A friend asked me recently what would be the most important things I would take with me when travelling? Every person is completely different, and would have a vastly different list of the things they HAVE to have. Here’s a list of things that Ive discovered are invaluable whilst travelling. Many of them are things I’ve had suggested to me by fellow travellers, or that I’ve taken with me and thanked my lucky stars I had, or finally things I’ve search high and low for in a foreign country when I realised I couldn’t live without.
All are easy and cheap items to source, but who know’s you might find some inspiration in this list for your next adventure?
(Note: These are not in any particular order)
- Pashima scarf. I purchased my first pashmina scarf in Florence Italy and it has travelled the world with me since. A pashmina is a lightweight scarf that has the ability to provide warmth when needed, but it also light and breezy enough to use as a covering in warmer weather. It’s a godsend on transport- especially planes and buses when the air conditioning makes the room cool. It can be a blanket, headscarf, fashion accessory, provide extra padding around valuable items in transit, a covering to enter religious sights and has a classic sophisticated scarf.
- Laundry bags or packing cubes. I discovered these whilst travelling, after becoming frustrated by having a jumbled messy bag from day one. You can get as complicated as you wish with these- having separate bags for smalls, shirts, pants, dirty laundry. Or as I do have a few separate ones for bulky items (like a rain coat or sweater) and dirty washing. You can pick these up in most good travel stores, department stores or discount store
- Baby wipes/flushable toilet wipes. After travelling through parts of Asia I became paranoid about becoming sick. Having a small pack of wipes in my bag was helpful to wash hands prior to a meal, after using the bathroom if no soap is provided, to wash your face during a hot day, or to use clean up after a delicious but messy meal.
- Antiseptic gel. There are a lot of various brands on the market- all with different fragrances, but the important aspect is that this gel will kill 99.9% of germs on hands without the use of water. This is a product to use either in place of, or in addition, to baby wipes. After a day out exploring a city and having contact with money, ATMS, buttons, escalators, etc it can prevent the spread of germs.
- An all purpose ointment- I prefer to use Lucas Pawpaw Ointment which is great to use on mosquito bites, cuts, scratches, sores, sunburn, blisters, as a lip balm and emergency hair styling product. A multiple use ointment means not having to lug around piles of assorted tubes, and is a great economic choice.
- A small flashlight. A small and lightweight item to have in ones handbag. Perfect for late night walks, finding items lost in ones bag, to assist seeing the keyhole on the door, or for emergency situations if power is cut.
- Pain relief medication from home. There is something reassuring about bringing along a familiar pain medication that you know and trust. Although pain meds are readily available in pharmacy and supermarkets overseas, it’s an item you won’t prepare for until you really need it and there is nothing worse than having a headache or period pain and having to battle language and location difficulties to get pain relief. Also using a familiar brand will reduce the risk of having an unexpected reaction to a foreign brand.
- A four-way power board. You know the ones! Often hidden behind peoples TVs or in rooms with limited power points. I travel with multiple items that require power- mobile phone, digital camera, laptop, film camera, etc. Most hotel rooms will have a few power points, but I’ve been in enough that have only one outlet which results in me having to prioritise power charging. Having a 4-way power board means that all items can be charged on one GPO (general power outlet), which also means you only need to carry one international converter instead of one per item.
- Vitamins. Unfortunately I have a tendency to get sick whilst travelling, which is a very common problem for travellers (especially in South East Asia). My aunt who is also susceptible to illness recently travelled alone to India, and took a probiotic vitamin to encourage better digestion and gastric health. She swears they were the reason she didn’t get sick. I took her advice and used them whilst travelling in Japan. I can see the appeal. They greatly improved my general health and reduced the frequency and severity of illness. (I did unfortunately did get sick from poorly cooked chicken. My bad. )
- Access to a financial back up plan. Bag/wallet theft, ATMs eating cards or power blackouts can and might happen to travellers, and put many in a position of not having immediate access to their funds.. As frustrating and scary as these events can be, I’ve always been a believer in having a back up plan. Either having travellers checks or a spare credit/bank card hidden in the bottom of a suitcase. Or at least a secret stash of local currency (I usually take the equivalent of AUS$100) that would be enough to cover a taxi fare, a meal and a nights accommodation, allowing yourself the time to make alternate financial arrangements. I often hide these items in unsuspecting packaging within my suitcase, for example socks, sanitary product boxes or toothpaste boxes.
An additional one just for luck.
- In my opinion THE MOST IMPORTANT item that any traveller can take with them is a form of travellers health insurance. As the saying goes ‘if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel’. I completely agree with that statement. Accidents can and do happen, even to the safest and most prepared traveller. From delayed fights, stolen cameras, medical emergencies, you never know what could happen and it should be a comfort to know that you will be covered for any emergency. I luckily (and touch wood) have never had to use my insurance, but I have had many friends who have. Insurance can be catered to every budget and every requirement, and considering how expensive medical or emergency care can be in some countries it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.
These are the items on my MUST HAVE list. Every traveller is different and will have different needs, not all these items will be useful or necessary but I can’t imagine travelling without them. Hopefully you’ve been inspired to add something to your next travel suitcase!
Safe travels out there!
Be smart. Be good. Be safe. x