Travel Essentials for Women: 33 Must-Haves

Ladies, figuring out what you need to take with you on your trip can be a major headache…am I right? So, take the mystery out of it all and use our list of travel essentials for women

From clothing to shoes and personal care items, we’ve totally got you covered. 

Traveling woman sitting on the edge of the water.
Travel like a pro with these travel essentials for women.

So, before you start packing, make sure you keep reading this travel essentials list for women. 

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Need help planning your trip? Check out our list of essential travel planning resources.  


Anti-theft travel purse 

An anti-theft travel purse is an absolute must. I never travel without mine. 

A good anti-theft crossbody also makes a good bag to carry everything you’ll need for day trips

This Travelon anti-theft purse (find it on Amazon) is remarkably roomy for the size and includes must-have anti-theft features: slash-resistant body panels and strap, locking zipper closures, RFID-blocking pockets, and lockdown strap. 

Don’t miss my full review of the Travelon classic crossbody bucket bag for more complete details and my personal photos of the purse, so you can see how it looks in real life. 

TIP: Keep track of your packing list with this editable travel packing list spreadsheet.

Prefer pencil and paper? Grab the printable blank packing lists.

Affordable laptop backpack 

While an anti-theft travel purse is essential for your trip, you might also need something a little larger. 

A backpack designed to carry a laptop (check out this great option on Amazon) is a great piece of travel gear and makes an ideal personal bag for taking on flights

Look for a backpack that has a separate pocket designed to hold laptops and also includes a roomy main compartment to hold everything you need to survive a long flight

The front compartment will help you keep smaller items organized.

A strap on the back of the pack allows it to fit over your extended rolling carry-on handle. 

It even includes a small anti-theft pocket. I love anti-theft features in travel bags.

Travel insurance is an essential travel item 

You invest a lot of time and money in planning your travel.

You want it to go perfectly, but let’s face it…sometimes life happens.

People get sick, accidents happen, and things get lost or (sadly) stolen. 

We’re blessed to have never needed to file a claim with travel insurance, but we love the peace of mind that comes with knowing our travel investment is covered. 

It’s a good idea to have travel insurance in case something goes wrong.  

If you get injured or seriously ill while you’re abroad, do you know that you’ll be able to get the medical care you need? 

Essential travel accessories 

Sleep mask 

Does your trip include a long-haul flight? Then a good quality sleep mask is a must to help you sleep on your flight

This mask (buy it on Amazon) is adjustable so you can get it to the pressure that’s perfect for you and completely block out light. 

And there’s plenty of room for your eyelashes so you can blink freely and won’t destroy your eye makeup.  

It’s hand washable and comes in a ton of fun colors and patterns to show off your personality.

woman sleeping in an airplane window seat

Reusable water bottle 

I never leave my house without a water bottle while I’m traveling. You’ll really love the Super Sparrow sport water bottle (check it out on Amazon). It’s lightweight and spillproof. 

I love that I can toss it in my bag and I don’t have to worry about it leaking on anything. 

If you’re looking for an insulated bottle, you can’t go wrong with a Yeti rambler (take a look on Amazon). 

I love that it’s dishwasher safe. That’s a big selling point for me.

Portable charger 

Ladies, don’t forget that making sure that your phone is fully charged is an important part of keeping safe while you travel.  

It’s essential to pack a portable charger to make sure your devices never run out of juice.

If you listen to music or watch videos as you travel, you can drain your battery much more quickly than you might realize. 

This one available on Amazon is ultra-compact. It’s perfect for packing into your carry-on or day bag. 

Or try this high-capacity power bank (buy it on Amazon) so that you can charge more than one device at a time if you need it. 

Plastic storage bags in assorted sizes 

Pack at least a few each of several different plastic storage bags. You never know when you might need one when you travel. 

They’re great for random everyday uses like packing snacks in your day bag or keeping wet swimsuits or a few dirty clothes away from the rest of your clothes in your suitcase, etc. 

Back view of young woman enjoying beautiful seascape in Italy.

Shoes and clothing 

A fashion guru I am not, BUT there are a few basic items that I will recommend to any woman who loves to travel. 

These are things that I believe should be on every packing list…depending on your destination and time of year you’re traveling of course. 

The most comfortable flip-flops ever 

Havianas flip flops are essential for me any time that I travel.

