My Travel Essentials

Over the last four months I’ve traveled a lot! I spent four weeks trekking around Europe with my mom, a weekend away celebrating a friend’s wedding, and then back-to-back trips home for holidays. After being on-the-go so often, I think I’ve finally honed my list of travel “must-haves”.

I know many of you are getting away this winter (lucky!) and escaping to warmer climates, so I thought I’d share some of the items I’ve come to rely on.


Peppermint oil – I buy mine from Veriditas Botanicals at my local co-op and carry two different versions. One, a diluted version, is in a roller bottle for easy application to the forehead for headaches, chest for congestion, or the stomach for GI discomfort. I dilute 10 drops of peppermint oil with jojoba oil (my choice of carrier oil) since peppermint can irritate the skin when used alone. Then I carry a small bottle or vial of pure, undiluted peppermint oil. Place a drop on the back of your hand and lick to combat heartburn, over-eating, nausea, and sinus congestion. The method also works to freshen your breath!

Gin Gins Hard Candy – I cannot rave about this product enough. I’m obsessed. These candies have gotten me through winding road trips, bad dinners, boat rides, and bumpy flights. I have them littered throughout my kitchen, purse, car, work desk… you name it, there’s probably one hiding there. Gingery miracles, I tell ya!

Evian Mineral Water Spray – A little expensive but this luxury item is worth it on hot days for a quick cool off or to freshen up after a long flight or car ride. It definitely came in handy during warm hikes and rushed train transfers in Italy. If you’re looking to splurge, this mister is very refreshing, has a soft spray, and comes packaged in travel size.

Refresh Classic Eye Drops – I seem to only be able to find these on, but they are by far my favorite eye drops. I love that they come in individual vials; perfect for travel or to leave a few at work or in the car. I can even use them while wearing my contact lenses. They are always sterile, never sting, and don’t leave dried flakes on your eyelashes or cheeks.

Belkin Travel Charger – Between my phone, iPod, kindle, and camera, I need room to charge everything at the end of the day. This compact surge protector rotates 360-degrees, has 3 outlets, and 2 USB ports. Charge all your gadgets in the same place and never worry about fighting over hotel or airport outlets again.

eBags Packing Cubes – These are fantastic. Great for saving space, organizing clothes, and corralling cords or other small items. You can pack a lot in them! I could fit about six regular rolled-up t-shirts in each bag (more if the clothing item was thin or I really stuffed it). Strong zippers. This youtube video shows you how to make the most of your packing cubes.

Eating Utensil Set – This came in handy on my trip to Europe. I used the ring to attach the silverware to my backpack, pants loop, camera bag, etc. Easy to clean! When I’m not traveling the set lives in my car. Perfect for picnics, farmer’s market finds, or meals on the go.

Ear Plugs –  I cannot stand noise when I’m trying to sleep so these really save me. They are comfortable, inexpensive, effective, and are good for multiple uses if you make an effort to keep them somewhat clean. Say good bye to the disruptive sounds of a chatty seat mate, snoring partner, noisy neighbor, or nearby traffic.

Thermarest Compressible Pillow – Soft, highly compressible pillow that’s perfect for airplane travel, camping, backpacking, or snoozing in the car. I even use it when we stay in hotels or at my in-laws. What can I say, I love an extra pillow! This one rolls up tight but fluffs up well – all while providing comfortable yet solid support.

Pacsafe Day Pack – I bought this for peace of mind while traveling through crowds in Europe but came to love it for many other reasons. Sure, it has great anti-theft features, like zipper closures, slash proof straps, and hidden steel mesh lining. But it’s also water proof and has padded shoulder straps, a laptop sleeve pocket, extra pockets inside for your passport, snacks, sunscreen, or reading material, and two side pockets that are perfect for water bottles or an umbrella. It’s small and lightweight but carries more than you think. And one of the shoulder straps detaches so you can wrap it around a table leg at a restaurant, allowing you enjoy your meal without worrying someone is going to steal your pack. I use the day pack instead of a purse when flying or traveling,  I’m out geocaching, and every day when I walk to work.

Tortuga Travel Back Pack –  I was tired of my roller luggage and clunky bags. They were awkward; always ripping and breaking – not to mention the nightmare of maneuvering them when the terrain is not airport-floor smooth. Thankfully I stumbled on the Tortuga bag and I’ll never go back. I love it! It’s so nice to only have to worry about one bag  and not have to hassle with dragging a wheeled one on cobblestones streets or lifting it up the steps of the train. It could have fit a smidgen better but I am a 5’2” woman with a short torso. The padded hip belt was great and the small pockets there were so useful; nice for quick access to plan tickets or extra change. The laptop sleeve (accessible from top) was my favorite! Perfect for laptop, folders, or a folded jacket – it packed down flat and was quick to reach without opening up the entire bag. I was able to fit everything I needed into the bag and then some. My only complaints would be that the chest strap should be a little longer and should have a bit of padding to make it more comfortable. Other than that, I adore my Tortuga and plan to use it for many years to come!

Other must haves… music (never go anywhere without good tunes!), snacks (jerky, larabar, honey), and chapstick.

These are just a few of my favorites! What have I missed?

What are some of your travel essentials?

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