Ultimate Packing List Travel Essentials From a Travel Blogger

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I have been a full-time travel blogger since 2018, so you can say I have perfected the list of essential items I always pack. No matter where I go, these are the items you will find in my bag, and I believe they really act as travel essentials for anyone who is preparing to jet set!

This list is not a fluff list but my true essential packing list. I have provided links to some of my favorite items and include travel tips on why you should consider having some of these items as well!

Travel essentials packing list

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Carry-on Bag

If you have been following me for a while, you know your girl travels carry-on only whenever possible. I haven’t checked a bag since 2018, and I truly believe you fit everything you need in a carry-on and backpack. I’ve used Delsey Carry-on bags for years and have had zero issues. However, I did just upgrade to the Away Bigger Carry-on Suitcase. What I love about carry-on is that you never have to wait for baggage claim or worry about your bag getting lost.

Carry-on travel bags

Checked Suitcase

I know not everyone wants to travel carry-on, although I love doing it. Again, I have Delsey, although they don’t make the hardshell I have anymore. Away Luggage also has larger hardshell bags as well, but they are on the pricy side.

Travel Backpack

I think a travel backpack is one of the most essential items, whether you’re traveling, carry-on, or checked. This is what I use to hold all my important toiletries, medicines, a small whistle (yep, I have this), and additional items, just in case I have to gate-check my bag. I will also put my toothbrush, mini hair brush, chargers, and anything else I can possibly fit to make all my things fit. This is also vital to have in case they lose your luggage.

Since I am traveling for work, I usually travel with a lot of camera gear, so I opted for the Lowe Pro Camera bag, which acts as both a camera bag and a travel backpack. I also really like the Osprey travel backpacks. They are reliable, and I just got one for my mom.

Cliffs of Moher Ireland Girls Trip
Cliffs of Moher with mom

AirTags

I am always shocked when I hear that travelers haven’t heard about AirTags. You drop them in your luggage, and they have a Bluetooth connection with your iPhone. This way, you always know where your bags are – especially if you check a bag! If you don’t have an iPhone, you can use a title or something similar.

Even though I only travel with carry-on, I still always put them in all my bags. You never know, which is why if you get anything from this travel essentials list, let it be these.

Apple AirTags are a must on any travel packing list

Headphone Jack

Have you ever got on a plane, went to plug in your headphones, and realized they have a 2 prong jack? Now you’re stuck on a 7-hour flight with crappy headphones. Cool, so I am not the only one, lol! I love my Sony Noise Canceling headphones, but I can’t tell you how many times I have to use the 2-prong adapter.

Or, maybe you like your AirPods. Then you will want to get AirFly so you can enjoy them on the plane!

Headphones with jack adaptor

Purell and Lysol Wipes

Another essential I don’t fly without is Purell and Lysol Wipes. I swear, every time I wipe down that airplane tray, I am low-key disgusted. I am not sure what goes on with cleaning these planes, but I don’t like leaving it up to chance.

Travel Compression Bags

As a carry-on girl, you won’t catch me traveling without my essential compression travel bags. For a long time, I used packing cubes. They have a time and a place, but these plastic compression bags are next level.

For one, they allow you to fit so much in one bag, making more room in your suitcase. Number two, they allow me to easily separate dirty clothes, keeping the inside of my suitcase clean. Lastly, they keep any potential crawly critters out of my clothes, so I don’t bring home any unwanted friends. Yeah, I am talking to you, bed bugs. You don’t even need a pump, and they are pretty affordable.

Travel compression bags are a essential

Power Bank

We all know our phones die so much faster when we are on vacation taking pictures and using navigation. That is why I never travel without a power bank. There is nothing worse than having your phone die when you need it for directions to get back to your hotel, so make sure to add this to your travel essentials too.

Universal Power Adaptor (International)

If you’re traveling internationally, you don’t want to forget your Universal Adaptor. I have been using this travel Adaptor since 2018 around Europe, Asia, and Central America. I will say that in South Africa, they use a variety of plugs, and one of those is not on this one. But overall, this adaptor has covered me all over the world. It is always so much cheaper to bring your own than to buy one when you arrive.

Travel Converting adaptor

Travel Credit Card

I never use cash if I don’t have to. Instead, I always travel with 2 friendly travel credit cards. These have no foreign transaction fees and offer high point value for traveling.

I personally use the Venture X card, which gives me free lounge access and 2x on all my purchases, my Chase Saphire Preserve for better points on meals, and my Amex gold, which gives me the best point value for meals. Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted, so I always have one of those and my Amex since it generally gives me more points for travel.

Travel Towel

Another travel essential I don’t leave without is my travel towel. I discovered these by a fellow traveler in Thailand, and they are a game changer for me. I use Dock and Bay quick dry towels, although there are several brands out there, and they act like a sham wow towel, essentially.

