Must have travel items; what to pack to bring ease to your travel experience

a scarf, a power adaptor, soaps and a guide book are travel essentials

There are now so many wonderful products that enhance our travel experiences. I asked several colleagues to share their must have travel items, and included a couple of my own. We came up with a list of gadgets and some personal style and comfort essentials. Wherever you are travelling, these travel essentials will have your technology functioning well, and your person feeling good. Some of them are also designed to lighten your load.

Gadgets for travellers

Universal travel adaptor Kit

an international power adaptor with usb ports is a travel must have
This international multi power adaptor with USB ports is a travel essential for me

By Jan

This is one of my very favourite travel gadgets, whether travelling domestically or internationally. I literally stumbled on this product one day when I was crusing the centre aisle at Aldi. I bought two, one for Rowan and one for me, and I now wonder how we lived without them. With a choice of adaptor plugs you can travel the world with this product and charge both your USB and regular Australian appliances. This one is from Bauhn and may no longer be available, but do take the time to search out alternative brands at stores like Officeworks.

I have a battery pack as below, which I use when travelling, and I use this power adaptor to charge it overnight, meaning that tech gadgets like my phone and my e reader can be charged on the go the following day.

Battery pack

A battery pack allows for charging your phone on the run

By Christine Aldred at Booming On Travels

Like many of us, I use my IPhone a lot. I mean, I really hammer it, especially when travelling which means it often doesn’t last the day before the battery runs out. That’s why a battery pack is an absolutely must-have travel item for me.

It’s basically a portable recharging device which allows you to recharge your phone or other device on the go. There’s a range of suppliers and qualities so you need to research which one is right for you and your device/s. A major consideration is the capacity, or amount of charge, a battery pack contains, measured in milliampere hours (mAh). The higher the mAhs, the more grunt it has to recharge devices once or multiple times over, but that increased capacity usually comes with a higher price, a larger size and more weight, so the choice is a balancing act.

My current pack serves me well providing about three phone recharges for my relatively new phone before needing to be recharged itself. It can only charge one device at a time and if I were replacing it, I’d choose one with at least two ports to allow another device to be charged simultaneously. Handy if you have multiple devices and could make you popular with travelling companions caught out. The packs come with various add-ons but consider whether they’re worthwhile for your needs.

Remember when flying, battery packs must be carried as hand luggage for safety reasons, and make sure you carry the appropriate cords with you for on-the-go charging.

Old packs, phones and charges can be recycled at local phone suppliers or Officeworks or you can search online for MobileMuster. Lately Woolworths stores are now also providing a mobile phone and accessories recycling bin.

If you are planning a trip to Canberra, Christine is a local expert

E reader

an e reader is a travel must have in your luggage
An e book reader is the perfect way to lighten your travel packing load

By Sarah Carter at A Social Nomad

Whether it’s a guide book, a novel, or non-fiction, books are a big element in enhancing travel, but physical books take up precious physical space when it comes to packing for travel.  But there is nothing better about reading the books about an area or region when you’re in the area, it really enhances your travel experience.  

Books can also get pretty heavy when it comes to moving them around.  And then, of course, there’s the idea that to jettison weight you might want to leave them behind once you’ve finished them.  Horrors!  Traveling with a good e-reader solves both of those problems.  Using an e-reader like a kindle also allows you to pick up books along the way, with no added carrying or space requirements.  

There’s also an increasing move towards providers distributing self-guided tours and travel information in electronic format, so as you arrive at your destination you’ll be all ready set up to take advantage of this.  It’s so much easier walking around a route with a small kindle or another e-reader than with the weighty tome of a printed guidebook.  

Whether your travel involves trains, planes, or buses, e-readers bring an additional benefit, as all now come with a built-in reading light, so disruption to your fellow travelers is minimal.   And finally, yes, there’s another benefit.  As e-books come without the cost involvement of physical print and shipping they also tend to be cheaper than physical books, so as a traveler you have another win and another reason to pick up an e-reader for your travels. 

For books to whet your appetite for Northumberland, check this post from Sarah

Personal style and comfort travel must haves

Scarves and wraps

a pink and a blue wrap, both are must pack for travelling
A selection of scarves and wraps offer comfort, warmth and style

By Jan

I never travel without scarves and wraps. They are a lightweight addition to your luggage and they truly do punch above their weight, There is always a large wrap in my carry on luggage and I use it in flight as an alternative to airline blankets. On daytime flights I will still use a wrap, as I generally find planes are cooler than I would like. I will wrap a scarf around my neck or at a push use it at a pillow.

