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Travel Essentials: Must Have for International Travel

One of the hardest things about living out of a backpack is prioritizing travel must-haves to pack only the best travel products. While I’d love to say I have the art of packing light down, I haven’t. After many years on the road as a digital nomad, I’ve learned to pack on the light side. However, there are certain travel essentials I always save space for—these are my must-have travel accessories!

Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?

The Insurance companies I recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single-trip cover, annual multi-trip cover, and long-term travel cover. Safety Wing is great value, with monthly coverage starting at $45.08. It’s super easy to use, and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

Read my full travel insurance post here, where I go into detail about all companies. 

Traveling Essentials: Must Have Travel Items

I asked some of my favorite travel bloggers: “What travel essentials can you not live without?” This is what they came up with!

Supportive Shoes

I won’t travel anywhere without my Tropicfeel shoes. I typically only pack one pair of sneakers with supportive shoe inserts and a pair of sandals when traveling. Multifunctional footwear for long days exploring new cities, hiking volcanoes, trekking through the jungle, and salsa dancing is a must-have for international travel. I never thought I’d find one pair to meet my needs until I was sent a pair of these to try—now, they’re among my favorite travel must-haves.

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Rain Jacket

My rain jacket is one of the best travel accessories I always toss in my suitcase. I love that it’s lightweight yet durable. Rain jackets protect you from the wind and rain, making them traveling essentials for any destination.

For example, I watched a beautiful sunset in Santorini on top of a hill where it was very windy. My husband didn’t bring a rain jacket, and the cold wind pushed him around. Meanwhile, I felt warmer because I had mine on underneath my oversized top-layer jacket.

Rain jackets also protect you from splashes when traveling on a boat. My rain jacket was beneficial during a whale-watching tour in South Africa. The water was cold, but my rain jacket protected me. Lastly, rain jackets also make for great pillows on a flight.

Disha Smith, Disha Discovers

Sarong

Regarding must-have travel items, I always reach for my favorite sarong. Now nearly thirty years old, my beloved cotton sarong (which I bought on my first backpacking adventure) is tattered, patched, and faded. Over the years, it has become a comfort item, evoking many wonderful travel memories. I have used my sarong as a pillow on the Trans Siberian Railway, as a blanket on long overnight bus journeys in Argentina, as a beach towel on the glorious beaches of Samoa, and as a skirt or shawl to visit temples in Nepal and mosques in Indonesia. Looking at my threadbare blue sarong conjures images of places I’ve visited and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

On a practical note, my lightweight sarong is easy to wash, takes no time to dry, and rolls up small in my hand luggage. I’ve used it as a screen and curtain in hostels and have tied it to trees and vehicles to provide much-needed shade.

Furthermore, my trusty sarong has given me comfort on difficult travel days when illness has struck, from catching malaria in Botswana to typhoid in Samoa. My sarong has become a talisman, and I won’t leave home without it anytime soon!

Sinead Camplin, Map Made Memories

Heavy Cashmere Shawl

I never like being cold, so a heavy cashmere shawl or scarf is a must-have for international travel. I bought it long ago and have taken it on almost every trip since, though I’ve also used a similar patterned light cashmere scarf from China. At home, I take my scarf on short excursions into San Francisco, where the weather can change on a dime. It’s usually enough to keep me warm until I get home.

Flights from San Francisco are often chilly, so a cashmere wrap is one of the best travel products for Californians. I wrap it around me as a shawl or neck scarf for my travel outfit since it’s easy to remove and stow in my carry-on if I warm up. The airplane is frequently cold, so I pull it out again as needed.

When I don’t need the scarf around my shoulders, I often fold it for neck rest. I have also used it to keep me warm in bed once arriving at my destination. I’ve been in situations where there weren’t enough covers or the air conditioning has gone mad—I wrap it around my shoulders and am good to go.

Once, I lost it in Santiago, Chile, and was so desperate I retraced my steps to find it. Imagine how relieved I felt when a hotel concierge reunited me with one of my must-have travel items! Like my cat, my black cashmere scarf makes me feel warm, fuzzy, and secure!

