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The must-have travel items I take on every trip

headphones, must-have travel items

THE MUST-HAVE TRAVEL ITEMS I TAKE ON EVERY TRIP

LAUNDRY BAGS

I started using these laundry bags about 6 years ago, and I’m pretty sure the reason was just that I wanted to buy something floral and this was the only thing I didn’t already have. Seriously, though, I don’t remember what I did with dirty clothes while traveling before I had them. I am pretty neurotic about not letting my dirty clothes and my clean clothes touch each other in my suitcase, and laundry bags do the trick. I now have this set of three (in a different pattern) and love that they don’t take up any extra space in my luggage.

NOISE-CANCELING HEADPHONES

I’ve talked about my beloved Sony WH1000XM3 noise-canceling headphones before, but I couldn’t leave them off this must-have travel items list. They are absolutely one of the best investments I have ever made in anything, not just items in the travel category. The ability to tune out my surroundings makes my whole in-flight experience SO MUCH BETTER and keeps me from getting frustrated on planes or other modes of transportation. They’re super simple to pair with your phone, comfortable enough to wear for hours, and so effective that you won’t hear someone trying to get your attention unless they wave their hands in front of your face. I LOVE THEM.

ANTIBACTERIAL WIPES

These are a must for me. I am a total germaphobe, so I’m carrying around at least three types of anti-bacterial something or other at any given point in time, but the lightweight wipes are what I generally recommend for non-crazy people. I use them to wipe down every airplane seat I occupy, which I understand could seem like a bit much to some people, but I’ve legitimately also needed them for the tray table many times before putting my computer or a pillow on it. Off the plane, depending on how rustic your travels are, you never know when your bathroom options won’t involve access to soap.

ONE-STEP PADDLE DRYER

Okay, hear me out on this one since I know it’s going to sound ridiculous. This combo brush/hair dryer is definitely not a travel item, as it’s pretty big and also won’t work overseas (I don’t ever recommend bringing hair tools overseas, even with a voltage converter, as I’ve seen them fry out and it’s just not worth it). But for domestic travel, I will not leave home without this thing. Do not underestimate how awesome being able to dry your hair with one hand is until you try it; part of the reason I bring it everywhere is because I just love it so much. But the other reason is that aside from hunting for light switches, nothing about hotel stays annoys me more than having to go searching for the hair dryer. Seriously, can we standardize its location across rooms already?!

As I mentioned, this dryer brush is not small, but I find that it’s not that much bulkier or annoying to pack than a regular paddle brush, and for me, it’s completely worth sacrificing a little extra space in my carry-on.

BATHING SUIT

I read this tip a few years ago on another blogger’s “must-have travel items” list, and I’m so glad I did. I now put a bathing suit into my suitcase no matter where I’m going, no matter how little it seems like I may need one. Plenty of times I’ve shown up to a hotel only to find out it had a pool or hot tub I didn’t know about, or that there was a great swimming hole, river-tubing situation or other water-based activity close by. And even if you’re totally sure you won’t have the time or opportunity to swim on your trip, you never know when your trip could get unexpectedly extended thanks to a flight change or cancellation (I say this from experience!)

SLIP-ON SANDALS

These kind of go hand-in-hand with the bathing suit, since if you do wind up going to a pool, spa or hot tub, you probably don’t want to wear the boots, heels or sneakers you packed. But even when I know water activities aren’t on the agenda, I loving having shoes to slip on quickly if I need to run down to the hotel front desk, for example, just as I’d put on flip-flops to go do a quick errand at home. Having these along is definitely a convenience and does require a fair pit of precious space in my carry-on, but it’s a convenience I love that helps me avoid one of the frustrations of spending lots of time on the road.

EXTRA UNDERWEAR (AND OTHER DAILY ITEMS)

Speaking of unexpected trip extensions, I always, always, always pack an extra pair of underwear (or two for international trips). It’s definitely one of these must-have travel items. So many times I’ve had to wait an extra day to return home from a trip, be it because of weather or other circumstances, and every time I applaud myself for being prepared. If there are any other single-use items you use daily, same goes for them (I don’t wear contacts, for example, but I imagine if you wear dailies you’d want to bring along spares of those as well)!

PACKABLE TRIPOD

If you’re into photography, I can’t explain what a game-changer it’ll be to be able to bring a tripod along without checking an extra bag or lugging around super-heavy equipment. My Manfrotto MKBFRA4-BH BeFree Compact Aluminum Travel Tripod fits easily into both my Away Carry-On suitcase and my Lo & Sons O.G. computer bag, giving me lots of options for how to transport it depending on what else I need to pack. If you’re looking to do any low-light picture-taking or shoot photos of yourself, I recommend this tripod whole heartedly. 

REUSABLE SHOPPER

If you pack carry-on like I do, you might have run into this problem before: You’ve brought your things in a backpack, but once at your destination, you want to use that backpack for the day and don’t know where to put your stuff. Easy solution: Bring a compact, lightweight, reusable shopping bag like these ones from Baggu (I have a dozen of them). They also allow you to pack light for a day of exploring but at the same time have a carrying option for if you buy anything along the way. 

NAIL SCISSORS

I probably haven’t cut my nails with a scissors since… oh, I don’t know, eever? But I constantly keep a pair of these in my toiletry kit anyway. The reason is simple: If you need a scissors, you need a scissors, and nothing else you’ll typically find in a hotel room is going to help you in that regard. My pair is tiny and won’t sound any alarm bells with TSA. 

Hope you enjoyed this post on my must-have travel items! What falls into that category for you? Let me know in the comments! >>

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Carly

October 8, 2019

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