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Greetings Internet Stranger! In my mind there’s only one question you need to consider when deciding your list of Essential Travel Items. First, picture your home in your mind. What do you love about it? How do you feel when you are in it? What makes you feel energized and happy first thing in the morning? What helps you fall asleep at night? In short, what will you miss the most when you head out on the road.

I can’t tell you exactly what your Essential Travel Items are. But I can advise you to take whatever will make your hotel room feel as homey as possible. This is especially true if, like me, you sometimes travel solo for a couple of months a time. Even the smallest thing from home can raise your spirits when you’re far away from your comfy bed and possibly your loved ones.

So what I can tell you are my Essential Travel Items. These items all make my trip smoother, and more importantly they make me feel at home no matter where I go. I hope reading my list will help you decide your Essential Travel Items.

approximately top 10: My Essential Travel Items

Essential Travel Items
1) an away suitcase

So I’m hardly the first person to discover Away Travel. It seems like when I go to the airport, every other suitcase I see is an Away suitcase. But when you need to pack your life in your suitcase and take it with you on the road, Away really is the best. I can fit everything I need for a two month trip around Europe in the Medium suitcase, and even leave some room to go shopping.

Unlike other rolie bags I have used, the wheels on the Away suitcase seem to last forever. And no matter how many times I jump up and down on the hard exterior to stuff all my junk it, it never seems to break. Plus I love the laundry bag that comes with every suitcase. That way your stinkies don’t get mixed with your cleans.

The one thing I don’t like about Away suitcases is the battery that comes with the smaller suitcases. When I was in St. Petersburg, Russia, I accidentally left the lithium battery in my checked bag, and I had to go to the Russian Airport Security office to explain myself. (Speaking to Russian Security Officers is one of the most terrifying things in this world.)

Fortunately I was not put in a Russian prison, but I was so scared that I ended up throwing the battery away in the Riga, Latvia airport bathroom. (Sorry, Latvia.) So just get the suitcases that come without batteries and the Russians will leave you alone.

what you need to pack
2) cell phone battery charger

Like everyone else in the world, I am completely dependent on my cell phone. If it runs out of power, I will simply wither away and die, like the Wicked Witch of the West when Dorothy throws water on her. So when I’m out traveling all day, I need to pack a battery charger that will give my cell phone life. This is especially true because I have an iPhone, so the battery only lasts for about 45 minutes.

I use the Anker PowerCore 1000. It’s super light and it feels easily into one of the side pockets of my purse. Also it carries four charges, so it will keep even my cranky iPhone charged all day. That way no matter what I can have my camera, my Google maps, my Kindle…what did people even do before cell phones anyway? How were they not all lost and bored all the time?

I also like using the shortest possible cord to attach my battery to the cell phone. Otherwise I end up tangled like a kitten in a ball of yarn. I recommend using a 4 inch cord if you can get it. It’s as small as it gets. (That’s what she said.)

what you need to pack
3) hair dryer + dime

As a frizzy-haired girl, I need to blow dry my hair every morning. Otherwise it looks like I styled my hair with an electrical socket. Not even joking. My bedhead is legendary. So one of my Essential Travel Items is a travel hairdryer. This can be a problem because different countries use different voltages. I learned this the hard way when I tried to use my American hairdryer on a trip to Dublin, and the hairdryer promptly exploded.

That’s why I use the Conair Dual Voltage Travel Hair Dryer. You can switch the voltage from 120 in the US to 220 in Europe (or other countries that use US and European voltage.) But why the dime, you ask? To change the voltage on the hair dryer, you need a small screwdriver, but a dime or any other extremely thin coin works just as well. Just call me Lady MacGyver!

what you need to pack
4) universal adapter

Of course, if you’re going to be taking electronic devices to other countries, one of your Essential Travel Items is a universal adapter. This will help you use your laptop, cell phone chargers, selfie toasters, etc, no matter where you roam. I like the NEWVANGA adapter because you can flip around the parts so it’s usable no matter which country you are visiting. It’s kind of like the Transformers of universal adapters.

what you need to pack
5) instant coffee + water bottle

Ordinarily I am one of the sweetest, most good-humored ladies you would ever come across. Basically little birdies sit on my shoulder and chirp every morning. I am a freaking Disney princess personified.

But that is only after I have had my coffee. Before my coffee, I am a ferocious demon from the very bounds of Hell. I know many hotels have instant coffee in the room, but some DO NOT. Because I do not want to breathe fire and destruction upon my fellow hotel guests first thing in the morning, one of my Essential Travel Items is Joe Coffee packets. You don’t even need hot water to prepare the instant coffee, it tastes great, and it fills me up with the sweet caffeine I need to not murder people.

It’s also a good idea to take a travel reusable water bottle with you so you can easily make the coffee in your hotel room. I don’t have a water bottle to recommend because I get so many free ones. The one I am currently using was a gift from the Santa Fe Opera.

what you need to pack
6) a clutch

I usually take a fairly large handbag with me when I head out for the day. You never know when you’ll need an umbrella, sunscreen, a light jacket…and that’s just the weather in New England alone! But some museums and other cultural establishments don’t let you take a large bag inside. You have to check it with them.

I personally freak out at the thought of leaving my hotel key, credit cards, and passport with some indifferent museum attendant. That’s why one of my Essential Travel Items is a small clutch in my bag. I can just put the essentials in it and they will let me carry it into the museum. The clutch I use was made from an old book and I got it at a flea market in Salt Lake City, Utah. So sometimes I can even convince a myopic museum worker that the clutch is a book. They never suspect a thing!

what you need to pack
7) pooh bear

Sometimes it can be lonely on the open road. It’s often impractical to take a pet when traveling, and I don’t have a pet anyway because I am away from home for at least 16 weeks every year. So until I can live my dream of owning a pet hedgehog that I carry in my purse all the time like a crazy lady, I must be without a pet.

That’s why one of my Essential Travel Items is my Pooh Bear. He is my little buddy, my piece of home away from home. And I am proud and unashamed of being a grown woman who travels with a stuffed animal! Even if you don’t have a Pooh Bear, I think you need to pack something with you that will keep you from being too homesick on the road.

what you need to pack
8) ice

This last item is something I don’t pack, but wish I could. Google Photos made this weird collage of two photos of me without even asking my permission. The photo on the left was taken six years ago in Ireland. The one on the right was taken this month in Pittsburgh. Yet, I do not seem to look older in the second picture. What is my secret? ICE.

No, I don’t drink the ice. Every morning when I wake up, I hold an ice cube to each eye for about six minutes, three for each eye. I usually wrap it in a towel, so it’s a bit less painful. It is the greatest beauty tip I have ever used. Ice is the number one thing I look for when I check into a hotel. You can usually find it in American hotels and almost never outside the US, unless you are counting the Very Fancy Hotel in the Johannesburg Airport.

So when I do find some ice, I hoard it like a dragon hoards its gold. Except ice is more precious than gold to me because it makes me look less like Walter Matthau when I wake up, and I don’t think gold does that. When I am a billionaire, the first thing I will do is finance the creation of a teeny-tiny travel ice maker so I can have ice everywhere, even in Europe.

That’s My Essential Travel Items!

What are your Essential Travel Items? Will it ever be possible for me to pack ice? And is not having had your morning coffee a possible defense if you are on trial for murder? Please leave your thoughts below!

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