I'm a Travel Writer, and These Are the 7 Things I Take on Every Trip
As someone who likes to travel light, I'm always on the lookout for essentials that are compact and lightweight. And if they are slightly bulkier, I prefer that they have a second function to make them worthy of a coveted spot in my suitcase. Through a lot of trial and error, over my many years of traveling, I finally feel like I have a good selection of travel must-haves that I bring with me everywhere.
These necessities not only make my life easier while I'm away from home, but having this list of go-to items also makes my packing process much more streamlined. I no longer stress about what to bring, since I know that I'll have all of my bases covered in grabbing these essentials, my usual toiletries, and appropriate clothing for the specific trip.
From quick overnight visits to long overseas vacations, I've brought these seven travel products on just about every type of trip, and they've always helped me feel super prepared. From a carry-on bag that has a built-in charger to a portable steamer that makes unpacking a breeze, keep reading for the items I never leave home without. Add one or two to your own collection of travel essentials before your next excursion.
Away The Carry-On Suitcase
Ever since I had to lug a massive suitcase up and down the stairs of a London tube station a few years ago, I vowed to never check a bag again — so this handy carry-on by Away made its debut. While it's compact enough to fit in the overhead bin on a plane, it's still big enough to hold all my stuff. In fact, I've been on two-week-long European trips with just this and a tote and have been fine.
It's easy to navigate through crowded streets and airports, and I like the divided compartments and the inner compression system that helps create more space. However, my favorite feature of the suitcase is the built-in charger. It allows me to juice up all my devices while on the go. Just a note of warning, many airlines will ask you to remove the bag's battery before boarding, but thankfully it pops out with just the push of a button.
To buy: awaytravel.com, from $225
LeanTravel Compression Packing Cube Set
Since I only travel with a compact carry-on, I'm always looking for ways to maximize space in my bag, and these LeanTravel compression packing cubes are the easiest way to do that. Every set comes with six cubes: two large, two medium, and two small. Each one has a double zipper to compress the entire cube into a more compact size once you've packed your belongings inside.
The tops of the cubes are mesh, so I can see what's inside and don't have to waste time opening them all to find what I'm looking for. Plus, they lay flat and don't take up too much room in my suitcase.
To buy: amazon.com, $44 (originally $55)
Apple iPad Mini
After one ill-fated overnight flight where my seat's TV didn't work, I've always traveled with a tablet to be able to entertain myself. I recently upgraded to the latest iPad Mini and love it. Before any flight, train ride, or road trip, I make sure I download all the latest Netflix shows I've been dying to see and make sure my Kindle app is up to date with all the books in my reading queue.
Its battery lasts up to 10 hours at a time, and it easily connects to WiFi, so I can also surf the web. The screen size is 8.3 inches long, which is the perfect size for watching movies and reading books, but it's still small enough to fit inside my purse with no issue.
To buy: amazon.com, $499
Ostrich Pillow Go
I never fly without this Ostrich travel pillow, and it's so comfortable that I've even started bringing it with me on train rides and road trips. Not only does it provide the ergonomic neck support I need to sleep on a plane without waking up in pain, but its hook and loop closure also makes it fully adjustable, so I can find a custom fit.
I love that it has two different heights, unlike most travel pillows which are the same size all around. Even better, the soft and breathable cover is removable and machine washable — making it super easy to clean. When it's not in use, the pillow can be rolled up to be 60 percent smaller, and it comes with a handy travel pouch.
To buy: amazon.com, $60
Spanx Booty Boost Active Leggings
When it comes to packing clothes, I always reach for versatile options that can be worn multiple ways to leave more room in my suitcase for other essentials or purchases during my trip. While choosing most pieces depends on the location's climate or type of activities I'll be partaking in, these Spanx Booty Boost leggings always make their way into my bag no matter what. (And I'm not the only fan — celebrities love this Spanx style too.)
They are my go-to travel pants because they are equal parts flattering and comfortable. The four-way stretch material moves with me, while the high-rise waistband always stays put, so I don't have to constantly adjust myself. Aside from wearing them on travel days, I also wear them during workouts, while running errands, and for sightseeing. I love the solid black pair because they are versatile enough to coordinate with everything in my suitcase.
To buy: spanx.com, $98
Hilife Portable Clothing Steamer
There's nothing worse than spending all day traveling, only to open your suitcase and find your clothing wrinkled beyond wear. I hate ironing, so I always travel with this handy portable steamer from Hilife. It heats up quickly and provides up to 15 continuous minutes of steam — which is more than enough to de-wrinkle an outfit. It weighs less than 2 pounds, so it doesn't add a ton of weight to my bag, and its compact size saves space.
I've even found a second use out of the clever gadget — I use it to give myself a refreshing facial while on the road. It opens my pores to allow my favorite beauty products to penetrate my skin faster. If you're going to try this hack yourself, be sure to keep the steamer at least 8 to 10 inches away from your face to avoid overheating or getting burned.
To buy: amazon.com, $30 (originally $35)
Gillette Venus Mini Extra Smooth Razor
I've long been a fan of the regular-sized Gillette Venus razor, so when I discovered the miniature version I knew it would become a staple in my toiletry bag. Just like the standard size, the razor features five ultra-sharp blades that are surrounded by a "ribbon of moisture" to simultaneously help prevent cuts and hydrate skin.
The rounded head glides smoothly against my skin, and the grippy rubber handle stops me from dropping it in the shower. Its compact size already makes it more convenient to pack than your average razor, but this travel-friendly item even comes with a storage case to keep it safe in transit. Plus, the package includes one blade refill so I never have to hunt down a disposable razor while on vacation.
To buy: amazon.com, $9
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