You asked for it - here are the products I don't leave home without!
One of the questions I get asked the most is what my travel and packing essentials are. Personally, I’m a huge fan of products that are functional (obviously…), well-made and make travel (a.k.a. life) easier. Oh, and if they happen to be stylish and fun, that’s an added bonus. I’ve made this list to share my favorite items which are my travel necessities and packing essentials. (Heads up: some of the below links are affiliate links. What the heck does that mean? Basically, if you choose to make a purchase through this post, I’m paid a small commission at NO extra cost to you, which is how I keep this site up and running! I truly appreciate my readers’ continued support)! I’ve purchased all of the following products on my own dime and have no affiliation with any of the below brands. These are all items that I use on a regular basis, adore and rarely (if ever) travel without.
Flirting with the Globe’s Travel Necessities:
First things first, what are you going to put all of your stuff in? If you think that a suitcase is a no-brainer you can’t screw up, then you probably haven’t owned a great one. This is the Heys suitcase which I purchased early this year:
Why I love it: Well, I’m never confused which bag is mine and I obviously like to stand out a bit, but I’m obsessed with my Heys suitcase for other reasons too. If you click on the image above you’ll be able to view more photos which include the inside of the suitcase – which is A-mazing! It’s got a ton of organizational features to keep your clothing and personal items organized and eliminates the need for large packing cubes (although, if you’re like me you’re still going to want to pack a couple small ones). This “spinner” suitcase moves easily in all directions, is super lightweight, expands and also has an optional built-in combination lock to secure your belongings. If this print isn’t your thing, the company offers the same bag in several color and print options.
Why I love it: This Samsonite American Tourister Triumph suitcase is a great quality suitcase at a stellar price. Also, if you’re wanting to carry-on but need as much space as possible, this bag is perfect. It’s about as large as most airlines will allow and fits in normal-sized overhead compartments, plus it expands quite a bit in case you purchase too many souvenirs and want to check your bag on the way home.
I’ve never been a backpacker (yep, never), but I absolutely believe that a backpack is the perfect partner to your wheeled suitcase – especially if you’re like me and hate to check luggage. I have several friends who scoff at how “un-chic” backpacks are and believe that they should NEVER be used for travel or as a carry-on. Pffff. I wholeheartedly disagree. A great backpack with organizational features like this one is one of my most important packing essentials. I actually purchased my first backpack since high school only a couple years ago, but now I’m a believer and (save a quick business trip), you’ll never spot me in an airport without this one (in teal)!
Why I Love It: I actually had no idea that all day packs are not created equal until I walked into a sporting good store to purchase one. I ended up making my final decision based on the size and color bag I was looking for (don’t judge), but luckily, I chose right (even if I chose it for the wrong reasons). I *love* my North Face backpack. When flying, it can be considered your “personal item” since it fits under the airline seat in front of you. It’s super comfortable and has a chest and a removable waist strap (which really comes in handy when you’ve overstuffed your pack and it gets heavy because the straps distribute the weight and take pressure off your back), organized front compartments and a laptop sleeve. The external elastic bungee cord across the front of the pack is great for strapping your neck pillow or jacket on. It also works great if you’re looking for a great day pack or light overnight pack for hiking.
I’m going to be honest, I didn’t get the whole packing cube concept for a while. Why should I pay money to put my crap in cubes which are the same size as the items in them (duh) and which I still have to pack IN my suitcase? But, I couldn’t help notice that several of my favorite travel bloggers swear by them, so I figured I would give them a go and asked for them for Christmas a few years back. The verdict? I’m addicted and cubes top my packing essentials list.
Why I Love It: You really can fit more stuff in your suitcase with these eBags packing cubes – I swear! I was skeptical, but packing cubes magically compress my clothing and allow me to pack more. Also, they are GREAT for organization and you’ll spend WAY less time packing/repacking (this is especially helpful when you’re visiting multiple locations on one trip and have to move hotels). I pack like items in each cube so I can easily find what I am looking for without tearing through the contents of my entire suitcase – t-shirts and tops in a smaller cube, bottoms and dresses in a larger cube, etc.
Although they come in a variety of sizes and you can purchase one cube or a bundled set. I use a combination of cubes from these two sets EVERY time I get on a plane:
There’s a lot of brands of packing cubes out there, but I love these cubes from eBags simply because they are really well-made. I’m constantly testing the bags and their zippers by stuffing way more stuff into them than I probably should. The 2,500+ reviews on Amazon are spot on – these make packing way easier and they show no signs of wear or tear after a couple years of continual use.
I received the above cubes as a gift last year from my mother. By this time, I was already obsessed with packing cubes, but I wasn’t sure whether I would get use out of such small-sized cubes. Well, you know what they say – mother knows best. Typical. After trying these cubes out I realized that the small items in my bag are often the things that I “misplace” most often and cause me to dump out the entire contents of my bag in frustration. These cubes are super handy for underwear, socks, electronic gadgets and chargers, medications, toiletries or lipsticks (if you pack 10 per trip like I do). The possibilities are endless.
Eye Mask & Earplugs
I’ve written before in this post about how these two super inexpensive items are a very important travel necessity for me. Being tired from jet lag and lack of sleep inevitably puts a damper on that trip you’ve been looking forward to for so long…
Why I Love It: Sleeping on a plane/train or in a car/bus is hard enough (and I’m a monster without sleep), but it’s much more difficult to sleep when it’s light outside or there are people talking around you. I’ve also found this combo of items to be helpful to sleep in rooms where the curtains don’t block out all the light (WHY they would design a hotel room in such a way?!) and for rooms located off a busy street where you will inevitably hear people and traffic through the windows. I’ve found that it doesn’t matter much what brand of earplugs I use, but which mask I use does matter. DON’T use the free ones you get on a plane… just don’t. Trust me, a cushioned one with a better elastic band is worth the very minimal price tag – it’s more comfortable and won’t shift or fall off.
Like with the eye mask and earplugs, comfort on a long flight is the key to sleeping well (or at least as well as one can sleep on a plane)!
Why I Love It: This Cabeau Evolution Memory Foam neck pillow is so darn comfortable. I’m prone to getting a stiff neck and I’ve tried a lot of different neck pillows, but this one is my favorite. Full disclosure: I don’t actually own this pillow, but a travel companion of mine has it. I’ve used it and fell in love. Why don’t I own it? Because I am VERY prone to loosing neck pillows (quite often, sadly), so I am typically purchasing a cheaper pillow in the airport before my flight. Unfortunately, this pillow sells for a significant up-charge in the airport shops.
Here is the pillow I currently have:
Why I Love It: This is a great standard neck pillow at a great price. I hate the blow up or micro-bead-filled-with-whatever neck pillows because they don’t offer enough support. I think the stuffing on this one is just right. You can save money by purchasing this pillow before your trip (and not in the airport like I often find myself doing)!
Hopefully this post has answered some of your questions regarding the products I use which can make travel easier and more comfortable for you!
What are the travel necessities and packing essentials that you can’t leave home without?
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