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What to Pack for ANY Trip: My Most-used Travel Items

No matter where I go in the world, I tend to bring along some of the same items in my backpack. When it comes to packing, especially for long-term travel across continents, I like to pack things…

  • That are useful in multiple climates and types of environments
  • With more than one use (e.g. jojoba oil is for moisturizing my skin AND for removing makeup; this means I don’t need to pack an extra makeup remover)
  • That are comfortable, especially when it comes to shoes since I only travel with a few pairs and wear them walking all around day in and day out.

So whether I’m packing for hiking at altitude in Peru, or sweating it out on a tropical Thai island, here are some of my most-used travel items I bring along:

This post may include affiliate links which means if you buy something through the link, I may get a very small commission. I only recommend products and services I have used/done myself and LOVE and think you’ll love too!

Black skinny jeans

Black jeans are one of the most versatile clothing items you can have. I bring my Topshop black ‘Jamie’ jeans almost everywhere I go. I wear them all the time – from walking around a new city to going out at night. Topshop is the only brand I buy jeans from nowadays. They carry petite and short sizes which is pretty necessary for me and have high rise and ankle cuts that I love and find so flattering.

Walking around Greenwich in London
Walking around London

Shop: $70 for Topshop Jamie jeans

 

BookBook laptop case

Nothing I own gets more compliments and ‘where-did-you-get-that’ questions than my BookBook laptop case by Twelve South. It’s a hardback, leather laptop case that disguises my computer as an antique book and looks cool as hell. It is expensive however so makes for a great gift (that’s how I ended up with it). They have a less expensive version as well that is almost the same.

Shop: $99.40 on Amazon

 

Chaco sandals

Chaco sandals are great for mid-to-warm weather travel, especially if you’ll be walking a lot or exposed to any wet weather. I have them here with me in Thailand and trade out my flip flops for them for day hikes and whenever it rains. If you’re struggling to figure out the differences between the different models of Chacos, you can check out my Chaco comparison review here.

Wearing Chaco Z/2 in classic wicker mandarin

Nang Yuan Viewpoint Koh Tao
Hiking to tropical viewpoints in my Chacos

Shop: $105 at REI

 

Jojoba oil

My friend introduced me to 100% jojoba oil last year and I’m in LOVE. I use jojoba oil as a moisturizer all over my body and face and to remove makeup. Unlike coconut oil, it doesn’t leave you greasy; the molecules are small enough so your skin can absorb the oil and it doesn’t block your pores. (Yes friends I am extremely acne-prone and I even use this stuff on my face!)

Shop: $13.99 for 4 fl oz bottle on Amazon (the same brand I use)

 

Doc Marten boots

I feel like travelers are forever trying to find the perfect travel boot: something that’s comfortable enough for walking all day, but also cute enough to go out in at night and wear around a cool European city without looking like a lame tourist.

For me, my Doc Martens fit the bill. They’re definitely no hiking shoe, but they can stand up to a day of walking just fine. And I think they’re pretty damn cool looking. If you’re worried about breaking them in, you can get the soft leather ones like I did (I think they’re called the Pascals). I bought mine used for a discount on Mercari (also check out Poshmark! Love em both).

Dr Marten Pascal boots in Tel Aviv
#FootSelfie in Tel Aviv

Shop: $140 for the Dr. Marten 1460 Pascal Virginia’s

 

Travel first aid kit

Listen, no matter what, it just sucks to be sick while abroad. I bring a small bag of medical essentials — and no, I’m not talking about band-aids. Check out what I pack in my travel first aid kit here.

 

Earplugs

Earplugs are a travel MUST for me. I take them everywhere I go. I often sleep with them if the room has street or party noise. I only use Mack’s silicone earplugs as they are SO much better than the foam kind. Highly recommend.

Shop: $6.76 for a pack of 6 pairs from Amazon

 

Ultralight packable jacket

Truly one of the best investments you can make if you travel often and like to pack light. My boyfriend at the time got me the Patagonia Nano Puff jacket for my birthday and I take it EVERYWHERE. You can read my full Patagonia Nano Puff review here.

Hiking the Salkantay trail in Peru
Hiking in Peru in my Nano Puff

Shop: $199 at REI (sometimes they have sales on certain colors!)

 

Sarong

For something so cheap, I can’t believe how much use I get out of my sarong. It cost me about $7 back in 2012 and I not only still have it but use it for everything. Any time I go somewhere where swimming is involved, the sarong comes with me. It serves double duty as a towel after showering when I backpack in warm climes.

I got mine in Bangkok and it’s super easy to find them on sale anywhere in Southeast Asia. Otherwise, I’m sure you can try Target.

 

Laying around at sunset at Koh Tao viewpoint in sarong
Wearing my sarong as a skirt after a day at the beach

 

Flannel button down

You can’t go wrong with a flannel button down. These are great for layering in changing temperatures and are lightweight enough to stuff in a day bag or purse. I even wear my flannel a lot here in Thailand on days when it’s raining or during cooler nights.

I got mine at Costco but I don’t see it online anywhere. They sell some nice ones at REI.

Lonely Planet guidebooks

I really love to have a physical guidebook with me, especially when I’m traveling solo. Lonely Planet is my go-to for guidebooks. I just find the information is presented really clearly and I’m able to pick out what stuff really interests me.

Foot selfie on the beach in Railay, Thailand

Shop Lonely Planet guidebooks

Reusable water bottle

I try to use less plastic by carrying my reusable water bottle with me everywhere I go. I do this even in countries where I have to buy bottled water: I just buy water in bulk and fill up my bottle as needed. I bought myself a 20 oz insulated Klean Kanteen water bottle because I prefer stainless steel for its durability and resistance to chemical leaching (unlike hard plastic or aluminum bottles).

Holding Klean Kanteen insulated water bottle

Shop: $32.95 at REI for the 20oz Klean Kanteen bottle


What things do you always bring along when you go traveling? I would love to compare notes.


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