45 Travel Essentials for 2023 (That You May Forget to Pack)
I’ve traveled to over a dozen countries and in this guide, I’ll remind you of all the travel essentials you need for your upcoming trip.
Deciding what to pack can be one of the trickiest parts of travel planning. You don’t want to overpack, but traveling unprepared is just as stressful. Fortunately, this ultimate checklist and my travel tips will help you reach your destination ready and confident!
I share several useful items you may have not even considered like a luggage scale, portable door lock, and multi-purpose wash. All these travel essentials were selected with the purpose of saving you time, money, and hassle—and several are also intended to keep you safe. Trust me, you won’t find a more comprehensive list anywhere else!
Table of Contents
- Travel Packing Checklist
- Packing Cubes
- Travel Backpack
- Small Travel Bag
- Noise-Canceling Headphones
- Neck Pillow
- Portable Charger
- Dirty Laundry Bag
- Shoe Organizer Bags
- Organized Toiletry Bag
- Cord Organizer
- Travel Blanket + Pillow Set
- Multi-Purpose Wash
- Quick Dry Towel
- Minimalist Wallet
- Personal Security Alarm
- Portable Door Lock
- Travel Jewelry Box
- Travel Pill Box
- Reusable Bag
- Reusable Water Bottle
- Travel Bottles for Liquids
- Apple AirTags
- Sleep Mask
- Organized Laptop Case
- Underwater Phone Case
- Digital Luggage Scale
- Carabiner Clips
- Wet Wipes
- Disinfectant Wipes
- Travel Clothesline
- Phone Mount
- Luggage Tags
- Bluetooth Transmitter
- Iodine Tablets
- Luggage Cup Holder
- Other Travel Essentials to Pack
- Clothing to Pack for Travel
- Travel Packing Tips
- FAQs About Travel Essentials
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Travel Packing Checklist
I’ve tried tons of packing cubes and these are game-changers! You can say goodbye to bulky, messy packing with their compressible and expandable features.
A quality set of packing cubes is one of the most important travel essentials for your carry-on bag or checked luggage. This is because packing cubes help free up luggage space while keeping things organized in the process.
This Peak Design packing cube comes in medium and small sizes. I personally use and love these packing cubes because they’re expandable and compressible.
This Osprey Daylite Backpack is traveler-tested and approved for its durability and versatility. Travel Lemming founder, Nate Hake, carried this daypack through over 50 countries!
A travel backpack is one of the top travel essentials I’d recommend. This Osprey Daylite bag is the perfect size for an everyday daypack. It’s a Travel Lemming favorite and highly rated among travelers in general.
This daypack is secure and comfortable whether you’re hiking through a national park or traipsing through city streets. It also works as a personal item on planes!
Small Travel Bag
This belt bag will help you keep all your essentials close, organized, and secure. It’s a solid choice whether you’re whizzing through airports or gallivanting around cities.
A small bag like this Fjallraven hip bag is definitely a travel essential. It’s the perfect size for necessities like your phone, wallet, and passport. You can comfortably wear it across your waist or chest. It’s secure because it sits in front of you, but gives you easy access and allows you to be hands-free. I especially recommend this type of bag in airports and for city travel.
Noise-canceling headphones are a travel game changer, especially on a long flight. These Sony wireless headphones are what I use and I can’t travel without them. They’re comfortable to wear and really block out sounds like noisy jet engines and traffic.
Every traveler needs one quality, universal plug adapter. An adapter that can charge multiple devices at once is also important. This EPICKA universal adapter is a great choice because it covers over 150 countries and can charge up to six devices at once. It also has USB-A ports, a USB-C port, and an AC socket.
Packing smart is all about packing items that are lightweight, versatile, and won’t take up more space than they need to. A Kindle Paperwhite is a fantastic travel essential to have if you’re a big reader. They’re light, packable, and you can store thousands of books on them. These eReaders also have a long battery life and are easy on the eyes.
On a long-haul flight, a comfortable neck pillow is a must. It may seem like an unimportant item since you only really need it in flight, but trust me, it can make a huge difference in how you travel. This trtl neck pillow has a different design than most. It provides customizable shoulder and neck support while also being light and easy to carry.
A battery bank is a travel necessity no matter where you’re going. Having a fully charged phone is not only important for taking pictures, but for general safety, too. This Miady portable charger has quick-charging capabilities and it can charge multiple devices at once.
