Even though summer is drawing to a close, there’s still plenty of time to squeeze in a getaway before the weather turns cold. If you’re already planning for a trip right now and aren’t sure what to pack, here are 15 travel-must haves to take on your next vacation:
Custom duffel bags are ideal for quick weekend getaways as well as roadtrips, thanks to their flexible construction, which can hold more gear than you might think just by looking at them. Pro tip: If you’re planning to bring back a ton of souvenirs from your trip, toss a packable duffel into your checked bag so you don’t have to buy additional luggage at your destination.
If you prefer something a little more elevated than a duffel bag for short trips, definitely invest in a quality carry-on. Choose a larger size that still meets airline requirements to stretch your carry-on capacity as far as it will go, and look for a model with spinning wheels that will make it easy to take through the airport.
For longer trips, you’ll want a big checked bag, ideally hard-sided, to keep your belongings safe. Seek out a model that has multiple handle options and rolling wheels to make it easy to transport to and from the baggage claim. If you get a more nondescript-looking checked bag, be sure to mark it with a distinct luggage tag or another marker that will help you find it at the baggage claim.
Toiletry Bag and Bottles
Prevent leaks before they happen with a dedicated waterproof toiletries bag, not a cheap ziplock that will rip at the first sign of stress. You should also grab a set of mini toiletry bottles and fill them up at home before you leave so that you don’t have to lug a full-size shampoo and conditioner with you.
Don’t throw all your clothes into your suitcase in one jumbled pile — keep everything organized with packing cubes instead. These cubes come in all sizes and shapes so you can pick the configuration that will fit each of your suitcases.
Stop your dirty shoes from touching the rest of your clean clothes with shoe bags. These bags are made from opaque, water-resistant polyester material and zip completely closed to keep your shoes entirely separate from the rest of your luggage.
Hand Sanitizer and Wipes
Unfortunately, travel does expose you to a lot of potential germs, which is why it’s always a smart idea to wipe your seat first thing on any airplane, train, or bus. You can also pack a custom hand sanitizer bottle so that you can sanitize your hands before and after you eat.
Unless you’re the kind of person who can sleep in broad daylight without hesitation, you’re probably going to need an eye mask in order to get any rest while traveling. Everyone’s face is shaped differently, so test your eye masks out at home and take the one that blocks the most light.
Noise-canceling headphones are an absolute must during any kind of travel, blocking out ambient noise to help you work, read, and watch media in peace. If you plan to watch in-flight entertainment, be sure to pack a Bluetooth transmitter so you can sync the headphones to the plane TV.
For situations where you don’t want to have your noise-canceling headphones on (i.e., sleeping) pack a pair of good old-fashioned foam ear plugs. If you find that regular size foam earplugs don’t fit you well, try children’s size earplugs or the silicone kind that lets you customize the size of each ear plug.
Getting sleep on a place, train, or bus is both an art and a science, and a travel pillow is key to solving that equation. While many people stick with a traditional neck pillow, there are many innovative designs on the market now that are worth checking out, including ones that support your head if you tilt it sideways.
If you’re always freezing whenever you travel, it’s worth investing in a high-quality travel blanket that will pack down small when you don’t need it while still keeping you warm in transit. Many travel blankets come in bundles with an eye mask and/or travel pillow, so you can knock both items off your list with one purchase.
Portable Charger and Cords
Don’t be caught without power: Pack your own power adapter and charging cords for every trip. If you’re wrangling a lot of cables, invest in tech organized to keep everything in line. And if you’re traveling internationally, don’t forget to pack a power adapter in your carry-on in case your luggage gets lost.
Reusable Water Bottle
Staying hydrated is key during travel, which can often be a very dehydrating activity. Since TSA doesn’t allow you to bring large liquids through airport security, get yourself a reusable aluminum water bottle that you can refill once you get to your gate instead of relying on disposable plastic water bottles that end up in landfills.
Lip Balm, Hand Cream, and Moisturizer
If your skin gets totally dried out by traveling, give it some TLC in the form of moisturizer. We’re talking lip balm, hand cream, moisturizer, and even body lotion — whatever it takes to keep you feeling dewy and fresh instead of dehydrated. Apply it right before you leave, and again in transit if you have a long journey ahead of you.
We’ve only just scratched the surface travel must-haves with this list. What are the other items that you pack on every single trip? Is there anything on this list that you skip? Let us know in the comments below!