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What are your 'must-have' travel products?

I always take high-quality socks when I travel. They can get pretty expensive $15-$25/pair but they are totally worth the price. Plus, mine have lasted for a few years and they're still holding up great.

A mini keychain flashlight always finds its way into my bag.

I also throw in a few plastic zip bag for storing whatever (I put my passport in one just in case I have a spill).

I packed a set of plastic utensils which are great for those quick picnics in the park.

Do you have any "must-haves' that you always pack when you travel?

Posted by
2081 posts

Ive only been traveling for 2+ years so im a noob but i have my list.

  • Marino Wool Sox - keeps my feet at constant temp even when wet. Also dont stink if i wear them more than 1 day.
  • travel pants - thinner, lighter and drys faster.
  • marino wool t- shirt - im trying one. Expensive, but again, keep me at even temp (hot or cold). Drys overnight. Also dont stink if i wear it 1 week - i tried it!
  • travel shirts.- pockets to carry stuff. drys faster and less weight and bulk.
  • bottle of various OTC meds
  • ziplock bags
  • 2nd pair of shoes - alternate daily. Keeps my feet more comfortable.
  • small penlight
  • photocopy of passport(s) - kept in separate place. also give one to relative that knows how to use a fax or has access to fax.
  • travel scale - to weigh my packages i send home
  • travel power adapter w/2 USB ports. - USB for charging my phones. Dont need to bring power adapter for each, but do use the one adapter for both. Also works with my camera battery adapters.
  • plastic shopping bags. - to pack/protect stuff i send home and trash bags in rooms that dont have a big trash can.
  • address labels - for my postcards i send and for the packages i send home.
  • stuff sack - to put my "clothes to wash" in.
  • envelopes/ziplock bags to put extra foreign currency in and ship back home.
  • chapstick/lipbalm
  • bandaids in a ziplock bag
  • neck pouch for passport and $$$

your mileage may vary (ymmv)

happy trails

Posted by
484 posts

1) small packets of flushable wipes (about 2 per trip) 2) 6X8" pencil pouch with one clear side or similar that I turn into a first aid kit
3) Another pencil pouch for important travel papers 4)Some plastic bags (that groceries come in) for trash, wet/dirty clothes or shoes. 2 or 3 should do it. 5) Cheap, fabric laundry bag (I prefer solid color over mesh. I don't like people having to look at my stuff as I haul it to a Laundromat. I think its more discreet.) 6) Wear comfortable, sturdy footwear - I second the hiking type socks.

Posted by
8877 posts

1) Inflatable hangers for doing sink washing.

2) Ziplock bags - various sizes.

3) Antibacterial wipes. I wipe down my airline seat area and every place I stay.

4) Hand sanitizer, wipes & travel size packs of kleenix. I keep these with me with me all the time. Bathroom facilities are sometimes lacking.

5) Small flashlight. My next trip will be the first with a smart phone. With the flashlight app I'm not sure a separate light will be needed.

6) Bags that can be used for grocery store purchases.

Posted by
1976 posts

My must-haves echo some of the others:

-Hand sanitizer and Kleenex, in case bathrooms lack soap and/or toilet paper
-Plastic bags (Ziploc and grocery store bags, for wet or dirty items)
-Spare glasses and my current lens prescription
-Passport copies, and front-and-back copies of all cards (drover's license, credit card, health insurance card, etc.)
-Itinerary with cities, hotel names and phone numbers; and with my name and phone number which I place inside my suitcase in case I have to check it or in case it gets lost on the way to Europe
-OTC and prescription meds
-Folder with hotel information, flight itinerary printouts, notes about places to visit in each city, etc.
-Granola bars and water bottle

Aside from the practical stuff, here's my list of other mist-haves:

These are more important than clothes (and yes, I can say that because on a trip a few years ago my airline lost my luggage and I had to buy new clothes, socks, underwear, shampoo, and conditioner. But at least I had my journal, camera, and books!).

Posted by
2081 posts

i forgot to add one.

  • list of phone number for lost/stolen credit card.
Posted by
926 posts

A good pair of shoes, various sizes of ziplock bags including a 2 gallon one for washing clothes, my phone which I use as an alarm, flashlight, camera, and for web use when I can access wifi, small sizes of hand sanitizer and lotion, a microfiber towel, extra contact lenses, a small binder with plastic sleeves for organizing my papers and information, and Excedrin.

