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What are the essential travel items you need to bring on every trip? We investigate and share a list of 21 Travel Necessities that Travelers simply can’t stop buying. Like good quality luggage, a decent set of headphones and a portable power charger.
Popular Travel Necessities
This article contains a list of 21 travel necessities we feel travelers should take with them on almost every trip they take. We say “almost every trip” because there are a few items that are situational in nature (e.g. if you are not traveling internationally you don’t need an international travel adapter, or if you are not traveling where it is raining you can leave the travel umbrella at home).
The criteria for inclusion was simple: is this something that is a travel necessity, something that you will use on almost every trip you take. Items that are self evident like your toothbrush or clothes, etc, were excluded.
Lastly, the items are ranked in loose order of priority. Meaning, travelers could focus on just the top 10 if they wanted to.
Note: we intentionally excluded your phone from our travel necessities list as we assume everyone’s got one, and would be taking it with you traveling anyway.
- Good Quality Carry On Suitcase
- Hard Case Large Suitcase for extended trips
- Backpack or Travel Handbag
- Hygiene Kit for Travel
- Portable Charger
- Apple iPad or Tablet
- Portable Travel Surge Protector
- High Quality Wireless Headphones
- Travel First Aid Kit
- Laptop Privacy Screen
- International Travel Adapter
- Sewing Kit
- Backup Wired Headphones
- Cord Organizer
- Travel Water Bottle
- Travel Hand Sanitizer
- Travel Wet Wipes
- Travel Umbrella
- AC Mounted Magnetic Cell Phone Holder
- Travel Credit Card – for your preferred hotel
- Travel Credit Card – general card to maximize your points
The sections below provide a more detailed explanation of why we think these are the 21 Travel Necessities travelers will find themselves wanting or using while traveling. We’ve also included a section at the very end that offers a few less-than-essential items that travelers still might find interesting and worth taking (although they are certainly not essentials).
Quality Carry On Suitcase
First on our list is a good quality carry on suitcase. It might be tempting to go cheap here, but experience suggests that investing in a decent to maybe excellent carry on is worth every penny. These days, we recommend a 4-wheeled spinner, and preferably a soft sided bag. For example, the TravelPro Crew 11 21″ is one of our favorites (read our review here).
The more affordable TravelPro Maxlite 5 is also an admirable entry and works quite well at a much more affordable entry point.
Hard Case Large Suitcase for extended trips
I rarely check a bag. And I mean rarely. But, occasionally it does make sense to do so, particularly on long or extended trips and/or if you are traveling internationally. While you may not use this piece of luggage on every trip it will be a necessity for those longer ones. Consider the Briggs & Riley Sympatico, which isn’t cheap, but is a strong choice for quality hard case luggage.
For many years I used a rolling Samsonite briefcase as my 2nd carry on. However, after spending significant time in NYC on business travel I quickly realized that wasn’t going to work anymore (ever tried rolling anything on busy city streets??). I then switched to the Ogio Metro (which was an excellent backpack for many years).
However, I stumbled across the Knack Bag which has now become my go-to travel backpack for every trip. This creative and expandable backpack allows me to easily travel with all of my travel essentials and it expands if I need to toss in a day or two of clothing. This bag isn’t perfect (read my review), but it’s darn close.
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If a more stylish laptop purse is your preference, there are many options to choose from including this Laptop Bag from EaseGive.
The civilian word for this is Toiletries Kit, but as a Marine I have hygiene kit ingrained in my brain housing group (another USMC term…for head). Whatever you call, investing in a bag that you can store your toiletries in and then easily use is one of those travel necessities you can’t get around. It’s ok to splurge a little here.
For men, a simple leather kit often does the trick. For example, the Alpine Swiss Sedona is a perfectly sized bag that easily fits all of your toiletries.
Women may choose to go in a different direction and one travel toiletry kit that’s very popular with female travelers is the BagSmart Hanging Toiletry Kit:
Always be charging. That’s one of our top rules for travel and that means having a portable charger in your travel kit. We’ve reviewed the Anker PowerCore 20100 and think it’s pretty swell, but we also like the Anker PowerCore Essential 20000 which we are currently reviewing. It’s pictured below:
Fighting those bouts of travel boredom is often done by downloading your favorite TV shows or movies and binge watching them on the flight or while you wait at the airport. While many airlines have in-seat entertainment, the trend is moving heavily towards app-based entertainment systems where you bring your own device. And sure, you can use your phone, but why not make that screen a little bigger and use an iPad. I never travel anywhere without my IPad.
If you’re not an Apple fan, there are many great Android tablet choices or even an Amazon Fire including:
You never know when you might need an extra few feet to get to a plug. As a business traveler, I’ve learned over the years to bring a travel size extension cord / surge protector everywhere. You just never know what kind of set the customer might have or where you might get stuck sitting at the airport.
