A big part of travel is separating yourself from your possessions.
That being said, even the most minimalist of travelers can’t deny: there are a handful of items that simply make life a lot easier, whether it’s packing, flying, or getting around.
Here are our picks for the 10 things that every traveler should have in their suitcase.
Affordable Smartphone with Case
I’ll be the first to admit it: a lot of people spend too much time on their phones, even when traveling.
However, you can’t deny how versatile and valuable a smartphone can be, whether you’re checking in for a flight, navigating a foreign country, or just snapping pics of the views. There are just so many great travel apps that make life more convenient.
On the other hand, having the latest $1,000 phone model can also be a liability. It makes you a target for theft in developing countries, and there’s always the risk of breaking or losing it.
So, opt for a more affordable model, even if it’s just a backup – and consider protecting it with a case or screen protector. Personally, I like buying used phones (in still good condition), which will cover all your travel needs for just a couple hundred bucks.
That way, it’s not a big deal if you drop it off a cliff or from a moving scooter. And would-be thieves will actually scoff when they see you using an outdated iPhone.
A Good Carry-On Bag
Different travelers, different itineraries, different amounts of luggage.
But the one constant is the carry-on bag. With that in mind, it pays to invest in a decent one, whether it’s the more suitcase-style variety or just a good backpack. It’ll prove a reliable companion, whether you’re on an 18-hour flight across the world, a short trip to a neighboring city, or a bus journey through the countryside.
A Lightweight Jacket
Anyone that’s been on a long-haul flight or spent the night in an airport knows how downright frigid they can get. However, if you do the majority of your traveling in, say, Latin America or Southeast Asia, it’s not like you need a winter jacket most of the time.
That’s where a quality, lightweight jacket comes in. It keeps you warm – or at least, warmer – when you need it, but it won’t take up much space in your suitcase or backpack when you don’t.
Some Sick Headphones
Whether you’re a digital nomad working in a Greek cafe or just trying to get some sleep on an overnight flight, a good pair of headphones really come in clutch.
Depending on your preferences and budget, that could be a noise-canceling over-ear set or just some quality earbuds. It can be tempting to buy the cheapest knockoffs you can find, but you’ll get much better sound quality and longevity if you put down a little more dough.
An E-Reader (Kindle or Other)
On a long layover? Pull out your Kindle. Relaxing at the beach? Pull out your Kindle. Killing time in a cafe?
You guessed… pull out your e-reader. It not only takes up way less space than physical books, which is great for travel, it’s small enough to take pretty much anywhere.
A Set of Packing Cubes
It’s the eternal traveler’s conundrum. You don’t want to carry extra bags – or pay the related fees. But you also don’t want to leave any important stuff behind, especially if you’re traveling long term.
Yet once you’ve got everything crammed in your suitcase and arrive at your destination, you have an equally perplexing issue. You want something out of the suitcase – but you don’t want to unpack and repack the entire contents just to get to it.
Travel cubes solve both problems. By organizing your belongings, they not only use your suitcase space more efficiently, you can still access your stuff easily later on.
A Pair of Flip Flops or Slides
Flip flops – or “thongs”, as the Aussies call them – and slides will never not be useful. You can wear ‘em to the beach, in that grimy hostel or gym shower, or just down to the local convenience store.
Plus, their minimal form factor means they take up almost no space in your bag when it’s time to pack them away. Flip flops vs. slides is mostly a matter of preference, though I find the former slightly more versatile, since they stay on your feet a little better.
Comfortable, Versatile Shoes
That being said, there are situations where flip flops aren’t all that appropriate, though some of the more free-spirited travelers might debate that point.
In those cases, you need shoes. But not just any shoes. You need a pair that’s comfortable, versatile, and durable, capable of carrying you on long treks through strange cities without a hitch.
The exact type of shoe will depend on your preferences – and on the climate or season of the places you’re traveling. For instance, I’m a big fan of boat shoes in warm destinations, since they’re breathable, waterproof, and easy to pack, while still capable of being dressed up or down.
But there are a variety of other options to choose from.
That $5 pair of sunglasses you bought from a vendor on the beach in Mexico may be good on short notice.
But in the long run, a polarized pair will provide you much better protection from those tropical rays, whether it’s just the classic wayfarer look or something a little more stylish.
A Solid Travel Adapter
There’s nothing like arriving at your hotel with your phone battery blinking, only to find a socket that looks just as foreign as the scenery outside the window.
Fortunately, you came prepared, right? Just whip out your handy dandy travel adapter. The best ones don’t require you to keep track of 12 different pieces. And some of the newer models even have USB slots.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories