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29 Essential Travel Items That Are a Complete Game Changer

29 Essential Travel Items That Are a Complete Game Changer

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Packing sucks.

You always feel like you’re forgetting something.

Or you over-pack and end up using only half of what you brought.

Packing for your next trip doesn’t have to be this way.

As a full-time travel blogger and after loading up my carry-on luggage dozens of times, I’ve learned to bring some essential travel items that keep me organized and play double duty so that I don’t bring stuff I don’t need.

Whether you’re packing for an international trip, a long flight or want to know what you should put in your carry on, there are some things you should never travel without

Being prepared also means I save money when I travel, since I know I have everything I need and don’t have to worry about buying things on the road.

This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click through and make a purchase I may make a small commission. I only share information about things I know, love and trust!

Avoid tourist tax and don’t pay double or triple what you should when you forget something simple like sunscreen! 

This list shares my most unique items that every traveler should have that aren’t so obvious but make your life so much better and easier when you’re on the move. 

You won’t find all the same-old, overdone, boring recommendations that are obvious like remembering to pack your phone charger or packing cubes.

TRAVEL PRO TIP: Packing last minute? A lot of the travel items on this list can be found on Amazon. And if you have Amazon prime, most items will arrive the next day. Sign up for a free trial of prime here (and then you can cancel your membership before the month is over). 

Let’s get to my list of 29 essential travel items that will make your life way easier.

1. A Scarf With Hidden Pockets 

This super sneaky scarf is one of my most recommended travel must haves.

There’s a hidden zippered pocket inside the scarf where you can store cash, keys, sunglasses, a passport and even your phone if you want to.

It’s perfect if you’re traveling solo and want to have your valuable items hidden but easily accessible.

Or if you’re worried about pickpockets, this scarf is a stealthy way to hide your things.

It’s probably one of the best travel accessories for women out there.

Infinity Loop Solid Color Scarf With Hidden Zipper Pocket For Women - Lightweight Travel Neck Wrap Infinity Loop Solid Color Scarf With Hidden Zipper Pocket For Women - Lightweight Travel Neck Wrap

The perfect travel accessory - discreetly hide your cash, credit cards, ID, jewelry and other lightweight items.

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If you’re browsing a busy farmer’s market or at a crowded festival, it’s perfect for keeping your hands free and not showing off a flashy purse when you want to buy something.

Plus, it’s also the perfect air travel accessory, since it doubles as a small purse which won’t count as a personal item and it will keep you warm and cozy. 

2. A Stuffable Neck Pillow

A stuffable neck pillow is my favorite item for packing light and saving money carry-on luggage fees.

You can easily fit several articles of clothing into this soft, neck pillow shell, and it doesn’t count towards your carry-on luggage.

In the neck pillow above, I packed:

  • One cardigan
  • One light athletic zip-up
  • One dress
  • Two t-shirts
  • Two tank tops

So if you’re only traveling for 5-6 days, you could fit your entire ‘top half’ of your wardrobe in this neck pillow, and it won’t even be close to being overstuffed.

I demonstrated packing this neck pillow in my YouTube video about packing light (without feeling like you’re packing light).

Buy this neck pillow on Amazon

3. Soothing Tea Bags for the Plane

Speaking of air travel accessories that you might not have thought about…I always pack my own tea bags with me when I travel, especially on flights.

Just ask the flight attendant for hot water and brew your own.

My favorite is Eucalyptus tea – it opens up your airways and helps prevent your nose from getting all stuffed up.

It helps soothe your throat too.

My throat always gets scratchy from all the stuffy, recycled air on the plane.

A soothing tea is also one of the most useful things for traveling if you’re prone to getting sick when you travel. 

TRAVEL PRO TIP – If you’re an anxious flyer or have trouble sleeping on the plane, you HAVE to try the Sweet Slumber tea made with valerian root. This stuff will put even the most high strung traveler to sleep.

The main ingredient is Valerian root, which is also known as nature’s Valium.

And with some chamomile and lavender for calming, your slumber party is only minutes away.

If you can’t find tea bags, you can build your own or just pack loose leaf tea into a travel mug.

This is my favorite travel tea mug which comes with its own infuser.

So yeah, sleepy time tea is one of the most underrated but essential travel items in my opinion!

TIP: get immediate access to crazy discounts on flights (including business class) when you sign up for FareDrop here (it’s my current travel hack obsession).

4. Solid Lotion Stick/Body Butter

Another one of my favorite items for travel is a lotion stick (instead of liquid lotion).

It’s one of the best products for travel because it’s not considered a ‘liquid’ when you put it in your carry on.

Plus, there’s no risk of it spilling or exploding in your bag.

Having lotion on you when you travel is always important, because your skin gets so dry from airplane travel or if you’re traveling in a lot of buses with the air conditioning blasting.

As this means one less liquid to pack in your carry on bag, it’s definitely an essential travel item for any trip I take. 

See also: 14 Brilliant Travel Hacks for Packing Toiletries

5. White Noise Machine

Portable White Noise Sound Machine, 3 Soothing Natural Sounds with Volume Control, Sleep Therapy For Adults, Kids & Baby, Noise Cancelling for Office Privacy & Meditation Portable White Noise Sound Machine, 3 Soothing Natural Sounds with Volume Control, Sleep Therapy For Adults, Kids & Baby, Noise Cancelling for Office Privacy & Meditation
$29.99 $25.28

The sound quality on a white noise machine is so much better than anything you'll find on the phone apps.

03/19/2024 09:08 am GMT

No matter how comfy it is, sleeping in a different bed in a different location is never the same as sleeping in your own bed.

Using a white noise machine can help put you to sleep.

It covers up potentially weird sounds from your hotel room, and the variety of soothing sounds helps keep you asleep.

I like this compact white noise machine, which can also be hung.

I also like this one that changes color and doubles as a night light.

Read more: What to Pack for a Hotel Stay (13 genius ideas)

6. A Tassel USB Charger  

Ok, this is a cool travel accessory that you will absolutely love. The USB cable and cord is cleverly hidden within the leather tassel.

Just clip it to your purse or your overnight bag and it’s conveniently available whenever you need it.

No messy cords to untangle, this is one of my newest favorite items for travel. 

Lightning USB Leather Tassel Key Chain iPhone Charger, Compatible Cable with 7-Inch 2.4 Amp ChargeSync Cable for iPhone, iPad (Black) Lightning USB Leather Tassel Key Chain iPhone Charger, Compatible Cable with 7-Inch 2.4 Amp ChargeSync Cable for iPhone, iPad (Black)

Keep it clipped to your purse or travel bag for those 'oh no' moments when your phone is almost dead!

03/19/2024 09:00 am GMT

7. Microfiber Travel Towel 

This is another one of those essential travel items that have a dual purpose.

First, being microfiber, this towel will be fast drying, which is important when you’re on the move.

The one I have is barely even damp by the time I’m done drying myself off.

Plus, if you’re traveling on a budget, I find that cheap hotel rooms have the worst towels that don’t really absorb.

And since they’re so compact, they make the perfect air travel accessory since it can double as a blanket when you need it. 

Microfiber Towel Perfect Travel, Sports, Backpacking & Camping Towel, Fast Drying - Super Absorbent - Ultra Compact Microfiber Towel Perfect Travel, Sports, Backpacking & Camping Towel, Fast Drying - Super Absorbent - Ultra Compact
$13.99 $10.99

Doubles as a blanket on the plane/train and also great if you're sensitive to the hotel towels that use too much bleach.

03/19/2024 09:03 am GMT

8. Compression Bags 

Wondering how to pack your clothes for travel? Compression bags are the way to go.

Everyone loves travel cubes these days, but compression bags are so much better.

All you do is lay your folded clothes inside, then roll up the bag to push all the air out.

You are then left with super flat clothes that take up 50% less space.

They’re great for saving space and staying organized.

Plus, they’re clear -making your airport security experience go much more smoothly than the cubes which are usually opaque.

Honestly, they’re one of the most useful things for travelling I’ve come across in a long time. 

However, if you DO prefer packing cubes, I also use this set which have a compression component built in to them.

