A few key things make a huge difference in good travels and difficult ones. The top three are: Who you’re traveling with (if anyone), how much sleep you get, and what you pack. I’m a huge advocate for only packing what you can carry yourself, but more than that, the important part is that you pack what you do need, and don’t pack what you don’t! Here are my top 10 favorite items to pack, from over decade of professional travel!
This goes at the top of the list because it’s the one thing you don’t think about until you need one. It’s also the thing I recommend that gets the most “I’m so glad you told me about this!” responses. A dry bag does just that: It keeps your things dry, whether you’re at the beach, at the pool, or caught in a pop-up shower on a hike. I’ve used mine around the world, and I’m always glad I brought it, especially on island getaways!
One of my most popular posts: The Top 5 Things You Forgot to Pack for Hawai’i
I never leave home without a polarized pair. They’re perfect for blocking the sun and seeing well during a bright, sunny day, of course. But they have many more uses than that! They cover my eyes in vacation photos before I feel presentable. They act as a headband when my hair just won’t “do.” I love my sunglasses, and I always pack a pair!
Also helpful: The Traveler’s Ultimate Guide to Sunscreen
I’m a major fan of solid toiletries. I am also a major fan of multi-use items, and coconut oil is both! It’s solid at room temperature, making it perfect for carry-on packing, but liquifies with body heat for easy application however you want to use it. A very small jar of coconut oil can last me 3-4 weeks, and I use it as makeup remover, facial moisturizer, deep conditioner, and body lotion!
Keep reading: Your Ultimate Guide to Solid Toiletries
People love their roll-aboard luggage, but I am loyal to backpack luggage and have been for years! With this type of luggage, your hands are free to hold coffee and your phone, you don’t have to drag anything behind you, and they definitely fit better than a roller bag in those overhead bins! My preferred brand is Osprey, and mine has gone with me all over the world!
More here: The Pros and Cons of Traveling Carry-on Only
What’s the use of packing cubes? They’re like shelves in your suitcase. I love how I can be so organized and know exactly where things are when I use my packing cubes (which is always). And believe it or not, they actually do save a ton of space! I was super skeptical for a long time, but now, I will never travel without them.
Read next: My Top 10 Packing Hacks
Travel is dehydrating. It just is! Whether you’re running to the next gate and breaking a sweat or simply sitting 35,000 feet up in the air, you’re getting dehydrated. And there never seems to be anything around to drink when I’m thirsty while out and about. So, I always bring my own water bottle and try to drink at least 64-96 ounces per day, or more if I’m hiking or in a place that’s very hot.
More here: My Top 10 Travel Tips Ever
I always underestimate how much I need my compression socks on long flights. They truly make all the difference! Swelling in your legs and feet on a long flight is uncomfortable, but if you’re prone to blood clots, it’s also dangerous. Compression socks keep the blood flowing through your legs, instead of giving your blood a place to settle at your feet and lower legs. Trust me, you will be glad you have a pair, especially in Economy seats! They come in tons of colors and patterns… Or plain white or black.
A Comfortable Dress
I don’t mean a frumpy dress, I mean a nice, comfortable, versatile dress. The right dress can take you from the beach to the museums to the dinner you had to make reservations for. It can be dressed up or down, and while it doesn’t have to be basic black, it’s nice if you can mix and match it with other things you packed!
Keep reading: What Every Woman Should Pack for Every Trip
No matter where I go, I am always glad I brought a scarf! Is it a scarf? Is it a wrap? Is it a sarong? Bathing suit cover-up? Blanket? Accessory? Hair covering? Shoulder covering? Pop of color? Yes! Yes, it is! A scarf is one of the most useful items you can take with you on travel, no matter the climate. It’s an absolute essential!
More here: 5 Ways to Wear a Scarf in Your Travels
Wrinkle Releaser Spray
This is like a little miracle in a bottle! Despite packing as effectively as possible to mitigate wrinkles, they still happen with certain fabrics. (I’m looking at you, linen that I need in hot, conservative countries.) A little spritz of this, a little tug, and a little time hanging up, and the wrinkles really are released. It also helps with inevitable “scents” that come with needing to rewear clothes between washes, so it pulls double duty!
Read next: 5 Unexpected Things I’m Always Glad I Packed
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