Posted by
92 posts

I echo all of the above but highly recommend Ex Officio travel pants and shits and "Icebreaker" merino wool products (these come in wide variety of weights...including very thin...and resist odor extremely well). Web sites often have sales on many of the products for both of these manufacturers. I would NOT recommend "SCOTT VEST" travel gear, which i have found to be extremely heavy and uncomfortable when I actually use the built in pockets for my gear.

Posted by
9110 posts

Gorilla tape and dental floss - - you can fix anything.

Posted by
1 posts

Brenda from North Carolina

Take some good quality ziplock baggies and a straw or two. Put garments in a bag with a straw just barely inside the bag and zip the bag up to where the straw is. Now, lay on the bag and the air comes out the straw, then quickly remove the straw and finish zipping up the bag. A friend taught me this trick to carry apple slices so they don't turn brown. I found it really works great for travel.

Posted by
69 posts

Honestly, the only thing I feel nervous about not having when I travel is a light jacket, because I hate being cold, especially unexpectedly because it is summer somewhere but a rare cool front came through. Other than that, I have found I can get by with very little. I spent a 3 day weekend in Nara, Japan, with only a daypack full of basic toiletries, 1 change of socks/underwear, 1 extra shirt, and a light jacket. Never felt so free as when I packed so little.

Posted by
108 posts

I almost always travel with a small alarm clock. I use my phone as my alarm at home, but I've found that often the electrical outlets aren't necessarily convenient to the bed in hotels, especially older hotels and/or B&Bs. I like to know what time it is if I wake up in the middle of the night and I don't like to get out of bed to turn off the alarm, so I like to take a small, travel, battery powered alarm clock.

Posted by
8180 posts

My i-phone. I use the flashlight ap, use as an alarm clock, to take quick photos, to look up train schedules, to find specialty restaurants, look up opening hours for museums, use the magnifying glass ap, and as a watch as I hate wearing a wristwatch. Even at night time if I just want to walk to the bathroom, I click on it and it provides enough light to see where I am going without needing to turn on a room light. You could even use the dictionary features if you like if you can't read the menu.

A swimsuit. Even though I know I may not use it, one never knows and it is better to have one, than not.

Posted by
786 posts
  1. Trashbag- this becomes my laundry bag so my dirty clothes don't mix with my clean clothes.

  2. Sunglasses-a no brainer, I know. But I can't tell you how many times I left them at home because I leave when it is dark out. And it is tough on the eyes to be outside touring in sun all day without protection

  3. Travel fan- if I am travelling in the shoulder months when A/C is not turned on. I have a square fan (about 9 x 9) and pretty flat that I bought at Wal-mart for 14.99. It takes up as much room as a couple of large books. And it has been a life saver some nights.

Posted by
5 posts

I buy a small plastic (4x6) photo album from the dollar store and put my travel details like air/rail schedules and reservations (with train changes), hotel reservations, what to do/see notes, walking tour info., restaurant tips and other notes from researching my trip in it. It's kind of my custom made personal travel guide. I actually make two of them so my husband has one also. It really saves time not having to sort through papers stashed in my suitcase to check schedules and reservations etc.

Posted by
222 posts

A compass is really handy especially for places like Venice where it is so easy to get lost. Just first determine which way you start so that the return should be in the opposite direction.

Posted by
124 posts

Bring a lock for your bag. I always have my bags set up with a great lock. Just remember not to have it on for the flight. But for everything else have it on. I had a friend get her passport stolen while we were in a nice hotel in Florence, I've seen girls in Hostels loss things in the middle of the night. It can happen. So make sure you pack a great lock.

Posted by
28 posts

Really good suggestions above. To add:

--We have a duffle-sized bag that folds into its own pouch and takes up no room but opens into 1) dirty clothes bag on the road. Clothes aren't visible leaving hotels or on the way to laundromat and 2) perfect extra bag for when we need more suitcase coming home. If not needed, it's not taking up appreciable space.