These cubes really are the best of both worlds.

Have a 15 lbs (7kgs) weight limit for your carry-on luggage? Here are 7 bags UNDER 6 pounds that we tested on multiple airlines.

9. A HeroClip Carabiner

This isn’t just any carabiner – this is a clip that hooks to almost anything, anywhere so you can hang your things and keep them off the ground. 

I use this to hang my purse off the table at restaurants and in public washrooms when there’s no hook on the door to hang my bag.

It even hangs off the hinge of the door if there’s no gap to use. 

It’s the perfect travel accessory to hang bags (backpacks, duffel bags, etc) off the floor when you’re traveling like when you need to change in a bathroom stall and there’s no hooks. 

You can attach a water bottle to your bag, or even at the gym. It’s a great ‘gear holder’ for any item, anywhere. 

These are so versatile.

Choose your HEROCLIP here

HEROCLIP Carabiner Clip and Hook (Small) For Purse, Stroller, Camping and Backpack HEROCLIP Carabiner Clip and Hook (Small) For Purse, Stroller, Camping and Backpack
$20.95 $17.24

Keep your bags off the floor! Use these to hook your purse on the table, hang your bag at a public restroom when there's no hook on the door, anywhere!

03/19/2024 09:23 am GMT

Read next: These Travel Gear Essentials for Men Are Game-Changing

10. Luggage Tracker

Worried about lost bags? It’s an unfortunate reality that this happens, and when it happens to you it sucks. Especially when you’re starting your vacation.

Attach these smart luggage tags to your bags, and if they get lost, just activate the code on the website to start tracking.

Most bags are recovered within 24 hours.

Plus, you’ve got added security because you don’t have to write your phone number and address on your luggage tags, which is a dead giveaway that you’re not home to potential thieves.

If you’re a bit of an anxious traveler, these are definitely a must have travel item for peace of mind. 

11. A Legit Carry On Bag

Another traveller essential is a high quality and trusty carry on bag.

There are tons of carry on bags out there to choose from, but I have to include the two bags I use on this list.

I only fly carry-on and never check a bag, and this bag (pictured above) has held up great.

I’ve taken it on several different airlines and have never had a problem.

It’s small enough that I use it for a weekend getaway, and big enough for packing two weeks worth of clothes. 

03/19/2024 10:02 am GMT

You Might Also Like: 20 Things to Pack for An All Inclusive Vacation

12. Towel Clips

Towel clips are such a travel hack!

I use these at the beach, at the all-inclusive resort and on cruises!

You can even use them at the local pool or when you’re at the pool in Vegas.

They’re perfect for saving your towel on your lounge chair, so that you don’t have to leave items like sunglasses, books or sunscreen to save your spot.

I like these fun towel clips because they come in all kinds of fun themes – flip flops, pineapples, flamingos, etc!

Planning a trip to Mexico? Check out These 26 Travel Tips for Mexico You Are Guaranteed to Use

13. A Hanging Toiletry Bag

03/19/2024 10:08 am GMT

This is one of those travel products that everyone needs, but no one likes to spend the money on a good one.

Well, my life changed forever when I found this bag on Amazon that hangs from a hook or a towel rack.

It’s roomy enough to carry everything you need without being bulky.

It’s perfect for when you check into your hotel and realize there’s zero counter space for your stuff.

Just hang it from a towel rack or even the shower rod and you’re good to go. 

14. A Multi-Tool That’s Safe to Fly With

Pack one of these TSA-compliant multitools into your travel bag and keep it there!

The TSA allows you to fly with a multitool in your carry-on bag provided it does not have a blade and has scissors less than 4 inches in length:

This one is TSA compliant as it doesn’t have a blade. But it does have tweezers, pliers, a nail file, etc.

It’s perfect for those small, inconvenient travel moments where a little tool would come in handy.

Fixing jewelry, removing clothing tags or when you need to get rid of a splinter.

Keep your regular phone charger at home, and pick up a 10-foot cord for traveling.

You never know where the electrical outlets will be in your hotel room, and more often than not they’re only on one side of the bed.