On arrival, scarves and wraps can continue to serve you well. It may be that you are entering sites where you are required to cover your hair and having your own scarf on hand is such a bonus. In addition I find packing 2-3 scarves allows me to easily mix up my travel capsule wardrobe, and I often buy one whilst travelling. A new scarf not only freshens up my wardrobe but means I arrive home with a useful light weight souvenir of my travels.

For the loveliest scarves and wraps guaranteed to bring warmth and comfort to your travels, I recommend you check out the beautiful and ethically produced range at Cara Cashmere. If you are travelling to warmer climes you will also find beautiful silk scarves from this label.

Packing cubes

aqua coloured packing cubes are a must have travel item
Packing cubes are such a great way to organise your luggage

By Stephanie Rytting at The Unknown Enthusiast

Packing cubes are a must have accessory for traveling and one of the best travel tips for anyone who really thrives on having things organized. These “cubes” are essentially a pack of several different sizes of sturdy plastic bags with zippers. There is also a strap on the inside of the cube to hold your items in place. You can pack different categories of items in different bags (e.g. you have a bag for tops, a bag for bottoms, a bag for dresses, a bag for delicates, etc). 

Now, it might not sound like all that big of a deal, but these cubes are extremely effective at keeping your belongings organized and easy to find. Gone are the days of having your entire suitcase tossed after a day or two of travel and searching for items. Alternatively, these cubes can also be used to contain everything you need for a certain day. So, instead of packing all your pants together in one cube, you would use one cube for Monday’s outfit, another cube for Tuesday’s outfit, etc. 

While you can find sets of packing cubes that are all the same size, I’d recommend starting out with a set with several different sizes – that seems to be the most useful and versatile way to use packing cubes! Then, if you want to expand later on, you can get more of a specific size.

Read Stephanie’s tips for visiting Rio De Janeiro

Shampoo and conditioner bars

hair shampoo and conditioner in cardboard packaging
These will help save the planet, lighten your luggage and have your hair feeling great

By Christine Himes at Peaks to Beaches

When we travel, we usually only bring carry-ons, no matter how long the trip is. Thus we must utilize every inch of our backpacks and carry-on luggage as possible and sometimes that is hard to do.

Towards that end, some time ago we switched from bringing travel size shampoo, conditioner and liquid body wash to bar shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. I don’t have to worry anymore about hotel shampoo drying my hair, causing it to break or frizz, as most shampoo and conditioner bars are made with natural ingredients.

Some other benefits to shampoo bars and conditioners are that most are safe for color-treated hair, keratin-treated and bleached hair. They typically won’t strip the natural oils of your hair or scalp, and they nourish and soothe dry, flaky hair and scalp. I love these because they also fit in the palm of your hand. One of my favorite reasons for switching to bars is that they are eco-friendly. In fact, I recently switched to using them full time in my house. Depending on the brand, I can get 30+ washes out of them.

No matter what brand you purchase, please read the description to make sure it fits your needs, as all brands are not made the same and don’t have the same benefits as listed above.

Waterpoof pouch

A green and black Sea to Summit dry sac on a white background
Even a small dry sac like this one easily fits a mobile phone, wallet and keys keeping them dry

By Brodi Cole at Our Offbeat LIfe

A waterproof waist pouch should be on the packing list of every traveler at any age. The pouch can be used anywhere from hot springs at to swimming anywhere in the world, and can even be worn in saltwater during beach days or on snorkeling excursions.

Many people even like to wear waterproof waist pouches on cruise ships. They are versatile enough to securely hold personal items while you’re in the pools or hot tubs on the main deck before you head off to another show or activity.

In addition, waterproof waist pouches hold everything from credit cards and cash to room keys and cell phones This is all without the hassle of wearing a neck pouch in the water that gets tangled with every move. 

In addition, because all of your most valuable essentials are stored safely with you at all times, a waterproof waist pouch removes the need to carry a backpack or handbag everywhere on water excursions. They’re even roomy enough to hold a granola bar for emergency snacking without feeling too bulky.

A good waterproof waist pouch will have a triple-seal closure in addition to the roll-down Velcro that secures it shut. This ensures electronics and paper items stay perfectly dry. 

In addition, they come in a few different colors to suit your style preferences. And they offer an adjustable waist length that allows the pouch to fit a variety of body sizes. 

Check out Brodi’s post on visiting las Grutas Tolantongo Mexico

Editor’s note: In Australia you will find great options at BCF, including this small bag from Volare Our dry pouch in the image, also from BCF is the Sea to Summit brand which comes in a variety of sizes and colours. These are not specifically waist pouches but can be threaded onto anything you are wearing, securing them to your person.

Need more travel packing tips?

FInd nore travel packing tips in these posts:

Travel packing for blokes

Travel toiletries and make up

Packing for 6 weeks

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