Carole Terwilliger Meyers, Berkeley and Beyond

Chic Hat

must have travel items,travel essentials,best travel accessoriesStraw sun hats with adorable messages have taken Instagram by storm in recent years, and it’s safe to say hats are timeless travel essentials. These must-have travel accessories can be incredibly chic and instantly elevate an outfit.

I love hats because they are practical, especially when visiting a scorching hot city. This also holds true when exploring the bucket-list-worthy things to do in Venice (or Barcelona, Athens, or other cities in southern Europe). Another bonus is they don’t have to occupy luggage space since you can wear your hat on the plane and find a place for it later in the overhead compartment with your jacket.

Ultimately, I love hats best because they look chic in photos—who doesn’t want amazing photos to remember their summer trips by?

Laura, Travelers Universe

Sunglasses

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Sunglasses are some of the best travel items, and I prefer a good-quality pair with polarized lenses.

For me, sunglasses are more than fashion statements or must-have travel accessories. They can complete an outfit and look cute in pictures—sunglasses also solve the issue of having your eyes closed in photos. They are also perfect for holding your hair back to keep it out of your face. Most importantly, my sunglasses protect my eyes from harmful UV rays, which are a concern even on cloudy days.

I always pack sunglasses for tropical places like the Dry Tortugas, with endless white sand and ocean water. They’re also a must-have for international travel to deserts and snowy destinations. The sun reflects off these surfaces, potentially causing harmful eye conditions, including cancer and blindness.

I purchase sunglasses from BlendersGlassesshop, or Knockaround as they are good quality, have UV protection, and are reasonably priced. Aside from eye protection, my sunglasses help me look younger. I am over 40 and need all the help I can get—a good pair of sunglasses prevents squinting and crows’ feet!

Plus, if I look tired from jetlag, I can hide behind them.

Joella Doobrow, RovingJo

Fast-Drying Towel

must have travel items,travel essentials,best travel accessoriesFast-drying towels are underrated travel items! There are two reasons I consider them must-have travel essentials. The first is they help you dry off after taking a shower. While you might get lucky and have access to free towels at your accommodations, many hostels don’t provide them.

The second reason is that you’ll need a beach towel to dry off after swimming and sit in the sand. If you go to the beach without a towel, you must sit on the ground and risk getting sand in your clothes. You can easily claim a spot on the beach by setting a towel down, and you won’t have to worry about sandy clothes!

While any towel will do the trick, I prefer a fast-drying microfiber towel while traveling. These can be purchased on Amazon, and they’re perfect for backpackers or anyone traveling for more than several days. Another benefit to bringing one of these towels is they’re incredibly compact and hardly take up any space in your bag.

Michael Ryan Anderson, Passport Explored

Ear Plugs

must have travel items,travel essentials,best travel accessoriesIf you’re a light sleeper, like me, you may fall asleep anywhere when you’re tired enough, but the slightest noise can wake you. Not getting enough sleep is challenging when traveling—it makes you more susceptible to getting sick, and it’s hard to enjoy a trip when you’re exhausted. You don’t always make the best decisions when you’re sleep-deprived, which is especially important for solo travelers.

The best way to get restful sleep through the night, no matter where I am, is with my handy Hearos earplugs. They are helpful for busy cities—downtown can be noisy, and you don’t know what to expect until there.

I stayed in La Candelaria in Bogotá last year while traveling solo. It was wintertime and cold, but an impressive number of people were out partying all night, and my hotel was in the heart of it! With my earplugs, I slept well enough to tackle the city during the day. Bogotá is not a city you want to explore solo if you are half asleep!

Earplugs are traveling essentials since they’re compact and fit in any bag. Even minimalist travelers can bring a pair without fear of running out of space or dealing with baggage weight allowances. You may not always need them, but you’ll be grateful for them when you do!

