Travel Essentials Checklist: What to Bring on Any Trip

Practice makes perfect. For frequent travelers, packing can become second nature and a checklist isn’t necessary. However, for those that don’t, you may be constantly second-guessing your decisions. Fortunately, we have created a travel essentials checklist to streamline your next experience and make you feel like a seasoned pro.

Travel Essentials Checklist

Here are our travel essentials, whether we’re embarking on a weekend road trip or navigating to a new international destination. Utilize them all or mix and match depending on the particulars of your adventure.

  • Luggage
  • Carry-On
  • Organization
  • Flight Survival Kit
  • Footwear
  • Rain Gear
  • Headphones
  • Sunglasses
  • Power
  • Camera
  • Connectivity
  • Security
  • Safety
  • Hydration
  • Nutrition

Luggage

Luggage

Have you ever observed the baggage carousel at any given airport? Numerous passengers proceed to fondle every piece of black luggage that approaches with anticipation that it might be their checked bag among the sea of black bags. If you’re one of those passengers, it’s time to invest in new luggage.

There are so many options to meet the varying needs of the savvy traveler:

  • Wheeled: Wheeled bags are ideal for carrying large volumes of gear without carrying the weight. Large wheels are essential for navigating any surface encountered during your travels. Available in 40-, 70-, and 100-liter models, the Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled Duffel Bagl is ideal for stashing lots of gear and apparel.
  • Travel backpack: Travel backpacks offer the convenience of being hands-free. We like the Osprey Farpoint Trek Pack 55 (also available in 75 liters).
  • Duffel bag: Duffels are a great way to travel. They have minimal weight in comparison to wheeled and backpack options and you can carry that added weight in clothing or gear. Additionally, they easily stow away when empty. Eagle Creek excels in making travel-related products and the Cargo Hauler Duffel is no exception. It comes in 40-, 60-, and 90-liter sizes to meet the needs of any traveler.

Carry-on

Choosing the ideal carry-on comes down to personal preference. It can be as simple as needing a small carry-on in addition to your checked baggage or using your carry-on as your primary bag. The Thule Crossover 2 Carry On Spinner is perfect for weekend getaways or as your primary luggage on business trips. It features eight spinner wheels and an integrated TSA lock.

Organization

We’ve all been behind that person in the security line that takes forever removing items from their carry-on. Was it perhaps inexperience or lack of organization? Don’t be that person. Get organized and you will be the envy of fellow passengers and TSA agents alike. For toiletries, the Sea to Summit Traveling Light TPU Clear Zip Pouch (with bottles) is ideal for keeping those liquids together and quickly deploys and stashes away. Packing cubes work great in your carryon or checked bag. Eagle Creek Packing Organizers come in a host of options for getting and staying organized.

Flight Survival Kit

The more you travel, the better you get at packing the essentials that cater to your specific needs for surviving (and thriving) on those long flights. Here’s a concise list that covers the gambit and a story worthy of its own post.

Footwear

travel essentials checklist flightshoes

Footwear is a personal decision. However, packing (or wearing) the wrong shoes for your destination can be a recipe for disaster. Since shoes literally carry you every step of the way, it’s important to pay close attention to your choices. Here are some footwear options to consider for your next trip. 

Rain Gear

Nothing can ruin a long-awaited trip more than not being prepared for anything that Mother Nature can throw your way. And just because it’s supposed to be the dry season doesn’t mean that rain can’t (or won’t) make a surprise visit. Purchasing a premium rain jacket will pay dividends for years to come as you defy the elements without a single worry. While there is an endless array of options, the REI Drypoint GTX, Mammut Masao Light, and the Patagonia Calcite are our picks for jackets that are both stylish as well as functional. 

Headphones

JLab Epic Air Sport True Wireless

Headphones are definitely a long-flight essential. Additionally, they are ideal for long train rides, layovers, and any moment that warrants a distraction. And while noise-canceling headphones can be a veritable lifesaver on a long flight (we won’t even begin to list the reasons), there are other great options on the market that can also pull double duty for trips to the gym, runs, listening to audiobooks, and just enjoying to music in the comfort of your own home. Some of our favorites are the JLab Epic Air Sport True Wireless Earbuds, Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones II, and the Marshall Mid A.N.C.

Sunglasses

There are several schools of thought when it comes to sunglasses and travel. First, perhaps you think, “Should I just carry cheap sunglasses in the event that I lose them or break them while traveling”? On the other hand, premium sunglasses can often enhance the experience. Whether your trip involves fishing, high altitude destinations, or spending any time on the water, high-quality lenses and improve the visibility and clarity. And like shoes, it’s best to try on sunnies as they’re often sized for certain face shapes and sizes.

Camera

camera travel

For the first time in the history of photography, nearly every single person has a phone with camera capabilities. That means that capturing the moment is always within hands reach. For some though, even the best camera phone doesn’t replace the option for carrying a DSLR or a quality point and shoot option. Most of us are not professional photographers and the Nikon Coolpix A1000. Spoiler: It’s a whole lot less expensive than your phone.

Power

Perhaps the only thing worse than being without connectivity is searching for a power source when our phone has run out of juice. The Goal Zero Sherpa 100PD is ideal for traveling as its streamlined design fits in any carryon. In addition to keeping your phone charged, it will also keep your other devices powered (including USB-C laptops).

Connectivity

Let’s face it, people take their phones and tablets with them everywhere. However, we all cringe at the thought of those roaming charges. Thankfully, Wi-Fi hotspots like SkyRoam and Roaming Man provide reliable internet in over 130 countries.

Security

Electronic pickpocketing via RFID (radio frequency identification) skimming is a real thing. RFID skimming is essentially easier when coming into close proximity to other people and airports are a prime location for this type of crime. Thankfully, there are a number of items on the market that help aid in the prevention of digital theft. The Pacsafe RFIDsafe Tec Slider Wallet is a low-profile identification and credit card holder that keeps your information safe.

Safety

Before satellite phones and two-way satellite messengers, family and friends simply had to wait until those off-the-grid emerged from their wilderness excursions or adventures. The SPOT X device will allow those back home to follow your progress and in the event of a life-threatening situation, just press the S.O.S. button and communicate directly with search and rescue.

Hydration

Hydro Flask

More and more airports are committing to joining the fight against single-use plastics. And as travelers, we should also seek to reduce our carbon footprint. Reusable water bottles are a great way to keep hydration close at hand while reducing your individual dependency on plastic water bottles. Choosing insulated stainless steel bottles also keeps your beverages cold or hot longer. Hydro Flask creates an array of options but we really like the 24-ounce standard mouth bottle. It comes in a variety of colors — you can even customize your own color scheme — keeps beverages cold for up to 24 hours or hot for up to 12 hours, and fits perfectly in day packs, carryons, and can be easily carried for hydration on demand.

Nutrition

Traveling may provide an opportunity to step outside of your normal routine and splurge on the endless array of airport food offerings. Carrying an assortment of nutritional options can also provide the right snack or caloric boost. Honey Stinger creates a multitude of options utilizing honey as one of the primary ingredients including a line of gluten-free products. Looking for a little more variety, Patagonia Provisions has a lineup that includes buffalo jerky, smoked salmon, and fruit bars.

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