When I decided to quit my job to travel the world, questions I’d ask myself incessantly in the months and days leading up to that final moment of boarding the plane were: What travel essentials will I need? Am I ready?
“Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation.” – Robert H. Schuller
I don’t know if I could’ve ever been fully prepared for such a life-altering experience. Assumably, most reasonable people would try to get as close to ready as humanely possible. I try to apply this same sense of readiness with each trip I take. What if you’re just going on vacation or on your first, big, solo trip?
Of course, no one can predict the future. My hopes and prayers are always for safe, healthy and fun experiences. Unfortunately, though, bad things can and do happen. You can fall ill. Tourists often become victims of pick-pocketing and/or theft. Women travelers, in particular, also risk exposure to harassment, or even worse, sexual assault. Ladies, we may find ourselves in less dire – nevertheless stressful, circumstances. For example, traveling through a country, that doesn’t have the same market, and therefore access, to feminine-sanitary products like we do in the western world. Good luck finding tampons in Sri Lanka – LOL! Moral of the story: It’s good to be prepared!
With that said, let’s get you primed for your trip! Below, you’ll find my recommendations of 45 travel essential items for every solo traveler, to include a few packing checklist tips for my fellow female travelers.
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Health, Hygiene & Wellness Packing Checklist
1. N95 Mask
Let’s begin with what will probably be the most essential travel item in the Age of Covid-19: a face mask. We’re now living in unprecedented times that will undoubtedly affect the way we travel and physically connect with one another, at least for the foreseeable future. N95 masks are designed to filter and resist 95% of harmful substances. Unfortunately, wearing a mask is essential for your’s and the public’s safety. Make sure you grab one before leaving your house, let alone traveling anywhere.
2. First Aid Kit (Travel-Size)
Having a travel-sized first aid kit is a fundamental. Again, we never wish for bad things to happen, but it’s better to anticipate them and to be prepared. Better safe than sorry.
3. First-Aid Medication Triage Pack
In my opinion, it is essential that you travel with a few first-aid medicines, such as aspirin, anti-diarrheal, anti-nausea, aloe for sun-burns, etc. You’ll thank me later.
However, prior to taking any medications, always consult your physician, or other qualified healthcare providers, for personalized medical advice any/or questions you may have regarding your medical conditions.
4. Plant-Based Insect Repellant
What I’d like to know is: What was God’s purpose for creating the mosquito?! I loathe them (lol). Thankfully, Mother Nature also gave us this eco-friendly, deet-free repellent made from natural ingredients. Obviously, this product may not come in handy in the Swiss Alps, so just be mindful when packing of your travel location and/or ecosystem.
5. Lysol Disinfectant Spray (Travel-Size)
This is for my germaphobes. I will usually spray down my hostel or hotel beds with a with some Lysol before diving into those sheets (lol). I have yet to have a bad experience but you never know.
6. Arm & Hammer Ultramax Deodorant and Antiperspirant
This is by far the best deodorant I’ve ever used. Whilst it’s not organic and probably has harmful ingredients 😩, my armpits stay dry, fresh and so CLEAN, CLEAN. =)
7. Hand Sanitizer (Travel-size)
All I will say is: COVID-19. Obviously, hand sanitizer doesn’t replace old-fashion hand washing. However, the consensus for most businesses and generally most people is that sanitizer is essential for normal use during these times, let alone for travel.
TAKE WIPES WITH YOU! LOL! During the age of Covid, hand wipes and sanitary wipes, in my opinion, are essential. Toilet paper in public restrooms, in foreign countries, are just as scarce as they are now in your local grocery stores. If you find a package, grab it! Please don’t, however, wipe out the shelves – no pun intended. Be kind and leave some for other customers. =)
9. O’Keeffe’s SPF Lip Balm
Honestly, I keep a few lip balms around my house and in different bags I normally carry. My lip balm travels with me everywhere because I LOATHE when my lips are chapped. Also, the SPF is an added bonus if you plan on spending lots of time outdoors.