16. Insulated Tumbler

03/19/2024 05:08 pm GMT

For road trips, camping, the beach, a cruise, an all-inclusive resort or any kind of travel, an insulated tumbler is a must-have travel accessory.

This tumbler has an insanely high amount of 5-star ratings on Amazon and comes in a variety of funcolors!

These are perfect at the all inclusive resort or when you’re walking around in the Las Vegas heat – this cup keeps your drinks ICE COLD (but can also be used for hot beverages)!

Use it for your poolside drinks and to stay hydrated all day long.

17. Bed Shelfie

03/19/2024 09:48 am GMT

Don’t you hate it when you check into your hotel room and there’s a small bedside table or no bedside table at all?

This bed shelfie is the perfect solution.

Use it to hold your phone, drinks, books, glasses, anything.

If you travel with a CPAP machine, it will fit on the bed shelf, too.

A lot of people use these for their RVs and travel trailers and attach them to the sofa.

18. Fanny Pack/Belt Bag

Fanny packs (or belt bags depending which generation you’re from) are in and I am SO okay with this trend.

They’re the perfect size for carrying your essentials without being too bulky.

I also love that it stays close to my body for feeling more secure and keeps my hands free to take photos or hold a drink.

You can go hiking with them, or when you sit down at a restaurant you don’t need to set it down anywhere.

A good fanny pack has been one of my most useful items for traveling.

I love my black lululemon fanny pack. I wear it for all my Las Vegas trips (perfect for pool parties, too).

But this fanny pack comes in 18 different colors and is the perfect bag for a music festival this summer!

19. Vicks VapoInhaler

This is so handy to have on road trips or on the airplane for instant relief from the dry air.

It’s small and super stealth to use so no one will notice.

Check out Vicks VapoInhaler here.

20. Chub Rub Anti-Chafing Balm

If you’re going to be doing a lot of walking, cycling or hiking on vacation, you need this chub rub to prevent chafing!

Wear your beautiful dresses and skirts without having to worry about any thigh chafing.

Once you try it, this is the summer travel accessory you won’t ever leave home without.

Try the all natural anti chafing stick here.

21. Bottle Protectors

No more wrapping your bottles in towels and hoping for the best!

Bring home your bottles of wine or liquor safely, securely and stress-free with these bottle protectors, also appropriately named ‘wine angels‘.

Grab a set of wine protectors here.

22. Slippers

If you’re coming back to your hotel room after a long day of walking and adventures, it’s so nice to take your shoes off.

But I never trust how clean the floors are in hotel rooms, which is why I won’t ever go bare foot and not even in my socks.

So I pack a pair of slippers to wear in the hotel room and problem solved!

These slippers have memory foam, so they’re ultra comfy for sore feet (and they come in 10 colors)!

23. An e-SIM Card

If you’re visiting another country, an e-SIM card is the easiest, most convenient and usually the most affordable way to get data on your smart phone.

Airalo offers data plans in 190 countries around the world.

All you do is visit the website, download the app, choose your country and the amount of data you need and activate your eSIM.

No need to pre-buy a physical sim card.

Plus, if you’re not sure how much you need, if you run out, you can easily add more with the press of one button.

As a Canadian, I’ve used Airalo eSIM cards in Mexico, France, Germany and the United States.

24. A Bag That Fits Under the Airplane Seat (Personal Item)

Airlines are jacking up the prices on luggage and carry-on bags. On short trips to save money, you could try and only bring a personal item that fits under the seat.

This bag is the largest one I can find that fit under the seat, but still holds lots!

I packed cowboy boots, a jacket, sweater, one pair of pants, two pairs of shoes and a few small travel accessories.

View the bag here in 20 different colors and patterns.

Travel Duffel Bag, Sports Tote Gym Bag, Shoulder Weekender Overnight Bag for Women Travel Duffel Bag, Sports Tote Gym Bag, Shoulder Weekender Overnight Bag for Women
$29.99 $21.49

This is my number one travel bag. It's small enough for your second carry-on item (fits under the seat) but large enough to fit enough for a weekend trip. It has an internal wet pocket if you need to travel with a wet swim suit!

