Travel Tips – Items I ALWAYS Have

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Here is a list of items I NEVER travel without!

Keeping your pack light while still having everything you need can be a real challenge, however – remember, this is YOUR trip.

There is no hard and fast rule to luggage on the road, however you will definitely find that the longer you travel the more ruthless you become. I’ve read a few blogs from dedicated travel journalists and they rant about how you only need 3 pairs of pants, 3 shirts, a good pair of trekking boots you can wear everywhere and that’s it. While I do travel light for sure – THAT’S NOT ME!!

The same goes for those travelers who insist you only need carry on as it helps them get out of the airport quicker. Who cares if it takes you 15 minutes more to leave the airport. I’ve gotten so much local advice at the luggage carousel I would never miss it.

While I do travel with a minimum of everything, there are always things I carry that I won’t use this week, or maybe this month but that doesn’t mean I don’t carry them. The key is limiting what you do carry but being smart about it.

This list isn’t clothing related. Obviously I take what I need for the weather conditions I’m going to, so I’ve not included any clothing items in this list.

What’s in my bag for a short holiday or vacation

These are the items I always have if I’m going on a holiday and not travelling for an extended period. Obviously some of these I always have but these are specifically what I carry if I’m on a summer vacation.

  • Sunscreen – even if I’m going to Amsterdam in November, I will always take sunscreen.

    TIP: Find a good facial sunscreen and use it as a moisturizer. Two in ones are my fave things. I use this Laura Mercia tinted moisturizing cream with SPF 30 and love it. They have something like 40 colors which is rare for tinted moisturizer and it’s a reasonable price too at $24.

    I’ve recently discovered The Ordinary skincare which I LOVE! Their products are SO AFFORDABLE and very nice. I found it a little hard to navigate their website as I’m a moisturiser only type of woman, but if you have a pinch more knowledge about skincare than me you will be fine. Seriously – so cheap and so good.
  • Travellers Diarrhoea anti-biotics. I’ve never actually had to take these for my stomach (I can’t believe that) but the ones the doc gives me also work really well for tonsillitis so I have been SUPER glad I’ve had them when my throat has gotten infected. NOT GIVING MEDICAL advice here but ask your doc about Amoxicam and whether it is suitable for you.

    My doc gives me a pack of 3 tablets which are amazing. They are long release so just those 3 tablets over 3 days can kill off my worst tonsillitis and they also work for a number of bacterial infections. AGAIN – talk to your own doc about what would be suitable for you but make sure you have something with you.
  • Immodium – I’m not a huge Immodium fan. They actually take about 24 hours to work and mostly in that time I would have rather expelled whatever is in my body that trap it inside, however there are times I’m flying the next day or something like that so I do carry them. Chemist Direct in Australia, Walgreens in the US or Lloyds Pharmacy in the UK will have something to help you out with your upset stomach.

    Again – and I can’t stress this enough – they aren’t immediate. They do take about 24 hours to work and it can also be days before things get moving again if you get my drift.
  • My own Water Bottle. I HATE having to buy new plastic bottles so I always have my own bottle. Avoid a metal one if you can, they can get really hot really quick and of course make sure its BPA free if it is a plastic one.

    I have a plain water bottle that I use around town and a LifeStraw one that I use anywhere else. It just looks like a normal water bottle, however it has a Life Straw Go inbuilt so you can fill your bottle and drink from anywhere.

    It removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella and 99.9% waterborne protozoa, including Giardia and Cryptosporidium. The straw is also good for 1000 litres of water! Available via Wild Earth or on Life Straw’s website.
  • Hat – it varies on what type of hat from a cap (for hiking) to a straw beach hat, but I do always have a hat.
  • Paper Passport Copies – I have digital copies emailed to myself and my sister (emergency contact) and one hard copy in a zip lock bag inside the inner pocket of my pack. If my handbag gets stolen with my passport in it, chances are my phone will also be in there so a good old hard copy of my passport will be required.
    • Get more than one copy of your own and make sure the if you are travelling with someone else you both have a copy of not only yours, but theirs as well.
    • Make sure your next of kin also has a copy of your passport just in case.
  • A shopping bag. I have a little folding bag that fits inside a pocket and that goes everywhere with me. My very cool flamigo one recently died so I’m back to plain blue. Available via Biome in Australia for only $12.95
  • Power pack. My power pack is HUGE! Mostly because I have it for hiking so it needs to be able to recharge my phone, head torch and gps for a week at a time, but I’ve gotten very used to having it so I do carry it all the time now. I use a website called Cable Chick and while the website is a little ugly they have a wide range of products and I’ve never had any challenges at all with their delivery or service, Their prices are also GREAT!