10. Black Girl Sunscreen, SPF 30
I WAS SO EXCITED WHEN MY GIRLFRIEND TOLD ME ABOUT THIS BRAND, sold at Target. We all know how damaging and aging the sun can be for your skin. For my brown and black kings and queens, this is perfect for UV-protection without any left-over white residue. It’s also super moisturizing, infused jojoba and avocado oils. I love it. It’s a travel must-have in my opinion.
Safety & Security Travel Essentials
11. TSA Approved Safety Locks
I’ve stayed in my share of hostels while traveling, for which I’ve always felt safe! However, it’s never a bad idea to take extra measures to protect your personal belongings. Maybe you already have one at home. If so, great! You’re ahead of the game. If not, I highly recommend purchasing a key or padlock. More likely than not, hostels do not provide guests with locks for their storage lockers. You’ll have to bring your own.
12. Security Alarm Keychain
Luckily, I have an amazing friend, who gifted me an alarm keychain from her pack. Now, I don’t leave the house without it. As I stated in the introduction, we never wish to have bad experiences. Whether traveling or just walking down your own block, bad can things happen. Generally, there are restrictions to bringing pepper-spray-like agents into a foreign country. This alarm keychain is a good alternative.
13. Quickly Spot Luggage ID Tags with Stainless Steel Cable Threading
Luggage tags are an essential identifier to place on your bags. Although there are thousands of designs to choose from, I recommend choosing one that will stand out on a conveyer belt or can be easily described to airline authorities, if your luggage is ever lost. I really like these because they have stainless-steel braided loops, securing the ID tag does not separate from the handle of your bag. A lot of the other brands I’ve seen are of cheaper quality, and therefore, may be easily damaged or detached during transit.
Electronics Travel Checklist
14. Universal Power Surge Protector Travel Adapter
This is an obvious travel essential item. I like this model because of the dual USB’s outputs on the side. This is useful when you want to charge more than one device at a time.
15. 10 foot iPhone Charging Cable Cord
Have you ever shared a hostel room where the outlets are not close enough to your sleeping bunk? Well, a 10 foot cord might be the solution!
16. Universal Travel Adapter Power Strip
I LOVE my travel adapter power strip. I find that I can make a lot of new friends in my hostel and in airports sporting this power strip. I highly recommend it. =)
17. Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS, 38mm)
For counting my travel steps. =)
Side note: I heard of a story in the news of a solo-hiker, who had fallen and injured themselves during the hike. Based on the force of impact, the Apple Watch intuitively contacted local emergency authorities and provided GPS location for their rescue. Pretty incredible and life-saving story.
18. Apple AirPods with Charging Case
If I want to have a bad day, I’d accidentally leave the house without my headphones (lol). Music gets me through the transitions of my trips or just gives me a soundtrack to a moment in a cafe in Spain. They are almost like an extension of me. Call me crazy, but I try to never leave the house without them. 🤷🏽♀️
19. Backup Portable Battery or Solar Powered Charger
I also recommend packing an external USB battery or solar power bank. I use a similar model to this one inside of my travel backpack, which has a USB connector. Solar batteries are super convenient for obvious reasons. I always get nervous once my phone hits less than 30% charge in a foreign place. It’s probably smart to carry an external battery for those cases.
Organization Packing Essentials
20. 4pcs Clear Compression Packing Cubes / Luggage Organizers
Organization, organization, organization! Compression packing cubes have changed the game for the way I pack my luggage. They allow for more space in your bags, meaning I can (A) take more stuff; or (B) bring more stuff back. 😜
21. 12pcs Travel Shoe Bags Organizers
This is for my fellow organizational, germaphobe freaks. I don’t like dirty shoes in my bag. I purchased these travel bags (1) to keep me organized and (2) for cleaniless.
