Packing 101: The Essentials

After traveling quite a bit I've learned how to put together a packing 'essentials' list. Here are the 20 things I never leave home without whenever I'm about to embark on a trip.

PACK IT UP, PACK IT IN

BACKPACK

I prefer duffles and backpacks to roll-y bags for mobility when I'm traveling alone -- especially in less-than-cosmopolitan cities. Don't get me wrong, I still love Rimowa more than anything on this planet but it's not always the most convenient choice. The perfect long weekend/meticulously-planned weeklong trip bag is the Herschel Little America backpack. Is it the best backpack EVER MADE for traveling? No. But is it sturdy, moderately-priced, carry-on approved, and does it get the job done? Absolutely.

LIGHTWEIGHT DUFFLE

On longer trips (or shopping trips!) I like to bring a lightweight duffle with me that will allow me a little more freedom with packing on the way back. If the duffle isn't too large (and the airline you're traveling with doesn't have super strict guidelines) you can get away with this as your additional carry-on item.

Luggage Scale

Planning on bringing more back than what you left with? Planning on checking a bag? While most hotels will have bathroom scales in their rooms, a portable travel scale is quite small and barely weighs an ounce. If you've ever been the victim of a $200+ overweight luggage charge (or if that's your worst nightmare) then consider tossing one of these in your bag. Plus, with some airlines weighing your carry-on bags this becomes even more of an essential.

HONORABLE MENTION: PLASTIC BAGS

Some people swear packing cubes but I haven't really felt that they've contributed anything of value when I travel. What I do always like to have on me are disposable plastic bags, which I usually start to accumulate on my travels anyway from shopping, etc. These are great for packing toiletries (to prevent a shampoo explosion!), shoes, and laundry. Then, when I get home, they can just go straight into the recycling bin.

 

TECHNOLOGic

GoPro HERO5

With the latest updates from GoPro, there's no reason to leave this camera behind. GoPro added voice control, greater image quality, built-in GPS, an updated battery, improved image stabilization, and USB-C compatibility. With all of this and more in such a tiny package, what more could you want? Plus, I like to keep this rolling while doing cool things on vacation and just take screenshots from the footage for pictures. Don't forget to pack additional batteries for this!

BATTERY PACK + PHONE CASE

In this day and age it's quite easy to find a plug in a wall to get a bit of extra juice for your phone. But what about if you're traveling to a place that's slightly more remote? Or if you don't feel like sitting around all day waiting for your phone to charge? (And who has time for that? There are things to be done and places to see!) Enter: the re-chargeable phone case and the external battery pack. Phones are always dying so I subscribe to a 'the more the merrier' philosophy when traveling.

HEADPHONES

Sometimes when traveling (especially solo) a day without headphones feels like a day without air. Headphones, especially in-ear, can act as earplugs on long flights, drown out noise in a loud space like a hostel or train, or provide a little soundtrack to your adventure. If you're traveling far, there's a chance your trip will feature all methods of transportation (plans, trains, and automobiles, oh my!) and headphones with a little music or a good podcast can go a long way to pass the time. And if you're like me and you lose headphones like it's your job, consider stocking up on these Panasonic earbuds. They're under $10 and the sound quality is mind-blowing.

 

COMFORT IS KEY

Luxe Socks

There's nothing better than slipping off your shoes and putting on some cozy socks on a transatlantic flight. Don't forget to put your real shoes back on when leaving your seat, though, because airplane aisles and especially bathrooms are not known for their cleanliness. And do be courteous of your seat-mates -- feet are inherently kind of gross so make sure you're squeaky clean (and discreet). 

Inflatable Neck Pillow

What more do I need to say other than this inflates with just a few breaths of air? And deflates in seconds? And supports your neck so that you're not pulling a muscle trying to nap in Economy Class? You're welcome.

Cozy Pashmina

What if I told you there was this magical thing that could serve as a blanket, a scarf, a pillow, or as something that can cover you up in a pinch (like unexpectedly walking onto holy ground with bare shoulders), and act as an emergency umbrella of sorts in a surprise rainstorm? I present to you the giant shawl/pashmina/scarf. I suggest getting a wool or wool-blend one -- especially to wrap around you on surprisingly-cold airplanes. 