Dirty Laundry Bag
A little organization goes a long way while you’re traveling. And keeping your dirty and clean clothes separate with a dirty laundry bag like this one makes life easier. It’s easy to clip on or throw into your travel bag, and there’s even a pocket to store detergent.
Shoe Organizer Bags
Let’s face it: shoes just aren’t clean. So, it’s a good idea to keep them separate from your clean clothes when you’re packing. These YAMIU travel shoe bags are a great option because they come in a couple of different sizes for different types of shoes. They’re durable, waterproof, and can be easily cleaned.
Organized Toiletry Bag
An organized toiletry bag can make a huge difference when you want to keep your travel routine simple and easy.
Having a spacious and organized toiletry bag is key when you don’t have too much space in your carry-on bag or luggage. It’s also important to find one that really works for you and your routine. This Sea to Summit toiletry bag is great for different types of travelers. It can be hung up and has a few different pockets for organization.
These days, there can be so many cords and chargers to keep up with. This can become a hassle when traveling, but it doesn’t need to be. A cord organizer is a brilliant solution. This FYY electronic organizer is perfect because you can fit and organize chargers from multiple devices.
Travel Blanket + Pillow Set
Let’s be honest, they really know how to crank up the air conditioning on planes. And those pillow and blanket sets they hand out aren’t exactly the best. If you relate, this EverSnug blanket + pillow set may be a great solution. Plus, it folds up into a carrying case that can be easily clipped onto your bag or slid onto luggage handles.
A multi-purpose wash is incredibly useful no matter what kind of trip you’re taking. This one can be used for dishes, laundry, and even body wash!
Multi-purpose wash is a travel essential I didn’t discover until recently. But now, I won’t travel without it. Packing a multi-purpose wash like this Sea to Summit Wilderness Wash is a brilliant solution. A little goes a long way and it can be used to wash dishes, towels, and even be used as a body wash.
Quick Dry Towel
This thin, quick-drying, and easily packable towel is a travel essential. It’s perfect for solo travel, outdoorsy trips, beach trips, and more.
Towels are bulky to pack and many hostels charge to rent them. So, a quick dry towel is ideal, especially for solo travel and backpacking trips. I personally use this REI towel and would recommend it to others. It still holds up after years of having it, it’s definitely quick-drying, and it’s super easy to pack since it folds up small.
Travel is all about keeping things simple, and this minimalist wallet is perfect for that. It’s slim and even RFID protected.
Simple is the name of the game when traveling, and a minimalist travel wallet is just that. This slim Travelambo wallet is a great travel companion because it fits all the essentials. It’s also RFID protected, which is so important for travel. You can easily fit it in a belt bag since it’s so slim, or even a hidden pocket so it stays secure.
Personal Security Alarm
This personal security alarm is a great companion for solo travelers, so you can have peace of mind wherever you go.
Taking safety precautions is really important, especially when you’re a solo female traveler. A personal security alarm is handy to have because it’s small but sets off an ear-piercing sound if you press it in an emergency. It’s not a perfect solution, but it can help give you peace of mind. This Kosin alarm is a great choice.
Portable Door Lock
Using a portable door lock is another safety precaution you can take if you’re staying in a hotel room or private room. Portable door locks are exactly what they sound like, and they provide an extra lock layer on hinged doors. This Addalock is highly rated and easy to use. It’s also small so you can store it in your carry-on luggage easily.
Travel Jewelry Box
Keep all your jewelry organized and tangle-free with this travel jewelry box, perfect for packing the essentials.
Don’t leave out your jewelry when you’re organizing all your travel essentials! Using a travel jewelry box is super handy because it keeps everything organized and tangle-free. It also keeps everything together in case you want to lock it away in a safe. This plush jewelry box is super cute and has compartments for everything. It also comes in a smaller version.
Travel Pill Box
Keep all your medications organized on the go. This travel pill box is sealed, secure, and can be easily labeled.
Keep all of your medications in one place with a travel pill box. This daily pill organizer has multiple compartments and can be labeled with numbers, names, and days of the week. It’s sleek, small, and a much simpler solution than storing medication in plastic bags.