22. Universal Travel Electronic Cable Organizer
Again, because I’m big on organization while traveling, this cable storage organizer makes it easy for me to NOT make a big mess of my things. I can store, in an organized fashion, all of my chargers, electronics, cords, external batteries, etc. This also helps with making sure I don’t lose anything. I can also avoid digging through my bag to find things, as well.
23. Hardside Carry-on Spinner Suitcase
My carry-on spinner recently broke after using it for a year and half traveling. I haven’t found the perfect one yet, but there are a few things I like about the carry-on luggages below.
I like that this model has two-separate compartments. I also prefer hard-side luggages with 4 wheels. The TSA-approved locks are an added bonus. Oh, and it’s super affordable! Definitely worth considering.
Samsonite is another brand that has a great reputation for durability and quality luggages. For instance, my dad travels regularly for work. He’s owned a few Samsonite bags that have lasted for 10 years plus. If you require any service/repairs, most of their products have lifetime warranties.
If you’re an avid traveler, you may consider your luggage pieces as investments. Trailblazing their way onto the market, I’ve heard incredible things about the Away brand. It’s received positive reviews from publications, such as CNN & the New York Times. You’re going to pay a premium price, but it comes with cool features, such as an USB charging port for your phone and limited lifetime warranty.
24. Travel Carry-on Backpack with USB
I love this backpack. Compartments are my favorite thing in storage products because it keeps me organized! This bag is collapsable or expandable, depending on your needs. It has a USB port, where I attach my power bank and charge up on the road. Best of all, it’s super affordable considering the quality.
25. Travel Toiletry / Cosmetic Organizer Bag
With several styles to choose from, a toiletry organizer / cosmetic bag is totally by traveler’s preference. However, to keep organized, I like to use a shower caddy / bag for my essential hygienic products. It’s compact. It’s affordable. It gets the job done.
26. Smart Jewelry Case, Double-sided Organizer Box
This was a wonderful gift from my Mother-in-law. For months, I had been searching for a quality travel jewelry case. I’m obsessed with this model / style. I use it literally every day.
Practicality Travel Essentials
27. Travel Microfiber Quick-dry Towel Set
If you’re staying in hostels, often times towels are not included in your stay – believe it or not. As a budget traveler, it’s a good idea to purchase a microfiber towel for those instances. The material is soft and allows for a quick-dry. Traveling around with a wet, smelly towel is no fun (lol).
28. Waterproof Dry Sack Bag, Keeps Gear
Dry for Kayaking, Beach, Camping, etc.
Next, for trips involving water activities, I’d use my dry bag. Typically, my electronics and high-value items would be stored inside here. I’d be devastated if any of my camera gear were to have water-damage, so this is a good product to protect those investments.
29. Collapsible Portable Reusable Large Travel Water Bottle Mug
OK – so full disclosure, I don’t own this exact water bottle but I intend on purchasing it! I do, however, carry a stainless steel water bottle with me always when traveling. This one I like because it’s collapsable, therefore, taking up less space in or outside your backpack.
30. Travel Adjustable Memory Foam Neck Pillow
I’m one of those people that can pretty much fall asleep anywhere. However, my travel pillow makes those long-haul flights a little more enjoyable. Look at her – She’s so happy (lol).
31. Portable Mini Umbrella with Travel Storage Box
Definitely having either a poncho or umbrella during your trip would be a good idea. You wouldn’t want to get stuck, for example, during monsoon season in Cambodia without any protection from the rain (lol).
32. Reusable Silicone Ear Plugs for Sleeping, Swimming, Snoring, etc. (32dB)
If you have yet to spend time in a hostel, then I’d highly recommend picking up some ear plugs before you do. That is all. =)
33. Sleeping Eye Mask
I cannot sleep without it. I don’t know the science behind it, but I feel like I get better and deeper sleep with my mask. I’d highly recommend an eye mask for backpackers, hostel-goers and/or light sleepers as a sleeping aid while on the road.