--Wonder Cloth. I adore this!!! Too many European hotels/B&Bs don't provide face cloths and I'm not fond of the disposables. Too small, too dry. The Wonder Cloth is a fabulous face cloth that rinses totally clean and dries in a jiffy (extra fast with hair dryer if you're packing to leave right away).

--Immersion coil. Ok, we're hooked on hot tea. Carry mugs and tea bags and the coil for when there is no microwave.

--Extension cord/dual current power strip. Too often too few outlets and not conveniently located. Not only Europe. Use just as often in the USA.

--Double ditto the fan. i can't stand stuffy rooms. Have to have it for sleeping.

I'm sure there's more, but those are my absolute don't-leave-home-withouts.

Posted by
223 posts

I once bought a lot of compressed washclothes at the dollar store for taking toddlers out to meals. They are the size of a few stacked poker chips. I pop one or two in the bag that's with me. Better than antibacterial wipes for, say, melting gelato. Supercheap.

Posted by
191 posts

Nice list, everyone. One thing I don't see mentioned here is laundry soap. I LOVE Purex 3 in 1. It is not a liquid or powder, but a flat piece of fabric (like felt) that is saturated with detergent and softener. It is dry, so I put a few into a gallon zip bag, and whenever I have the need and get the opportunity to use a washing machine, I am ready. You just throw it in the water, leave it in for the dry cycle, and toss it when you are done. I also take a packet or two of soap leaves, that take just 2-4 little pieces for a sink full of laundry.

Other things...a head lamp, a microfiber towel (for the beach, impromptu wading and blotting laundry) and washcloth, a pareo to use as a beach cover-up and bathrobe.


Posted by
1313 posts

I photocopy the front & back of my credit and debit cards and the photo page of my passport and put in my money belt. I have scanned and sent these to my e-mail, but I just feel better having them easier to access if no wifi.

Posted by
6802 posts

Laurie Beth you can also scan and save docs to a tiny flash drive, to save having to carry the paper.

Posted by
6478 posts

SmartWool Socks
Small pencil (ones used by golfers are the perfect size)
Small roll of gaffer's tape
Small tube of Gorilla or Superglue
Coin purse
Twist Ties (from the your supermarket)
Kleenex packets
Bounce dryer sheets
Dental Floss
Door stop (especially if traveling solo)
Nail clipper
Safety pins
Scarves or a bandana
Zip lock bags
Cheap washcloths
Plastic Utensils
Eyeglass prescription

Posted by
1782 posts

I just bought a flat sink stopper ($1.39) to take on this trip - had some hotels where the sink wouldn't hold water (I think they were rigged that way so you couldn't do hand laundry). Also, adapter plugs and first aid stuff (bandaids, neosporin).

Posted by
341 posts

My laptop
Good shoes
My iPhone
A travel fan

The travel fan is great when you're back in your B&B and it's stuffy in the room in summertime. Many B&Bs don't have air conditioning so a little bit of air flow from the travel fan is great. I picked up mine from Amazon for $10.

Posted by
355 posts

I agree with a lot of the item above. Definitely my iPhone for music, alarm, flashlight, contacts, and I have the Kindle app. Not great for reading, but in a pinch, it works. I like the rubber braided clothes line that is sold on this website, because you don't need hangers or clothes pins with it. Zip locks, including a 2 gallon bag for washing clothes. I always carry a small roll of duct tape. I have also starting carrying a window lock - the small thumbscrew clip for sliding windows. I have used this more in the US than Europe, but I have had rooms on the ground floor and not being able to open the window at night is torture for me. It may sound crazy, but it is tiny, takes up no room in my bag, and it works for me!

Posted by
11973 posts

Everything I carry has to do double or triple duty to justify carrying it. I've been really happy with my Ipod. I use it as a travel alarm, music, stored documents, skype phone, internet, etc. all in a tiny package. I haven't used one for very long but it quickly earned its spot in my pack list.

