You probably know by now that I travel a lot. Because I travel for most of the year, I'm pretty much always living out of a suitcase. And while that can be hard sometimes, I make sure to I know exactly what to pack for each vacation and travel destination, as there are so many items you don't want to forget on your packing list.
You learn a lot while traveling. And I've learned a lot about knowing what to pack over the years. The first big trip I went on, I left with two huge suitcases. It was a nightmare to drag them all over Europe (though to be fair, I had a home base in Italy during this trip, so I wasn't actually taking them with me everywhere). The second time I went on a long trip, I still overpacked. And then finally the third time I went on a big trip I finally realized that if you pack the right necessities, you can go relatively light.
Depending on where you're going on vacation, what you pack will of course vary. But there are a few items that I pack in my bag and take with me wherever I go. It doesn't matter if I'm going to be sitting on the beach, hiking a mountain, or exploring a big city, some things just never leave my side. Without mycrucial must-haves below, my life would probably be a mess.
1. Packing Cubes To Keep Your Bag Organized
I would be nothing without my Eagle Creek packing cubes. I have two sets of them, and they make packing a breeze. I'm able to fit all of my clothes in four packing cubes, and it makes unpacking so much easier for me. I simply unzip the compression side of the cube and place it in a drawer. I never have a mess in my bag and it takes me about 10 minutes to repack my bag when I'm onto the next destination.
2. A Lock To Keep My Belongings Safe
A lock is a huge necessity when going on a trip. It allows you to travel worry-free. And because these locks are TSA locks, you can safely lock your luggage on the plane (the TSA has a master key for these types of locks, so if they need to open your bag, they can do so without damaging your lock or bag). They are also perfect for situations where you might end up on public transportation and be separated from your bag.
3. A Laundry Bag To Keep Your Dirty Clothes Separate
Never leave home without a laundry bag. It's not always guaranteed that a hotel will have a plastic laundry bag available for your use. A laundry bag allows you to stay organized and make sure your dirty clothes stay in one place. That way, when you get home, all you have to do is take your laundry bag out of your suitcase and throw everything into the wash. I've found that this water-resistant bag (perfect if you're going on a beach vacation) can hold up to two weeks of clothes.
4. A Clothes Line, Just In Case You Need To Wash Some Clothes
A clothes line is one of those things you don't think about packing. But, not all hotels have them in the room, and if you need to hand wash something real quick — especially a bathing suit during a beachside vacation — they are super helpful. Find one that rolls up into a little pouch, so it's small and won't take up much space. Plus, you don't need to worry about clothes falling off (this one comes in a braided style, which lets you simply hang clothes in between the two cords.)
5. Scented Wrinkle Releaser To Keep Clothes Smelling Fresh
I swear by this stuff. I never leave home without it. If you've only worn something once and it's not actually dirty, but you want it to smell fresh, spray a bit on it. If you unpack your bag and your clothes are wrinkly, just spray a bit on it and shake out the wrinkles. Leave clothes on hanger to dry off, and you'll be left with clothes that seem like they just came out of the dryer.
6. An Inflatable Neck Pillow To Save Room In Your Carry On
This is my favorite neck pillow to bring on longer trips. It comes in a little pouch, and it can be blown up in seconds. It is completely adjustable, so you can inflate it as much as you want for optimal comfort. The best thing about this pillow is how compact it becomes once deflated — no need to have it annoyingly hang off the side of your backpack.
7. A Sarong That Can Be Used For Many Things
I never go on vacation without bringing a sarong. It doesn't matter where I'm headed to, I always throw one in my carry on. It can be used as a blanket on the plane or in hotel rooms. It can be used as a beach towel. It can be used as a picnic blanket. It's just one of those items that is so versatile and very easy to pack (I guess if you want, you can actually wear it as a sarong, too).
8. An Eye Mask To Block Out The Light And Make Sleep Come Easier
Don't travel without an eye mask. I use one all of the time. I wear it on the plane, on buses and trains, and at the hotel. It makes sleep come much easier to me. (Plus, if you find one that comes in silk, it'll be super comfortable on your face.) This one has silk on both sides and an easy-to-adjust headband.
