Over my three years of traveling I have accumulated a lot of travel stuff. Some of which is still with me, others I have been forced to dump because they made me, again forcibly, replace them. You know that moment when you have to swipe your card when you really don’t want to? Yeah, after that happened twice I started looking at the things that I consider absolute must-haves when traveling and started really investing in my travel essentials (in other words making my travel life easier). Because, let’s be honest, those in need buys rarely turn out great.
Let’s get the obvious ones out of the way, your luggage. I’m not going to get into this one because well everyone that travels, even for just weekend trips, knows the importance of good luggage. Next a disclaimer; when investing always make sure to stay within your own budget. If your eye were to fall on something that is out of your budget, budget it in. It might take some time, but going into debt or creating any other financial instability is not worth it. Ever. I mean if you were traveling without them before, a little longer will not hurt you. Now that that is out of the way here are the travel essentials I think are worth the investment.
1. Travel Adapter
Believe it or not but the outlets around the world are different meaning that you might not be able to use your electrical appliances. No, I don’t just mean the standard ‘’girly things’’ such as a curling iron or whatever, your phone charger counts too! So investing in a universal adapter is a life saver. There are actually two types of adapters. One that just makes your plugs fit the outlet and another one that is a transformer that protects your electrical appliances. For example in the EU we use electrical appliances that have frequencies of 50 hz, while in the US the frequency is 60 hz. The last mentioned adapter usually also has the features of the first adapter described. So basically one appliance and you can use your electrical appliances all around the world without a problem. I do have to add that most hotels are universally adapt, but do you really want to risk it?
When buying my universal adapter I paid special attention to:
- When buying just the plug; make sure it’s actually universal and not just for a specific continent or country. Yes those exist and you’re basically robbing yourself if you buy one of those.. If you ask me.
- Having the two in one option as in the plug + transformer; they do exist separately but again why rob yourself?
- Whether the adapter has USB ports so you can use it to charge your phone as well, even though your phone has it’s own frequency adapter which (most) laptops do too, it’s still handy to have especially when there are not many outlets around.
2. Portable Phone Charger
I love wandering around. Another way of saying this is; I get lost on purpose. Hey, don’t judge me, it makes for some interesting situations! Anyways, if and when I actually do get lost I use maps on my phone which drains the battery a lot. Doing that in combination with taking pictures on my phone usually means that by the end of the day I would be out of battery. The easy solution for that is a portable phone charger. I personally invested in one that is capable of charging my phone three times or my laptop once. Why, you ask? Well, you have to charge the portable charger as well and that is a little factor I tend to forget. Oops!
When buying my portable charger I paid special attention to the following features:
- The size of the charger; usually the more times it can charge your phone the bigger it is. I wanted one that I could take with me at night as well, so the smaller the better.
- How often it can charge my phone; for reasons mentioned above.
- Power indicator light; I know I forget to charge it, so it became of crucial importance to know when the power was low so I would plug it in. Always help yourself!
Want to know more ways to make your travel life easier? Yes? Click here.
3. Document holder
Kill your anxiety, if you have any. I check whether I have my passport, boarding pass and hotel information about ten times during my travels to the airport. Knowing that they are all in one place and I just have to check that one place calms my nerves so much. Honestly, of all items on this travel essentials list I think my document holder is the travel essential investment I love the most.
When buying my document holder I paid special attention to:
- Size; you want it to be big enough to hold your passport and travel documents such as boarding pass, hotel information and/or visa’s. On the other hand, you also don’t want it to be too big, because you could’ve just bought a binder! Fun fact; I used to work at an airport and a border officer told me that they really appreciate people that have everything together and don’t have to go through their entire bag when being asked for extra docs. So there’s that for extra motivation to invest in a document holder.
- Color; again my anxiety at play here. You want a color that you will be able to find in your bag, but also isn’t too flashy to catch the eye of people who have no business with your documents if you catch my drift.
As said before, I love wandering around but carrying my stuff in a normal purse got exhausting really quickly. Shoulder pains, back pains and not having my hands available to take pictures or try things became too impractical for my liking so I invested in my backpack. No, I did not invest in one that is typically a ‘’travelers’’ backpack. I don’t carry enough stuff around to invest in one of those. I did however apply the rules of comfort that come with a ‘’true’’ ‘’travelers’’ backpack.
When buying my backpack I paid special attention to:
- The straps; generally a thicker strap helps the straps not dig into your shoulders.
- Size; I made sure that my document holder and my water bottle could fit nicely with the backpack firmly closed.
- Compartments inside of the bag; one big hole? Compartments? Compartments with zippers? No zippers?
- How the bag closes; you generally want one that closes really well (stating the obvious.. ), such as a zipper or an extra flap over the closing. Anything that will make sure your stuff is sealed in, in some type of way. No to easy access!
5. Travel Pillow
When doing long haul flights or flights at the end of the day a travel pillow is an absolute must for me. Nowadays you have different ones besides the OG ones that go around your neck, which can be inflatable or with different types of filling. You even have one that you can stick your entire head in. It kind of looks like you are wearing a puffed hoodie with a neck brace, but to each their own. I prefer the newer version of the OG travel pillow. Basically mine is the one you put around your neck and has extra padding at the back while extending a little bit to the front. I realize it would be easier and more travel friendly to buy one that is inflatable however I have asthma so blowing it up can sometimes be a direct attack on my life. Also one little hole in your pillow and you’re going to have to buy a new one.
When buying mine I paid extra attention to:
- How thick the pillow is, you don’t want to have your neck in a weird angle.
- With what material the pillow is padded.
- The softness of the outer material.
- The weight of the pillow.
Those were my five travel essentials that I really invested in and helped make my travel life easier. What travel essentials have you invested in to make your travel life easier?
Updated on Feb 3-03-2020.