Best Travel Essentials to take on your trips

22 Best Travel Essentials

22 Best Travel Essentials to bring on every trip

Over the years and what feels like countless travel adventures, I really do have some favorite items that I don’t want to miss anymore when traveling. Weather that is a really good suitcase, practical packing cubes, the most comfortable flip flops or a theft-proof handbag. This bunch of items that I found to be the best travel essentials always have a place in my suitcase. Writing these lines, I am sitting in an apartment in Lagos, Portugal, I can confirm that every single piece of the list below is in this room right now (and I’m very happy about it). 

I hope you find some items, you’d like to test out for yourself! This list also gives some great gift ideas for people who love to travel. I promise you’ll find value in these 22 best travel essentials on your next adventure. They will make your next trip more comfortable, safer and bring you joy. Feel free to message me for further information on any of these travel accessories via Instagram.

1. Comfy and versatile Flip Flops

Over the years of traveling I’ve tried so many different Flip Flops and finally found the comfiest and most versatile ones: the Iconic Crocs Comfort Platform Flip Flop. They simply check all the marks being super light, comfortable and you can wear them for long city walks, at the beach or even for dinners at a restaurant.

Since these are platform Flip Flops with little massage knobs, it’s like walking on clouds. They are easy to clean, quick to dry and water-friendly. Plus: They come in a range of colors. Pick your favorite and thank me later!

2. Packing Cubes

One thing I really never travel without are packing cubes. These are super light and will help keeping your suitcase perfectly organized. I even use them for weekend trips back home. Once you used them, I promise you will never travel without them again. They come in different sizes and colors and are suitable for backpacks as well as suitcases. I usually have them organized per cloth type: one for pants and skirts, one for shirts and tops, one for bikinis and underwear and so on.

Little extra tip: sometimes it’s better to roll instead of folding your clothes. I especially do this with pants. Less wrinkles and better overview of whats inside the cube.

3. Sturdy hand luggage which can also be your Daypack

A spacious and comfortable hand luggage is one of the most important items when traveling. Best case, this bag will also be your daypack once you arrived at your destination. This is a rather individual decision and also depends on where you’re traveling to and what you are planning to do once you’re in your destination. I found a sturdy backpack the most practical to have my hands free when exploring new cities or going on a hike etc. 

I am currently using The Backpack Pro from Db (new product name is Ramverk). Their products are designed for outdoor adventures. Thick and robust materials will protect your valuables. What I love about this backpack is that you can open the main compartment entirely and flip it open. There is one big main compartment with some mesh compartments inside, one compartment at the top and one for the laptop at the back. 

4. Kindle

The best option if you like to read while traveling. While I really love paperbacks, these obviously aren’t practical when moving around. They take too much space and are quite limiting if you want to read several books or just don’t like the one you brought on your travels. Using a kindle you have your own super light library in your suitcase and can buy or download books whenever you want. I’ve also bought a case for mine for protection.

Another option is to use the kindle app on your smartphone or tablet, but I found it quite hard to read in the sun. So I definitely recommend investing in a kindle!

5. Stainless steel bottle that keeps your water cold for hours

It doesn’t matter if I am at home or traveling, I usually never leave the house without a water bottle. Especially when traveling to warmer countries, you will appreciate having cooled water with you. 

I personally use the one from 720°DGREE. It’s stainless steel, BPA-free and leak-proof. You can choose between 350ml, 500ml, 750ml and 1000ml and over 30 different colors. I bought the 1000ml milky-bottle in snow-white and I love it! I find this one is super slim, light weight, elegantly designed and the most compact bottle for a 1000ml size.

Obviously, this bottle is not only for travel purposes. You can use it for weekend trips, camping, hikes, university or school, a long city stroll in your hometown, for sports and so on! The 720°DGREE to me is the best combination of design and functionality. 

6. Sarong I Multifunctional cloth

I don’t know on how many trips this specific sarong has been with me. Basically on each single trip I have taken since I bought it ten years ago for a trip to Thailand. This is the most versatile item traveling with me. It served and saved me in so many different situations. 

I’ve used it as a beach towel in the Philippines, as a scarf on windy scooter rides in Bali and as a skirt when visiting the temples in Thailand and my shorts were too short. A sarong to me is an absolute must-have when traveling! 

It’s also a life-saver to cover your head or shoulders to protect it from the sun when hiking, kayaking or on other outdoor adventures. The list goes on. Oh, and of course it makes a nice sarong to wear at the beach. 

7. Polarized sun glasses

No trip without good sunglasses! This of course totally comes down to personal preference and style. However, what I can recommend is having sunnies with polarized glasses. I am using a pair from Ray Ben and my experience is that the polarized glasses are very convenient for the eye. They reduce reflections and dazzling effects and give you higher contrast and clarity compared to normal glasses. Find the one I am wearing here.