They’re super comfortable and stylish enough to wear out and about. 

You can buy Havianas flip flops here on Amazon. 

They’re also great to just wear around your hotel room or to slip on quickly to make a quick ice run down the hallway. 

Comfortable casual shoes 

If you find a casual and comfortable shoe that works with many outfits, make sure you grab hold and never let go. 

TOMS are my go-to casual slip-on shoes for travel (you can buy them on Amazon).

They’re perfect for any kind of city break day trip. 

And they’re exceptionally lightweight and can be machine washed. I always air dry them to help them last as long as possible. 

I haven’t found another slip-on casual shoe that I like better. 

They even make vegan-friendly options.  

Hiking shoes 

Although a good pair of comfortable slip-on shoes are great for exploring in the city, there might be times when you need a more substantial shoe. 

If you’re going hiking, you’re going to want good support. I find hiking ankle boots too constricting, so that’s why I wear hiking shoes.

 Check out my favorite hiking shoes on Amazon

They’re comfortable and waterproof. 

In fact, they’re great for any outdoor activity, not just hiking. 

Their substantial soles are great for uneven terrain, like exploring ancient ruins in Rome…just as an example. 

Breathable waterproof rain shell 

Weather happens. You don’t want it to ruin your day of exploring. 

So, don’t forget to take a lightweight, packable, waterproof, breathable rain jacket with a hood. 

I’m in love with my Columbia Arcadia jacket. You can buy it here on Amazon. 

It will easily pack into any day bag…even a fairly small one. 

You really do want to make sure that it’s breathable.

Other waterproof jackets can be quite stifling and it can be very easy to get overheated quickly. 

Girl at the airport window

Warm packable vest 

If you’re going to be traveling in colder weather another great outerwear option is to take a light and packable puffer vest. 

I love Eddie Bauer vests. This one (check it out on Amazon) is machine washable, which I think is a great feature.

My Eddie Bauer down vest has lasted me for many seasons and I can’t imagine trying anything else.

In fact, mine has lasted so long they don’t even make that specific down vest anymore.

Waterproof fleece interchange coat

A jacket/coat that can be used in multiple ways has become one of my top travel essentials.

If you’re in the market for a 3-in-1 or interchange jacket, you simply must check out Columbia’s Bugaboo II Fleece Interchange jacket. I really love mine Check the Bugaboo II price on Amazon here.

  • The outer layer is waterproof, breathable, and has a really good, adjustable hood. It’s noticeably warmer than a basic rain shell like the Arcadia II.
  • The inner layer is made from thermal-reflective fleece.
  • You can zip the fleece layer into the shell to make a cozy, waterproof coat or wear each layer separately.

Comfortable travel pants/hiking pants

Comfy travel pants or hiking pants are on my list of must-have travel essentials for almost every trip that includes at least a little bit of outdoor exploring.

I’m basically in love with my Kuhl Freeflex Roll-up pants. They’re made of quick-drying, water-resistant fabric that also provides sun protection. They are SUPER comfortable for me. I love that they have a regular waste band but also an internal drawstring so you can adjust the fit.

They’re perfect for long days outdoors and are lightweight enough to work fine in warm weather. Plus you can roll them up when needed.

In cold weather, I like to wear a pair of thermal base layer leggings underneath.

These pants are high quality so they are a bit of an investment, but I totally think they’re worth it.

Set of travel bottles and towel in plastic bag inside a backpack
Don’t forget your toiletry travel essentials.

Beauty and personal care 

Okay, honesty time. 

Packing makeup and toiletries can be the thing I nitpick over even more than clothes, especially when traveling carry-on only

These are my top recommendations for toiletries.  

Travel-size skin care kit 

Favorite skin care products in travel sizes are perfect for your packing list. 

I never leave my Paula’s Choice skincare products behind when I travel.

The travel-size kit is small enough even to fit inside your one-quart liquids bag when packing toiletries for carry-on

High SPF sunscreen for the face 

Sunscreen isn’t just for beach days. 

Wearing a good sunscreen on your face every single day can help slow the signs of aging and even help prevent the effects of environmental damage. 

This is a great SPF 50 sunscreen for the face (find it on Amazon). There’s no white cast and it works great under makeup. 

It comes in a travel size too. 

Healing lip balm 

A good lip balm makes a wonderful travel companion. 