-Sam, My Flying Leap

Menstrual Cup

A menstrual cup isn’t the most glamorous item when considering the best travel products, but every woman must decide how to manage their period on the road.

I’ve had varying levels of success buying tampons and pads abroad. Some pads were chunky and made me look like I was wearing a diaper, while tampons were nearly impossible to find in some countries. My time of the month quickly became a nightmare to manage while traveling.

Packing my period supplies from home is burdensome—when you only travel with a carry-on, a few tampon packs quickly consume valuable backpack space. Deciding there must be an easier way, I searched for reusable alternatives and stumbled across the menstrual cup.

This silicone cup has become a must-have for international travel, making my period easy to manage while abroad. Menstrual cups are a greener alternative to tampons and pads and are also small and light. Unlike tampons, there are no leaks with a menstrual cup—I have complete peace of mind when traveling, regardless of what I’m doing. I recommend them to any female traveler!

Sheree Hooker, Winging the World

Chapstick

must have travel items,travel essentials,best travel accessoriesI can never travel without my Chapstick (or several), as my lip balm and I are inseparable. The need to hydrate my lips cannot be overemphasized. After living in Alaska for several years and frequently traveling across different time zones and climates, it’s safe to say that this $2 goodness has been a lifesaver.

Louisa Moje, Island Revel

Solid Shampoo and Conditioner

I’m a big believer in packing light when I travel—regardless of how short or long the trip is, 99% of the time, I can make it work with only carry-on luggage. That means reducing the amount of liquids I travel with to comply with strict liquid rules. I tried solid shampoo and conditioner a while back to save room for liquid products that solids can’t replace. I tried several solid shampoo brands, from big international names to locally-made options, and I eventually found one I love.

Ethique makes my favorite solid shampoo and conditioner—they’re the best travel items! I have oily hair, and this solid shampoo cleans my strands better than my old liquid shampoo. I also love the conditioner because it makes my hair soft and silky. Ethique’s products don’t crumble as quickly as other brands I’ve tried.

These are so good that I’ve switched to using them all the time, even at home. The conditioner bars come in two different types, one for normal-to-oily hair and one for normal-to-dry hair. There are several shampoo options, making it easy to find one for your hair type.

Top Tip: The bars are a bit large, so I cut them with a non-serrated knife.

Ali Garland, Travel Made Simple

Lotion

must have travel items,travel essentials,best travel accessoriesLotion may seem like a silly must-have for international travel, but it’s handy. I suggest putting it in your carry-on bag for easy access on long flights. Flying on an airplane can dry your skin, and no one wants wrinkles. Whether traveling to a warm or cold destination, you will want lotion. Any temperature can dry your skin—lotion is essential!

I recommend bringing a morning lotion with sunscreen and a thick evening moisturizer. Aveeno is perfect because it offers both for reasonable prices, including mini bottles for travel. You don’t need anything fancy—moisturize regularly to avoid skin damage.

Chelsey, Explore With Me

Bamboo Toothbrush

must have travel items,travel essentials,best travel accessoriesOne of the absolute must have travel items is a bamboo toothbrush. We all bring a toothbrush abroad, but how many of us think about what kind of toothbrush we use? I switched from plastic to bamboo several years ago and will never go back!

Plastic toothbrushes are not recyclable because of the small particles they contain. The average person will use hundreds of toothbrushes in their lifetime, resulting in many landfills full of discarded toothbrushes.

Getting a bamboo toothbrush is an effortless switch that makes a significant difference in the long run. Bamboo toothbrushes are biodegradable (apart from the bristles, in some cases) and antibacterial. On top of that, bamboo is the fastest-growing plant on earth and doesn’t require fertilizers or pesticides, making production more environmentally friendly.

You can purchase them in different sizes and colors—don’t forget a bamboo case to store them while traveling. I am so obsessed with these eco-friendly toothbrushes that I bought my whole family some for Christmas.

