See my list of 15 travel must-haves to pack for every trip! These have been my travel essentials for the past 15 years of jetting across the globe and I never leave home without them.
Want help with your packing checklist to make sure you have everything needed for an enjoyable trip? These items are what set apart novice travelers from frequent travelers.
Some items may be obvious while others might be things you never thought of. You'll soon find that some of these items make a big difference in your comfort, health, or sanity! Below is a list of travel must haves to pack for every trip no matter what your destination!
See my other travel tips including:
Travel must-haves to Pack for every trip!
It took me a while to ditch the idea that backpacks are for high schoolers. Guess what, backpacks are cooler then ever now and becoming more popular with adults, businessmen, AND travel gals!
A good backpack has quickly become one of my top essential travel items. I appreciate that brands like Tumi and Kate Spade are making backpacks for women that are extremely functional and fashionable.
I have a smaller Kate Spade backpack for when I'm traveling light (no computer or bulky camera) and a larger Tumi for when I'm packing my computer or other bulkier items. I've had my eye on this Tumi backpack similar to the one I already have but without the side pockets and the Tumi Rivas which is a bit more stylish.
Though Tumi may be expensive, I can't rave enough about this brand. I've had my Tumi backpack for about 4 years now and have really put it through the ringer. It's really held up well and barely looks used.
The materials are far higher quality than other copycat versions. If you want to invest in quality and know it will be years and years and years before your backpack needs to be replaced, Tumi is great.
I try to buy directly from Tumi's website as the customer service and warranty is fantastic.
I tend to lean towards backpacks that are made with the ultra thin parachute/nylon material. These take up little to no space when I'm packing them in the bottom of my suitcase or need to fold them up.
2. Water Bottle
One big mistake travelers make is not drinking enough water and becoming dehydrated. Find a water bottle and pack it along. I like the S'well water bottles that are 17 ounces since they keep my drink hot (when I make tea) or cold all day.
The 17 oz. size is big enough to get you between refills but small enough to fit in your backpack or purse.
Simply Modern is similar to S'well but a tad more affordable.
This is a big travel must have if you want to save money while traveling AND be environmentally friendly...assuming you're in a country that has safe drinking water.
Instead of buying water bottles, fill up for free in a cafe or restaurant. It's also a lifesaver at the airport since most airports in the US have filtered water stations.
If you feel better with filtered water check out the Brita water bottle that comes with a mini filter in the straw.
Don’t be one of those travelers that doesn’t pack an umbrella unless there's rain in the forecast. 90% of the time it rains at some point during my trip and I’m glad I packed my umbrella.
Also, I'm not forced to waste money buying another. I recommend a windproof umbrella with Teflon coating. This Repel umbrella has both qualities and is super compact and light.
4. Noise Cancelling Headphones or Earplugs
A travel must have for that long plane ride with a crying baby behind you. Also wonderful for when those thin hotel walls fail at buffering outside noise or if you need to get some work done in a noisy café.
The Bose QuietComfort Wireless Headphones are your highest quality option. I love how comfortable they are and wireless is pretty much necessary now that most phones are nixing the headphone jack.
The Bose noise canceling earbuds are a great option for something more compact.
If you're looking for essential travel items to give as a gift, these are a sure winner.
Earplugs are an ultra-cheap alternative if noise canceling headphones aren’t in your budget.
5. Sneakers/tennis shoes
Even if you think you have feet made of steel and you'll have the willpower to wear those cute shoes all over the streets of Paris, pack your tennis shoes. At some point you will cave and be so thankful you packed comfortable shoes.
I usually bring a workout pair of shoes that look decent enough to wear around town and then a sporty pair of sneakers like the Adidas Cloudfoam Advantage (only $35 on Amazon). I love these so much I have them in 3 colors and ordered the men's version for Jake!
I highly recommend getting a black pair since they won't show dirt and scuffs as much as the white ones.
I also LOVE the Cole Haan Zerogrand Oxfords. Not only are they super comfortable but they are washable and almost weightless. Great for packing light. These look great with jeans, dresses, skirts...everything really. I recommend getting both black and white in these since they are washable.
You'll see how much I love these shoes by scrolling through my Instagram...they make an appearance more than I'd like to admit.
6. Detox Tea
That clean diet you eat at home probably goes out the window during vacation. Pack some detox tea to help your body deal with the added toxins from your travel diet. I really like the Yogi Peach Detox because it actually tastes good.
Sticking to the idea of combating your travel diet, probiotics are a healthy and digestive travel essential. This will help with stomach and digestive issues and help keep you regular while on the road. Be sure to get one that does not require refrigeration. I have found Garden of Life Primal Defense works best for me.
8. Green Powder
If you read my post “STAYING HEALTHY WHILE TRAVELLING - 10 TIPS” you'll be familiar with green powder and already know it's one of my go-to travel must haves.
I always pack powdered greens so I can replace a few afternoon meals with a green juice and give my body a break from digesting heavy meals. Choosing a juice over a meal is not only healthier and will leave you feeling lighter but can also be enjoyed on the run while you're walking to the next destination.
9. Portable Charger
Your phone is likely to die before the day comes to an end with all the Instagram pics you're snapping. Bring a portable charger so you don’t miss any photo opps. I have the Anker PowerCore 10000 and have been really happy with its charge power and how small it is.
10. Converter/Travel Adapter
Pretty sure no explanation is needed for this one when traveling to another country. I recently upgraded to a converter that has several USB slots and it's a game changer! No more fighting over who gets to charge their phone first.
11. Eye Drops/Lip Balm/Hand Cream
I don’t know about you, but I get super dehydrated on the plane and when traveling in general. I always pack plenty of eye drops, lip balm, and hand cream to keep me from feeling like a wrinkled-up piece of paper.
If you're using eyedrops multiple times a day be sure to buy the preservative free eye drops. The regular eyedrops can be irritating if used frequently.
13. Laundry Detergent in a Travel bottle
This will be one of those travel must haves you probably never thought about. This is an essential travel item if you're a rockstar at packing light and rewearing your outfits.
Don’t put yourself in the situation where all of a sudden you have no clean socks or underwear. I always pack a travel bottle of laundry detergent so I can wash items as needed in my hotel sink.
This is a trick I talk about in my TRAVELLING LIGHT | CARRY ON FOR A 2 WEEK TRIP post.
14. Cozy Socks
Yes, I am that person that wears dorky cozy socks on the plane. There's something about this added bit of comfort that makes the plane ride less gruesome. It’s also nice to have a pair of these if your hotel has bare floors or is cold.
The multipurpose scarf! I pack at least 2 or 3 on every trip. It helps to make your outfits look different (even though you’ve worn that shirt and pants 4 times already). I love this scarf from Nordstrom that doubles as a wrap when it gets cold.