I never travel without a healing lip balm (find my favorite on Amazon), especially on those long, dry flights. 

packed liquids for a carry-on

Re-usable beauty product bottles 

If you don’t want to purchase travel-size beauty products, you could purchase reusable containers so that you can just take with you a bit of your favorite full-size products from home. 

Buy popular reusable containers on Amazon. 

Makeup remover wipes 

I never travel without Olay dry cloths (find them on Amazon) that you activate with water. That way I can travel with the exact amount I need. 

They never dry out like the moist towelette ones. 

When I travel, these replace any need for a liquid cleanser or face wash. 

You can even cut them in half to stretch them farther and save money! 

Wet wipes, tissues, and toilet seat covers 

I know these are far from glamorous but you’ll be glad that you have them. 

Travel packs of wet wipes are a good idea to pack, especially for use on planes, car rides, and just about every other traveling situation. These are my favorites, and you can buy them here on Amazon. 

Travel packs of tissues and/or toilet seat covers (depending on where you’re traveling) make good additions to your travel purse or day bag. 

Miscellaneous first aid 

Pack a few first aid items like band-aids, alcohol wipes, and pain relievers just in case.

You want to be prepared in the event of a minor injury (like a cut or scrape) or headache or something. 

You can build your own kit from items you have at home and a small plastic storage bag. 

Or purchase a compact first-aid kit made for travel like this one which you can find on Amazon here

Teeth hygiene and oral dental care products in golden travel cosmetic purse kit

Solid toiletries 

If you couldn’t already tell, I’m a big believer in traveling with carry-on luggage only, but doing that requires keeping toiletries to a minimum. 

If you’re staying in a hotel, you can minimize the toiletries you pack in your carry-on by using the products the hotel provides. 

To help travelers out with minimalist packing, there are a lot of liquid toiletries that can be replaced with solid versions.

They don’t need to be packed in your 1-quart liquids bag, which will free up space for you. 

For example, if you use a shampoo bar like this one (check it out on Amazon) you can leave shampoo out of your liquid toiletries bag all together. 

You can also get solid conditioner bars like this one you can buy on Amazon here

Neutrogena makes my favorite solid sunscreen stick (buy it on Amazon.

You can even buy solid lotion on Amazon to help keep you moisturized while you travel (a great idea for long flights with all that drying air). 

More of the top travel accessories

Travel pillow/neck pillow

Not everyone likes them, but if a neck pillow can help you sleep on your flight, you should go for it.

An inflatable travel pillow packs small (check it out on Amazon), so it’s a great option for packing in your carry-on bag. 

If you need more neck support in a travel pillow, you might try the Trtl Pillow (buy on Amazon).

It’s designed to keep your head in an ergonomic position while you sleep. 

Good book

I think that getting lost in a good book is one of the best ways to pass the time on a long-haul flight.

It’s one of my most important travel essentials…as well as one of my road trip essentials.

In fact, I usually make sure that I have two or three e-books loaded in my Kindle app before any long journey (whether air travel or a road trip).

If you’re looking for your next great airplane read, check out my article about the best airplane books.

Packing cubes

Compression packing cubes are a great way to maximize the space in your suitcase. They help you organize and compress clothes, small items like accessories, and other items into neat bundles that fit snugly inside your luggage.

Plus when you use packing cubes it will help keep your things organized. This makes it easier to find what you need when you’re ready to use them.

Compression packing cubes also help keep everything securely packed in place while traveling so there won’t be any shifting around or spilling out of your bag during transit.

You’ll find a lot of different options online. This popular set on Amazon comes with four bags in three different sizes and a wide variety of colors.

young woman with a carry-on bag in an airport

Personal travel necessities

And don’t forget that some of the most important items for travel won’t be accessories to go out and shop for or buy online. Your women’s travel essentials list should also include some general travel essentials like:

  • Wallet (RFID blocking if you have it) with your travel credit cards in it. Use these so you’re earning points on all your purchases that you can redeem for more travel later.
  • important documents/travel documents
  • ID
  • Cell phone

Final thoughts on travel essentials for women 

Part of having a great trip is being well prepared.

And when you have all of the essential travel items you need, you’ll definitely be well prepared. 

From clothing to shoes and from bags to personal care, these travel essentials will help you travel like a pro. 

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