They are super small and compact, making it easy to pack and travel in my carry-on bag.

travel towels

Compression Socks

Since I fly a lot, I like to bring compression socks with me. If I am not wearing these, I usually wear high Darn Tough socks. I am not sure if they actually act as a compression, but they are my all-time favorite sock, so there.

Sunglasses

This may seem obvious, but I can’t tell you how many “new” pairs of glasses Alex has had to buy because he forgets his sunglasses. It doesn’t matter what season it is, I always add sunglasses to my travel essentials.

Samantha in St. Augustine at the Fort wearing a white shirt, blue shorts, and sunglasses
St. Augustine

A Hat for the Season

You can never go wrong with a hat when traveling. During the Spring and Summer, I opt for a summer sun hat. Not only will it keep the sun out of your eyes, but it helps tie together an outfit, which is why I think it’s one of my favorite travel essentials.

During the winter, I bring either a beanie or a felt hat. I just put it on my head or a clip for the plane ride.

Bahia Honda State Park is a great day trip from Key West - Samantha Oppenheimer on the beach with blue water wearing a hat and red bikini

Travel Shoes

The wrong shoes can ruin a travel experience, so I always choose comfort over style. In my humble opinion, I think my comfort shoes actually have style, but you can be the judge of that. I love packing my Blundstone Chelsea boots, a cushion Converse Sneaker, or my Birkenstock Sandals. You will almost always see me wearing one of these in any travel photo I take. As an added bonus, I always pack a shoe bag or a couple of plastic bags so I don’t get dirt in my suitcase or on my clean clothes.

Shoe travel tip: Never wear brand-new shoes on vacation. Make sure to break them in a little to avoid blisters.

Colorful Alleys in Obidos with Sam Opp standing in the middle

Reusable Water Bottle

I think it is so essential to travel with a reusable water bottle. Not only is it better for the environment, but it will also save you a ton of money. It is super important to stay hydrated on the plane, so whether you get the one I recommend or not, just bring one. I have been using the 40oz Manna water bottle, which I really love, but it is big. I also have a couple of Themos bottles and a Lifestraw (which has a filter).

Safari in South Africa with Samantha taking photos of Rhino and holding water bottle
South Africa

EarPlanes & Motion Bands

Does the pressure in your ears for take-off and landing bother you? I just recently learned about EarPlanes, and wow, what a game-changer. You can almost always find them at the airport, but it’s way cheaper to buy them ahead of time, and they help pressurize your ears.

I also don’t travel without my motion sickness bands. I generally don’t get motion sickness too often, but when I do, I put these on.

EarPlanes and Sea Bands

Camera Bag

As a full-time travel blogger, I am, of course, bringing camera gear to show off these destinations to you. Whether you’re a travel blogger like me or someone who loves to bring their camera along, I found a great messenger bag. Its a BagSmart crossover that acts as a purse for me as well as a camera bag. I really love it.

Instagrammable views from the Key West Shipwreck Museum

Clear Toiletry Bag

It is always a good idea to have a clear toiletry bag with you. I opt for clear because International travel often requires it for toiletries. So, to eliminate the headache, just get a clear one and add a few of these to your travel essentials packing list.

Within my toiletry bag, I am packing travel-sized liquids and bar soap.

Clear Toiletry Bag is a travel essential

First-Aid Kit

I don’t travel without making myself a little first-aid kit. I always include things like bandaids, allergy medicine, cold meds, acid meds, etc. I seem to have bad luck when traveling and have learned that many of the brands I am used to are not always carried. Therefore, I just bring a small medicine kit with me.

Camera Equipment

I have brought it up several times before, but I, of course, can’t travel without my camera equipment. I have a drone, mirrorless camera, Gopro, etc, but you may not be in the field of photography. However, I still think bringing some sort of camera or phone accessory for your photos is worth it. You can see all my camera gear here.

Travel Blogging Camera Gear

Carbon Monoxide Detector

Have you seen the stories about people having issues with hotels not having Carbon Monoxide detectors in the room? These stories have ended unfavorably; therefore, I just bring one with me. You never know. I’d rather be safe than sorry on this one!

Carbon Monoxide detector

Travel Essentials Packing List Wrap-up

That concludes all the essentials I will not travel without. Depending on the destination, I sometimes add a raincoat, hiking boots, snow gear, etc. If you want to see more detailed packing guides, you can find them here.

If you have any questions or suggestions on something that I should try adding to my essential travel list, let me know!

Did you find this ultimate packing list of travel essentials helpful? I would appreciate it if you could share it below!

Travel Essentials packing list
Photo of author

Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good.

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