03/19/2024 04:12 am GMT

25. Luggage Cup Holder

Luggage Travel Cup Holder Free Hand Drink Carrier – Hold Two Coffee Mugs – Fits Roll on Suitcase Handles – Gifts for Flight Attendants Travelers Accessories Luggage Travel Cup Holder Free Hand Drink Carrier – Hold Two Coffee Mugs – Fits Roll on Suitcase Handles – Gifts for Flight Attendants Travelers Accessories
$15.99 $9.99

Go hands free through the airport when you have your coffee, water and other small items - no spillage!

03/19/2024 05:03 am GMT

This luggage cup holder is one of the most useful travel accessories I’ve ever owned.

Slip it over the handle of your luggage, and you’ve got two cup holder or one cup holder and another spot to hold your phone or other small items that you need quick access to.

When you’re waiting in line at the airport gate and have a coffee in your hand and need to have your boarding pass and ID ready, this luggage cup holder is a life saver.

View the cupholders here (dozens of colors to choose from).

26. Toiletry Skins for Leak-Proof Travel

These are plastic ‘skins’ that you slip over top of the tops of your liquids bottles (almost like a condom, lol)!

The idea is that they’re watertight and prevent a bottle from opening or leaking.

View the toiletry skins here.

I also love this set of LeakLocks® that were featued on Buzzfeed!

27. Airplane Foot Hammock

This foot hammock has been the biggest flying hack when it comes to comfort.

I sling it behind the tray table in front of my and now my feet are elevated.

This helps with circulation and my legs are so much more comfortable.

The foot rest is adjustable and it folds flat so it takes up no room at all.

View the foot hammock I use here.

28. A Flight Deal Subscription

What if I told you there’s an app that finds you crazy discounts on flights (we’re talking an average of 50-70% lower) – especially business class flights!?

It’s called FareDrop.

It’s an app (or desktop version) that sends flight deals straight to your phone (or email) based on your travel goals. 

After you sign up for your free account (right here) you simply set your home airport along with places you want to go.

You can sign up for a free membership, or check out the paid plans to score insanely low prices on business class flights.

I also wrote a full review and tips about using FareDrop to its fullest potential.

29. Universal Sink Stopper

Sink Stopper 2 Pack, 6 inches Large Silicone Drain Plug Hair Stopper Flat Suction Cover for Kitchen Bathroom Accessories and Laundry Sink Stopper 2 Pack, 6 inches Large Silicone Drain Plug Hair Stopper Flat Suction Cover for Kitchen Bathroom Accessories and Laundry
$9.95 $5.98 ($2.99 / Count)

Perfect for your hotel room when you need to fill the sink full of ice (if you don't have a mini-fridge) or if you have to do some quick laundry.

03/19/2024 10:23 am GMT

I always carry a universal sink stopper for hotel stays.

Here’s how I use it:

  • Allows you to use the sink to wash some clothes
  • Fill the sink with ice to keep your drinks cold.

Grab your universal sink stopper here

I hope you found this list of traveler essentials to be helpful. I have to say, these are my tried and true best items for travel and they’ve never let me down.

Packing is always a pain in the you-know-what no matter how many times you do it, so I find that list like these are super helpful to make sure you’ve pack all the essential travel items you need. 

Do you have any other travel must haves? Let me know what travel products you can’t leave home without! 

Before you go…

If you want to stay up to date, get behind the scenes content, or connect with me directly – you can follow my YouTube channel, Facebook Page, Instagram or Twitch channel!

New photos, videos and live streams!

Liked this post? Share it with your travel buddies and save a pin to your travel boards so you don’t forget what to pack!


Wednesday 29th of April 2020

Hey Alyssa! Super great post!! I live in Germany and travel a lot but am always looking for ways to fit everything into 1 small carryon bag with the strict bag policy on cheaper airlines in Europe. I am absolutely LOVING that hidden pocket scarf! Genius!! Don't know why I have never thought of that!! And the solid lotion stick is a must!! I like the solid shampoo and travel products from Lush too!! Anyways, thanks again for this awesome post!!

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