Travel,  Travel Accessories

Essential Travel Must-Haves: 10 Items I’ll Never Travel Without

Below is a list of the top 10 items I will never travel without. Have a look, some might surprise you!

1. A Great Travel Bag

This may seem like an obvious one, but I recommend taking some time to choose a great bag for your travels. The style and type of bag that you choose will ultimately depend on where and how you travel. I like to travel as lightly as possible, and in most instances, I only take carry-on luggage. If you are going to have all your valuables in this bag, I recommend getting one that is durable, water-resistant, and designed in a way that makes it easy for you to access all your belongings, after all you will be living out of this thing. I can spend hours in an outdoor store picking out a bag and have done this before so you won’t have to!

For carry-on purposes, the bag should be limited to 40-45L (be sure to check the dimension allowances with the airline you’re flying with)

I settled on the GREGORY BORDER CARRY ON 40L TRAVEL BACKPACK for my most recent travels and its been amazing! The Gregory bag is built with quality materials and robust zippers, designed to maximize carry-on potential with a split-case design, keeping things tidy. It features an ActiveShield compartment with Polygiene Stays Fresh, keeping your dirty items separate from your clean ones, tuck-away shoulder straps and hip belt, a hidden laptop compartment (which accommodates my 16” MacBook), a side mesh pocket for a water bottle (which can be securely zippered away), and security loops at the ends of zippers (ideal for the combination locks mentioned earlier) to keep your valuables safe.”

2. Travel Combination Locks (TSA Approved)

I highly recommend these to keep your luggage safe and secure. They also come in handy when storing your bags and lockers at hostels, etc. If you are carrying a laptop, try to get a bag that has a small lock loop mechanism that allows you to lock it with a combination lock. The travel combination locks that I use can be opened by airport customs staff, which is convenient if they need to access your luggage. I personally recommend the TSA-approved travel combination locks, there are lots of brands that make these. I settled on a couple from Korjo and Master Lock (the cable proves to be very useful for a lot of applications).

3. Bag Liner and Dry Sacks

A dry sack or bag liner is something that is often overlooked when it comes to travel, but I can tell you from experience that when traveling to South East Asia, they are a must-have. I was saved on several occasions when it was pouring down with rain and my stuff was getting soaked. It was a relief to know that all the important things I had taken with me (laptop, camera, passport, etc.) were going to remain dry no matter what. They are not too expensive and can be found in most outdoor stores. I recommend the Aqua Quest Rogue Dry bags but there are also lots of others on the market and a couple of the smaller Sea to Summit dry sacks.

**Please keep in mind these are for extra protection for your belongings and are not to be used as inflatable floatation devices (how dire your situation must be to consider this).

4. Stowaway Rain Jacket

When travelling light, a stow-away rain jacket, or shell, as some people like to call it, is essential. Not only will this keep you dry when the weather takes a turn for the worst, but the jacket can also be used as a windbreaker on cooler nights and double up as a pillow for those long bus, train, and plane rides.

“I was able to stay dry in some of the heaviest rainfall I’ve ever experienced”

I highly recommend a company called Rain Bird; they make unisex stowaway jackets that are waterproof to 7,000mm, breathable, and fully seam-sealed (if you’re in Australia, Anaconda have a good selection). I can attest that when wearing one of these jackets, I was able to stay dry in some of the heaviest rainfall I’ve ever experienced in Vietnam.

5. Micro Fibre Travel Towel

Ahhh, a good microfiber towel might not be something you would think of as essential, but I guess that also depends on your style of travel or holiday. I like to get off the beaten track, and sometimes that means roughing it now and again, which could mean no luxury hotel towels. Microfibre towels are great for spontaneous trips to the beach or when checking out a waterfall or lake. They are lightweight (great if you’re backpacking) and absorbent (some more so than others). I have a Sea to Summit Tek Towel, which is made from recycled polyester and is one of the better ones out there. I have travelled all over Southeast Asia with it, and I can testify to its absorbent and fast-drying qualities!

6. Battery Pack and Head Torch

With our modern lifestyles and heavy reliance on mobile devices to help us look up things and navigate in foreign places, there is nothing worse than being in an unknown location with a dead phone. Putting yourself at ease by having the means to keep your phone juiced up when you need it is priceless. I would recommend a battery with 20,000 mAh; this should provide enough capacity to give your phone a few charges on the go. I have been using a Biolite Charge 80P for the last year. It has a durable case, a 4-hour charge time, 2 USB-A ports, and 1 USB-C port. It is FAA carry-on compliant, compatible with other Biolite gear and due to its larger capacity can also charge my Macbook Pro.

