20 Must Have Travel Essentials

It is difficult to choose twenty travel essentials that are right for all types of trips. Travel essentials for tropical climates are different than those for ski vacations and traveling domestically is quite different from traveling overseas. Some items should be packed for all travel regardless of the mode (car, plane) or the destination, while others are specific to certain destinations or areas of the world.

Prescription Medications

Prescription medications are a necessity. Remember to pack them and to make sure there are enough doses to last for the entire trip. It can be difficult to refill prescriptions out of town and nearly impossible to refill them overseas. Include a cold pack for prescriptions that need refrigeration

First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is always a good idea especially if traveling in an area where you do not speak the language. It may be difficult to decipher the labels on over the counter antibiotic creams in a different language.

Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is a great way to keep hand clean and germ free when traveling in areas where clean water may not always be available. It is especially handy when camping or backpacking.

Moist Towelettes

Moist towelettes are also great for traveling and can be used to clean the hands and face when water is not easily available. On warm days, they can remove perspiration from the skin and the evaporation of the cleansers can be refreshing.

Sink Stopper

Sometimes hotel sinks and tubs do not have stoppers so pack a small rubber ball with toiletries. The ball can be used as a stopper should the sink or tub not have a stopper. For some foreign destinations, toilet paper may be another necessity.

Sun Screen and Sub Block

Sun screen and sun block are necessary when traveling to areas where the sun is strong. This doesn’t mean just the tropics. The sun on ski slopes is just as strong and damaging to skin as the sun on a beach.

Extra Swim Suit

Vacationers who plan on swimming should pack an extra swim suit and one of the new travel towels which dry over night and are imbued with anti microbials so they don’t have to be laundered after each use.


Sunglasses are important especially if they are prescription sunglasses. Unless a traveler wears special glasses which darken and protect the eyes from UV light, sunglasses are a necessity on a trip.

Plastic Bags

Plastic bags provide a way to keep dirty or wet laundry separate from clean clothes while traveling. If you decide to take a last swim before boarding your flight home, that plastic bag will provide a handy place for a wet swim suit.

Ziplock Bags

Ziplock bags are great for packing toiletries which might leak in a suitcase. The seal on the bag will keep most liquids inside even if the bottle leaks. It’s always a good idea to pack some extras just in case.

Document Photocopies

Photocopies of important documents like passports, drivers licenses and even credit cards should be packed in a ziplock bag in your suitcase. If a wallet or purse is stolen, the copies make it easier to replace the documents.

Travel Maps

Travel maps of the area make finding your way in a strange place easier. Members of auto clubs can usually get maps of most cities at no charge. Obtain maps before leaving on a trip to make sight seeing easier.

Small Locks

Although people traveling by air cannot lock their suitcases for the flight, small locks should be packed so that suitcases can be locked when they are left unattended in hotel rooms. While these locks may not deter determined thieves, they usually will discourage staff with sticky fingers.

Insect Repellant

Insect repellant is a necessity for many destinations. Biting insects are found in most countries and they often carry diseases so it is best to avoid being bitten. Remedies for bug bites are also a good idea and will soothe the itch if you should be bitten.

OTC Medications

Since unfamiliar foods and water can cause digestive upsets, most travelers should pack over the counter medications for diarrhea, constipation and nausea. It is a good idea to be prepared for every contingency when traveling.

Malaria Prophylactic Treatment

Travelers to areas where malaria is common are required to take a prophylactic treatment beginning two weeks before their departure and continuing for the duration of the trip. Make sure to pack enough of the prophylaxis to last for the entire stay.


Security precautions have made air travel an exercise in patience so pack a book, crossword puzzles or even a pack of cards to alleviate boredom before and during a flight. Since airlines believe that the shortest distance between two points is a triangle, most people will have layovers.

Chewing Gum

When traveling by air, pack some chewing gum in a purse or pocket as it can relieve ear pressure during takeoff. Those who are subject to motion sickness should pack Dramamine tablets or get a prescription patch to ease nausea.

Inflatable Pillows

Inflatable pillows take up very little room in carryon luggage and can provide extra comfort for the trip whether it is by air or by train. Airline pillows are usually rather thin and provide little support for the neck.

Packing List

Pack your original packing list since it will make repacking at the end of a trip simpler and will mean less likelihood of leaving items behind. Making a list of things you will need makes both packing and repacking easier.

Travel necessities may vary depending on the location and the individual, but most travelers will not regret bringing any of these items and some will be grateful they packed them. Although some of the items may be easily picked up during domestic travel, they may not be available overseas. The last thing to remember is to leave enough room in the suitcase for souvenirs or you’ll have to ship them home.

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