13 Things That Are Always On My Travel Packing List

May 20, 2019

I am forever scrambling at the last minute to try and figure out if I’m forgetting anything. I’ll make a travel packing list, and then make several others as I thought of things but didn’t have my original list within reach. Even after all that, I usually end up forgetting something. Some of the following 13 things are things I’ve actually forgotten, and some are things I’ve had to run back inside my house to grab at the last minute. 

13 things that are always on my travel packing list

1. Sunglasses

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve left my house at dark-thirty in the morning, only to land at my destination and realize that I’ve forgotten my sunglasses. For some reason, my brain thinks of sunglasses as a thing I’ll have when I leave the house, so there’s no need to pack them. Now, I literally put them on top of my head even if it’s pitch black outside, and I’m never stuck scrambling to dig them out of my bag or worse, running to buy them or squinting endlessly.

2. A swimsuit

Here’s the thing: swimsuits aren’t bulky. They don’t take up a lot of space, or effort, and can even be used as padding for other things. Throw one in your suitcase. I’ve never regretted bringing a swimsuit and ever SINGLE time I don’t bring one, I wish I had one (surprise indoor swimming pool or hot tub, anyone?). Just pack the swimsuit.

3. Flip flops

Again, they’re thin and easy to toss into a suitcase, and I’m forever thankful when I don’t have to put socks on to run down the hall to get ice or wear my sneakers to the pool. If the shower is gross, having flip flops is an added bonus. 

4. A reusable water bottle 

I’m sure you’ve heard this one repeatedly if you’ve searched anything on travel or packing, but it’s worth mentioning. Bottles of water are expensive and water is free at airports (many even have the cool bottle fillers so you don’t even have to play the game of using a water fountain to fill your bottle up most of the way), so just take an empty water bottle through security and fill it up once you’re on the other side. I usually leave the house (or the hotel, if I’m going home) with a little bit of water in the bottle and then force myself to drink that before getting to security. It helps avoid dehydration!

5. and 6. A sleep mask and ear plugs

These two travel together in my world, and I never go anywhere overnight without them. The eye mask is because I’m super picky about how much light exists when I’m trying to sleep (I’m afraid of the dark but can’t sleep with light…) and you never know what the curtain situation is going to be like in any given hotel room (or airbnb, whatever). The ear plugs are partially because some places are loud… but mostly? Mostly, it’s because my best friends snore, and I’m a light sleeper when I’m trying to fall asleep. They can’t stop snoring, so I just fix the issue on my end. It works fine.

7. Cash 

I have seven credit cards (because of travel hacking), and I always keep cash on me. I’m never worried about the cards not being accepted… I’m worried about the whole system going down, or about being somewhere that doesn’t take cash, or getting my wallet stolen. For the record, I leave some cash and at least one credit card somewhere besides on my person when I’m traveling, just in case. In fact, I leave a fifty dollar bill in my glasses case at all times, so I’m never without it on an overnight trip. 

8. A solar powered backup phone charger 

I bought this backup charger the day before Hurricane Harvey made landfall. It didn’t get here in time, obviously, but my thought was that it would show up as soon as trucks could get in. If we’d had damage, it would have been lovely. We were super lucky and lost exactly one fence post, but I got the charger and am very glad I did. 

9. My FitBit 

This is absolutely not necessary, but I really like it. I walk significantly more when I’m not at my house, and it’s always so rewarding to see the giant step count. It’s also nice to be reminded why I’m so exhausted. My FitBit is an older model, I think, but I really love it. It’s simple and not bulky, and also serves as a watch (if I don’t want to pull my phone out or if I’m on a roller coaster and can’t take my phone in line with me) and an alarm clock. The alarm is particularly helpful, because I like to wake up earlier than most people I travel with, and the vibration on my wrist means I wake up and others don’t. 

10. A razor 

I won’t go into details here. I just like to make sure I’ve got one, especially in the summer. Also: these fun little travel shaving cream packets. 

11. A pen 

I love doing sudoku puzzles on airplanes, and I always need a pen for that. The bigger reason is I’m forever needing to write something down and then there’s a hunt for a pen and does it actually work and on and on. I just stick one or two in my purse before I leave and I’m good to go .

12. Extra socks 

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve stepped in water in the bathroom and had to go change my socks before I even leave the hotel in the morning. I use them as padding for my hairdryer or in the little corners, and make sure I have extras.  

13. Snacks 

This should ring true for anyone with any kind of dietary restriction, but I always have snacks in my carry on and checked luggage. I never want to get somewhere and find out I can’t eat anything. Sure, a mini bag of granola balls won’t work for several days, but it’ll take the edge off the hangry until I can figure something out or get somewhere I can buy something safe. 

That’s my travel packing list at the moment! If you have anything I missed, I’d love to know about it! 

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