As a leisure traveler I’ve also found this to exceptionally helpful and bring it on every trip now (business or pleasure!). My personal favorite (and highly recommended) is the POWERADD Mini, pictured below:
I don’t go anywhere without my wireless Beats Solo 3 Headphones (you can read my review here). I recommend all travelers invest in some decent, if not excellent wireless headphones. Certainly the Beats Solo 3’s are popular, but the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II’s are even better.
Travel First Aid Kit
This travel necessity is less about actually buying a travel first aid kid (which you can do) and more about building your personal medical kit. For example, I always travel with a few band-aids, some Aleve, some Tylenol PM, some Dayquil, fingernail clippers, tweezers, etc. Whatever your first aid kit is, be sure to bring it, and replenish it from time to time.
As we discuss in our 7 Cyber Security Tips for Travelers article, there are prying eyes everywhere and a Laptop Privacy Screen is a travel necessity, especially for business travelers. The best laptop privacy screen filters on the market today are those made by 3M including the 3M Gold Privacy Filter.
If you are doing international travel then bringing an International Travel Power Adapter is a travel necessity you simply can’t live without. There are plethora of options available, but my personal favorite is this highly regarded MINGTONG Travel Adapter which covers around 150 countries.
Busted seam? Broken button. Never happens when you want it to and if you have this travel necessity you are home free. I always, always, always care a small sewing kit with me on every trip.
Most of wireless headphones come with a corded attachment (which I also bring with me in case I need it), but I’ve learned over the years to bring a cheap corded set of headphones in case I damage, break or lose my main pair. There’s lots of options to choose from here, but these, pictured below, are just fine:
Spaghetti. That’s what your travel bag can easily become if you don’t get serious about your cords. I fought this for years, but ultimately my travel cord organizer is now part of my travel necessities kit. Here’s one option from Jelly Comb:
Staying hyrdrated while traveling is a crucial part of staying healthy on your trip. But, rather than spend $6 on bottled water at the airport, invest in a collapsible travel water bottle. For our money, the Nomader, pictured below, is the way to go (read our review here).
And be sure to stay away from the Baiji Water Bottle which is junk.
Coronovirus anyone? Yeah, no thanks. Travel sized hand sanitizer is a travel must have these days. Bathe in it if you have to…
I now consider this item a travel necessity and carry a small pack of disposable wet wipe with me on every trip. Handy to wipe down a tray table or as a solution to rough sand paper.
This is an item I don’t always bring with me unless it’s the time of year when rain is common. Then it goes in the bag every time.
This tiny, but incredibly useful travel gadget goes in my bag every trip. When I rent a car this little bugger helps me use my phone’s nav instead of having it thrashing about on the floor after having fallen off my seat.
Travel Credit Card – for your preferred hotel
We love our points, miles and rewards here at the CBoardingGroup and one of the basic elements of this game is to use credit cards that maximize your point value. This means getting a hotel credit card assoicated with your hotel program of choice.
For example, I prefer to stay at Hilton’s (been a diamond for years) so I personally hold onto (and use) Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card which helps your earn some serious points when you use it (12x on top of any other bonuses you earn for your Hilton Status)
And although I rarely stay at Marriott Properties I do own the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Visa Signature Credit Card which can help you earn points faster when you stay at Marriott properties.
Travel Credit Card – general card to maximize your points
In addition to having a credit card for hotel points it’s highly recommended that travelers include a more general travel credit card which you can use across various travel rewards platforms.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is one of the best overall travel credit cards you can get your hands on and is highly recommended for business and leisure travelers.
Some Nice to Haves (but definitely not travel necessities)
The following items are definitely not travel necessities but they are certainly quite nice to have.
- Luggage Tags (customized or creative is always nice)
- Portable Travel Sized Disinfectant
- Travel Pillow – the Trtl Pillow Plus is clever
How about you? What’s your favorite travel item or gadget that you prefer to get or bring with you? Maybe it’s not mandatory…just a luxury…but you always bring it!
Don’t forget to follow us on social media including: Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Flipboard and Instagram. Be sure to check out some of our other great travel related content including the following articles:
- Where can a consumer buy a hotel bed?
- Do hotels sell their pillows?
- Must have travel gadgets and travel accessories
- Gifts for Travelers
- Best Luggage Tags
- Checked bags vs carry on bags?
- IRS Mileage Rate
- Global Entry for Military Members
- TSA PreCheck for Military Members
- Southwest Business Select – is it worth the cost?
- Southwest Airlines and the best seats
- Marriott Sheets
- First Time Flying Southwest Airlines
- Marriott Mattress Topper
- Can I fly with an expired license?
- TSA Redress Number
- Real ID for Flying and when it is needed
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