You never know when you might find a souvenir you love, or need to pick up something extra at the store. This is exactly why you should always keep a foldable, reusable bag on hand. These ChicoBags are great because they’re small and can be clipped onto anything.
Reusable Water Bottle
Staying hydrated is super important when you travel. This is why you should keep a reusable water bottle on hand. This Nomader collapsible water bottle is great for travel because it’s leakproof and can be easily folded up when it’s not in use. Say goodbye to all those plastic water bottles!
Travel Bottles for Liquids
These travel bottles are high quality, leak-proof, and top-rated. And they’re the perfect size for airplane carry-on.
Every traveler needs a high-quality set of travel bottles for liquids. Opt for ones that won’t leak, and can be used time after time. These humangear GoToobs are highly rated and the perfect size for carry-on travel. They come in a pack of three and can be easily labeled so you know what’s what. If bottles won’t work for you, try travel capsules like these.
A lot of people, myself included, get anxious about doing checked bags. It’s nerve-wracking to think about airlines losing or misplacing your luggage. Apple AirTags are the perfect solution for this. On your next trip, toss one into each of your checked pieces of luggage and you’ll be able to track them when you reach your final destination.
This sleep mask is comfortable and light-blocking, so you can catch some Z’s no matter if you’re on a plane, in a hostel—wherever.
A sleep mask can make a huge difference in the amount of rest you get while traveling. But you’ll want a comfortable one you’ll actually use. This Mavogel eye mask is light blocking, soft, and has customizable wear. A sleep mask is a little thing, but it can help you fall asleep anywhere you need to.
Sunscreen is a travel essential for just about anywhere, but especially sunnier destinations. I like Sun Bum sunscreen because frankly, it just works. It doesn’t leave you with that white, cakey look and it’s moisturizing. My only complaint is that it doesn’t come in a small travel size.
👉 Pro Tip: Try packing a sunscreen stick instead if you’re flying with a carry-on bag and are worried about liquid allowance.
Organized Laptop Case
An organized laptop bag should be on your list of travel essentials, especially if you’re a digital nomad. Having one case to store your laptop, mouse, notes, and other items makes it easy to truly “work from anywhere.” The Ytonet laptop case has all the pockets, padding, and protection you need.
Underwater Phone Case
An underwater phone case is a must if you plan on capturing some moments beneath the sea… or lake, I suppose. You’ll need one that’s truly sealed and waterproof, and this Hiearcool phone pouch does the trick. It has thousands of positive reviews.
It’s definitely an important travel essential to remember if you are packing for Mexico or another tropical destination where you’re likely to be spending a lot of time in the water.
Digital Luggage Scale
Keep the airport surprises and fees to a minimum with a digital luggage scale—perfect for checking your checked luggage!
Using a portable luggage scale is a simple way to avoid any overweight baggage fees at the airport. You can easily and accurately weigh your luggage with a digital one like this Etekcity luggage scale. This simple pack hacker can save so much hassle.
I highly recommend packing a few carabiner clips while traveling. You never know what extra things you may want or need to clip onto your bag.
Just because your carry-on bag is full doesn’t mean it can’t hold anything else. Enter, carabiner clips! With these, you can easily clip things like water bottles, neck pillows, shoes, and other items onto the outside of your bag. It’s a great way to save time and storage in a pinch.
Wet wipes are perfect for staying clean when you don’t have time to freshen up.
Listen, travel can make you feel dirty. It’s just a fact. You can easily freshen up on the go by carrying some Wet Wipes, though. You can use them as overall body wipes, and also to clean up other messes. They come in handy and are one of my top travel essentials when camping or on a long-haul flight.
Disinfectant wipes like these Clorox ones are a travel essential. They’re perfect for keeping you healthy and your surroundings germ-free.
Things may not be as clean as you hope when you’re on a plane or in a hostel or hotel room. Keeping disinfectant wipes on hand helps you make sure they are. Use these to clean surfaces and to avoid picking up germs while you travel. It’s a basic travel essential, but it can keep you from getting sick!
A travel clothesline is easily overlooked, but so handy to pack! You can hang this up just about anywhere and do laundry while you travel.
A travel clothesline is super useful for longer trips. It’s a small thing you can easily pack, and it can be hung up in a hotel room, hostel, or out in the woods. Just wash your clothes on the go and hang them up to dry on this Coghlan’s bungee clothesline.