Posted by
2 posts

A few years ago when traveling i came across "travel kits" a product made by and now i dont travel without them! It is an individual cosmetic bag filled with health and beauty products that i use in travel sizes small enough to take on the plane. Now i dont have to worry about packing those big bottles that take up space or finding the brands i love wherever i end up. Its so easy i just grab one and go! they sell them in walmart target duane reed fred meijer cvs and amazon

Posted by
2 posts

A few years ago when traveling i came across "travel kits" a product made by and now i dont travel without them! It is an individual cosmetic bag filled with health and beauty products that i use in travel sizes small enough to take on the plane. Now i dont have to worry about packing those big bottles that take up space or finding the brands i love wherever i end up. Its so easy i just grab one and go! they sell them in walmart target duane reed fred meijer cvs and amazon

Posted by
1220 posts

Multiple trash bags- both for laundry and if I'm going to pack a second pair of shoes, I bag them because I don't want to have to worry that the soles are dirty and going to track funk on other clothing. Just don't let them get out of control. We spent a week doing the national parks trek last summer, and it wasn't fun to be sitting in the rental car in the MGM Grand Parking ramp trying to cram everything back in our suitcases because it would have hit even my low standards for tacky to be checking into the hotel for full trash bags in hand. (We had one night in Vegas because our flight home the next day was early)

Underwear to cover 14 days. It takes up little space, and I feel like as long as I've got clean panties for the next day, the rest of the laundry can wait if I'm too tired or too occupied with something else actually fun to do it.

If you're checking luggage, I can fit a small serrated knife inside a semi-soft plastic toothbrush holder as a case and use it to cut bread, cheese, fruit, etc. for those times when we feel like a mellow meal back at the hotel.

Posted by
110 posts

My smartphone is very important. I use as a back up camera, note organizer, alarm clock and offline map holder.
Since I have very sensitive skin I bring my own soap.
I also bring my own Benidryl and pain killers.

Posted by
8512 posts

A similar link last year mentioned travel clothes line, Forever New powder laundry soap, and a facial foundation with moisturizer and sunscreen all in one. Don't leave home without them now.

Posted by
1 posts

My must have travel product is Washeze laundry sheets!!!!
The detergent is all in the sheet and I just put one in a zip lock. I can cut it into squares so it is the perfect size for a hand wash in the sink if needed. There is no spill or mess.

Posted by
110 posts

My smartphone as a back up camera!
Good shoes because I am a klutz and need to be able to trip with out breaking any bones!!!
Since I have sensitive skin I bring my own soap and care products so I do not spend my vacation having skin reactions.
A good paper map of where I am traveling that is bought before I leave so I can get familiar with the map format and symbol.

Posted by
55 posts
  • I always bring a travel packet with me; copies of my passport, drivers license, credit cards, medications and medical cards. I also include my emergency phone numbers, and any important contacts. I leave a copy with a family/friend and bring the other set with me.
  • Photos of my family
  • Yes to Carrots wipes (I use them on the plane and you never know when you might need them).
  • Foldable Tote Bag (It folds up to the size of a cell phone and I use when I'm out shopping or at the market).
  • Safety Pins and Bobbie Pins
  • I’m not fond of flying so I create a playlist before I travel, which helps me relax and get my mind off things.
  • When I travel with my hubby or son, I mix our clothes up between our luggage. That way if the airline loses one of our bags, we’ll have something to wear.
  • Empty water bottle
  • Pen/Pencil and Notepad
  • Ziplocks in different sizes
  • Slippers
  • Ear Plugs
  • Valium
Posted by
672 posts

iPad Mini: Only 8 oz., holds unlimited information, music, books, maps, as well as giving wifi access. I used it for communicating with Airbnb hosts and hotels, accessing flight/train/ferry information, posting photos to Facebook, and generally just keeping up with my regular websites. Also, I had stored all my Word files on cloud storage (Cubby and Dropbox), and so could get to any of those when (as did happen) I needed to.

Rubber bands: Just a couple biggish ones weigh nothing and take up no space, but on a recent trip they came in handy a couple of times (right now I can't even remember for what).

Long-sleeve long underwear top with quick-dry material. With the sleeves down this is pretty warm even under the 6-oz rain shell I brought (with a light down vest I was comfortable into the 30s F); in cool dry weather it can be worn under a short- or long-sleeve shirt; and in warmer dry weather it can double as a T-shirt with the sleeves pushed up. Again, very lightweight.

Paper towels

Posted by
1 posts

The Absorber -

Having The Absorber is like having an endless supply of dry towels to roll your wet laundry in to get out the excess moisture. In the typical motel room your lightweight laundry will be dry enough to wear in the morning.

