Essential travel items for any destination

If you’re anything like my kind of practical packer, when it comes to packing for holiday you’ve got all your items laid out ready to pack for weeks, if not months before a trip! But some of us prefer that last minute flurry of cramming in as much as they can, and that’s where a list of packing hacks can help!

I’m not going to run through all your clothing items, shoes and accessories. What I am going to do is give you a practical, ultimate packing list of tried and tested items that can save you time, money, space or heartache when you’re having a blast in far off places.

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Generic travel essentials

Practical Items

Water Bottle

If you’re fortunate enough to live in a country where the water from the tap is safe to drink, this might not occur to you. For the citizens of many countries this isn’t a luxury afforded to them, and bottled water is a terrible environmental issue. The good news is you can invest in a refillable bottle that filters the water for you and makes it safe to drink. Try the LifeStraw, it saw me through Central America! The clip makes it practical and easy to attach to your bag for carrying.

Day Backpack

If you’re planning on doing everything adventurous, such as a hike, or even just heading out for a day, you need something between your full bag and your handbag! I have a small, local brand backpack that was essential for my travels and served as my carry-on bag for flights. The Zomake pack has the added bonus of being one you can pack away in your main luggage when not in use.


Turkish Towel

A lot of travelers advocate for a microfibre towel traveling, but a Turkish Towel is an exceptional alternative. Made of light weight and quick drying cotton, a full size beach towel will roll to only a little bigger than a t-shirt. When you’re staying in lower cost hotels that either don’t provide or charge for a beach towel – this is all you need! This was great for me in both Belize and Cuba!

If you still aren’t sold on the idea you can find more information on microfibre towels here.

Washing Line

If you’re going to be traveling a while, especially with a backpack, anything that can help you reduce what you need to carry is a bonus. Pack a travel washing line so you can wash and hang clothes in your hotel rooms. My roommates always loved using mine on my Europe travels!

Waterproof Pouch

A waterproof pouch is an essential if you’re planning to go anywhere near water on your travels. It will comfortably take your phone, some cash and a room key, a must in Boracay so you can jump in the water at any time. Most available on the market triple seal and keep everything inside dry. In Belize I went snorkeling with it,  and was able to take good quality video footage on my phone camera.

Tissue Purse Pack

Another must to have in your bag is some purse size tissue packs. In Cuba toilet paper is a luxury not always available. You never know when these will come in handy.

Travel Bottles

If you’re like me, and buy a lot of your toiletry products in bulk, you can really save some weight and space by investing in a set of travel bottles so you only need to carry just what you need.


Zip-Lock bags

A few zip-lock bags are great to keep handy, whether its for keeping something dry, sealing in something that might leak, or for a few toiletries on the plane!


Travel Gadgets

Multi-USB Charger

Along the same vein, a multi-USB charger is a life saver when you’re fighting for the single powerpoint in a dorm room, or need to charge multiple devices at once. The brand I use isn’t available internationally, but this product is well reviewed and comes with the added bonus of fittings for multiple countries.


Not only has the Cygnett Powerbank rescued me at many a music festival, but it is incredibly handy to carry for countries where you might not have reliable access to power supply, or long bus trips between destinations. It will charge any device via USB so you’re covered for your phone, camera, and kindle – just don’t forget the appropriate cord! A 10,000 mAh should do you a couple of smartphone charges, without adding a ridiculous amount of extra weight to your bag. I’ve had a couple of different ones and love Cygnett’s products.


I’ll admit I was late to the Kindle party but this is one that belongs in the arsenal of every traveling bookworm. My Kindle has well over 500 books stored in it, with a weight of less than one good sized book. If you’re the kind of traveler that likes to read in transit, or relax by a poolside with a book then get on board!

Camera Tripod

These days we’re all an amateur photographer, and the advancements in Smartphone technology means anyone can take a good snap on the go without lugging around heavy equipment. It is however, worth thinking about a tripod. This tripod is lightweight, flexible, and can be used for either your camera or smartphone.

Memory Card

There’s nothing worse than running out of memory on your card and having to clear out photos on the run just so you can take more. It’s handy to keep a spare Memory Card on hand. Check any specific requirements of your camera to make sure you get the right one.


Cameras are a pretty personal choice, but I’m a long-time fan of the Panasonic Lumix. You can’t get my older model now, but the latest Lumix has a whopping 60x zoom and is in the bridging camera line.



Health items

Mosquito Protection

Mosquito borne disease is a very real threat in many countries of the world and not an issue you can afford to get complacent about. I don’t like using the heavy duty DEET sprays on my skin so I tried the Parakito bands as an alternative in Central America. Each wristband comes with two pellets which last 15 days. It didn’t seem to work against sandflies in Belize but I never got a mosquito bite!

