We were recently challenged by RelayRides to make a post that highlights our must-have travel essentials for any trip. Well we have thought long and hard and here are the things we never leave home without:
Not everything will be relevant to all trips so pick and choose as you please.
- iPad: Since we literally blog on the go (it lets us share up to the minute updates – as well as plenty of spelling and grammatical errors – with you) we need a quick way of doing so. We tried on our phones, but our thumbs would mash numerous letters at once, and laptops, which were bulky to pack. Thus we settled on the perfect device: an iPad (or some other type of tablet). They are a light and efficient way to stay connected with home and to carry books, documents, maps, and entertainment.
- SD Card Camera Reader: If you thought the iPad was revolutionary for travel, wait until you add on the SD card reader. It lets you off-load photos from your camera onto your iPad and provides an extra storage device for photos. We always keep our travel photos backed up in a second place, because you never know when weather or thieves may get the best of your camera. And lastly, it allows you to easily share, edit, and upload your photos online!
- Camera: You don’t need to be a photo enthusiast to enjoy taking pictures while traveling. While the memories you make (hopefully) last forever, the photos you have will let you share them with everyone and reminisce about your travels later. For information about our camera, click here.
- Book: While I see no reason to waste perfectly good room and weight allowance on something as trivial as word papers, there are certain book worms out there (ie. Sandra) who would like nothing better than to curl up with a nice book on airplanes and in foreign lands.
- Copy of Documents: This is obvious, but also one of the most paramount things to pack for traveling. As long as you have your documents (and a little money) you should be able to do most anything on the road. We keep offline, online, and hard backup copies of all of our major travel documents. This includes copies of our passport, which we would highly recommend you do as well.
- Sunglasses: Protect your eyes! That’s all we have to say. Sandra’s favorite here.
- Power Converter: A universal power converter will be your best friend. If you are electrically challenged and all you care about is having the plug that fits with whatever is in the wall, then a universal converter is perfect to ensure you have the right one no matter where you go. This is especially helpful for trips that cover multiple countries or continents.
- Scarf: This is by far the most versatile item you can take traveling. Scarves add extra warmth, can be used as a blanket on the train, a shawl when visiting attractions that require extra coverage, a shelter from the sun, or even as a first-aid tourniquet. It’s brilliant! Large but light scarves like the one here are best.
- Quick-Dry Towel: If you are hopping from hotel to hotel this may not be an issue, but for any other trip it is nice to have a small and lightweight towel that will dry in just a few hours. It also doubles as padding for any delicates you want to travel with (and a sponge if they break). There are plenty of options, but for an example click here.
- Toiletry Bag: A small bag with a few pouches, a small mirror, and a clip will keep all of your toiletries together in a neat little package. The best ones have a hook on the inside with flaps that fold out so you can hang it on the shower bar for those tiny European bathrooms with no shelving or those dirty hostel washrooms where you’d rather not let your items touch anything.
- Hand Sanitizer: While on the topic of cleanliness we have to mention hand sanitizer. This goes a long way towards preventing all sorts of bugs and diseases you do not want to mess with. Perfect for the countries where washrooms tend not to have hand soap.
- Baby Wipes/Face Wipes: These can be especially useful for making you feel somewhat refreshed after a long haul flight or cleansing before bed. Depending on what you are doing and where you are going, this might also be your only option for a shower. You might think that there is no way you would resort to a baby wipe shower, but when you’re dirty enough it can feel like luxury. Tip: Baby wipes are made of the same stuff as face wipes, but often cheaper and with less chemicals.
- Lock +/- Cable: Your bag is only as secure as you make it. We always travel with a spare lock just in case. The cable is optional and provides an extra bit of flexibility.
- Ziploc Bags: As silly as this may seem, a Ziploc bag can virtually do anything at anytime. Need a rainproof cover for your camera? Use a Ziploc. Need to put your toiletries in something before the flight? Use a Ziploc. Need somewhere to put your lunch? Use a Ziploc. Need to put dirty clothes in something? Well… you get the idea. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. These little guys are small, light, and easy to pack. Don’t leave home without them.
- Swiss Army Knife: I have some form of multi-use tool in my car and in most travel bags I use (if it’s a carry-on forget the knife part). There are a countless number of times it has come in handy. You never know when you’ll need scissors, a knife, or can opener (or when Sandra will need a nail file).
- First Aid Kit: Unless we know we are going to be in Canada and relatively near a hospital or major center we always bring a little first aid kit. You never know when you’ll need it so its best to have. For suggestions on what (and how) to pack in a first aid kit check out our travel first aid kit post (coming soon!).
- Protein Bars/Snacks: Sometimes you never know where, how, or when you will get your next meal. Having a quick snack that is wrapped on hand can save you and those around you from going “h-angry” (angry due to an intense feeling of hunger). We really like Clif’s Builders Protein Bars, but sometimes just settle for a bag of Haribos instead.
- Multi-Utensil (Spork): affectionately known as the “spork” it is always a good idea to have some form of utensil to help you with on-the-go meals.
- Headlamp: If you need something to light your way then there is nothing better than a headlamp! It’s not for every trip, but if you will be away from electricity, hiking/camping, or in a location where you can’t turn on an overhead light then this is the perfect gadget to have. Petzl makes all sorts of great headlamps in various price ranges.
- Sleep Sheet: This is another one of those items that may not be for every trip, but if you plan on staying in budget accommodations or roughing it then this compact little sheet will keep you cozy, comfy, and best of all clean. Whenever we stay in a hostel we always sleep in one of these little gems under the blankets. The best ones are made of silk, as silk keeps cool in the summer so you won’t overheat, but can also be added to your usual sleeping bag for an extra 5 degrees of warmth in the winter.
Bonus: Corn Starch. This one’s for the ladies and no it’s not for cooking. Did you know that the major ingredient in dry shampoo is corn starch? Why buy expensive dry shampoo when you can buy 50 cents of corn starch that will last much longer. You can even store it in a Ziploc! (Just be careful taking it on your carry-on, as border security may find a bag of white powder somewhat questionable…)
RelayRides is based on the growing sharing economy around us by offering peer-to-peer car rental services. Their concept is similar to AirBnB, but offers car rather than room rentals. This means you have the option of renting a car of your choice (check out their airport rental options), or even of offering your own vehicle in exchange for some cash!