9. Earplugs To Block Out The Noise
There is nothing worse than a crying baby disrupting your sleep on a long haul flight (Trust me. I would know, as I'm almost always seated next to an infant on the plane). Earplugs come in handy in so many situations. I always bring a pack with me on travels to wear on the plane and in hostels (a lot of roomies are snorers!). I've found foam ear plugs to be the most comfortable for longterm wear.
10. Attach Your In-Flight Essentials To The Seat In Front Of You
I hate digging around in my backpack on the plane. There isn't enough room to do it without disrupting the person next to you, and going in and out of the overhead compartment can be a really big pain. So the best thing to do is keep all of the things you know you'll need on the plane (headphones, earplugs, eye mask, chapstick, etc.) in one place. This pouch connects to the seat in front of you, or you can store it in the seat pocket for easy access.
11. A Set Of Clear Plastic Bags To Keep Things Together
I love clear plastic pouches. I store everything in them when I'm traveling (can you tell I'm a bit over-organized when it comes to packing?). This is a set of nine bags that come in different sizes. You can use each bag to store something different. I always travel with at least three: one for toiletries, one for makeup, and one for all my electronic accessories (chargers, extra cords, etc.). I always know where everything is, which makes things so much easier.
12. A Professional Quality Camera That Doesn't Weigh A Thousand Pounds
I went to school for photography, so I have always used a large D-SLR camera. But after my first really long trip, I realized that I just didn't want to have to carry around a super heavy camera. So when I discovered mirrorless cameras, I was hooked. I swear by Olympus. They make super lightweight and compact mirrorless cameras that are the perfect choice for vacation. They take photos just as well as a D-SLR would without the hassle of carrying it around. Plus, this one has built in WiFi, which allows you to upload your photos directly to your phone in seconds, making it so much easier to share your photos (and your Insta-worthy moments).
13. A GorillaPod, So You Can Take Awesome Photos & Videos Wherever You Are
GorillaPods are such a great accessory for your camera. I use mine to take time-lapse videos of the sunset or for night photography. They keep your camera steady and can be wrapped around anything, giving you the flexibility to take your photo or video wherever you want. They are really great for group photos, as well. Just line up your shot, set your timer, and you're good to go.
14. A GoPro To Capture Videos And Underwater Action
I bring my GoPro everywhere. I love to make videos and take photos with it. GoPros are super easy to use, so if you are interested in filming different parts of your trip, it's a great investment. The camera is compact and comes with waterproof housing. With built-in Wifi and Bluetooth support you can use it directly with the GoPro app to edit photos or download them to your phone. You can also use the GoPro Studio software to help you create a video from all of your footage.
15. A Power Bank To Keep Your Phone Charged
You may not think you'll use your phone as much when you're on vacation, but you will. You'll end up using it to listen to music and to take photos even when you don't have any data. This can cause the battery to drain pretty quickly. Don't miss a good photo op because your phone dies. Instead, bring a small, portable power bank with you, so you can recharge your phone on the go.
16. Protect Your Phone With A LifeProof Case
Keep your phone safe with a LifeProof case. They make your phone waterproof and shockproof. Avoid water damage and cracked screens with the case that keeps your phone in brand new condition.
17. Stay Connected With A Mobile Hotspot
If you need to stay connected but your phone is locked, then you should look into using a pay-as-you-go hotspot while traveling internationally. The compact hotspot offers coverage in over 100 countries. Simply register the device before you leave the states, and then pay as you go. For $8, you get 24 hours of Unlimited data anywhere in the world for up to five devices.
18. ...Or Stay Connected With An International Sim Card
If your phone is unlocked, you can use an international sim card. With this one, you can have mobile coverage in over 200 countries and date service in over 130 countries. It's a much better option than using your regular cell phone carrier, as you can get charged a ton of money because of roaming. If you run out of service while using this sim card, you can easily top up online or from your phone, too.
19. Charge Up With A Travel Adapter
Don't forget a travel adapter if you're traveling internationally! They cost a lot more money if you end up having to purchase one when you get there. This one is great because it works in the US, UK, EU, and AU. Plus, it has two USB ports, allowing you to charge more than one thing at once.
