The 5 Travel Companions I Never Leave Behind

Each trip is unique and requires a unique packing list, but there are things that show up on every packing list I create regardless of destination.

Of course, there are life essentials like underwear and prescription medications that you need to pack, the obvious things I never travel without. But among the less obvious things, these are five things I always pack.

Woman with her suitcase on escalator at the airport

Anti-theft travel purse

When you’re packing for your next trip, consider a good anti-theft travel purse. It’s not just about carrying your essentials; it’s about ensuring their safety. Features like lockable zippers and RFID-blocking materials keep your credit card and passport information secure from electronic theft.

Look for bags with cut-resistant straps or hardware that allows you to secure your bag to a table or something like that.

There are a ton of options to choose from, but I love the Travelon bucket bag. It’s roomy without being too large and has exterior pockets that are perfect for carrying a bottle of water and a compact umbrella.

See my full overview of the best anti-theft travel purse.

Sleep aids

When you’re traveling, there’s nothing quite as important as getting a good night’s sleep. Comfort is key, and whether it’s a long flight or an unfamiliar hotel room, there are a few things that can help ensure you get the rest you need.

  • Medication: For those times when sleep evades you, a mild over-the-counter sleep aid can be helpful. Use these responsibly and as directed.
  • Earplugs: Block out unwanted noise with a pair of comfortable earplugs. They’re small, easy to carry, and perfect for creating quiet. 
  • Noise Cancelling Headphones: Sometimes, you might prefer soothing music or white noise (my top choice). In these cases, investing in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones can make all the difference.
  • Eye Mask: An eye mask can block out the light, signaling to your body that it’s time for rest. Choose one that feels soft against your skin and fits comfortably over your eyes without being too tight.
  • Neck Pillow: Don’t wake up with a sore neck. A supportive neck pillow can provide comfort and prevent your head from drooping into uncomfortable positions.

Check out my favorite products to help you sleep on your flight.

woman sleeping in an airplane window seat

Paper copies of booking confirmations

It’s great to have digital tickets on your phone, but carrying paper copies of your booking confirmations is a savvy travel move, even in our digital age. You might trust your smartphone for everything from maps to boarding passes, but having a tangible backup has its perks.

Imagine you’re stepping off a long flight; your phone’s battery is barely hanging on. Or you’re staying at a small inn in a location with poor mobile connectivity. You reach for your trusty folder and there, neatly filed, are your hotel and rental car confirmations. It’s an instant stress reducer.

I like to print out confirmations/reservations for the below in addition to carrying digital copies on my phone:

  • Flight details and boarding passes
  • Hotels/accommodations
  • Car rentals
  • Tours and activities

Keep everything in a designated travel folder in the order you’ll need them on your trip. This way, your important details are all in one place. And if you wish you can dispose of these confirmations as you go through your trip and no longer need them so you’re not taking them home again unnecessarily.

Plastic storage bags

Plastic storage bags are incredibly versatile and can quickly become essentials you don’t want to travel without. They are lightweight and perfect for organizing different items, serving many purposes, such as keeping your dirty or wet laundry separate from your clean clothes.

  • Use a quart-size bag to pack your toiletries in your carry-on.
  • If you check luggage, you can use larger bags to separate liquid toiletries like shampoo from your clothing or other items.
  • Bring along a few small bags for snacks.
  • You can even use gallon-size bags as cheap, makeshift packing cubes.

Downloaded media

When you’re gearing up for a trip, keeping your devices like your phone, Kindle, or laptop filled with downloaded media is great for helping pass the time. Think ahead to what you might want for your flights, long car rides, or relaxed evenings in your hotel.

  • Catch up on those podcasts you’ve been meaning to listen to.
  • Create the perfect road trip playlist on Spotify.
  • Check out some ebooks from your local library with Libby.
  • Download an audiobook.
  • Check out what movies and shows are available for download on Netflix.
woman sitting on a plane wearing comfortable clothing and reading a magazine

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