Renting a car on vacation? Pack a phone mount! It’s so helpful for being able to use your GPS in new places.
Using your GPS is obvious when you’re driving in an unfamiliar place. Use a phone mount like this Qifutan one for safety, convenience, and to easily see your GPS. It’s such an overlooked item, but it’s one of those travel essentials that can make life easier.
Get extra peace of mind by simply adding luggage tags to your bags. A luggage tag can help airport or accommodation employees identify your items in the event of a lost or misplaced bag. It’s not a guaranteed method, but luggage tags like these Travelon tags can help.
Enjoy the high-quality sound and the convenience of using your own headphones with a Bluetooth transmitter like this one.
You may want to snag a headphone jack like this Twelve South AirFly Pro if you, like most people, use wireless headphones. It allows you to easily pair your headphones to an airplane’s screen. This way, you can enjoy in-flight entertainment from the comfort of your own device.
I recommend packing some iodine tablets to have safe drinking water in an emergency. They’re especially essential if you’re traveling somewhere where the tap water isn’t safe to drink.
Staying hydrated is important no matter the destination. You’ve got to be prepared, especially if you’re in a country that doesn’t have safe drinking water. You can add these Iodine tablets to kill bacteria in water if you need to.
Luggage Cup Holder
Forget the hassle of carrying a drink and juggling items in the airport. A luggage cup holder makes things easy and hands-free.
It’s annoying to have to carry a snack or a drink on top of your travel bags at the airport. A luggage cup holder can really come in handy. You can slip it onto the handles of any rolling suitcase. With it, you can easily carry drinks, as well as boarding passes and other items you need easy access to.
Other Travel Essentials to Pack
- Sunglasses + case
- Travel/luggage locks
- Ear plugs
- Travel sewing kit
- Travel umbrella
- First aid kit
- Face masks
- Hand sanitizer
- Makeup remover wipes
- Contact lens case
- Travel toothbrush
- Travel-sized razor
- Motion sickness medicine
- Anti-diarrheal medicine
- Travel tripod
- Buckled luggage strap
- Bug spray
- Fabric refresher/wrinkle release
- Extra pouches/bags (for miscellaneous things)
- Soap leaves
Clothing to Pack for Travel
The key to packing clothing for travel is that less is more, and to prioritize quality over quantity. Ideally, everything you pack should be tried and tested. This way, you know the clothing you’re bringing is comfortable and you’ll actually wear it.
Versatility is another major factor to consider. Pack versatile layers and bring clothes that can easily be mixed and matched.
So what clothing should you pack for travel? Here is a quick clothing checklist for travel:
- 2-3 pairs of shorts
- 4-6 tops
- 2-3 pairs of pants
- 1 versatile jacket
- 1 sweater
- 1-2 dresses/dressier shirts
- 1-2 swimsuits
- 1 ball cap or sunhat
- 1 pair of flip flops
- 1 pair of versatile sneakers
- 1 pair of water shoes
- 7 pairs of underwear
- 5-6 pairs of socks
- 1 beach coverup
- 1 pair of slippers
- 2-3 pairs of shoes
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty now that we’ve gone over the basic clothing checklist. The following clothing items are some of the most important things to pack for travel. They’ll help make your travel experience simpler and more comfortable.
High-quality footwear is one of my top recommendations for your travels. Comfortable and durable shoes like these from Merrell can make or break a trip.
A good pair of comfortable and durable sneakers will be one of your most important travel essentials. This is because uncomfortable shoes can honestly make or break a trip.
Merrell has tons of high-quality sneakers for different types of trips and style preferences, from hiking boots to city sneakers. Plus, you don’t need to bring several pairs when you have one really good one.
Compression socks are super important for those with poor blood flow, but any adult can benefit from wearing them on a long flight.
Long-haul flights have you sitting for long periods, which can cause swelling and poor blood circulation in your legs. Compression socks help with this because they boost circulation and can improve blood flow. Wearing compression socks like these Physix Gear Sport ones are great for folks with circulation problems. Although, other adults can benefit, too.
Versatile jackets like these from REI are great for keeping the elements at bay and allowing you to travel comfortably.
You can’t control the weather, but you can be prepared with a versatile jacket! The key is to choose a jacket that’s comfortable, provides ample warmth, and keeps out whatever element you’re facing. For some, this might be the cold; for others, it might be rain. REI has some great travel jackets for both men and women.
