Backpack on a bench - Packing essentials

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Oooh, I hate packing! Yes, I have heard this, and probably so have you. It happens to me as well. And even now after all these years spent traveling extensively I sometimes struggle to pack my backpack. What to pack for vacation?  To help you with this task I’ve created this article listing some of the most important packing essentials. These are essential travel items most of which we nowadays never go on a trip without. Plus I’m giving our recommendations.

For packing tips check out this article, where we share our best tips how to pack your bag better, lighter and more efficiently. And here is a complete travel packing list, if you need one now. But now let’s talk about packing essentials.

Scroll down to learn more about these 15 travel items we think you shouldn’t be traveling without.

Purple sports bottle

Packing Essentials: 15 Essential Travel Items

What to pack for a trip? Here is a list of essential travel items + our recommendations.

1. RFID Blocking Passport Holder

Recommended product (see photo above): Zoppen RFID blocking passport holder.

Passport is the most important travel essential and you should take care of it. Protect it not only from wear and tear but also from electronic theft! Choose a quality passport holder that features RFID blocking feature, such as, Zoppen passport holder. This kind of passport holder will protect your passport and credit cards from unwanted scanning and identity theft.

2. Chin Supporting Travel Pillow

Recommended product (see photo above): BCOZZY travel pillow.

Long haul flights and long distance buses and trains can be a pain in the neck, quite literally. To ease the misery use a travel pillow. It supports head and neck, and helps to get some rest while sitting in an upright position.

Our favorite travel pillow is the BCOZZY travel pillow. It wraps around the neck comfortably and simultaneously provides support to the neck and head. Most importantly, it will give much needed chin support as well!

3. Good Compact Camera

Recommended product (see photo above): Fujifilm X100F.

No matter how good your smartphone’s camera is, a real camera still will take better photos! If it’s not enough with your phone’s camera invest in a good compact camera!

Our favorites are 3 Fujifilm cameras: Fujifilm X30, Fujifilm X70 and Fujifilm X100F.

Currently we use the Fujifilm X30 which we have since November 2015. As it’s quite old (but nevertheless an excellent camera), you might want to get a newer version. Check out the Fujifilm X100F! If it’s too costly for you, consider buying the Fujifilm X70 which is cheaper but still is a great camera! The Fujifilm X70 has been dubbed “enthusiast compact” (by because it delivers excellent photo quality for the price.

4. High Capacity Powerbank

Recommended product (see photo above): Anker PowerCore 20100 mAh.

A powerbank (a portable charger) is a must for everyone, not only for avid travelers. It’s always good to have a powerbank and a cable in your bag wherever you go. You never know when you will be able to charge your phone when you are on the go! With powerbank you don’t have to worry about this. Just connect your phone to the power bank when necessary, and you’re all set!

A high capacity powerbank, such as the Anker PowerCore 20100 mAh, is the best option. Charge it once and use it to charge several of your devices, not only your phone!

5. Travel Adapter

Recommended product (see photo above): HAOZI universal travel adapter.

In different countries around the world electricity sockets differ. And travel adapter lets you to use them to power and charge your electronics. Plug in the adapter into the socket first, and then you can plug in your electronics into it – using the same power cable you use at home.

Travel adapter is by far one of the most important packing essentials!

6. Good Headphones or Earbuds

Recommended product (see photo above): Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II).

The chances are high that you’ll want to listen to music while traveling. That’s why you should pack good earbuds or headphones. I am currently using the Apple EarPods, and my partner has Beats Solo3 headphones, and both of us are satisfied with our purchase. Apple EarPods are surprisingly comfortable and have good sound quality, whereas the Solo3 are durable yet lightweight, and are easy to transport because they are foldedable.

If you are looking for noise cancelling headphones or earbuds we recommend to check out Bose products. They have great (although pricey) headphones, QuietComfort 35, as well as earbuds – QuietComfort 20. If they are too costly for you don’t worry! There are good inexpensive alternatives, too. Such as the COWIN E7 noise cancelling headphones or TaoTronics noise cancelling earbuds.

7. Water Resistant and Shockproof Phone Case

Recommended product (see photo above): Pelican iPhone Case.

To protect your phone from damage and moisture get yourself a water resistant and shockproof case! Believe me, it’s a must have!

We have destroyed a couple of phones already – one of them got wet in the rain and stopped working, another one fell on the asphalt, and its screen got ruined. It’s sucks! You don’t want your holiday ruined because of broken gadgets, right?

