We all have our favorite items that we love to take along with us when we travel. What are your favorite must haves when traveling? Personally, I like to travel as light as possible. Traveling light means that I travel without all the bells and whistles that many travel blogs say they just can’t live without when traveling.
I tweak my “extras” depending on if I’m traveling solo versus traveling with kids. But these are my 5 items that I just can’t travel without and are my ultimate must haves when traveling…every single time.
5. The Right Suitcase or Bag
There’s definitely a difference between a quick 2 night getaway without kids and a 10 day international trip with my brood along for the ride. But! When I take the time to carefully think through and pick the right bag for my trip it really helps with the ease of travel and avoiding over-packing. Believe it or not, carefully selecting the right suitcase is one of my major must haves when traveling.
When traveling for a long weekend with the kids, I really love the Vera Bradley Weekender bag. This bag holds enough for me for the weekend (the kids pack into their own backpacks) as well as the stuff I carry for the family. It’s also small enough to count as a “personal item” and can fit under the seat in front of you. It IS a shoulder bag and it is also just large enough to get heavy if you aren’t careful. Final weight matters to me when I’m schlepping the bag and my 4 year old through an airport. I’ve also checked the bag more than once and it’s held up wonderfully to airline baggage handling.
This bag is also great as an add-on for a longer trip. I love it as my “go” bag before a cruise. Speaking of cruising, I love to arrive at the port a day or two before-hand but I really hate having to comb through the larger suitcase I’ve probably packed for a week long trip on the ocean. I can slip this bag over the handle of my larger bag and keep just the things I need for the day or two in port separately.
This bag is rather pricey, but if you aren’t picky about patterns, you can frequently find the retiring patterns for half the price of the new trend. It’s extraordinarily well made. The only damage that has happened in my bag is when I washed it without removing the cardboard reinforcement in the bottom of the bag. Doh! Survived airlines? Check. Survived cruises? Check. Survived multiple weekend getaways? Check. Stephanie-proof in the washing machine? Sigh, user error.
I promise, the bag recovered. Unfortunately, it took me a very, very long time to clean all the shredded bits of cardboard out of my washing machine. And then I had to find another thick cardboard insert that was the right size to reinforce the bottom.
4. Portable Charger/Power Bank
The only thing worse than being mid-flight with a dead battery on your phone, is being mid-flight with a dead battery on whatever electronic device that is entertaining your kids. Nobody wants that. Not you. Not the people next to you. Certainly not the row in front of you.
For international flights and long trips, we pack a power bank for each person. I’m not going to lie though, for shorter hauls we only take 1 for the family I offload this heavier device to my husband or one of my minions. For us, it’s helpful to have a power bank with multiple types of connections – because we are a mixed Android and Apple house.
3. Reusable Grocery or Tote Bags
I cannot express just how much I love my Envirosax reusable grocery bags. Mine came in a set of 5. Each bag rolls into a lime-sized piece of polyester bliss.
I use a couple as dirty laundry bags. Even for a short trip of 2 days, I hang up a sack on a hook, nob or coat hanger and deposit soiled laundry into the bag. I hang a second bag for my teenagers. When packing to go home, I simply pack the entire bag into the suitcase which keeps clean, unused clothing separate from the stinkies. I also make a mental note of what wasn’t used to reduce packing for my next trip.
These bags also make great shopping bags, excursion tote bags, beach bags – whatever day trip comes your way!
2. The Reusable Water Bottle
I live in Florida. For 6 months of the year it’s steamy hot and you are constantly thirsty. I honestly can’t live without my water bottle on a daily basis, let alone when I’m traveling. My water bottle is a major one of my must haves when traveling.
For me, having a straw is mission-critical. I drink far more water when I can easily slurp it in, rather than trying to tip up a bottle and possibly dribble down the front. Perhaps this comes from being constantly bombarded with 3 kids?
At any rate, I also prefer a metal, insulated bottle. While the metal bottle is somewhat heavier, a metal insulated bottle keeps your drinks piping hot or ice cold far longer. Bonus – you’re being green AND saving money by not buying bottled water. I refill at restaurants and public fountains.
Get it here: bubba 24oz HERO Stainless Steel Water Bottle
My daughter has handily decorated my Bubba water bottle with stickers – in her effort to make it “pretty” she’s also made my water bottle unique and easy to identify as mine.
1. First Aid Kit
It doesn’t take up much space and it isn’t heavy. My first aid kit gets used on almost every single trip we take. Truly, it’s a running joke that it isn’t vacation until someone gets sick.
Yes, you can buy over the counter meds almost anywhere. Except when you can’t. Or it’s 2 am on a dude ranch an hour from the nearest store and your toddler has a fever. Yes, they have exorbitantly expensive ibuprofin/Tylenol for sale, but none that will dose a 30 pound toddler. (BTW this dude ranch is AWESOME for families and totally worth a visit.)
I shove bandaids, Motrin (both kid and adult), Alka-Seltzer, antihistamines (both kid and adult), Benadryl spray, Bonine, Cortisone cream, Sudafed and an epi-pen all into a small make-up bag. The antihistamines came in handy when my cousins and I traveled together and all our kids were stung by wasps. The Motrin came in handy when I cruised with a friend and her 2 daughters and one of the daughters popped a fever unexpectedly. Bonine helped when my Middle was seasick. Bandaids need no explanation. Being able to immediately access medicine is worth the space and weight in my luggage.
Besides, who doesn’t need a Motrin after living it up a little too much on vacation???
What are your must haves when traveling?
Post a comment below and let us know – what are YOUR must haves when traveling? What can you just not live without while on the road?