A head torch is also not something that most people would consider, but I found having one on my last few trips to be very useful. When spending time in rural and remote areas where there is less access to light sources or if there is a power shortage (which there were numerous instances of on my recent trip to Koh Rong in Cambodia), having a head torch is also great. It’s especially handy if you plan on hiking or exploring caves, as it provides a hands-free option for maintaining a line of sight. I recommend getting one that is rechargeable. Not only is it more environmentally friendly, but sometimes in remote areas, actually finding batteries to buy when yours run out can prove difficult.

There are tons of options to choose from in head torches, but I generally gravitate towards equipment that is as light as possible. I currently have the Biolite Headlamp 330 Lumens and it’s been fantastic. It’s lightweight at 101g, bright (330 lumens), rechargeable (compatible with Biolite Charge), has multiple modes (white + dim, red + dim, white strobe, and red strobe), a 40-hour run time on low, and a tilting front panel to adjust where the light is being shone. 

7. Comfortable Crocs / Recreational Shoes

I never really understood the whole Crocs shoes thing until I experienced constant rainfall in northern Vietnam. The only shoes I had got soaked a number of days before, so I bought sandals, which ended up giving me blisters. That’s when I then stumbled upon Crocs. I recall walking into the Crocs store in Hoi An, Vietnam, in absolute agony with blisters all over my feet and asking for a pair. 

“One of the best things I purchased abroad”

I have to say, they were one of the best things I purchased abroad. Not only are Crocs incredibly comfortable, lightweight, and breathable, but they are also versatile in that Crocs can be used as a kind of reef shoe when water would usually become an issue. Do yourself a favour and get a pair of these, and you will understand what I’m talking about. I rock the Classic Clog, but there are many more designs and styles you can choose from.

8. Steri-pen (UV Water Sterilisation)

One of the problems I noticed abroad was the number of single-use water bottles I had to buy to get me through each day. When I saw so much trash lying around the place, I knew that I was only contributing to the issue. Not being able to trust any water from the taps and fearing getting sick, I purchased a steri-pen for my next trip. I noticed that I didn’t use it all the time, but when out in rural and remote areas, it did become handy as there was less access to drinkable water. It was reassuring to know that anything I was going to drink could be zapped with the UV Steri-pen, effectively killing any bacteria, protozoa, cysts, and viruses in the water.

I have and recommend the STERIPEN CLASSIC 3 UV WATER PURIFIER which is rated to 8,000 treatments of 1L, effectively 8,000 litres. For more information check out Katadyn Group, Switzerland.

9. A Good Water Bottle

Having a good-sized, robust water bottle is a must-have when travelling. Filling up your bottle whenever you can will save you lots of money in the long run and is a much more environmentally friendly option. Look for bottles that are durable, have a solid seal, and can withstand knocks. There is nothing worse than a leaky bottle, especially when you have valuables and electronics close by. I recommend a bottle with a wide opening at the top; firstly, it’s easier to refill and clean, and secondly, when using it with a Steri-pen, it’s easier to get the UV light submerged inside. I find the 1L bottles to be a good middle ground between weight and size, and I look for a bottle that is BPA free. I have been using Mountain Designs Tritan Water Bottle; it’s 100% BPA free, durable and shatter-resistant, leak-proof, dishwasher safe, has a wide mouth opening, and is compatible with most water filtration systems.

10. Ear Plugs

No matter your style of travel and sleeping arrangements, whether it be in backpacker hostels or hotels… I can tell you now, that you will find a need for some good quality, comfortable earplugs. As a light sleeper myself, I have trialled a lot of different earplugs in the hope of getting minimal disturbances throughout the night and I’ve settled on a brand I will rave about when given the chance.

The best ear plugs I have settled on are Otifleks Goodsleep Ear Plugs, they are available in 4 sizes, are made of a thermo-active material that softens with body heat, are easy to insert (albeit sometimes a little difficult to remove), are washable and reusable for up to 2 years and the packaging can be used as a mini travel case. Get yourself a good night’s sleep with Otifleks.

We hope you found this article helpful for your next trip. Thank you for visiting the Humble Traveller.