Lyubomira, BulgarianOnTheGo.blog

Wet Wipes

must have travel items,travel essentials,best travel accessoriesWhether it’s a trip down the road or a globetrotting adventure, a pack of wet wipes is one of the most versatile tools for any traveler. They are handy before, during, and after meals for disinfecting, mopping, and cleaning. If you’re traveling to remote destinations with limited clean water, wet wipes are a handy waterless shower tool to remove dirt and grime. If you’ve visited a secluded bathroom without TP, you know they’re also great for wiping!

I have used wet wipes as bags for fruit peels and nutshells, wiping wounds on hikes, and cleaning my phone after falling in the dirt. Here’s a tip you may not know: most airlines don’t frequently clean their tray tables due to quick turnaround times between landing and takeoff. You may be eating off of a previous passenger’s mess and spillage! In this case, Dettol, Lysol, or Clorox wipes help clean germs.

Bring a plastic bag to discard used wet wipes on your travels—we did this when visiting Singapore’s last kampong, Pulau Ubin.

Callan Wienburg, Once in a Lifetime

Hand Sanitizer

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When traveling, I always keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer in my jacket pocket or bag. Being easily accessible helps me avoid contracting illnesses and infections carried on objects I touch. I intermittently squeeze a few drops onto my hands, then rub it in. I want to enjoy my time on the road, not spend it vomiting, sniffling, or lying in bed feeling poorly!

Door handles, public transport system grips, and plane or train seatback trays are touched by numerous people between cleanings, some of whom cough and sneeze. A good hand sanitizer kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, reducing your risk of illness.

I have a well-used 50ml container that I refill from a one-liter pump sanitizer bottle I bought in a supermarket to keep costs low and minimize plastic waste. Despite using hand sanitizer frequently, I also wash my hands with soap and water intermittently and before meals.

Stuart Forster, Go Eat Do  

Kanken Backpack

must have travel items,travel essentials,best travel accessoriesI take my yellow Fjallraven Kanken everywhere I go—it’s light, bright, beautiful, and functional. I’ve brought it on every trip since receiving it as a gift about a decade ago. The condition is still excellent after years of regular use.

My backpack was my only companion on my first solo trip, from when we arrived at the airport until we returned home. It comfortably held my belongings, including my huge SLR camera, tripod, laptop, travel essentials, clothes, toiletries, and more. I couldn’t believe it fit everything I needed for a week in the Colorado Rockies!

On most flights, I have my laptop, chargers, headphones, snacks, jacket, book, and miscellaneous items in my backpack. It becomes a mini suitcase that lies flat and opens up during road trips. We organize snacks to be easily accessible—once zipped, there’s no car clutter.

My backpack is perfect for holding all of my travel must-haves. It’s lightweight and well-padded, making it comfortable to carry. I can’t imagine a trip without it.

I also recently discovered the KnackPack—it’s great for digital nomads, with specific spaces for your tech and travel essentials. It also comes in several chic digital nomad styles!

Jyoti and Nirmal, Story at Every Corner 

Basecamp Backpack

must have travel items,travel essentials,best travel accessories

must have travel items,travel essentials,best travel accessoriesI wish I were one of those women who only travel with a cute handbag or stylish, compact shoulder tote. As a travel writer and mom, I need a bag with room! More often than not, I resort to carrying a backpack on the road.

My favorite backpacks have three pockets. The deep pocket holds a hoodie, my camera, snacks, and a book. The slim middle pocket contains my laptop, extra cords, chargers, and batteries. The ample front pocket stores travel essentials like my wallet, passport, phone, and an extra pen. I like having a side pocket for water bottles so I don’t have to risk it leaking on my clothes or laptop—a second pocket is handy for stowing a small umbrella.

I love Basecamp’s Ironside backpack because it offers protective laptop padding without being bulky or heavy and has extra interior and exterior pockets. The small outer pockets are ideal for items that get lost in bigger pouches, like sunglasses, lipstick, or a hotel key. I also like the muted colors and fabrics that look more grown-up rather than college student.

On specific trips, I put my wallet, phone, keys, and lipstick in a small “satellite purse” that I can grab from the backpack for light evening travel.

