We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post. At no extra cost to you, I only recommend products I have experience with. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
For the most part, you should aim to pack as light as possible. There are, however, some items that deserve a place in your luggage no matter where you’re going or when. Here’s a list of what they are and why you need them.
Wear it as a hat, wear it as a scarf, wear it as an eye-mask. There are all kinds of ways you can wear a bandana. It can keep your head warm when it’s cold and keep you protected from sunburn when it’s hot. Alternatively, you can just use it as a fashion accessory.
A pair of flip flops
Walking around on bare feet can feel lovely, but it isn’t always practical. Sometimes you just need something you can slip on and off your feet quickly. Flip flops do the job nicely. The higher-end ones can be used as regular footwear. It is, however, also advisable to have a pair you’re happy to take into a shower and/or wear by a pool.
A microfiber towel
Microfiber towels pack a whole lot of drying ability into a very small size. What’s more, they dry out really quickly after use. Even if you’re staying in a hotel, it’s a smart move to pack at least one. That way, if you spill something that stains, you can clean it up without worrying about damaging the hotel’s towels. If you’re backpacking or camping, microfiber towels will make your life massively easier.
Take a travelers’ laundry line, a universal sink plug, and some travel laundry soap/detergent. Travelers’ laundry lines are designed to be used without pegs. Essentially they have multiple strands wrapped together and you push the clothes through the strands. They also have hooks and/or suction pads so you can use them without wall fixings.
There’s a limit to how much weight travelers’ laundry lines can hold. They are, however, great for drying out lighter items such as underwear, swimwear, and t-shirts. Universal sink plugs make sure you can always have a sink full of water whenever you want and for as long as you want. Laundry detergent can help you save money or just help you act quickly to stop clothes from staining.
Eating and drinking utensils
Taking your own eating and drinking utensils lets you be kind to the planet even when traveling. It can also save you money. Many beverage outlets across the world will fill up keep cups for a discount. It’s also often possible to get water for free if you have your own bottle. In fact, some places are actively encouraging this to cut down on single-use plastic.
For travel, collapsible keep cups and water bottles are often the smartest way to go. If you’re traveling by air then you can usually take a regular spork in your carry-on. Tactical sporks (the ones with blades) usually have to go in checked baggage. Regular sporks are usually fine for everyday meals since you can cut up softer foods with the side of the bowl section.
An LED torch and headband
Power outages can happen anywhere at any time. This means that it’s smart to have a small torch with you at all times. LED torches give out a lot of light for their size. They also use minimal power. That means they maximize the life of their battery. Take a headband with you as well and you can keep your hands free too.
Gaffer and/or duct tape
Gaffer tape and/or duct tape can both be used for all kinds of quick and dirty repair jobs. The easiest way to take some with you on your travels is to wrap a decent length around a pencil. These are particularly useful if you’re traveling by air and only have carry-on luggage. Airlines often make you check safety pins but they’re usually totally fine with people having tape in their hand luggage.
A power bank
In the old days, experienced travelers always tried to buy devices that took standard batteries, preferably AA batteries. That way they could always be sure of being able to get new ones whenever they needed them.
This is still good advice if you can apply it. These days, however, most travelers are going to be carrying a lot of devices with internal batteries. Taking along a regular power bank helps to make sure you can always keep going even if you can’t charge up as often as you’d like.
Another advantage of taking a power bank is that it can protect you from having to use public charging facilities. These can be targeted by criminals and used as a way to introduce malware into a victim’s phone or tablet. This is often known as “juice jacking”.
Pro-tip, never pick up and reuse an abandoned power bank, USB stick, or memory card. These may be legitimate but they may also have been left by criminals to snare victims.
A USB data blocker
Regular USB cables transfer both data and power. The data function is what cybercriminals use to hack your device. You can get power-only USB cables but these are relatively expensive and hard to find. This means that USB data blockers are generally a better option.
Essentially, these are adaptors you fit onto regular USB cables. They allow power to be transferred to your phone while blocking the data connection. USB data blockers are both small and affordable so it’s best to take two or three with you even on a short trip.
This gives you a high level of protection if you must use any sort of public charging point. In fact, ideally, you should put one on your USB cable any time you charge your device in a public location. That includes your hotel room.
A power strip
With so many travelers now carrying so many gadgets, it can be a real challenge to charge them all quickly as safely. If you carry your own extension board, you can convert one power outlet into 4+ power outlets. This lets you charge multiple gadgets at the same time. Power strips are fairly small, affordable, and easy to pack and they do enhance your digital safety.