Sleep Mask

Bright lights are fun when you're out and about but not when you're trying to catch some shut eye. Whether it's trying to sleep in after a long flight (or night out) or trying to play time-zone wars on a brightly lit airplane, a sleep mask is priceless. I prefer silk ones as they're kinder to the skin on your face. If you want one that does more, try the illuminage eye mask -- it's a copper-infused to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

 

FRESH FACED

Sheet MaskS

Airplanes suck. Not just because of the cramped quarters and mediocre food but also because they're basically flying dehydration machines for your skin. I like to travel with sheet masks in my carry-on to put on mid-flight. Yes, you'll kind of look a little weird so I always wait for a quiet moment on the flight to do so (like when the lights dim, etc.). It's 100% worth it for skin that doesn't feel like sandpaper post-flight. I also bring a couple on longer trips for when sleepless nights leave me with a less-than-dewy complexion.

Deodorant Wipes

Sometimes life stinks and sometimes you stink. Not because you're gross, no, but simply because there are times where a shower is out of the question (long layovers, hostels that have overly-generous ratings, camping, etc.) I like to travel with a few deodorizing wipes in my carry-on because you honestly never know what you might encounter on a trip.

Face Wipes

And because not all skin is created equal, I like to pack face wipes as well. These can do double-duty with removing makeup as well as whatever you've accumulated on your face for the day, and are formulated to be very gentle to your skin.

100% PURE Argan Oil

The reason I've chosen argan oil instead of any old moisturizer is that I've found it has healing properties to it. When my skin feels dehydrated or even a little sunburnt, argan oil seems to always help. I use it as a daily moisturizer as well for body, face, and hair, so it's a nice little multitasker to pack along.

 

HEALTH IS WEALTH

Travel Electric Toothbrush

For short trips and weekends away I pack a disposable toothbrush that I brought back from a hotel on a trip prior. For anything longer, I prefer an electric toothbrush. I'm used to my electric toothbrush at home and I find that there are just some occssions where a standard toothbrush doesn't cut it.

Superfood Green Powder

Sometimes when you're on the road, healthy foods aren't always available. Long airport layovers or road trips often mean fast food meals and lots of snacks. While I fully support bringing your own snacks, I myself already have a lot to think about when traveling and would rather take the easy way out -- that is to say by taking vitamins and supplements. I have a few vitamins I never travel without (especially B12) but I also like to toss a few packs of a superfood/supergreens powder mix to make sure I'm getting my daily dose of the good stuff. After all, the last thing anyone wants to be on vacation is sick.

Collapsible Water Bottle

Super useful in a pinch and if you don't even end up using it it's not the end of the world - it's super lightweight and takes up no space at all.

Hand Sanitizer

Need I say more? I prefer Dr. Bronner's as it's not harsh on my skin and it doesn't smell like harsh chemicals. Pro-tip? Spray down your airplane tray table and arm rest. Those are the filthiest things in the entire world.

Bug Repellant

If I hadn't made it painfully clear how I feel about bugs then allow me to reiterate: I abhor them. Actually, that's not fair. I don't hate all bugs but I do hold a soft spot for my passionate hatred of mosquitos. I happen to be slightly more allergic than the average person to their nasty bites and they can take forever to heal. I prefer the more organic/herbal/holistic options as the harsh chemicals in the industrial stuff can't be great for you in the long run. 

HEALING Ointment

The various climates of the world often come with their own little surprises: gigantic mosquitos, frigid temperatures, and mystery injuries (How did I get this burn? Where did this cut come from?) I always like to travel with a multitasking ointment or balm of sorts. My all-time favorite is the Lucas Papaw Ointment, which I became a big fan of after an Australian friend told me about it. It has a bit of a cult following there (especially for helping with chapped lips), and rightfully so as it's meant to treat: minor burns, rashes, cuts, chafing, insect bites, splinters, and more. On a trip to Bali I was eaten alive by mosquitos -- after slathering this on the bites they healed within days (usually, this is a 1-2 month long ordeal for me). Ever since then, I never leave home without it. 

THE CHECKLIST

PACK IT UP, PACK IT IN

☑  Backpack
☑  Lightweight Packable Duffle
☑  Luggage Scale

TECHNOLOGIC

☑  GoPro Hero5
☑  Phone Charger + Battery Pack
☑  Headphones

COMFORT IS KEY

☑  Luxe Socks
☑  Inflatable Travel Pillow
☑  Cozy Pashmina
☑  Sleep Mask

FRESH FACED

☑  Sheet Masks
☑  Deodorant Wipes
☑  Face Wipes
☑  Argan Oil

HEALTH IS WEALTH

☑  Travel Electric Toothbrush
☑  Superfood Green Powder
☑  Collapsible Water Bottle
☑  Hand Sanitizer
☑  Bug Repellant
☑  Healing Ointment