15 things you should never travel without
Your suitcase is never fully packed without these items
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There’s nothing more exciting than having a ticket in your hand and a destination on the horizon...until your flight is delayed and you realize you have to sleep on an eight-hour flight without a pillow. That's when being an experienced traveler can really come in handy. However, you don't have to have thousands of frequent flier miles to know a thing or two about what to pack in your suitcase.
While traveling may deprive you of the comforts of home and charge you extra for snacks, alas, it is the only thing you can buy that truly makes you richer. Next time you’re organizing your suitcase for an adventure, make sure these items are on your packing list.
1. The best way to avoid checked baggage fees
The only thing worse than having to pay a checked bag fee is having a carry-on bag that is a pain to lug around. When we were testing the best carry-on luggage we made sure to wheel suitcases over every imaginable surface and through plenty of bizarre obstacles (airport crowd weaving should be considered an Olympic sport). With ample interior space and 3 perfectly placed pockets on the exterior, the Samsonite MightLight 2 is the perfect travel companion for any trip you have planned.
2. The secret to getting sleep in an annoyingly bright hotel room
Hotel rooms are great at reminding you to never take the comforts of home for granted ever again. No matter what kind of faulty, sheer curtains your hotel room has, you can feel like you have personal blackout curtains on your eyes with the best sleep mask we’ve ever tested. With an adjustable Velcro strap, this mask will stay secure throughout the entire night, regardless if you’re in a hotel bed or cramped airline seat. Plus, the contoured design doesn’t put any pressure on your eyes, so you can actually blink while wearing it. It’s the perfect way to wake up fully rested—and in complete darkness.
3. An easy way to stay organized on the road
The only thing harder than actually packing for a trip is making sure your suitcase stays organized while you’re on the road. Regardless if you are on a quick weekend getaway or backpacking through Europe for a few months, packing cubes are absolute game changers. With cubes in multiple sizes, you can organize all of your belongings so you won’t have to worry about your socks getting lost inside a jumble of sweaters. Plus, as the trip goes on, you can easily separate your clean clothes from your dirty ones. The cubes are made of lightweight nylon too, so they won't add any extra weight to your suitcase.
4. For weekend getaways when you need to travel light
In the words of our former lifestyle editor Jessica Teich, “I wish I could write a love letter to my Osprey backpack." Not only did it survive a three-month backpacking excursion, but it has also taken plenty of beatings during weekend trips and hikes. One of the best parts about this backpack is that it opens up like a suitcase, making it easier to organize and sort through your belongings. Plus, the padded shoulder straps give it a high-quality feel and won’t leave you straining if you have to run to catch a plane while wearing it.
5. The perfect way to stay cozy when you’re stuck waiting for a plane/train/bus/boat
Giant scarves are honestly the most underrated MVPs of travel accessories. Need a blanket? Giant scarf. Need a pillow? Giant scarf. Need a way to make an outfit look a little extra chic? Giant scarf. Need to actually stay warm? You guessed it, just use your giant scarf!
6. The best barrier for protecting your clothes from exploding shampoo bottles
The best sentence I’ve ever heard come out of our office is from our senior staff writer Michael Desjardin, “Your loved ones need to stop packing all of their vacation toiletries in plastic freezer bags.” Please. Make them stop. If one person is saved from gross shampoo exploding all over their clothes because of this sentence, I will consider this story a success. Invest in a quality toiletry bag and make it the first thing you put in all of your suitcases to come. End rant.
7. The key to keeping hydrated (and avoiding over-priced plastic bottles)
The easiest way to avoid having to wait for the flight attendant to whip out the beverage cart—just bring your own. Our favorite water bottle we’ve ever tested checks off all the boxes—it’s portable, versatile and durable. Ice remains practically unmelted inside of it, even 24 hours later, and hot beverages keep their warmth as well. With a wide range of colors to choose from, this is sure to become your most-trusted travel companion.
