, so for sleeping in hostels or on planes/trains/buses (where distractions are everywhere) it’s really a lifesaver. Alternately, you could bring a scarf and opt for the “mummify” method, and wrap your entire face up. Either way, blocking out light can make it easier to sleep—something you’re usually desperate for when you travel.
Over to you! What are your travel essentials? Let me know in the comments!