12 Favorite Travel Gear Essentials

I’m fresh off a crazy=long traveling adventure. In the past six weeks, I’ve been on the road (or in the air) for 23 days. It’s all been fulfilling, much-needed travel—seeking answers, learning and gathering ideas for next steps in my writing, and spending quality time as a family.

But that doesn’t mean travel doesn’t take it out of me. Almost a week back from my last trip, and I’m still recovering from jet lag and the ungodly laundry pile. Just a synopsis of my May and early June:

• In early May, I met with a few other blog friends in Virginia, and together, we interviewed and sat wide-eyed with one of our favorite authors and thinkers. We also chatted til our hearts were content, and we ate and toured only as homeschooling parents can: in Colonial Williamsburg.

• Later that month, I traveled with my family on a Norwegian cruise to the Bahamas. I wrote about it, sure, but I would have gladly paid to go on vacation, writing assignment or not. It was sheer bliss to travel with them again, and I had no idea how badly we needed a break.

• And just a few days ago, I went to Queensland, Australia alongside several other bloggers to meet with Darren Rowse of ProBlogger. I had the time of my life and crossed out several items on my life list (but it really wasn’t the same without my family. Trust me).

My suitcase stayed permanently open in our bedroom, and I merely washed and repacked most of my clothing. And because I fly at least four to six times annually and have lived in several countries over the past decade, I get asked a lot about how and what to pack.

It’s not exactly rocket science, but I do have my favorites and except for the occasional brain fritz where I completely forget to pack something uber essential (SCUBA diving in glasses because you forgot your contacts, anyone?), I’ve got packing down pat.

Aside from the obvious, like my iPhone, MacBook, and sunglasses, here are some of my essentials.

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  • Eagle Creek Pack-Its 1 of 12
    Eagle Creek Pack-Its

    We bought these for a round-the-world trip a decade ago, and they're still in great shape. These envelope-like sleeves help you pack your clothes neatly yet tightly, giving you lots of organized room.

    From $17 on Amazon

  • Second Life Hair Butter 2 of 12
    Second Life Hair Butter

    I can't swoon enough about Made On's Hair Butter. I use it daily, and it's absolutely essential when I travel. It defrizzes my hair naturally, but it's also great moisturizer and lotion (the only ingredients are shea butter, coconut oil, beeswax, and orange essential oil). Just a little goes a long way, so one tin has lasted me forever, and it smells heavenly, too. This serves as my facial moisturizer, body lotion, and hair smoother, saving me tons of space.

    1 oz. tin for $6.95

  • Baking soda & vinegar 3 of 12
    Baking soda & vinegar

    They're the classic frugal products, but they do so much. I've written several times how I don't use shampoo, so I only need to clean my hair with these two household products a few times weekly. Baking soda is also great for toothpaste—I just pinch a small handful in the palm of my hand, add a sprinkle of water, and scrape the mixture on to my toothbrush. Great for travel.

  • Extra duffel bag 4 of 12
    Extra duffel bag

    Even if I have plenty of room in my suitcase, I like to pack a small, empty duffel bag on top. I'm not big on buying souvenirs, but if I find something perfect (I like to buy art to remember my travels), or if I get lots of freebies (blog conferences, anyone?), I want to make sure I have the room to bring it home. On most airlines, an extra bag costs less than paying charges for being over the weight limit.

    Eagle Creek duffel bag in a storage pouch, $28 on Amazon

  • Zip-top plastic bags 5 of 12
    Zip-top plastic bags

    I've now learned that I can never take too many zip-top plastic bags when I travel. They take up such little space, and they're a life saver when you need them. I pack any possibly exploding bottles in these bags, and I also store extra for wet or extra dirty clothes. And if you don't use them, no biggie—just bring back to the kitchen when you return.

  • Small bag of laundry soap, twine and a few clothespins 6 of 12
    Small bag of laundry soap, twine and a few clothespins

    I've said this before—I'd rather under pack and have to wash my clothes than be weighed down with too heavy a suitcase. Unless you're in a really humid environment, or are doing something that requires rolling around in the mud, you can wear clothes more than once. When items do get too dirty, though, you can easily wash them by hand in the sink, then hang them to dry in your hotel room.

  • Kindle 7 of 12
    Kindle

    I don't leave my house without my Kindle any more. I love that I can board a plane with a ton of my books, and with my Prime membership's ability to rent lots of reading material, it's like traveling with a library (lots of local libraries will sync your e-reader to their system as well). I remember sitting on the Tarmac in Tokyo, checking out a book from back in the U.S. and instantly reading it for my long flight home.

    $79 to $199 on Amazon; $79 for annual Prime membership

  • Baby powder for the beach 8 of 12
    Baby powder for the beach

    Hate that sticky sand feeling when you leave the beach? Pack some basic baby powder, and after you towel off, sprinkle your skin generously. The sand comes right off.

  • Ticket & passport holder 9 of 12
    Ticket & passport holder

    I get panicky when I need to quickly whip out my passport or airline tickets, and I have to dig through my carry-on. Keep everything in a simple travel wallet that holds passports and tickets, and they'll stay easily accessible.

    Victorinox Travel Organizer, $32 on Amazon; there's also lots of cute ones on Etsy, like this one from Dotty Spot Design for $42.

  • Solar-powered battery charger 10 of 12
    Solar-powered battery charger

    This is a new product for us, but I can already see how useful it'll be—we use our iPhones for everything when we travel, so the batteries drain quickly. Solar-powered battery chargers serve as an excellent back-up when you need to charge your devices on the go.

    Opteka Ultra-Thin Charger, $25 on Amazon

  • Crushable hat 11 of 12
    Crushable hat

    I love a good hat for super sunny days, but it's hard to pack one that can't be flat-packed. Find a good hat that you can wad up and stick in the corner of your suitcase.

    Columbia bucket hat, from $21 on Amazon

  • Electric converter 12 of 12
    Electric converter

    Lastly, a reliable converter is essential when you travel overseas. I love our little guy that has the correct prongs for all the outlets in the world, all in a compact little cube.

    Multination Travel Adapter, $24 at REI

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Those are just a few of my favorites… What have I missed? What are some of your travel gear essentials?

Read more from Tsh at Simple Mom, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.

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