Hand Sanitiser

Another must for the medical kit is hand sanitiser. Not something to worry about in the west perhaps but certainly in Central America and  Cuba, soap was not a guaranteed sight in bathrooms. These little bottles are great for sticking in your bag or pockets.

Aloe Vera Gel

Every savvy traveler knows they should have basic medical supplies on them, and aloe vera gel is a must to include. No one sets out to get sunburned, but chances are at some point it’ll happen and it can really rain on your holiday! You can also check out my essential items for your travel medical kit.


Security Items

TSA Approved Padlocks

Protect your suitcase and backpack with some TSA approved Padlocks. You would be amazed how you actually are able to secure backpack sections to protect valuables. I used these across my Central America trip.

Theft-proof bag

Lets face it, many countries aren’t as safe as where we come from, and if someone really wants to rip us off they’ll find a way. But we can make it more difficult for them! Pacsafe have a great range of practical products with various anti-theft measures built in, such as RFID safe blocking materials to prevent microchip scanning, and lockable zips. This shoulder bag came virtually everywhere with me in Central America, and was versatile enough to serve as an evening bag too!


And in Central America and Cuba I always had a few notes stashed in this belt, just in case!

RFID blocking travel wallet

Airport experiences are much simpler when you have all the documentation you might need in one place. An RFID blocking travel wallet ensures the chip in your passport can’t be scanned for sinister purposes.

Remember, its always good practice to utilise safes provided rather than carry excess valuables around. Have multiple cards and ways to access funds, you may find it useful to have two wallets, one to leave in the safe and one to take out with just the cash you need.


Travel essentials for women

Halo Pad

Minimise what you need to carry, and the chance of messy leaks through your bag, by packing a Halo Pad for your makeup. All you need to do is wet it and your makeup will wipe straight off. Clean the pad with soap and its ready to go again. I’m a recent convert to this and love it, I wish I’d had one on my Central America trip instead of having my bottle of makeup remover leak through my toiletries!

Theft-proof bags

Another recommendation in the Pacsafe range, this style is bigger than the other and looks more like a handbag. This version saw me through my Europe adventures.

For that hidden element of security this pouch will attach to the bra and sit under your shirt. It’s the perfect size to stash your bank cards.

Dry shampoo

Another one for the ladies, if you’re like me with long and very thick hair you might not always be able to wash it so easily on your travels. I wish I’d had this in Cuba!

Diva Cup

Not exactly a dinner conversation in polite circles but lets face it, we all have to deal with it. The Diva Cup is not only more sustainable and environmentally conscious, it’s also a lot more practical in regards to change frequencies and finding disposal options. Get used to it first though and remember you’ll need clean water for cleaning.

Travel Hair Straightener

We all like to go out looking nice sometimes, and life on the road doesn’t always go hand with this desire. A Travel Straightener doesn’t take up much space or weight in your bag and can be just what you need for those pre-dinner touch ups. Mine has come in really handy on multiple trips.




So there you have it! An ultimate packing list of the practical things that have or would have made my life easier on my travel adventures!

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15 thoughts on “Essential travel items for any destination”

  1. Nice list! I’ve just spent 3 years in Southeast Asia and most of these items are absolutely essential for that part of the world. Is there something you thought was essential, but never ended up using? I always have a few of those items in the bottom of my bag!

  2. This is such a great list. I might have to get that mosquito band. I’ve never seen one like that before this post-thanks!

    1. I really don’t like putting the heavy duty deet staff on my skin so went looking for alternatives given I was traveling to a risky region. They’d been reviewed well and are all natural instead of chemicals

  3. Great list! The multi usb charger is a must. I can’t tell you how many times we struggled to charge multiple devices at once, this small item is a game changer!

    1. Oh I couldn’t agree more! We have so many devices these days and all too often you have a limited supply of points!

  4. Powerbanks are so essential! Gotta stay connected. Also those face pads look like they are a great way to reduce waste as well!

    1. I’m on a bit of a mission to try different things to reduce my waste this year and tried it as a result. They do need throwing out eventually, but they’re degradable when you do1

  5. Great list! Some of these things are things that I always tend to forget for some reason. Particularly hand sanitizer which is so annoying because planes are so dirty.

  6. This is a great list! Did not know about that mosquito repellant band… that’s a find. I need to get one of those for my future wilderness trips 🙂

  7. Definitely need to get one of those travel washing lines! I’m so tired of draping wet clothes over every available surface in hotels (or worse, hostel dorm rooms). And aloe is always #1 on the list of things I forget, so great to have it on this list!

  8. Lovely list! I think I need all of these things. But the most interesting one I guess is the theft proof bag cause I never though of it. I love that you included kindle it’s true that bringing books can be a hussle. Kindle is super easy and convenient to take and plus you have more list of books to read.

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