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10 Essential Travel Items

As travel professionals and wanderlusters, we’re always on the lookout for new and improved travel gear—because the right combination of travel accessories can greatly improve any travel experience.

No matter where your next adventure takes you, these 10 essential travel items will make your trip easier, safer and more comfortable.

NOTE: We are not compensated in any way for any of the products mentioned below.

1. Day Bag

Finding the right day bag—the one you use while you’re out and about, exploring your destination—is just as important as your regular luggage. The bag/backpack you choose depends on a few key things:

  • Where you’re traveling

  • What you need to carry

  • How long you’ll be carrying the bag each day

For all the daily essentials, we love the Baggallini Pocket Crossbody purse.

If you travel with camera equipment, it gets a bit more complicated. We prefer a backpack that fits under an airplane seat, offers easy access to the camera while sightseeing, and provides solid back support for those long days filled with lots of walking and exploring.

Lowepro has lots of great options designed specifically for photographers. (If you’re a photography enthusiast and would like to swap camera-packing tips, please reach out.)

If you’re not carrying around camera equipment, Travel + Leisure has more great recommendations: The 12 Best Daypacks for Hiking, Touring, and Exploring.

2. Proper Footwear

It’s a fact: You cannot travel well without proper footwear. Comfortable, stylish, functional, packable. These are all things we look for in travel shoes. To keep our luggage light, we also seek versatile options that transition well from casual to (somewhat) formal settings. No easy task, right?

If you Google “best travel shoe brands,” you’ll find plenty of options, some more attractive than others.

For warm-weather travel, we, personally, like Arcopedico’s L15 and Teva’s Northwater Sport Flat. For winter, the Sorel Tivoli Sport Boot and Colombia Minx Shorty III Boot have served us well.

3. Oversized Scarf/Wrap

Whether you’re traveling in the summer or winter, an oversized scarf can make chilly nights, air-conditioned restaurants, and frigid airplanes much more comfortable. And they’re not just for women. Get inspired by luxurious options for men, women and children at The TravelWrap Company.

4. Power Bank

To keep all of your devices up and running during your travels, and to free yourself from those crowded charging stations in airports, bring your own power bank.

The perfect portable charger is both compact and powerful. Look for a lightweight yet sturdy option that offers at least 10,000 mAh (milliamp hours). Also, try to find a power bank with a 2A input so the bank itself will recharge faster. Check out Tech Radar’s best power banks of 2019 for specific recommendations.

5. Travel Headphones

Like most everything on this list, the headphones you choose will depend on your personal preferences. We prefer headphones that are light, comfortable, noise-cancelling, wireless, don't take up much space in a carryon, and have good sound quality. Are we asking too much? Maybe not, especially because new and improved products are always on the horizon. Here’s what Forbes recommends at the moment: 5 Best Travel Headphones of 2019.

6. Travel Pillow

For us, the perfect neck pillow is supportive, comfortable and compact. We have experimented with many types and brands and haven’t quite found one that meets all of our needs. If you’ve found one you love, please share!

For lumbar support, we recommend the Travelon Self-Inflating Pillow. It’s super easy to inflate and deflate and, once deflated, it’s small enough to fit into your under-seat carryon.

7. Travel Umbrella

Living in Oregon has trained us well. We always have a waterproof outer layer or umbrella nearby. For travel, it’s super easy to carry a compact, lightweight umbrella that always stays in your bag or backpack, so when that unexpected downpour leaves everyone else drenched, you’ll be nice and dry. The key, though, is finding an umbrella that is small but not flimsy. Here’s what Travel + Leisure recommends: The 10 Best Travel Umbrellas to Always Keep in Your Carry-on Bag.

8. Travel Wallet

Have you seen the new wrist wallets? To us, they seem better suited to fitness activities than travel, but we’d love to hear from people who use them and like them. In the past, we have tried both waistband and neck pouch travel wallets. They served their purpose and were useful in certain situations, but also a bit cumbersome and awkward ... so the search continues for the perfect travel wallet. For our next trip, we might try Venture 4th’s neck pouch, which gets great reviews.

9. Toiletries Organizer

This is another item that depends heavily on personal preferences. Maybe the standard Dopp kit is all you need. Maybe you need something with more space. We like toiletry kits that can hang from a hook so we can access our bathroom items easily without taking up counter space. Eagle Creek's Pack-it Original Wallaby is a winner in our book.

10. Packing Cubes

The last item on our list might just be the most important. If you haven’t tried packing cubes, you're missing out! They will change your life. Don’t believe us? Read this article on Lifehacker. As we’ve mentioned in past blogs, we love Eagle Creek compression bags, and believe it or not, we have found great packing accessories at IKEA, too.

What about you? Do you have a favorite travel accessory you'd like to share? We'd love to hear about it. Please drop us a line!

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