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:
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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.
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. Here’s my full write up about this case.
Shop: $99.40 on Amazon
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.
Shop: $105 at REI
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)
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).
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 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.
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.
Shop: $199 at REI (sometimes they have sales on certain colors!)
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.
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.
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.
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).
What things do you always bring along when you go traveling? I would love to compare notes.
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