By: Kayla Farriss
On my first solo travel trip, I packed lightly. That is to say, I only took everything I ever owned and then bought out the dollar section of Target. Since then, I am proud to say that I have considerably slimmed down my luggage. Checking in luggage means no worries at the airport but as soon as you have to move that bag of bricks from hostel to hostel it gets less and less lucrative. Carry-on’s still remain my biggest guilty pleasure as yes, I have dropped some excess pounds but I continue to pack a library and a half for a continental flight. And the worst part is, I’m a flight sleeper! What I mean to say is that if a commercial said ‘this is a must have for traveling’ I got up and got my credit card. However, now that I am a bit more practiced than a few years previous, I’ve learned which ones you’ll actually use on the move.
Or really anything to keep your wallet on your person at all times. I am a notorious bag forgetter, meaning if I took out my wallet at the register odds are I left it there as well. So not only is it good for your own personal sanity, but also to keep your wallet away from any pick pockets. It’s fairly easy to sneak in and out of a backpack that’s out of your direct line of sight, but if something is literally attached to your person you know where it is at all times. There are many manifestations of a money belt, so don’t feel restricted by the typical black, non-descript ones. I found a jacket with a deep inside pocket that I essentially use as my purse, so find what works for you, and stay secure!
Noise-cancelling, water resistant Headphones
Not just a travel essential, but a life essential. Not every day can be reaching the peak of a mountain, or surfing the waves of Oahu. There will be days spent entirely on planes, days where the weather holes you up inside, or days where your hostel mate is the snoring type. Now, any kind of headphones will do for those days, but if you plan on bringing these trail blazing with you then get the proper protection such as water resistance. Although, I typically recommend water resistant properties for all travelers’ items, headphones are some of the most susceptible to water damage items on the market.
International Travel Adaptor
Not exactly the poster child for glamorous, but one of those things that’s easily overlooked. I used to have a little plastic baggy of all the adapters I’d collected, and it would take me a few minutes to even figure out which one was necessary. It’s not detrimental by any means, but if you’re someone who likes to pack light an international travel adapter is a smart investment.
A travel blanket
This one is more personal preference, but I can say that my favorite blanket has literally been around the world with me. It all started after my first solo trip when I arrived at a hostel that did not provide sheets (as a lot don’t!) and I slept that night with my winter coat wrapped around me. From there, I lived & learned and brought along my own. However with that said, make sure to bring one you can pack if necessary. Airlines don’t consider a blanket a personal item or a carry on, so you can typically get away with bringing it on a flight but you may not always want to carry it around. A blanket can make or break your in-flight nap, so I’d recommend catching those high altitude Z’s with comfort.
This is mainly for the person with an orderly suitcase (not it!), however I will preach about using these for small items such as toiletries. Even my messy bag includes at least one of these nifty mini-bags. However, I’d recommend getting the pack for the sake of simple organization, especially if you are someone who needs to compartmentalize. They’re also relatively cheap and come in about every color from a variety of brands so you can even personalize the inside of your suitcase.
I use the term ‘duffel bag’ liberally, as really just about any bag will do. I’m preferential to Duffel Bags because I feel I can jam the most items into it without breaking the zipper, but backpacks, purses, and other handheld bags do just about the same job. A good carry-on travel bag is a staple mark to any traveler, and if you are a passionate backpacker I would recommend investing in a good quality hiking bag. Your carry-on will be your best friend for the duration of your trip, so make sure to get one you can easily identify as yours, and can hold all the essentials without weighing you down.
Reusable Water Bottle
Airport tip: Empty it before going through TSA, and fill it up once you’ve passed security! Stop paying for plastic water bottles at the gate which can sometimes be ridiculously overpriced, and come prepared with your own gear. Especially if you are a backpacker, hiker, or outdoor enthusiast, a good water bottle is an absolute must. I recommend getting one that can fit in your backpack, but is big enough to hold you over until you find the next suitable water source. For my outdoor friends, I would highly suggest finding a water bottle with an included water filter as, to my knowledge, there are no Brita filters in the wild.
Don’t rely on the availability of a plug! I’m all for going off the grid, but in case of an emergency, don’t rely solely on your phone’s battery life. A power bank is a mobile charger that uses a USB cord to charge your electronics, and can be used in flight, or deep in the woods to salvage your phone or tablet. Even if you’re just couch surfing or staying at hostels, it’s smart to plan for the unexpected and bring your own source of power, just in case.