The Essentials I Never Travel Without

Some things just make travelling easier, whether it’s when you’re in the airport or out on the road. Below are the items that I carry with me everyday as I travel…you never know what you might need.

The Backpack
When I first started ‘travelling’ as opposed to just going on holiday, I knew it was time to invest in a proper backpack rather than something I would have previously used as a schoolbag. Amazon has some great choices.
I wanted something lightweight but with plenty pockets so I looked for army-style backpacks and eventually settled on this one –

The 3 outside pockets are perfect for storing essential items that you need easy access to throughout the day (I’ll get to those in a second), the drawstring and magnetic buckles makes it more secure than just a single zip and the inside is spacious with interior pockets.
Within the main compartment, I tend to put my camera bag, tripod (if I bring one) and usually at least one change of t-shirt along with a bottle of water when I’m out during that day.

The Essentials
With each item below, I’ve actually provided a link to Amazon for the particular items that I buy or that are very similar. A lot of them are multi-packs so you don’t need to constantly keep rebuying!

  1. Hand gel
    Something I always carry, even pre-COVID but now it’s even more important so make sure you do have some with you. Airports & aircrafts, public transport, bathrooms etc are a breeding ground for bacteria and germs and the last thing you want is to pick up something and become ill when you’re away.
    Chemists and shops like Boots & Superdrug supply these in abundance but make sure you get travel-size bottle, 100ml or less. Sometimes I’ll buy a full size bottle and decant into smaller, travel sized bottles. The ones I have include a carabiner clip to allow you to attach it to your backpack and they’re reusable! – 4pc 50ml Refillable Bottles

  2. Wipes
    Both disinfectant and personal! These can both be bought in smaller packets, specifically for travelling.
    Disinfectant wipes are perfect for that bit of extra hygiene and piece of mind – visiting foreign public toilets, airport toilets etc can sometimes be a bit of an experience so again, be safe!
    Personal wipes, ie baby wipes or something similar are great for when you need a quick freshen up after a long haul flight or on a hot day. You might not always be somewhere were you can spray deodorant (public transport or aircraft toilets for example) but nobody wants to sit next to the smelly person on the bus so make sure that person isn’t you! – Travel Sized Antibacterial Sensitive Wipes – Refreshing Cleansing Wipes for Hands, Face & Body

  3. Travel-sized deodorant
    Personally, I prefer spray cans to rollerballs or sticks but what you choose is up to you. Whatever you do go for though, make sure it’s travel-size or at least 100ml or less to make sure you get it through security if it’s going in your backpack – any larger and they WILL take it off you. – Dove Go Fresh Pomegranate Compressed 75ml (my favourite) or if you prefer a rollerball
    For the guys reading this, Jamie buys the Dove Men+Care Clean Comfort Compressed 75ml

  4. First Aid Kit
    This one has a couple of different items, some of which you might find useful, others maybe not so much but it helps to be prepared.
    With regards to the links for this one, you can either buy a pre-packed good-to-go kit like this – or an empty kit ( and fill it with just what you need.

    1. Plasters
    Both blister and normal! You never know when you’re going to need to them. The last thing you want to do is to spend a day hobbling around because you’ve got a blister – they’re uncomfortable, painful and can get infected so make sure you cover them.
    Normal plasters, especially waterproof ones, are a must. It’s super easy to cut yourself when you’re travelling, whether it’s a cut finger making breakfast or a scraped knee during a hike but depending where you are, these can get infected really easily, so again, make sure you cover them as soon as you can. – Compeed Medium Sized Blister Plasters 10pc – I’d rather have extra! – Elastoplast Waterproof Fabric Plasters 18 strips.

    2. Arnica/Savlon
    These both come in 30g tubes which are perfect for stashing in your first aid kit.
    Arnica helps to prevent bruising (great for when you fall on that hike) and Savlon is a disinfectant and helps prevent infection in minor first aid cases. Put this on before you stick on a plaster and you’re good to go! – Nelsons Arnicare Cream Arnica 50g – Savlon 30g, though there is also the option for 100g –

    3. Medical tape
    This has a multitude of uses but if I’m honest, I tend to use this for sticking plasters back down that are starting to peel off, but it has also been known to keep a finger straight in a slightly more serious situation. Use it in place of sellotape if you need to… ‘Best to have and not need, than to need and not have’. – 3M Traspore Surgical Tape

    4. Bandages
    I keep one bandage in my first aid kit and thankfully, I haven’t had to use it yet but it’s there just in case. – Small Sterile Dressing Bandage (pack of 6)

    5. Safety pins
    Ideal for holding a scarf together when you visit a temple, temporarily fix a tear in clothing, substitute a missing button or hold that bandage together. – 50 Small Safety Pins (you never know when these might come in handy)

  5. Sun cream
    Whether you buy a travel-sized bottle or decant from a larger one, this is a must-have in your backpack. In many countries, the sun is stronger than it is at home and if you’re not used to it you can burn more easily. Even in cooler or winter conditions, the sun can be deceptively strong so this is in my bag year-round. – Garnier Ambre Solare Shea Butter Sun Cream (50+)

  6. Glasses cleaning wipes
    I wear glasses on a day to day basis but if I know I’ll need my sunglasses, I wear contacts. Either way, if your glasses are filthy you’ll miss things and cleaning your lenses on t-shirts or trousers is more likely to scratch them so use something intended for the job.
    I buy a box of Spectacle Cleaning Wipes from Amazon, Poundland or Savers because they work just as well as anything more expensive, plus the perforated edges mean they tear into 2 separate packets so you can easily double up on how many you bring with you. – Healthpoint Spectacle & Lens Wipes

  7. Lip balm
    My lips crack regardless of whether I’m in a hot or cold climate so for me, lip balm (I use Vaseline mainly) is a must and I make sure to have a permanent tube or tub in my backpack. If you don’t have moisturiser and find that, for example, your knuckles are starting to dry or crack with the cold, a little lip balm works as well as a temporary solution. – Original Vesleine Tin 20g

  8. Small notepad & pen
    Sketch something you’ve seen, write down the address of your hotel, opening times for a restaurant, keep a note of your daily spending, write down the contact details of people you meet…this had so many uses. Also, if you’re like me, you’ll be using it to write down your itinerary each day and notes or interesting facts about places you visited.

I know that some people travel with next to nothing except their camera bag and feel that anything more is unnecessary but for me, everything above has it uses and will continue to come with me wherever I go.

Published by Carina Storey

Aspiring travel photographer & blogger, bookworm & film lover.

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