  1. Wash laundry in motel room sink.
  2. Rinse and wring laundry as necessary.
  3. Spread The Absorber out on a flat area. (A big plastic bag on your bed works great.)
  4. Spread laundry item out flat on The Absorber, just as you would on a towel. Large items may have to be folded.
  5. Roll up the clothing item in The Absorber just as you would in a towel.
  6. Ring out the object in the Absorber over the sink, tub, or shower stall in case the excess water drips.
  7. Remove the object from The Absorber and set it aside (on the plastic bag).
  8. Ring out The Absorber. You'll be amazed how much water pours out!
  9. Repeat steps 3, 4, 5, and 6.
  10. Hang the laundered item on a coat hanger.
  11. Ring out The Absorber, and repeat the process with your next laundry item.

You'll find The Absorber in the Auto Supply department of your big box store (i.e., Walmart).

Here's a YouTube description,, which explains why you'll find it in the Auto Supply department, but doesn't even mention it's fantastic laundry possibilities.

Posted by
507 posts
  • Packets of lemon crystals & honey . . .
    I get sick every time I go overseas & hubby is at a loss as to how to help me. I get these packets from
    Recently I found the crystals in the baking aisle of the grocery store & plan to take a small container of unopened honey w/me.
    NOTE: tea + honey + lemon = 1st aid for a cold/sore throat

  • 1-time use ice packet in 1st Aid Kit
    Like another responder I am a clutz. Should I fall I can apply cold immediately.

  • original scripts for meds in checked baggage

  • copy of scripts in carry-on should security want validation they are prescribed

  • steptic pencil in 1st Aid Kit to stop bleeding of small abrasions

Most everything else I take has been covered by others

I leave with someone back home my itinerary, a copy of passport, a copy of scripts, & a copy of drivers license, credit & debit card.

  • cell phone = alarm, clock, music, voice recorder for journal later, (once in awhile) camera/video cam, translator

  • carry-along small battery to recharge phone during day

Posted by
400 posts

Duct Tape. In addition to being a fix it for almost everything, works awesome on blisters.

Posted by
252 posts

In addition to many of the products listed above, I always take a small plastic spray bottle that I can fill with water to spritz on my clothes to take out wrinkles.

Another small plastic spray bottle holds some Febreeze to use as a room deodorizer or to refresh our clothes after being in restaurants, etc., where there are smokers.

Since I only use Splenda in my coffee, tea, etc., I take at least one or two of the convenient tablet dispensers available in the grocery department of Walmart or other grocery stores.

One of the Tide Stain Remover pens comes in handy as well and takes up no room.

Posted by
5 posts

Ditto to a lot of these! I also swear by a light pashmina-like shawl, even in the summer. Folds into a sandwich baggie. Ditto for a giant pareo-like scarf. It's my blanket on the plane, leg-warmer throw in the hotel room and sometimes even a light blanket. Also folds into a sandwich baggie. I always travel with a travel fan, too - one that's both electric and battery-powered. A tiny can of Lysol has come in handy, as does a mini-screwdriver.

Posted by
715 posts

Absolutely the best purchase I ever made for travel is the iPad mini.

Posted by
9 posts

Here is what I learned from my trip....
Weight is not your friend so pack light, if I needed a travel product I did not have I bought it there.

Items I did not see on others lists or I missed them
- Moleskin
- Clothesline
- Moleskin
- CampSuds
- Moleskin


Posted by
2349 posts

Jeff, I share your obsession with moleskin. I'm so afraid that I'll be without it when I need it that I have packages tucked all over the place. I had one batch for too long. It had fused with the backing and would not come apart. So there I was, in a Walgreen's on Decatur Street in New Orleans, buying fresh moleskin and a cheap pair of scissors.

Posted by
13 posts

I believe most of the items above are must haves but I also must have my compact binoculars they come in handy in many places. I also bring a small baby powder since most of my travel is during the summer and with many places I stay in not having AC. I sprinkle some baby powder on the sheets during warm nights and it absorbs the sweat while I sleep and makes me feel cooler. It will not replace a good fan but it helps ease the hot night a bit.