Travel Tips – Items I ALWAYS Have

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.

 

A Short Holiday or 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.
  • Travellers Diarrhea 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.
  • 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 them emailed to myself 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! And Ankor power bank I have I got from them for $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.
  • 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 to my Olympus OMD micro four thirds 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.
    • Update 2020 – My OMD finally died (so sad) and I've gone back to Nikon but a smaller mirrorless (but full frame) Nikon Z5. It's brand new and I”m still learning how to use it but man I LOVE it so far. Not cheap but a great cost for a full frame mirrorless camera with a 24-200 lens. Camera House in Australia stocks them or Adorama almost everywhere else.
  • 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.
    • 2020 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.

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.
  • 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 second phone. If I'm travelling through multiple countries, I often need my own number for banking authorisations etc, so I have a cheap phone that I take and I purchase a local sim card for that second phone. That way I can share the local sim card data to my main phone if I need to do book anything or do my banking etc, and I use the cheap phone to get around and take photos etc. That way my main phone is tucked away securely and should my phone get stolen there is nothing on there that I would be worried about.
  • My Glocal Me – this is a great data wifi hotspot that I've had for years now. Their data packs are a decent price and are available in more and more locations now. When I'm in the north west of Africa this stays firmly at the bottom of my pack, but in the more western area's its often easier than a sim card. Depending where I am as to whether I use a sim card with my spare phone or my Glocal Me
  • 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.
  • 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.

What would I never leave home without?? My door stop, suncreen and my phone.

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Jenny Marsden - Charge The Globe
About the author

Meet Jenny, a passionate Australian travel blogger who has explored 101 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.

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