20 Things Every Savvy Traveler Should Always Pack Gallery

Depending on where you're traveling, your packing list may vary when it comes to wardrobe; cold-weather destinations will require layers and long johns, whereas warm-weather destinations will call for bathing suits and flip-flops. Some items, however, you'll need regardless of climate.

Most basic packing lists will include clothes, underwear, shoes, money, charging cords, and other day-to-day necessities. There are many other items, however, that you may not think of right away. You can get through your vacation without these items, of course, but sticking to just the bare necessities is a travel mistake you don't want to make.

For instance, just because you take a spare shirt in your carry-on doesn't mean you'll need it. If you're separated from your luggage for a day or so upon arrival to your destination, however, you'll be happy you have something fresh to change into. Some items, like a neck pillow or dry shampoo, just make your life easier and your vacation more stress-free. Savvy travelers always plan for the worst and hope for the best, because at the end of the day, anything can happen to affect your plans, so make sure you pack these 20 things in your luggage.

Bianca Bahamondes contributed to this article.


A power adapter is necessary when you're heading abroad. Different countries have different voltages and plug shapes; for example, in much of Europe and Asia, the voltage is twice that of the United States, and you risk blowing out your electronics if you plug them in without the proper adapter. We recommend getting a set of all the various adapters you may need in your travels, so that you'll always have the right one for your next destination.


This one is probably obvious, but with the prevalence of iPhones these days, people tend to forget that you can get better images with a real camera, such as a digital point-and-shoot from Canon or Nikon. You don't have to take a bulky one if you're concerned about weight, but even a small camera that can fit into your pocket a will provide better-quality images than your phone (as long as it has more than 12 megapixels or so), giving you better fodder for your Instagram feed.

Comfortable Shoes

Wherever you go, you'll likely be doing a lot of walking, so take a pair of shoes you can spend hours in. Don't take a brand new pair that you haven't broken in. This can lead to great discomfort and even blisters, and you may end up buying shoes you don't want just because you can no longer take one more step in your current pair.

Copies of Travel Documentation

Make sure you have at least three to six months before your passport's expiration date (and renew it if it's not) and that you also have all the requisite visas for your trip. Once you've got all that taken care of, you should still make multiple copies of your travel documents so that if something happens to the originals — whether they're stolen, lost, or damaged — you'll still be able to prove your identity and be able to make the trip back home.

Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoo is great to use even when you're at home, as it can help you still maintain great hair between washes and prevent stripping your hair by washing it with a liquid shampoo every day. The product, which usually comes in the form of an aerosol spray can but can also be bought as a powder, is a great tool to have when traveling, as it can help keep your hair fresh during long flights or layovers. If you're staying in a place with a limited water supply, it's a great way to conserve water — or a handy backup if you can't access the water at all.

Duct Tape

Duct tape has many different uses, and it's a great tool to have when you're on a trip. It can be a temporary fix to broken luggage, a way to remove lint from your clothes, a makeshift bandage, a way to waterproof your shoes — the possibilities are endless!

Emergency Contact Card

In case of emergencies, it's good to have a card full of useful information in case you are incapacitated and someone needs to contact the right people for you. Create a credit card-sized sheet that you can fit in your wallet and include information such as your name, passport number, the name and number of an emergency contact, and blood type. If applicable, you should also include your medical insurance information. It's also a good idea to have information on the card for your country's local consulate, both for your own use as well as others'.

First-Aid Kit

Pack a small bag with some Advil, band aids, and any necessary medications — whatever you may need in case you get hurt, have a headache, or end up eating something you probably shouldn't have, as they may not be readily accessible. We highly recommend you keep this kit in your carry-on in case you need it while traveling or if you're separated from your luggage for any reason.


In addition to ensuring you have the proper TSA-approved locks for your checked-in luggage, keep some locks on hand for all your bags. We recommend keeping all valuables and bags locked up when leaving them in your room, as it's better to be safe than sorry.

Luggage Scale

Sometimes you'll pack things perfectly for one leg of your flight yet somehow still be over the weight limit on your next leg, even after repacking everything. If you're a lover of souvenirs and shopping abroad, pack a portable luggage scale to make sure you don't have to pay extra for your luggage on the flight home.

Mini Fabric Steamer

While good hotels will have an iron for you in the room, don't count on having one or even on it working. A mini fabric steamer is a great way to make sure your clothes stay pressed and fresh no matter where you are; it's even a great way to iron a nice shirt quickly at the airport after a long flight.

Neck Pillow

A neck pillow can literally save your neck on a flight or long car or train ride. We don't mean an over-the-top one like the ostrich pillow that's going to take up half of your luggage, but a standard neck pillow you can clip onto your carry-on or squeeze into a crevice in your bag. This one may not be so necessary on a short flight, but the pillows provided on longer flights tend to be flat with no support, so a neck pillow will keep you from getting a crick in your neck or waking up after your head bobs to the side.


People often forget to pack a writing utensil when traveling, which is a simple thing to overlook. However, the convenience of having one is great. It'll come in handy on the plane when filling out customs forms, and you never know when you'll need to write down an important note, name, or number for yourself.

Plastic Bags

There are so many ways to use a plastic bag. Extra plastic bags can come in handy so that you have a place to put dirty clothes or any valuables you may end up purchasing to help keep them away from your other belongings. You can also put your shoes in plastic bags before packing them to keep them from dirtying your clothes.

Portable Charger

This is great for long days, especially if you're in a country where you don't have service and are using Wi-Fi to get around. Wi-Fi drains your battery quickly and you don't want to be lost in an unfamiliar city, especially if you don't know the language (although you should learn some key phrases). It's also a good way to keep your electronics charged and ready as you're traveling from one destination to another. Just be sure the charger is ready to go before you head out of your hotel in the morning!


Large scarves are essential for travel. They have amazing versatility, and you'd be remiss to not keep at least one on you even if the weather is warmer at your destination. Not only is a scarf great for when you're a bit chilly or need something to spruce up your outfit, but you can also use it to cover your head or use it as an extra blanket, pillow, pillowcase, sarong, or even beach towel.

Small Journal

This one is a personal preference, since there are now digital journals you can use, but many people prefer the old-school method of writing down their thoughts. Whether you use a digital journal or note-taking app on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop, or write in a physical journal, taking notes on your travel experience is a great idea. It's great to have a record to look back on of your trip, and it's also a good idea to write down tips for yourself if you ever feel like returning or to share with friends.

Spare Clothing

All kinds of mishaps can happen while traveling, whether it's losing your luggage or spilling some coffee or wine on your shirt. Keep some spare clothing in your carry-on bag so that you have a good change of clothes at the ready if there's an emergency or in case you don't have access to your luggage.


Not only are tweezers great for unwanted hairs no matter where you are, but they're also a good tool for splinters. Such a small thing can really ruin your trip, so keep tweezers on hand in case you end up with a wooden splinter or a tiny piece of broken glass in your skin.

Wet Wipes

You'd be amazed at how dirty airplanes can be or just how many germs are in your hotel room. It's not a bad idea to keep some wet wipes on hand to clean down the tray table in front of you or for a quick hand wipe when you're on the go. Wet wipes are also a great option when you don't have access to a shower right away and feel a bit icky. For more great tips on making your trip as smooth as possible, check out our secrets for surviving a long flight.


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