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Thailand. Kenya. France. Norway. Barcelona. Utah. Northern Minnesota. It doesn’t matter where I travel, I always bring these 9 things.
I bring a lot of other things as well, let’s be clear on that, it’s just I live by the “you can usually buy or find anything you need wherever you’re going” attitude. If it’s raining like crazy I can buy a rain jacket. If I need more shampoo, I’ll hit up a store. If I lose a charger, I’ll find a new one.
What I pack varies depending on where I’m headed but these 9 things are my absolute must-haves.
1. PACKING CUBES
I swear by packing cubes. They’ll make your life and your trip 10x easier. They’re simple but effective and keep your clothes organized and compact.
Don’t be the person who has to empty your ENTIRE BAG just to find what you were looking for at the very bottom. When you use packing cubes, you can pull everything out and it’s still organized.
I roll my clothes up to maximize space and sort my cubes by ‘type’ of clothing (shirts in one, pants in another) but I’ve seen it done by outfits too.
It doesn’t matter if I’m going on a trip or going to the store, I ALWAYS have a scarf. They do it all.
I wear scarves so much that I recently posted a photo without a scarf and someone called me out asking where I was hiding it.
My scarves are generally oversized to maximize their capabilities. They’re more so a functional piece than a fashion statement and I use them primarily to keep warm. Being able to cover my neck or head if it gets chilly is huge for keeping me comfortable and in a good mood.
Oh come on, I’m not the only one who gets cold way too easily and crabby even quicker, right?
I also like that they can travel with me and not get in the way. I always bring it along when we leave in the morning so I have it for those cool nights if we don’t return. It’s usually warm during the day so I’ll tie it to my purse or tie it around my waist and then wear it at night. I hardly even notice it!
Scarves are also capable of being a shawl, blanket, pillow, and towel. I’m telling you my friend they really do it all!
The lightweight scarves I’ve collected from various stores throughout the years.
Here are the thicker scarves usually take when it’s colder.
Yep, I always take little storage baggies when I travel. It seems inevitable that I accumulate odds and ends along the way.
Baggies help me keep my backpack and purse pockets clean. They’re really helpful because you can see through them as well as, like the packing cubes, you don’t have to dump everything you own out to find that one thing at the very bottom.
They’re also good to use when you need to keep something dry. Bring a few of these in different sizes because you never know what it might be. They take up hardly any space and weigh almost nothing. If you have other small bags, those will work too, but I’ve found baggies to be the most useful.
Oh! Also, baggies are my coin purse when I travel. It’s a way to keep foreign coins separate from my US coins and have easy access to using them.
4. WATER BOTTLE
I always bring my own water bottle with me when I travel. It’s a way to use less plastic and always have water with you.
I love a classic Nalgene, they’re sturdy and reliable. You never know what situation you might get yourself in and having water with you is just a smart thing to do in general.
Also, if your water bottle is a different color, you can “hide” other drinks in it. I’ve put wine in my Nalgene before and went roaming around Paris listening to the musicians and enjoying the hustle and bustle of the city.
I’m not going to lie, I didn’t know these were called carabiners until I met Scott. Still, I’ve been traveling with them even before knowing him and their name.
I always bring 2 or 3 with me and keep them on the outside of my backpack. I use them to keep anything that’s not inside of my backpack attached to the outside.
This last trip it connected my shoes and water bottle, which was in a side pocket, to a strap on the outside of my backpack. I’m lucky the water bottle was attached because when we were on the scooter it flew out of the side pocket but held on because of the carabiner.
6. DECK OF CARDS
If you’re traveling with someone, cards are a great way to pass the time.
If you’re alone, it’s a good ice breaker with strangers. Especially if you’re in a hostel or staying with a family in another country, break out the cards and teach them a new game or have them teach you.
If you want, you can leave the cards when you go!
Don’t forget your camera when you travel. You will only wish you had more photos to take you back to whatever special place you just came from.
You don’t need to be a professional photographer to take memorable photos and I recommend prioritizing what is going to be the easiest for you to use.
No matter what my intentions are before the trip, I always find myself using whatever camera is easiest and most convenient.
Right now, I’m really loving our Google Pixel 2 phones. They’re almost always perfect for what we need if the lighting is right. The camera just keeps getting better and it’s impressive what they are capable of. Plus, for blogging and social media, the photo quality is fine. If we want to make prints or are doing work for a client, that’s a different story and we use the Canon for that.
We also just got the wide, Moment lens to go with our Google Pixel 2’s. It’s a lens attachment and we’ve taken some unreal photos with the combination. The moment lens is great if you are taking a lot of photos with your phone and want different options. You need a special case for it that is specific to your phone. I highly recommend them, but do a little research first!
Another camera I bring with me is my action cam. It’s similar to a GoPro but we have the DJI action cam.
This lightweight, durable camera is great if you’re always on the move. I love it for grab and go moments and that I don’t have to worry about breaking it. For just $200 it’s powerful and affordable!
Finally, we do take our Canon 5D Mark IV with us when we travel. It’s the best overall camera for photos and videos in our opinion. Scott has a production company and it’s what he uses when working with clients. It’s not my favorite because it’s heavy and we’re always having to worry about where it is, but Scott is the one that usually has it along. He mostly uses it if we want to make a print of something or in a low light situation.
One of the best things I can suggest for your next adventures is to keep a journal. You always think you’ll remember the names of the people you meet and the unbelievable trail you hiked and the place where you ate yourself silly, but you won’t. Those moments and memories fade over time.
A journal will help you slow down on your adventure. It makes you stop and be aware and present. How are you feeling? What do you want to remember?
Some of my most treasured travel memories are still alive because I wrote them down in my journal.
9. JUST ONE BOOK
When I travel, I try to bring just one book and even better if it’s paperback.
Why just one? You can usually buy or trade one book for another on the road and truthfully, you never get as much time as you’d like for reading. If you want to save on space and weight, leave the extra book behind.
Here’s what I’m reading:
- I’ll forever recommend The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
- Right now I’m reading All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
- I just finished My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman
- On Deck is Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
- And after that Educated by Tara Westover
BONUS TIP: ALWAYS BRING A GOOD ATTITUDE, KINDNESS, AND A SMILE
Please, please, please when you travel, remember you are a guest in someone else’s home/country/where ever you are.
Treat people the way you want to be treated. People are really great and helpful and kind if you are great and helpful and kind to them. Have an open mind, smile more, and thank them for sharing a bit of their home with you!
I would love to hear what your must-have travel items are! Let me know down in the comments.
Happy traveling my friend,