34. Panoramic Full Face Anti-fog Anti Leak Snorkel Mask with Detachable Camera Mount
I don’t do very well using regular snorkel gear because I can’t get my breathing rhythm to comply (lol). This full face mask allows me to breathe normally, while having an unobstructed view of the ocean. Definitely worth while for the trips heavily involved with water activities.
35. Adidas Women’s Essential Linear Windbreaker
I own this jacket, but purchased it from an Adidas outlet for A LOT cheaper. I recommend a similar model to this. It’s lightweight. I can easily stuff it into a crevasse in my backpack, and it’s wind and rain resistant for the those sudden weather changes. It’s great for layering, while not weighing you down.
36. 15-90L Waterproof Backpack Rain Cover with Portable Storage Pack
Waterproof backpack rain covers are something you didn’t know you needed until you are backpacking through southeast Asia and it begins to pour (lol). I carry very expensive electronics in my backpack, so protecting them for being damaged is of the upmost importance to me. It’s definitely something worthwhile having because of how unpredictable weather can be. It’s also a great identifier for your bag.
37. Travel Laundry Bag
Some may disagree with a travel laundry bag as being an essential travel item. I, however, like to have a separate place for wet and/or dirty clothes. There’s nothing like your entire suitcase reeking of spoiled socks (lol). 🥴
38. Traveling Passport Holder Cover Case
Having a passport case is obviously another one of those items that is up to traveler preference. I find it useful because of the convenient interior pockets, where I can keep other essential, complementary documents, cash or credit cards. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s fashionable too!
Female-Related Travel Essentials
39. Mini Reusable Menstrual Sanitary Bag Holder
Ladies, carrying small reusable bag to keep your feminine hygiene and sanitary products is a good idea. Accidents happen.
40. Satin Hair Sleep Bonnet Cap
Just because I’m traveling doesn’t mean that I should throw away my daily hair care routine! Use of satin bonnets or scarves are essential before laying my head on any strange, scratchy pillow (lol).
41. Micro-fiber Facial Makeup Headband
This item is based on personal preference. I enjoy it because the microfiber headbands are soft and it keeps my hair out of my face when either applying my skincare regime or applying on makeup. Gotta continue taking care of your skin while traveling, guys!
42. Curly Afro Hair Backless Ponytail Messy Bun Cap for Women
These curly caps are a recent purchase and fully intend of adding to my travel essentials packing checklist. I have big, curly, afro hair. These hats are stylish and practical, by allowing me to wear my hair out or in a puff without getting the infamous “hat-hair.”
43. Microfiber Twist Turban Hair Drying Towel Wrap
I use this microfiber towel religiously to reduce hair breakage after shampooing.
44. Fashion Style Emergency Repair Kit
Ok, who doesn’t have fashion emergencies from time-to-time? This is perfect for those accidental tears on your favorite shirt while abroad. It’s conveniently pocket-size, to not take up too much space within your luggage.
45. Women’s Backpack Purse Waterproof Anti-Theft Shoulder Bag Purse
Anywhere you travel around the world, even within your home country, there are always risks of falling victim to pick-pocketters. This anti-theft bag is a great counter-measure to those unfortunate occurrences. The zipper opening faces up against your back. Also, I just love how stylish it is!
If you’ve made it to end, Congrats! That’s all I’ve got for you for now.
If you want find out which camera gear and everything else I use to create videos for YouTube and photos for Instagram, check out that blog here. For more travel content, feel free to check out videos from my YouTube Channel here and/or my Instagram here.
Thank you SO much for taking the time to read this article. I hope you’ve found it helpful. Comment below if you plan on trying out some of these products or have any feedback. If you’d like to stay connected, feel free to subscribe to my newsletter below. I promise to never send you spam. You’ll just receive updates when new blogs are posted. =)
Stay safe and happy travels!