As a fashion grad, and travel addict, I require myself to look like a “normal” person while I go on adventures. It’s bad enough knowing that you don’t belong to your surroundings, but advertising it to the world is like painting a bullseye on your forehead.
Whenever I take a trip I make sure I pack some favorite gear no matter where I’m going. Beyond the basics (toothbrush, underwear, passport etc.) these are some things that specifically make my own travel experience 10x better.
1. An insulated rain jacket: These bad boys can be a bit pricy, so keep an eye out for one on sale off season, or invest in one that will last you a while. I bought mine at REI and I love it because it has cross body buttons, which makes it cute, but it’s also a rain jacket that will keep you warm. Especially since I normally travel in the Fall, it’s a super good idea bring one of these along if the climate where you’re going will even potentially need it. *The yellow arrow is pointing to an inside zip pocket. I bought this coat before I went to the UK and I wanted to make sure all of my valuables were safe while I was walking around London and bigger cities. In this jacket there is also a back bottom zippered pocket and the outside pockets zip and button when they’re closed. Pick-pockets never stood a chance.
2. A sturdy pair of leather boots: For these, I generally look for American made leather boots that look like they’ll last until Jesus comes back, again. Since you may/most likely will be walking for longer distances, these are a great thing to have to keep your feet covered and warm while still looking cute and comfortable. For the insides, I generally get some kind of heavenly insert, and the outside I use bees wax rain repellant to keep them solid and waterproof.
3. Thick infinity scarf: These are nice because you can throw them on and now worry about chocking yourself with the ends, like a regular scarf. This was especially important for me, because I was backpacking and didn’t have the time/energy to be checking my scarf while I was running through cities with 30lbs on my back.
4. An accordion folder with tabs: This. Saved. My. Life. I generally like to spontaneously travel, but there are some things such as hostels for the first night, when you’re severely jet-lagged, and train rides to your end of the day flight, that are important to keep organized. This little folder is perfect for putting maps, tickets and information in so that it’s all fully accessible at a moments notice. It cuts down on stress/freaking out that you lost something, and if you’re traveling alone, like me, it’s a MUST.
5. A FRESH journal: I like to give each adventure its space. I never use the same journal twice when traveling, because I don’t want to feel like I’m going to run out of pages, or if I lose it I lose memories from the past four years. I also generally grab one with non-lined pages so I can sketch/tape things in/write on whatever part of the paper I feel like.
6. My camera: AKA my child. I love having a nice camera to take with me and get decent shots of my surroundings. That being said, there is a lot more responsibility when you have one. My camera is not small, and was expensive, so I always have to find a way to keep it safe, while making sure it’s accessible at a moments notice – this can be hard if you’re traveling with a lot of bags, but it is so worth it!
7. Wipes! Sometimes, when you travel, you don’t have access to a restroom – or if you do, the bathroom available is not the ritz. So, it’s nice to be able to freshen up and not smell like a backpacker once in a while you’re running around. These are also pretty compact and light (while being so valuable on a hard day) so they’re great for backpacking.
8. Eye mask: Oh, my word. If you’ve ever stayed in a shared room hostel you know how essential these are. With people constantly coming in and out of the room at all hours of the night/morning, an eyemask might be the only way you get enough sleep to function the next day. Also, they’re nice to have if you want to sleep on the plane.
9. Head light: These are nice if you’re traveling at night and end up in a situation that’s less than sketchy, but higher on the freak out level than safe ( I also accompany this with a panic whistle if I’m traveling alone…just in case). It also can be great when you’re trying to find something in the dark and you can’t turn the light on etc. It’s just always nice to have some kind of light source.
10. Messenger bag/backpack: I really love this bag in the picture because it turns into a backpack, or can be a messenger bag. This is important to have when you’re looking around the city, because items you don’t want to leave in a hostel, or that you just would like to have with you are much easier to carry this way – rather than lugging your big bag/luggage with you.
11. EARPLUGS. *refer to #8
12. Mini sewing kit: This is one of those simple things that you never think you’ll use, until something breaks and you need it the most. It’s a good idea to bring a little kit along just in case any pack problems/clothes problems occur.
13. First Aid kit: Again, you might not think you’ll use it. But if you find yourself somewhere you can’t get medical attention and need some supplies, it’s good to keep one of these handy.
14. Wool head wear: If you’re traveling to Hawaii for vacation, obviously you don’t need this. But, if you’re traveling to Europe in the fall/winter, you probably will want it. I try to stay away from any kind of acrylic/synthetic headwear mainly because it doesn’t actually keep cold out. It just keeps you a little less cold. Pictured is a wool head wrap that I’m in love with wearing. It’s also red, so easy to find and a pop of color since I normally dress in black/white/gray when I travel. *Same rule goes for gloves – find a good wool pair, you’ll thank me.
15. An awesome book: I always bring a book with me that I’ve started but haven’t had time to finish. This is great for when you’re stuck waiting somewhere and don’t have any phone reception, you want to just relax in a coffee shop or you need to avoid eye contact with an awkward stranger. It’s also great because, at the end of the journey, you’ve accomplished a home task as well!
*16. CHOCOLATE: I didn’t have a chocolate bar to put in the picture, but this is one of the best pieces of travel advice I’ve received in my life. I was pretty skeptical when a friend handed me a chocolate bar on my way to a trip, but that chocolate bar saved my life when I was jet lagged and falling asleep on a train, when I was dying of hunger from missing a lunch cart on a train and sometimes when I just needed a pick up from being tired. The thing to remember is, this is for emergency low blood sugar, so it stays in your bag only for those reasons.
What are some must have’s you guys can’t travel without?? Let’s make a list. 🙂