Merino Wool Clothing
Merino wool clothing is the travel essential that keeps on giving. These lightweight clothing items are comfortable and can last longer between washes.
Let me put you onto something great: Merino wool. This type of wool is a lot finer and softer than normal wool. It’s naturally moisture-wicking, odor-resistant, and just super soft. It’s also really thin! Smartwool makes awesome Merino wool clothing products that are sure to up your travel game.
👉 Pro Tip: To keep Merino wool clothing looking its best, wash it on a gentle cycle. Then, tumble dry on low heat or lay flat to dry.
Darn Tough Socks
The name “Darn Tough” is all you need to know about these durable socks. They’re very high quality, comfortable, and will last for years.
Quality socks are a must, especially if you’re doing a lot of walking or packing for a hiking trip. They need to be able to last a long time and keep your feet comfortable. Darn Tough socks are about as good as they get. They’re a little pricier, but they’re temperature-regulating and moisture-wicking. They also have a lifetime guarantee.
A lot of travel destinations have social rules about covering up. Travel also means dealing with varying temperatures. A versatile travel wrap/scarf like this Happyluxe Wayfarer shawl is perfect for both situations.
Flip-flops are a travel essential at the beach, when using hostel showers, and in other situations. These Old Navy flip-flops are affordable, easy to pack, and can double as slippers. You can also leave them behind if you need to free up extra space on the way home.
Travel Packing Tips
Choose the Right Travel Bag
Choosing to bring a rolling suitcase vs. a travel backpack for your carry-on bag will depend on what your destination is and how you’re traveling. Be realistic and use a bag that best suits your trip. This will then impact how and what you choose to pack. And don’t forget your packing cubes!
Know Your Laundry Options
Look up laundry options before your trip. Many hotels offer laundry services at an additional cost.
Though you may have to hand wash or hit up local laundromats if you’re traveling on a budget. Pack prepared if this is the case. Bring travel essentials like laundry detergent or multi-purpose wash and a travel clothesline.
Pack Good Shoes
Here’s what you need to know about shoes and travel: quality over quantity. Pack good walking shoes you know you’ll be comfortable in. The last thing you want is to have an amazing experience ruined by blistering, achy feet. I also recommend bringing two pairs of shoes so you can alternate. However, this could vary with different types of trips.
👉 Read More of Our Destination Packing Lists:
Roll and Fold Your Clothes in Your Packing Cubes
Most travel guides out there will tell you that rolling your clothes is key. It sort of is. The best way to pack your clothes is to roll and fold them, depending on the type of clothing item. Play around with this before your trip, and arrange your clothes in a way that best fits into your packing cubes.
Trust me, I know this is easier said than done. My advice is to lay out all the clothing items you’re thinking of bringing and remove 1-3 items from each stack. For example, decide to take out two shirts and one pair of pants. This is smart packing, but also helpful for leaving space for what you’ll likely buy.
For tips of the essentials to bring, see our weekend packing list.
Bring Clothes to Leave Behind
Bringing clothes to leave behind can be useful in some cases. Consider this if you’re staying with a friend or know you’ll be able to swap items with fellow travelers. It can sometimes be smart to bring basic clothing items that you wouldn’t mind swapping out new items for. But only do this if you really need the space.
Wear Your Bulky Clothing Items While You Travel
Wear your bulky items like boots, hats, and jackets in transit, rather than packing them. This can help free up so much space in your bag and packing cubes.
Consider Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is one of those travel essentials that is often forgotten.
VisitorsCoverage is a Travel Lemming favorite for comparing travel insurance policies, but be sure to do your own research.
VisitorsCoverage is a travel insurance marketplace where you can quickly compare quotes from hundreds of insurers -- all it takes is a minute to enter your details!
FAQs About Travel Essentials
What are some travel essentials I should remember to pack?
Some travel essentials you should remember to pack include an adapter, portable charger, luggage locks, medications, and personal items.
What are commonly forgotten travel items?
Commonly forgotten travel items include underwear, toiletries, medications, jackets, swimsuits, and charging cords.
I hope this article gave you new packing ideas or served as a reminder for almost-forgotten travel essentials! Bookmark this list whether you’re packing for a family vacation, solo travel, or any other type of trip.
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