8. A cross-body bag for your valuables

One of the most important items when traveling is a small purse to keep your valuables safe. I found the best and most theft-proof option is a cross-body bag with a zipper that you are wearing in front of your chest. Zipper bags are generally less liked by thieves and having your stuff right in front of you is not only safer than in the back but also very practical for quick access. I bought it to be safe when exploring big cities – but now I take it everywhere!

I found one which even has a cover over the zipper, which makes it very very theft-proof. It’s a 1l bag that comes with one main compartment plus three small compartments inside (one of it being with a zipper) plus another zipper compartment at the backside of the bag. It fits a small purse, phone, keys, passport, sunglasses and a lipstick or e.g. a small sun screen. Mine is from Kapten & Son and available in beige and black. 

9. Power bank to keep your phone running on long travel days

Whose smartphone didn’t run out of battery during a trip? Whether it is a long travel day, an extensive hike or exploring a big city. Typically it happens to me when navigating somewhere by foot or bike or using my camera extensively. Hence it is always a good idea to bring a power bank (check compatibility with your device). Luckily they are pretty small these days and don’t take too much space in your hand luggage. I also use this for festivals or when traveling to very remote places with no electricity such as the beautiful San Blas Islands in Panama.

10. Smartphone with a good camera

Who doesn’t like capturing precious travel memories? Whether it’s photos from a breathtaking view or little clips of experiences you enjoyed. These days, a smartphone with a good camera is all you need. I personally use Apple iPhone for years and I love it. 

Currently I am using the Apple iPhone 13 Pro which makes great photos and videos. I think everything from the iPhone 12 is pretty good. Especially the newer models also have an incredible stabilization which is great for videos. I recommend always having a screen protection and a sturdy case. I am using the ones from Spigen for years and also love the elago liquid silicone case for their design and haptic.

Traveling solo? This compact tripod for your smartphone fits into almost every handbag and will help you taking some nice pictures and videos.

If you want to try out manual photography and use a camera, I can recommend the Sony Alpha 6400. This model is perfect for beginners and since it’s an APSC camera (smaller sensor), it is much smaller and lighter compared to a full-frame camera. A really good all-round lens for this camera is the SIGMA 18-50mm f2.8.

11. Sturdy and spacious Suitcase

Well, this one is probably one the most important items. A good suitcase should be sturdy, spacious, practical while also being as light as possible. I personally like to travel with the two models linked below.

First and most flexible one being the Eminent Kapstadt L Expandable (77-120cm / 135l). I love everything about this suitcase. Size L is pretty spacious already, however you can still expand it when you need more space. Due to its four double-spinner wheels (they are super quiet btw), the suitcase rotates 360° easily. It comes with a TSA-lock and in different sizes and colors (mine is called champagne). Check out all the tech specs here.

The second model I am using is the Hugger Roller Bag with 90L from Db. This one is really spacious, too. Made for the outdoors it is very robust. I personally find this one ideal for roadtrips and generally suitable when traveling with a car or if you’re staying longer in places. If you are moving around using trains and other public transport, I find it more practical to have a flexible four-wheels-luggage.

12. For backpacking trips: a practical and robust rucksack

If you’re going on a backpacking trip, I can highly recommend using a backpack from Tatonka. I bought my rucksack from this brand for my first longterm solo trip to Australia in 2009. It served me well on so many trips since then, wether it’s been Southeast Asia, Cuba or Mexico. I’ve lend it to friends several times and they loved it as well. 

After 16 years, I still use it. The model I use is the Isis 60L for ladies. I suppose this Yukon model is the newer version of mine. It has lots of different compartments and smart features. One of the best ones, is that you can open the big main compartment in the front easily to access all your stuff. There are backpacks out there which you can only fill and access from the top. I definitely don’t recommend this since you’ll have a hard time getting your stuff out which is at the bottom. 

Often these backpacks include a tiny rain cover which you can see on my picture below. This is pretty handy when it’s raining to keep your stuff dry. On top, I recommend buying a protection case for flights and bus rides. Especially with all the straps etc. this will avoid you having to wrap your backpack in plastic at the airport (which can be pricey and is not very eco-friendly). I use this one on every backpacking trip and am really happy with it.

Of course, I still recommend going to an outdoor specialist like Globetrotter to get a proper fitting, since it is very individual from what is perceived as comfortable. 

13. Noise cancelling headphones

Since I bought the Apple AirPods Pro four years ago, I used them almost every single day. The sound quality and noise-cancelling of these tiny headphones is truly incredible. The AirPods are always in my handbag  and of course I take them on every trip I go, too.

You can use them during flights while having a general noisy atmosphere in the cabin, just as well as back home for sports, focused work, for calls & meetings, going for a walk and listening to a podcast or when exploring noisy environments.