Eileen Gunn, FamiliesGo!

Carry-On Suitcase

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I procrastinated switching to a suitcase for the longest time—I loved my backpack and wasn’t ready to give it up! However, the more I traveled, the more expensive my equipment became. I needed a solid carry-on suitcase with a built-in lock to protect my gear. That way, if I need to leave my bag and travel items in a luggage room, I can lock it up. The Chester is one carry-on suitcase worth the investment.

Claire

Packing Cubes

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must have travel items,travel essentials,best travel accessoriesWhether I’m backpacking, going away for a weekend with hand luggage, or checking bags for a more extended trip, I always bring packing cubes. People often mistake packing cubes for space-savers—compression and vacuum bags are better for traveling light. However, they leave clothes wrinkled and aren’t easy to pack and unpack.

Packing cubes keep you organized and can save space by following the rule, “If your items don’t fit in the cube, they don’t get packed.” I use cubes of different colors and sizes for assorted clothing types and always roll my clothing items to minimize ironing.

Packing cubes are also handy for separating clean clothes from dirty ones, and they help with organizing so I can find items easily without rummaging through my belongings. Features to look out for when purchasing packing cubes are multiple sizes, clear PVC or a mesh window to see what’s inside, and light, durable materials that will last a lifetime. I suggest the Eagle Creek Pack-It cubes.

Alternatively, purchase a backpack with built-in packing sections, like this one. It also hangs like a mini wardrobe, which is helpful if you don’t want to use hotel storage.

Roshni, The Wanderlust Within

Scrubba Wash Bag

must have travel items,travel essentials,best travel accessoriesWe ask ourselves two questions when packing for travel: Are we being as eco-friendly as possible? And are we packing too much? Luckily, the Scrubba wash bag answers both in the best way possible.

This compact bag helps us do laundry while traveling. You fill it with water and add a few drops of your favorite biodegradable detergent and dirty clothes. Seal it up, scrub, rinse your clothes, and hang them to dry. Voila! The best thing is this bag also doubles as a dry bag for scuba diving.

The Scrubba bag helps us pack less because we can easily do small loads of laundry on the road. By packing less, we travel lighter, reducing our environmental footprint. It also helps us stay sustainable by using smaller amounts of water—we also bring eco-friendly, biodegradable detergent.

This compact bag packs a big punch for staying practical and eco-friendly on the road. We can’t travel without it!

Carine and Derek, We Did It Our Way

Filtered Water Bottle

Water bottles are among the best travel accessories, and I was amazed to learn about filtered water bottles several years ago. They’re a genius invention and a must have for international travel if you have a weak or nervous stomach, like me. There are several filtered water bottle types, but all do essentially the same thing: ensure clean, safe drinking water, regardless of where you are.

A filtered water bottle is perfect if you’re an adventure traveler who enjoys exotic locations where the drinking water isn’t safe or palatable. Fill up the bottle with available water and let the filter work. You can drink the water knowing it’s safe for you and tastes great! A filtered water bottle is also perfect for nomads with sensitive stomachs.

I love the peace of mind that traveling with a filtered water bottle brings me. I never worry about water, whether for drinking or brushing my teeth. I know the water is safe because I’ve filtered it through my bottle.

For a bottle with extra tech, this one is self-cleaning via UVC light, USB rechargeable, and turns any water into drinkable freshwater. It is also vacuum-insulated to keep your water cold for up to 12 hours.

Lesley Christensen, Freedom56Travel.com

Steripen Adventurer

must have travel items,travel essentials,best travel accessoriesAs someone who spends her time exploring many remote South American destinations, the Steripen Adventurer has become one of my top traveling essentials. It started as a way to save money since buying plastic water bottles added up over time, but it soon became more.

As the impact of single-use plastic has become a more prevalent global issue, the Steripen was an easy tool to reduce my reliance on plastic when traveling. Not only does it turn tap water drinkable in close to a minute, but I always have water regardless of where I am.

