Let it be known: I traveled A LOT in 2017. From our EuroTrip in February and March, to regular flights to and from Boston for wedding planning, and then our honeymoon in Greece, I’ve spent a lot of time on planes, in hotels, packing and repacking. I’ve always been an over-packer. I’m that person who packs the new-with-tags top that’s been sitting in my closet for three months, thinking that maybe I’ll just happen to wear it on my upcoming trip (guess what? I never do!). By the end of a trip I’ll usually stare at my suitcase and kick myself for bringing way too much stuff. However, because we traveled so much over the course of the last year I’ve gotten MUCH better at packing. I can attribute a lot of that improvement to the packing essentials I’ve found that really make traveling easier. Because these items have helped me so much, I decided to do a roundup of my favorites to share with you. Hopefully you find something new that helps you for an upcoming trip!
Samsonite Softside Spinner Suitcase
Travis and I each got one of these suitcases to use as our checked baggage before our Eurotrip earlier this year. These Samsonite bags are extremely lightweight and the four wheels at the bottom allow you to cruise through the airport easily. They’re very roomy without looking massive, and they fit our packing cubes (mentioned below) perfectly. Pro tip: you can usually find similar Samsonite luggage at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or Ross for even less than you’d find on Amazon!
Longchamp Expandable Bag
I’ve always loved Longchamp tote bags. I used one in college to carry my books and have another that I use as a beach bag. About five years ago my mom gifted me with a black expandable Longchamp bag that I’ve used basically every day since. It’s a great multipurpose tote because it expands into an even larger size that’s great for traveling when you’re carrying bulkier items such as a laptop and neck pillow. I always use this expandable tote as my “hand baggage” that goes under the seat on the plane. These bags are so durable — I’ve given mine a pretty good beating over the last five years, and it’s still going strong!
I use the Bag Bungee to attach my Longchamp (or other carry-on bag) to the top of my rolling suitcase when I’m walking long distances through a city or airport. It’s very secure and it allows you to keep extra weight off your back or shoulders while you’re traveling.
Bagail Packing Cubes
Packing Cubes, where have you been all my life!? I first read about packing cubes when we were preparing for our trip to Europe earlier in the year. I’ll admit, at first I didn’t get the hype. I thought: So what, you put your clothes in cubes? What’s the big deal?
Well packing cubes have completely changed the way I pack. I use each cube for a different “category” of clothing. One cube is for pants, one is for tops, another for sweaters, and another for miscellaneous items. The cubes basically act as dresser drawers, so if you’re looking for one pair of pants, all you have to do is take out that specific cube and the rest of your items stay folded and organized in your suitcase. Packing cubes really help if you’re traveling from city to city because you won’t waste time unpacking and repacking your suitcase.
Wet Ones Antibacterial Wipes
There are so many germs on planes, and being stuck close together with other passengers for long hours is one of the easiest ways to get sick. I recently started bringing antibacterial wipes in my carry-on bag, and I wipe down everything around me as soon as I sit down. Knowing that my armrest, TV screen, tray table, and headrest are clean makes me rest a lot easier, and ever since I started this I haven’t gotten sick after a flight.
The food on long haul international flights can often leave much to be desired, so I try to pack healthy protein-packed snacks whenever we travel. Some of my favorite travel snacks include Chef’s Cut Chicken Jerky and RX Peanut Butter Bars because both have lots of protein to keep you going for a couple of hours. If I’m able to, I like to pack us turkey and avocado sandwiches on whole wheat bread for cross-country flights since most airlines do not serve any complimentary food anymore. Having healthy snacks as a backup saves me from getting hangry, and then I’m less likely to reach for an unhealthy food option.
Bobble Water Bottle
I’ve talked about my love for Bobble water bottles a bunch before, but if you’re new around here, the reason I love this water bottle is because it filters the water as you drink it. Think of it as a Brita filter in your water bottle. I drink water like a fish, so I love having my Bobble with me to fill up in any sink or water fountain.
Cabeau Neck Pillow
I’ve tried a lot of neck pillows and this one is by far my favorite. It’s made from thick memory foam and the pillow has an extra raised layer that offers just the right amount of support for your head and neck. It’s the first neck pillow that’s allowed me to sleep for more than one hour at a time on a plane. Travis and I both have these pillows and we’ve even purchased them as gifts for others because we love them so much.
Microfiber Travel Towels
I bought these towels when we went to Israel in the spring of 2016 because the trip required that we bring our own towels for swimming and other activities. I knew we’d constantly be on the go throughout our ten days there, and I hated the idea of packing a large, wet towel in my suitcase and having to reuse it (hello mildew!).
Welcome the travel towel! This particular brand comes with a set of two towels: one large bath/beach towel and another small hand towel. Here’s why I love these towels: They’re very thin, yet incredibly absorbent. They take up as much room in your suitcase as a t-shirt, making them easy to pack even in a small carry-on. The best part about these towels is how fast they dry. They’re basically completely dry within an hour or so from using them, which would be next to impossible for a regular cotton towel.
Tide Travel Sink Packets
These Tide Travel Sink Packets are a fairly new discovery, and I used them often throughout our honeymoon in Greece when we didn’t have access to a washing machine. These packets are great for hand washing delicate garments in the sink or when you just need to clean a couple of items during your trip.
There is no question that traveling long distances, especially through different climates and time zones, is an easy way to get sick. I always like to be as prepared as possible and pack a variety of medications and first-aid items in my suitcase. Most often this includes: Vitamin C capsules, NyQuil, Advil (or other Ibuprofen), anti-diarrhea and laxatives (just keepin’ it real, you never know!), Tums, Benadryl, cough drops, blister bandaids, and Neosporin. Some people might think that this is a waste of space in your suitcase; however, if you’re traveling in a different country and not feeling great, the last thing you’ll want to do is have to look for a pharmacy and decipher medication labels in a different language. Trust me, it isn’t fun!
Disclosure: I hope you enjoyed reading about my favorite packing essentials. While none of these items are sponsored, this post does include some affiliate links, which means if you buy one of these products I may earn a tiny commission. As always, thank you for your support!
This is GREAT information Rach! Definitely bookmarking this one for future reference.
Ah, thank you Kayla!! I hope it’s useful!!! XO
This was an excellent post! I wish I read this before my trip to London and Paris. I will definitely pick up some of these items for the next time. ?
Thanks, Janine! I’m so glad it was helpful. Yes, definitely grab some of these items for your next trip!
We love these tips, Rachel! 🙂 All of your recommendations are spot-on, and will undoubtedly prove helpful to @TheBetterFish team as we travel to sustainable seafood conferences and fly to & from our farms in Mass. and Central Vietnam!
Thanks Susan! I hope these help your future international travels!