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Travel Essentials Checklist: What to Bring on Any Trip

Hand holding a camera with various objects in the background.

At least once in your life, you’ve probably been so ecstatic to embark on a well-deserved trip that you ended up forgetting a few essentials, anything from rain gear all the way to portable chargers. This is why it’s important to have a travel essentials checklist, regardless of if you’re a veteran globetrotter or a newbie traveler.

A checklist will not only keep track of your belongings but can also reduce the likelihood of packing mishaps, allowing you to enjoy every second of your once-in-a-lifetime adventure to your favorite destination. We know it’s a chore to pack for a trip, so we have created a travel essentials checklist to streamline your next journey.

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Luggage

Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled Duffel Bag 70L

Three Patagonia luggage lined up.

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, thinking that it might be their checked bag among the sea of black bags. If you’re traveling by air and you don’t want to be one of those passengers, then it’s time to invest in new luggage that sports a more distinctive design.

There are so many options to meet the varying needs of the savvy traveler, but 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 Bag is ideal for stashing lots of gear and apparel.

Carry-on

Away The Bigger Carry-On

Black suitcase on a white background.

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 Away Bigger Carry On Spinner is perfect for weekend getaways or as your primary luggage on business trips. It features 360-degree spinner wheels, a removable battery to charge your phone, and an integrated TSA combination lock.

Backpacks and Travel Bags

Osprey Farpoint Trek Pack 55 + Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel 60L

Black travel bags on a white background.

Having just one good travel backpack or travel bag is essential to have a seamless travel experience. Travel backpacks offer the convenience of being hands-free. We especially like the Osprey Farpoint Trek Pack 55 (also available in 75 liters) from REI.

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, versatile duffel bags can be easily stowed 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.

Toiletries Organization

Sea to Summit Traveling Light TPU Clear Zip Pouch

Toiletries packed in a bag.

We’ve all been behind that person in the security line who takes forever removing items from their carry-on. Was it inexperience or a 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. You can check out solid toiletries to replace liquids in your carry-on, too.

Read More: Best Toiletry Bags for Men

Clothes Organization

Gonex Compression Set

Smaller bag being put inside another bag.

For clothes organizing, packing cubes work great in your carry-on or checked bag. These Gonex Packing Organizers come in a host of options for getting and staying organized.

Travel Pillow

MLVOC Travel Pillow

Travel pillow on a white background.

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 or car rides. This travel pillow kit comes with a contoured eye mask and earplugs so you can enjoy a quieter and more comfortable trip.

Footwear

AllBirds Men’s Tree Dashers

Black and white sneaker on a white background.

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. If you’re an active traveler, these shoes from Allbirds are comfortable on your feet for hauling and running.

Rain Gear

Patagonia Men’s Calcite Jacket

Blue rain gear worn by a model.

Nothing can ruin a long-awaited trip more than a lack of preparation for what Mother Nature may 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 Patagonia Calcite line is our pick for rain jackets that are both stylish as well as functional. 

Wireless Headphones

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Wireless headphone held by a hand.

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 music in the comfort of your own home. Our favorite? Bose Noise Canceling headphones. The Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones II are over-ear headphones that will ensure comfort and top audio quality.

Sunglasses

Ray-Ban 2132 New Wayfarer Classic

Black sunglasses on a plain background.

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 your experiences. Whether your trip involves fishing, high-altitude destinations, long driving, or spending any time on the water, high-quality lenses help improve visibility and clarity. It’s best to opt for polarized lenses for UV protection. These Ray-Ban Wayfarers protect your eyes and help elevate your look.

Camera

Nikon Coolpix A1000

Black Nikon camera on a white background.

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 your reach, literally. 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 is — spoiler alert — a whole lot less expensive than your phone.

Power

Goal Zero Sherpa 100PD

Power bank connected to a camera though a cord.

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

Connectivity

Skyroam 4G Wi-Fi Hotspot

Man using his phone on the subway.

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 provide reliable internet in over 130 countries.

Tracking

Tile Mate and Slim Combo (4-Pack)

Cardholder with passport and cards.

Pickpocketing is a real thing. If you want to keep tabs on all your things, a GPS tracker such as Tile works great to have on your essential items such as your wallet, keys, passport, or travel bag.

Safety

Spot X Satellite Messenger

Man using his phone on a mountain.

Before satellite phones and two-way satellite messengers, family and friends simply had to wait until those who were 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, they can just press the S.O.S. button and communicate directly with search and rescue.

Hydration

Hydro Flask 32 oz Alpine

Man drinking from his 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 has 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, fits perfectly in day packs, carry-ons, and can be easily carried for hydration on demand.

Nutrition

Patagonia Provisions

Man eating on his flight.

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. Looking for a little more variety, Patagonia Provisions has a lineup that includes buffalo jerky, smoked salmon, and fruit bars.

Buy at Patagonia Provisions

Why Use a Travel Essentials Checklist?

A checklist of travel essentials can be created to cater to every type of trip, anything from a weekend road trip to an overseas flight. Feel free to mix and match depending on the particulars of your adventure. A travel essentials checklist will make sure you keep track of your items and spend less time stressing about your trip.

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