It’s also light and easy to use, and the batteries last forever. I bought mine years ago, and it’s still going strong. I’ve saved hundreds of pounds, hours of time, and much environmental guilt. It’s the most reliable water sterilizer or filter that I’ve tried!

Steph Dyson, Worldly Adventurer

Travel Coffee Press

must have travel items,travel essentials,best travel accessoriesThe one item I can’t travel without is my trusty, well-worn travel coffee press, one of the first travel essentials I added to my gear setup.

Whether staying in hotels or camping, having access to fresh coffee any time of the day is sometimes impossible. As a confirmed caffeine addict, I can’t start my day exploring without a quality cup of coffee. With my coffee press, grounds, and a small travel kettle, I only need clean water, regardless of where I wake up.

One of the benefits of using a travel coffee press is the ability to seal the lid, meaning I can take fresh coffee with me for the day! The stainless steel travel coffee press is exceptionally sturdy and perfect for tossing in my travel bag.

Markus, The Roaming Fork

Aeropress Coffee Maker

must have travel items,travel essentials,best travel accessoriesAn Aeropress coffee maker is one of the best travel products. Being a self-proclaimed coffee addict and snob, having good coffee on the road is incredibly important. While finding good coffee driving through cities is easy, you’re often not so lucky in smaller towns.

Since discovering the Aeropress coffee maker, I can now guarantee a good cup of coffee with access to boiling water. The Aeropress is perfect for travelers as it is compact, light, and affordable at under $30, including filters, a stirrer, and a scoop. Considering a cup of coffee is around $5, depending on where you are traveling, this is a significant cost-saver.

If I travel for shorter periods, I buy beans in advance and grind them before leaving. I research the best places to purchase ground beans for longer trips. Pack a grinder to ensure freshness with every cup.

Erin, Curiously Erin

Kindle or E-Reader

I love reading books and go through about 100 books annually, most of which I read while waiting for a plane at the airport, traveling by train, or relaxing after a long travel day. Taking paper books with me, especially on a long trip, is problematic and inconvenient since I typically only travel with one backpack. As a result, I attempt to minimize my luggage to travel as light as possible.

This is why a Kindle is the perfect solution for me. I bought it many years ago, and it still works perfectly! Kindles are small and light, holding thousands of books. I use the Paperwhite version, which I strongly recommend if you read a lot, as it doesn’t strain your eyes.

I also don’t need to bring paper guides since I store mine in my e-reader. Additionally, I love the battery life—it can last for weeks without charging. If you love reading as much as I do, Kindles and e-readers are travel must haves.

Marta and Milosz, Backpackers WRO

Headphones

must have travel items,travel essentials,best travel accessoriesI always pack my over-ear noise-canceling headphones, a must for watching films and listening to my favorite travel podcasts on a long journey. I generally use in-ear headphones that block some noise and are small and light to travel with. They don’t block everything, however, and after sitting near a particularly annoying chatter on a recent flight, I vowed only to bring my “proper” headphones in the future.

I use a pair of AKG NC60C wireless Bluetooth noise-canceling headphones. They’re bigger and bulkier than my little earbuds but fold flat in a soft travel case with a pocket for the USB charging cable. The noise-canceling is pretty good (be gone, annoying plane seat neighbors!), and they’re light, comfortable to wear, and classy.

They’ve been useful several times—notably when I stayed in a Cyprus hotel on the local car club’s favorite street for cruising and backfiring. I slept like a baby with my noise-canceling headphones and a white noise app. Headphones are crucial!

Helen, Helen on Her Holidays

GPS

We’ve done many hiking and long-distance walks worldwide, and I always thought it would be awesome to have a GPS watch that shows distances, times, walking speed, elevations, maps, and other statistics. My husband bought me a Garmin Fenix 5 for Valentine’s Day, and I always pack it!

It provides valuable information for hiking and other outdoor fitness activities, like swimming, surfing, cycling, and walking around a city. At the end of every day, I can see how active I was, how much I walked, how many calories I burned, and more.