    An Ankor power bank I got from them was $60 less than I could get it anywhere else.
  • A rubber door stop. I often think about ditching this but I guarantee every time I almost have, I’ve used it the next trip. It saved me from about half a dozen very drunken Russian guys at a less than great cheap motel once and I’ve carried it ever since.

    To be clear – I don’t know they are trying to get into my room because they knew I was in there or if they thought it was their room, but that simple rubber door stop that I had wedged under the door earlier (when the lock was very flimsy) meant they didn’t get in and after about 10 mins stumbled off.

    I’ve used it for squeaky windows, broken shower doors, unstable tables, jamming up roach holes (Thailand!) and the list goes on. Silly little thing but super useful, especially in a cheap hotel in San Jose!
  • Spare Sunglasses and spare reading glasses.    I can’t do without either so I always have spares. I’ve had other hikers insist that these are “shakedown” items (which means you don’t need them) but I can’t read without my glasses and I can’t be outside without my sunglasses so for the 200grams I’m happy to have them.
  • A Sarong. Man these things are versatile:
    • As a wrap for a chilly evening
    • Sun protection
    • Beach towel
    • To wear (of course)
    • Sheet for dorm beds
    • A head scarf for appropriate countries.
  • My Camera. I used to torment myself over my camera. Years ago I downsized from a huge Nikon a smaller Nikon Z5 camera and I love that thing. It has survived some horrible conditions and always works (except for that one time in the Danakil Depression), but somehow I often get caught up in weight and think about leaving it at home and just using my phone.

    I’ve done it a few times and ALWAYS regretted it. So now it’s a staple in my kit.
  • My Drone – It’s only new and I’m not great at it yet, but a short holiday is a great place to have it. I don’t need to carry multiple seasons of clothing so I have room and I have time.

    My only advice with drones is to spend the money on a quality one. The cheaper ones are so hard to fly and end up being a total waste of your hard earned cash.
    • 2023 Update: My drone is a DJI Spark which you can no longer get, but I believe the Mavic Air is the closest to the Spark.
FAQ's on travelling to and around Samoa
Le Lagoto Resort in Samoa taken with my drone.

Whats in my bag for a longer Trip…

Once I know I’m moving through multiple climate zones things change a little. I still keep it fairly compact but I add some and I remove some so like Goldilocks, its just right.

  • Remove – my drone – unless I am going to have storage (IE an overland drive) I leave my drone at home. Its also very hard to use drones in a lot of places now. There are some very strict rules in place and I don’t want to carry it and not be able to use it.
  • Add – gloves & beanie – I get really cold so even in a mild Canadian winter I need a knitted hat and gloves
  • Add – specific medications for the situation. Maleria tablets, altitude tabs if I’m hiking etc etc
  • A Airalo ESim. If I’m travelling through multiple countries, I often need my own number for banking authorisations etc, so I have a bought a dual sim phone. Where available I purchase an Airalo eSim as my second sim card which is super easy. You can set them up before you leave and then just turn them on when you land.

    More remote countries usually don’t offer eSim connection so because my phone is dual sim I can purchase a local sim card to use.
  • My Surface Pro. I don’t often take this on shorter trips but I don’t leave home without it if I’m travelling for longer than a few weeks. While I have a full sized laptop for work, this one is small light and can still do everything I need.
  • Dr Bronners Pure Castile Soap – This is VERY concentrated, eco friendly and can be used for body, hair, clothes and even dishes. I LOVE this stuff and always have at least one spare bottle at home, ready for the next adventure. I recently discovered the Cherry Blossom scented one and am in love.

So there you have it. This is the list of items I pretty much always carry. Of course if I”m hiking its different and it is trip dependant.

Jen from Charge The Globe at Cap Blanc in Mauritania
At Cap Blanc in Mauritania

Jenny Marsden - Charge The Globe
About the author

Meet Jenny, a passionate Australian travel blogger who has explored 103 countries to date. With over 30 years of travel experience, Jenny has a wealth of knowledge to share with her readers about the cultures, landscapes, and people she has encountered on her journeys. She’s always battling unfashionably frizzy hair and you will never catch Jenny in anything but comfortable shoes. Learn more about Jenny and her travels.

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