20. A Headphone Splitter, So You Can Watch Your Favorite Shows And Movies With Someone
I watch a lot of TV, and I love catching up on it when I'm on the plane. Sometimes whoever I'm traveling with wants to watch with me, and a headphone splitter allows us to do that. It's also great for road trips if you and a friend want to listen to the same music — but whoever is driving isn't into listening to Justin Bieber any longer.
21. A Dual Voltage Travel Sized Straightener
If you really feel like you need to travel with a hair straightener, you should seriously consider investing in a smaller, travel sized version. You should also purchase one that gives you the option to curl your hair (because multi-use is always better when it comes to traveling). This one is dual voltage, which means it can handle different voltages around the world if you have an adapter. It heats up in seconds to 374 degrees, leaving you with a gorgeous style that lasts all day and night.
22. Travel Set Of Toothpaste And Toothbrush So You Can Stay Fresh En Route
Not all airplanes give you tiny toothbrushes to clean your teeth after a flight. I always make sure to pack a carry-on size set with me to take on the plane. That way, when I wake up from sleeping, I can head to the bathroom to brush my teeth. It makes me feel fresher almost instantly, allowing me to have a more enjoyable flight.
23. A First Aid Kit, Just In Case
Always remember to pack a small first aid kit in your carry on bag. You never know when you're going to need a Band-Aid (I don't know how many times I've cut myself shaving or developed a crazy blister after walking around all day), and sometimes it can be hard to find a pharmacy where you are (or the Band-Aids could cost three times as much as they would back home).
24. Take Off Your Makeup Without Leaving Your Chair
Ahh, all nice and comfy, the baby next to you finally fell asleep, and it's time to settle in for the 12-hour flight. But wait — your pores are still trapped under a layer of traveling grossness and makeup. No worries! Skip the bathroom dash, and remove the day's grime with these vitamin E infused wipes that dissolve away your makeup.
25. Travel Sized Moisturizing Lotion To Battle Dry Skin Caused By Plane Air
Whenever I get on a plane after a beach holiday, I get off with peeling skin. It's so frustrating because all I want to do is show off my sun kissed skin. To ensure that my tan doesn't fade or peel off before the plane lands I slather my face and body in lotion (mostly my face because that's what seems to peel the most). Plane air is incredibly drying, so it's important to stay moisturized.
26. Tissues...Just In Case There's No Toilet Paper
I don't know how many times I've been in a public restroom and there hasn't been toilet paper. This may seem like a ridiculous item to always include when packing, but it will save you a million times over. Some countries don't use toilet paper, so it's always good to make sure you have your own (especially if you're traveling by bus and stopping at rest stops).
27. A Mini Umbrella, So You Stay Dry
I just spent 12 days in Japan, and there were two typhoons while I was there. Thank goodness the Airbnb we stayed at had umbrellas because if not, our trip would have been much different. Moral of the story: pack a small umbrella with you, because the weather doesn't stop just because you're on vacation.
28. A Reusable, Collapsible Water Bottle So You Can Stay Hydrated Wherever You Are
These water bottles are awesome. They are antibacterial, freezable, can be filled with cold or hot water, and super lightweight. The best part about them? When it's no longer filled, you can roll it up and stick it in your pocket. Bring them with you to the airport and fill it up after security, so you don't have to spend $4 on water.
29. A Foldable, Expandable Tote For Travel Purchases
Bringing a foldable tote is a great idea, and it's easy to throw into your suitcase. It gives you the freedom to make a few extra purchases while you're traveling because you'll have room to bring them home with you. Plus, you can use it to buy groceries in cities if you find yourself staying in an apartment.
30. A Dry Bag To Keep Your Belongs Safe And Free Of Wetness
If you're into adventure travel or water sports, you need to get a dry sack. This one is super lightweight, and it's sure to keep all of your belongings dry. I keep one in my backpack when I'm headed to the beach, so I can throw my electronics inside of it, knowing they won't get ruined.
Images: Fotolia (1); Amazon (30)
Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.