The Garmin watch helps us write blog posts on hiking or cycling since we don’t need to memorize or write down data like daily distances, times, and elevation changes. We connect the watch to a phone or a laptop and synchronize it with the Garmin app. It uploads the information and keeps it online so we can return to it anytime. The watch is like a tiny computer on your wrist!

Campbell and Alya, Stingy Nomads

External Hard Drive

must have travel items,travel essentials,best travel accessoriesWhile there’s limited space while traveling, there are some things I can’t travel without, like my external hard drive. If you work online and travel, like I do, or love taking photos, you know they can take up a significant amount of computer memory space.

Photos are irreplaceable, so an external hard drive is worth the investment for backup files. You can store pictures on your computer, but when you have tens of thousands, your memory will quickly be used up, and your computer will begin to run slowly.

I always pack my external hard drive to store photos while traveling long-term. I have a 1TB hard drive that’s slim and compact, so it barely takes up space. Consider an external hard drive if you’re only storing images on your memory card or computer. It’s a great backup in case your memory card gets corrupted, lost, or breaks.

Naomi, Eat Love Explore

VPN

must have travel items,travel essentials,best travel accessories

A virtual private network (VPN) is a must have for international travel. Life on the road means I use internet banking, move money around using phone apps, pay my credit card online, and book 99% of my accommodations using websites. I typically use these programs while connected to free public WiFi—a VPN protects my data when sending information online.

Personal data security aside, I picked the best VPN for travel to spoof my location and pretend my laptop is somewhere else. This is a requirement if traveling somewhere without easy access to specific sites. Facebook in China is the easiest example, but Turkey blocks Booking.com and Wikipedia.

If you’re a Netflix user or a BBC fan, these sites often won’t let you access their content if you’re outside the viewing area. With a VPN, you can gain access anywhere in the world!

With location spoofing, I’ve saved thousands of dollars in airfare—a VPN pays for itself.

Sarah Carter, ASocialNomad

Binoculars

I love nature and will travel anywhere for wildlife, so I can’t leave home without the best travel binoculars for our safari, game-viewing, or whale-watching adventures. Getting a proper pair of high-quality binoculars changes everything.

On our first trip to South Africa, we were surprised by how close the animals got to our vehicle. Nevertheless, we used our binoculars to see details like the wrinkly elephant skin. They were also invaluable for spotting wildlife far from the car, like lions laying low in the tall grass. Without the help of our binoculars, we would have missed many rare wildlife sightings.

Living in Argentina has given us a wealth of nature-focused destinations. We have used our travel binoculars to spot whales and elephant seals from afar and see caiman and deer in the wetlands. If you’re a hiker, I recommend packing a lightweight pair of binoculars for the trail. Some are so tiny they fit effortlessly in your breast pocket.

With smartphones and digital cameras dominating today’s market, many haven’t considered packing binoculars. I hope this changes your mind because I’ll never leave mine at home again!

Erin, Sol Salute

Juggling Sticks

While some people can’t travel without their favorite book, camera, or lucky charm, ours differs slightly. We always pack our juggling sticks! Unsure what they are?

Juggling sticks come in a set of three: two thin ones for your hands and a heavier one to throw with the other sticks. Since picking them up several years ago, I can attest they’re some of the most addictive things ever!

Why are they so good for traveling? They’re super lightweight and easy to carry but help pass the time and keep you occupied on the road. Juggling is also a decent exercise and a fun way to exert energy.

After practicing for many years, we can now juggle fire and use it to help fund our travels. Most people are incredibly impressed (and generous) when there’s fire involved!

Josh and Sarah, Veggie Vagabonds

My Dog

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Whenever I travel, I always try to bring Schnitzel, my 7-year-old Miniature Dachshund, and my favorite travel companion! I began traveling with Schnitzel when my husband and I relocated from Australia to Europe for several years.

We traveled to 33 countries with Schnitzel, from Norway to the Greek Islands. During that time, he explored countless old towns, climbed mountains, and got permission to tour some museums. We also spent several months together in the USA before returning to Australia.