8. A little something that helps you tune out your fellow travelers
Not only will a pair of our favorite noise cancelling headphones deliver your favorite tunes to you while you’re on the road, but they'll also help block out all the unnecessary noise that comes with traveling. Screaming babies, chatty travelers and rumbles of plane and train engines will be no match for these bad boys. Best of all, the 20-hour battery life will ensure that you don’t have to worry about them dying mid-flight, which is basically proof that there is a God who wants us to be happy.
9. An easy way to travel with your entire library
Picking a vacation book is a task I take very, very seriously—even more seriously than packing for my trip. Instead of debating which books will be easiest to fit in my backpack though, I usually end up bringing my entire library. Behold, the beauty of a Kindle. Our favorite Kindle, the Paperwhite 10th generation, is perfect for reading both on crowded trains and sunny beaches, with 24 levels of brightness. Plus, the recent update has now made it waterproof as well. With a lengthy battery life, you can easily pack this for a week long trip without having to worry about bringing the charger—which frees up your bag for any souvenirs you might want to bring home (ahem, more books).
10. A gadget so you don’t run out of juice when you’re in the middle of nowhere
Your phone is basically your righthand man while traveling. It can act as a camera, a compass, and even a way to find the best dinner spot in a new city. It's not shocking to look down at noon and find your battery almost at zero—hence why a great external phone charger is so important for travelers. We love this charger because of its high capacity, which can charge several phones before needing to juice up again. Plus, the two USB ports and USB Type-C port means all of your charging needs will be covered.
11. For catching some z’s in awkward airplane seats
Honestly, sleeping on planes should be considered an extreme sport. Some people can pass out immediately once they sit down, others toss and turn with the pillows they bought at the duty-free shop. However, everyone would get a gold medal in airplane sleeping if they used the Huzi scarf neck pillow. What makes it way better than those u-shaped neck pillows? Support at every angle. The flexible design also makes it possible to fold it into a traditional pillow, finagle it into a sleep mask, or prop it up as a back cushion. Say “buh-bye” to restless plane sleeping forever.
12. The most basic item that will protect your stuff
One of the easiest ways to take your mind off of stress while traveling is being prepared. Yes, this means packing all of your necessities, but it also means making sure these necessities are protected. With this TSA-approved travel lock, your suitcase will be protected while it’s out of your sight. The approval means TSA won’t have to slice through your luggage if they need to take a quick look at anything in your checked baggage, they actually have a key that can safely lock/unlock this device—making your life, and theirs, just a tiny bit easier.
13. The perfect way to remember your adventures
Pictures are priceless, but there is something about actually taking the time out of your day to write down all of your observations—especially while traveling. A notebook is always the first thing I throw into my bag when I go on a trip, and it’s especially funny to look back at them years later and wonder why you felt the need to deeply describe the people sitting next to you on airplanes or the gross texture of escargot in France (honestly, why did I write two pages about that in my notebook when I literally wrote a sentence about the Eiffel Tower?!). This notebook is perfect for the creative-minded traveler, with colorful illustrations that encourage readers to explore the easily overlooked, the mistakenly mundane, and the everyday details.
14. A lock to give you peace of mind that you and your stuff will stay safe
Our Updates Editor Seamus Bellamy is a full-time traveler, so he knows a thing or two about being on the road. His number one recommendation to stay safe while in a hotel room? A door jammer. This ingenious mini barricade allows you to buttress any swinging door, making it almost impossible to open. To use it, slip the bottom of the Door Jammer underneath the door, screw the other end of the device down firmly against the floor and you’re done. It’s a compact, lightweight piece of hardware that provides a whole lot of peace of mind.
15. Some wipes because everything is gross
When you’re traveling, not only are you exposing yourself to new cultures and experiences, but you’re also exposing yourself to a whole lot of germs. Err on the side of caution and always take some extra sanitizing products, especially if you’re going to be stuck in a tight space with a bunch of other people for a while. Pro tip: Whether it be plane, train or bus, always make sure to wipe down your arm rests and tray tables with a couple of sanitizing wipes.
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