14. A light cap to protect your head from the sun

I’ve never been a big fan of hats for myself. However, since a bad sunstroke in Bali a couple of years ago, I always take a cap on my travels. Another item that is just important in so many situations: whether it’s a beach day, a long city stroll or hiking in the mountains on a sunny day. 

Compared to straw hats and other fancy options, I just found the classic cap the most sturdy, lightweight and versatile solution (in terms of where to use). Opt for a light color to not have your head heated up in sunny destinations. 

15. Portable bluetooth speaker

This one is rather optional, but if you’re into music and going on longterm travel, you might appreciate having a little speaker with you. Since I love my Sonos One back home, I opted for the Sonos Roam for my travels and it didn’t disappoint. Sonos products are beautifully designed high-quality speakers. Best thing: you can connect the Roam with other Sonos speakers you’re using at home. So, this one isn’t only great for traveling – you can use it in your garden or when spending a day at the lake etc. (it’s portable, so options are endless). They offer it in black and white and some pretty colorful options as well. Find out more about all the tech details here.

If you’re looking for a smaller and cheaper option, I can recommend the Anker Soundcore Mini. I discovered this one in an AirBnB in Munich and was pretty surprised of the sound quality and intense bass of this tiny cube. It comes in different colors and is currently priced below 30,- EUR!

16. Cross-body case for your smartphone

When I was first seeing these smartphone chains, I really didn’t expect that I would ever use them. Turns out they are one of the most practical things when traveling! Wether it’s for going on a hike, exploring a new city or navigating on a scooter. 

With this phone-case you’ll always have your hands free but able to access your phone right away for taking a picture, checking directions or answering a message. I also find them very handy for festivals when you don’t want to bring a purse or bag with you. I recommend using one without metal rings that may scratch your phone. Better opt for a model like this one here.

Outdoor bathroom bali mirror selfie

17. Apple AirTag to keep track of your luggage

So far, my luggage didn’t get lost. However, since the luggage chaos of the pandemic, I like to travel with an Apple AirTag in my suitcase. This way you’ll be able to keep track of your luggage or your daypack when going on excursions during your travels! You can obviously use it for other items as well (your keys, your bike etc.). For protection or to attach them somewhere, you’ll find some nice cases and key rings online. 

18. Sun screen for your face and lips

Generally I like to bring enough sunscreen on my travels, since I found buying these abroad can be quite expensive. I always bring this SPF 50 from La Roche Posay for my face, neck and décolleté as well as a lip balm for protection and care for dry lips (my favorite for recovery is the one from Neutrogena) .

19. A travel-size steamer

This item is not necessarily a must-have but if you’re like me and you like to wear linen when traveling (which is the best fabric for warmer countries), you might consider taking a little travel steamer with you. Linen and other materials just get wrinkly so easily which is why this gadget comes in handy. 

Obviously, when traveling to a well equipped hotel where you’ll stay for 1 or 2 weeks, I wouldn’t pack a steamer. However, if you are planning to go on a longer trip and might not have access to an iron, a travel-sized steamer is a great and practical option to pack. To be honst, since I bought this one for my travels, I hardly use my iron at home anymore. The steamer is just way more quick and easy-to-use.

20. A sleep mask

Most probably I am not the only with a light sleep. A sleep mask is pretty handy for long-haul flights, long bus rides or when booking accommodation that doesn’t have the option to darken the room fully.

21. A travel powder brush

I was looking for a brush that you can actually close to bring it on my travels and found one at KIKO. Due to the fact that the brush is retractable and comes with a cover, you won’t ruin your make up bag. The brush is soft and distributes the powder very well. Of course, this is also handy to use it on the go and not only when traveling.

The Hoola from benefit is the perfect compact bronzer for your travels.

22. A compact travel box for your jewelry

Even though when taking only a few jewelry pieces on your travels, you want them to be protected. Most of the time I travel with a really small box which is enough for me and saves space in my suitcase. I recently came across Stackers which offer really cute boxes in different sizes and colors that fits all needs. You can find them here.

Want more? How to stay fit during your travels -- and don't forget to send a message to your loved ones back home!

If you like to keep doing some workouts during your trip and don’t want to add weight to your luggage, I can highly recommend packing a resistance band. These are super thin and tiny and you can do so many different workouts with these. There’s plenty of Youtube videos to follow a quick little workout. You can find these e.g. at Decathlon or online

If you like to go for a run while traveling and listening to your music without bringing your heavy phone, you’ll love the Apple Watch SE Cellular. This is the one I am using back home and on every trip. It has plenty of other practical features, that you can check out here.

Lastly, if you like to write postcards or a travel journal, these are the cutest pens. I just found them a week ago in a shop at Dusseldorf Airport and I loove them! It’s a gel pen coming with black or blue ink. Best thing: the ink is erasable with the little rubber on top! I found them on Amazon as well here.

Her Travel Notes uses affiliate links to share awesome experiences and products. A small commission may be received if you make a purchase or a booking via one of these links, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting this blog.

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