Traveling with a dog can complicate your travel plans. My biggest recommendation is to plan, as not all accommodations allow dogs. You must choose the best form of transportation and find out which attractions allow dogs and don’t.

Crossing country borders can also complicate matters, although the European Union makes things much easier. There’s no prep required to cross most borders if your dog already has a rabies vaccine and an EU pet passport.

Few countries enforce quarantines, although, unfortunately, my home country of Australia does. It is one of the most challenging countries to visit with a pet. When we head overseas on shorter trips without Schnitzel, I miss him and count the days until our reunion.

If you’re interested in traveling with a dog, I recommend a road trip close to home or Europe, with its many dog-friendly countries.

Shandos, Cleaver Travelnuity 

Something Sentimental

I’m all about minimalist packing and traveling as lightly as possible, but there are certain things I won’t remove from my packing list, no matter how impractical they are. We all own something with personal, sentimental value, and you shouldn’t feel bad about bringing it along on your trip.

In my case, it’s three items—small stuffed animals (plush toys) that I’ve been carrying around for years, and each has a story. My husband and I don’t have human children or companion animals, so these little guys are like kids to us and come on all our adventures.

The oldest is Hoppy, a kangaroo my mother-in-law gave us in Australia in 2003. Then came Guca, a traveling Roma I picked up at a 2004 trumpet music festival. The baby is Herbie, a little hedgehog given to my husband in Turin, Italy in 2006.

Your sentimental item could be a piece of jewelry, a printed photograph, or anything that reminds you of your home or a loved one. If it brings you comfort and joy while traveling, bring it! Of course, be careful to ensure it isn’t lost or stolen. I once accidentally left my travel companions in a guesthouse in Malawi and cried for days—thankfully, we were reunited!

Wendy Werneth, The Nomadic Vegan

Medicine Kit

There’s nothing worse than falling ill while traveling. If you’re in Europe, it’s a bit better as there is decent healthcare. However, in places like Latin America or Southeast Asia, finding proper health services can be difficult. I always carry a multi-purpose medicine kit when traveling internationally.

A medicine kit is usually a small box with six or more medications for headaches, fever, food poisoning, nausea, and other common illnesses. These kits are portable and can easily fit in your backpack.

You can’t predict when you will get sick—even people who don’t typically get sick at home may fall ill overseas. When traveling in Mexico, I had to take a “vomit van” (I only learned the name after the ride) from Oaxaca to a mountain village called San Jose del Pacifico. The winding mountain roads mountain had me on the edge of puking, but my multi-purpose medicine kit had me feeling better after one motion sickness pill!

Sean, LivingOutLau

Travel Insurance

Safety Wing Insurance for Nomads

I always purchase a suitable travel insurance policy before traveling, especially abroad. It acts as a safety net and saves you from unforeseen medical expenses while helping in case of travel-related mishaps in a foreign land. This includes losing passports or checked-in luggage and flight delays or cancelations due to bad weather or unforeseen emergencies. Benefits also include cashless hospitalization and consultation for outdoor patients.

There are many types of insurance policies with single or multiple country entries. Several destinations require travel insurance and will reject your travel visa if insurance documents are missing. Travel insurance is a must to enjoy your vacation to the fullest without stress or worries!

Anwesha Guha, Going Places With Anwesha

Quick Tip: View my travel must-have list on Amazon.

Travel Guide Planning

🚗 Where can I book bus or private transportation while I’m traveling?

I strongly recommend using Bookaway. You can book almost all transport in the major tourist destinations through them online. They don’t just cover buses they also cover shuttles, ferries, and private drivers.

🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours?

I recommend either Viator or GetYour Guide. They have a lot of options!

👩‍⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing digital nomad insurance.

I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

✈️ Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise Skyscanner or Expedia are my go-to flight searching platforms.

📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using eitherAirhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are Booking.comHotels.com, and Expedia They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals.

🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here. I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack. 

Things You Can't Travel Without