Travel Accessories I Can't Do Without

15 Things I Can’t Travel Without: Travel Expert Tips (2024)

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Can you imagine flying into Egypt in the summer with only a tiny handbag – and finding that your hold baggage was still in London? It happened to me – and my checked luggage didn’t arrive for 4 (yes, 4!!!!) days. Most of the things I can’t travel without were stuck in London!

It was not fun. Egypt. 40+ degrees. No deodorant, no spare undies, and no handy supermarket to nip into to buy some basics. Plus, I was travelling solo, so there was no one to beg for spares.

Worst of all, I’d run out of things to read.

I swore I’d never make that travel mistake again. Now, I always double-check that the things I can’t travel without are safely tucked in my cabin bag. And I check everything off a list!

#1 travel essential
what to do on a plane

Travel Insurance

Comprehensive travel insurance with cancellation and medical cover for all eventualities is dull but a real travel essential.

I love Travel Insurance Master. They operate globally, with superb customer service, and it’s easy to build the coverage you need for your trip with them.

The art of travel is that you should never travel with more than you can carry (on your own).

The Essential Things I Can’t Travel Without

I won’t get far without my tickets, passport, and credit/debit cards! They go without saying, as do basic toiletries, which I always decant into TSA-approved travel bottles. Here are the other things I can’t travel without, no matter where I go.

1. Smart Phone

Is your whole life tied up on your phone? Mine certainly is -it’s a mailbox, alarm clock, tip calculator, currency converter, translator, news source, backup camera, long-journey entertainer, and music store.

Smartphones are also where we manage all our social media accounts. My phone is the #1 thing I can’t travel without.

I went to Australia and back on my own without a mobile phone when I was 21 – today I don’t even go to the shops without one!

2. Camera

While my phone camera is pretty good, I also carry my lightweight mirrorless travel camera, which takes up a tiny amount of space, weighs very little, and takes awesome photos.

3. Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are the #1 best way to organise everything in your bag and save space.

Do you remember the days of painstaking ironing (who has time for ironing?), then carefully folding your clothes and packing your suitcase, only to find crumpled wrecks in your bag at the other end?

Did you fall for the “a few hours hanging up in a steamy bathroom will sort out the creases” line? Not true.

Packing cubes make life easier and save precious time. You can see what’s in each one at a glance, so there’s no more fossicking in the depths of your bag to find things anymore.

Once you’ve tried packing cubes (especially ultra space-saving compression cubes), you’ll never return to the dark side again – but don’t buy cheap ones – they are worthless!

What you need is compression packing cubes! They cost a wee bit more, but you’ll use them repeatedly!

4. Fast Charging Power Banks

Does the idea of your phone dying while you’re travelling fill you with horror? Me too. We rely on them entirely, so it’s vital to be able to charge them when on the move.

I’ve tested several different power banks over the years, and now I can’t travel without my Anker Powercore Ultra High Capacity power bank. It only weighs 12.5 oz, yet it will charge my smartphone up fully five times!! With two ports, you can charge two devices at the same time (that’s my phone and Kindle sorted!)

5. Crossbody Bag

My Kipling crossbody bag is more than 25 years old. I will weep when it has to retire as it’s been around the world with me, through the washer numerous times, and it’s still my go-to bag. With Kipling’s trademark attention to detail, it has tons of secure little zip pockets.

There’s a place for my phone, wallet, keys (I am so bad at losing keys), lip salve, sunglasses, and my Kindle. The smallest pockets are great for tickets, and I can stash a small bottle of water too.

If you’re off somewhere where you need the extra comfort of a bag with anti-theft security, Pacsafe bags are unbeatable and super stylish!

6. Backpack

Sometimes you’ll need a backpack rather than just a cross-body bag (day trips, long-haul flights, etc). For comfort and functionality, choose one with padded straps, waterproof fabric, side pockets for a water bottle, and many internal pockets.

💡 Pro Tip: If you’re going somewhere that will be crowded, choose a backpack you can wear the wrong way round (on your front). It’s more secure that way, but check if the straps work for that, too and choose a bag with proven anti-theft security functionality.

7. Hand Sanitiser

There are so many places you can pick up nasties on your hands when you’re travelling! A good hand sanitiser can kill 99.9% of germs and bacteria, and your hands will smell good too! A bottle of hand sanitiser is one of the top things I can’t travel without!

8. Antibacterial Wipes

Antibacterial wipes are the perfect way to clean up after eating juicy fruit or street food.

You’ll also find places where tables/seats need a good wipe before you dare use them, where there’s no toilet paper, and where you’ll want to give bottles of water a quick wipe before thinking about taking a sip.

Even if the seal on a bottle is unbroken, you don’t know where it might have been stored or whether unsanitary hands have touched it.

9. Sunglasses

When you reach your 50s (and beyond), sunglasses become even more of a must-have. Besides the obvious protection for your eyes, they also stop you from squinting at the sun and getting unwanted extra frown lines. No woman needs those!

Sunglasses are things I cant travel without min

10. Kindle

I love my Kindle. Stupidly, my menopause brain fog took over, and I left it behind by mistake in my hotel in Xi’an before flying to Guilin. I read the in-flight magazine cover to cover twice on that flight!

Luckily, I found a wonderful English language bookshop in Shanghai, as there’s no way I would have survived the long flight home without reading material!!

READ NEXT: 25 Best Things To Do On A Plane

11. First Aid Kit

My late mum was a nurse who trained me to take a mini first aid kit in my bag on trips away from home. It’s a bit like the travel equivalent of the “mum bag”; carrying one could save you time, money, and stress in finding a pharmacy in an unfamiliar place.

Travel kit is one of the things I cant travel without min

What to pack in your first aid kit

  • Tweezers, blunt-nosed nail scissors, plasters, and aloe vera gel (for bites, stings, scrapes, burns, and grazes).
  • Imodium and rehydration sachets (in case you get struck down with Delhi belly)
  • Ibuprofen, paracetamol, a crepe bandage, and Vaseline.
  • You might also want a gentle laxative, as a change in diet can have “interesting” effects!
  • If you’re going through menopause, don’t forget any meds for that too!

12. Flatties

A cute pair of flatties is another one of the things I can’t travel without. They look pretty during the day and dress up well at night.

Flatties are comfy and take up next to no room in my backpack when I swap them for my flight socks. As soon as I land, I slip my flatties back on and am ready.

13. Snack Bars

Travel can be unpredictable, with delays and missed meals. Stop getting hangry (or filling up with unhealthy snacks) with a supply of snack bars, fruit, and water in your backpack.

14. Collapsible Water Bottle

Do you go anywhere these days without a refillable water bottle? They have become the essential kit for daily life – mine is absolutely one of the things I can’t travel without!

15. An Eye Mask

A simple eye mask is the key to sleeping on long-haul flights and in unfamiliar hotel rooms.

Wrap Up: Things I Can’t Travel Without

If you’re thinking about the items you need for a trip you’re planning or thinking about travel gifts for a loved one who enjoys travel, I hope these travel tips have inspired you!

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