8. Dry Sack

Recommended product (see photo above): Osprey UltraLight 3 dry sack.

Throw a dry sack in your bag before you go on a day trip or sightseeing trip. It might come in handy if it starts to rain.

A dry sack hardly takes up any space but it will save your electronics, wallet and passport from moisture. If you have more things to protect, think of getting yourself a 10 or 20 liter dry bag.

9. Lightweight Rain Jacket

Recommended product (see photo above): Columbia Watertight II rain jacket.

A good rain jacket is one of the most important travel essentials. Wherever you go take a rain jacket with you! Even if there won’t be any rain it will protect your from wind and keep you warm.

Note, that this kind of jacket is not as warm as a coat! It can keep you warm in 40 – 50 degrees (4-10 °C), if you have other layers.

Choose a lightweight rain jacket that doesn’t take up much space yet is waterproof and breathable, such as Columbia Watertight (women’s – Arcadia).

10. Comfortable Shoes

Recommended product (see photo above): Skechers Go Walk sneakers.

Before going on a trip buy comfortable shoes that are suitable for long walks. Skechers Go Walk sneakers (men’s; women’s) are the perfect shoes for that.

If you plan to go on a hiking trip, invest in good hiking shoes, such as the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX hiking boots (men’s, women’s).

If you are going to a tropical destination (Thailand, Maldives, Mexico, Hawaii, etc.), we recommend you to buy lightweight (yet durable) universal sandals such as the Teva Original Universal sandals (men’s, women’s).

If you are planning to travel somewhere cool, or travel during early autumn or spring get yourself durable, water resistant boots, like, the Timberland 6-inch boots (men’s, women’s).

And the most comfortable winter boots for travel are the The North Face Chilkat (men’s, women’s).

11. Lightweight Microfiber Towel

Recommended product (see photo above): Wise Owl Outfitters microfiber towel.

Regular fluffy bath towels take up much space and aren’t fast drying thus they are not really suitable for travel.

Get yourself a lightweight microfiber travel towel that folds up small and dries quickly. Also it can be used as a beach towel as sand don’t stick to it.

12. Packing Cubes

Recommended product (see photo above): Eagle Creek Pack It packing cube set.

A set of packing cubes – a must have for every traveler! Packing cubes help keep clothes contained in an organized matter and also save some space.

Pack your underwear and socks in small packing cubes, T-shirts and sundresses in medium size packing cubes, jackets and jeans – in large packing cubes!

13. Toiletry Bag with Travel Toiletry Essentials

Recommended product (see photo above): Freegrace hanging toiletry bag.

Get yourself a quality toiletry bag and fill it with travel toiletry essentials. Check my travel toiletries list (see below) to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything!

If you don’t like hanging toiletry bags then get yourself a regular zippered toiletry bag (e.g. Eagle Creek Pack-It Original™ Quick Trip toiletry bag).

Toiletries to pack:

  • Hand sanitizer;
  • Wet wipes;
  • Tissues;
  • Cotton buds;
  • Facial cotton pads;
  • Sunscreen;
  • Travel size shampoo and conditioner;
  • Travel size body wash;
  • Travel size body lotion;
  • Face wash and scrub;
  • Hand cream;
  • Face moisturizer;
  • Toothpaste;
  • Mouth wash;
  • Lip balm;
  • Deodorant;
  • Perfume / cologne;
  • Makeup;
  • Razor;
  • Shaving cream;
  • Folding hairbrush (with a mirror) / comb;
  • Toothbrush;
  • Dental floss;
  • Tweezers;
  • Nail scissors or clippers;
  • Nail file;
  • Sanitary products.

14. Personalized First Aid Kit

Recommended product (see photo above): Eagle Creek Pack It Sac.

Get yourself a zippered pouch and fill it with medicines you’ll need during your trip!

Don’t forget to pack basic medicines and basic first-aid items, such as, painkillers, aspirin, anti-diarrheal medicines, nasal decongestant spray, throat lozenges, hydrogen peroxide, band-aids, bandages, cotton-tipped applicators, etc.

15. Water Bottle

Recommended product (see photo above): Nalgene Tritan water bottle.

It’s important to stay hydrated during a flight, no matter short or long haul! Fill your water bottle with water before boarding the plane. Take a water bottle on a sightseeing trip, or use it on a daily basis.

This kind of water bottles are reusable, thus they save the planet, too.

Something else you would add? Something that’s high on your packing essentials list?

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