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After being on the road for so long, packing has become a rather effortless task for me. I’ve been packing the same items over and over again for the past two years, and I feel like I can pack for a long trip in my sleep. However, packing wasn’t always that seamless for me. I was packing everything I thought I needed like phone chargers and headphones. But, I was missing other crucial items that slipped my mind. I was reading several packing lists and they all pretty much said to pack the same things. After my first 2+ week international trip, I realized that I needed to pack more than just comfy clothes and sunscreen. I don’t want you to have to go through that so here’s a list of some not so obvious items that you shouldn’t travel without no matter where you’re going.

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1. Jacket

I don’t care if I’m going to the desert. I’m still bringing a jacket with me. You never know when you’ll need one. If you’re hiking through a forest, a lightweight jacket is a good way to protect your arms from any thorns. It’ll also be your best friend if you’re going somewhere during monsoon season. I tend to freeze on flights so my jacket comes in real handy in that instance. A few months ago, we took a bus from Bariloche to Mendoza in Argentina. It was an eighteen-hour bus ride and it was freezing cold the entire time. A few people teased me for carrying around a jacket when it was hot outside, but the joke’s on them. They were shivering the entire time while I was nice and cozy.

A photo of me wearing a black rainjacket that I take with me everywhere.
This jacket is almost like a safety blanket for me. It’s been to 83 countries with me.

2. Hand Sanitizer

Raise your hand if you’re a germophobe. Traveling has totally turned me into one. Germs are literally everywhere – airports, taxis and more. I can’t even tell you many times hand sanitizer has saved my life. When we were in Kazakhstan, we had to make an emergency stop at a restroom on the side of a road. When you gotta go, you gotta go. Think of a porta-potty, but fifty times worse… if that’s even possible. This little stall had nothing to wash my hands with. Also, I’ve been on several flights where there was no soap to wash my hands with. Ew. Good thing I had my bottle of hand sanitizer to bathe my hands in. Keep it in your purse or pocket and don’t be afraid to use it often.

3. Flashlight

Power outages are pretty common depending on what part of the world you’re traveling to. Power outages happened on the daily when I went to India about twelve years ago. I honestly thought my parents were a little crazy for bringing flashlights with them, but it made total sense. It’s a great way to guide you down the stairways or hallway when the power goes out. We desperately needed a flashlight every evening on our safari in Maasai Mara. Our tent was far away from the dining area and we had to wait for an escort with a flashlight to take us back. His flashlight was pretty dim and it was honestly no different than me just walking in the complete dark. I could’ve gotten eaten by a cheetah. But really though… a flashlight would have been really helpful.

4. Mini First Aid Kit

I’m not a huge proponent of buying a ready-made first aid kit. I’ve never used half of the items that come with it. Rather, make your own first aid kit. Throw in a few band-aids and cleansing wipes for wounds. Also, pack some antihistamines in case you have an allergic reaction to something. I always pack antiseptic cream, ibuprofen, Pepto-Bismol, and cold medicine.

5. Travel Insurance

Do you need travel insurance? That’s ultimately up to you. I know plenty of people who travel without it and plenty of people who never travel without it. Personally, I believe you should carry some type of insurance when you’re traveling. Things will happen whether you think it will or won’t. It’s better to be safe than sorry. I highly doubt you want to be stuck with a hefty hospital bill if you break your leg abroad. Depending on the coverage, you’ll also be protected against theft, flight cancellations, lost luggage, and more. I personally use SafetyWing and I love them. Their customer service is great and they even paid for our flights home during an emergency situation.


6. Cold Hard Cash

Always have USD on you. Sometimes, immigration officials will only accept USD for visas and they won’t accept their own currency. When we went to Laos two years ago, we ran into this issue. It might be different now though. Furthermore, in the past, Uzbekistan had a black-market currency exchange program where you could get double the local currency when exchanging with USD. Lastly, you just never know when ATMs won’t work or when your ATM card might stop working.

7. Portable Charger

My portable charger has saved my life and my phone’s life many times. We have been on some very long bus rides that didn’t have an outlet to plug my phone charger in. Nothing will make a long bus ride or flight more miserable than your phone running out of juice.

8. Pen

Random, I know. Your pen will come into good use when you have to fill out a passenger arrival form on your flight before you land. Sometimes, the flight attendants won’t have enough pens to hand out to every passenger who doesn’t have one. I don’t know about you, but I’m hesitant to ask my neighbor to borrow their pen. Kudos to you if you’re braver than I am when it comes to that.

9. Ziploc Bags

I just counted how many Ziploc bags I have in my suitcase right now. I have seven. I use Ziploc bags to store my dirty clothes in until I can wash them. They also protect my belongings from liquid spills. I secure all of my liquids in a Ziploc bag so my toothpaste or shampoo doesn’t bleed all over my clean clothes. I’ve been a victim of this and I’m determined to not let it happen again.

10. Baby Wipes

My husband’s favorite thing to do when he boards a flight is to grab a baby wipe and clean every single surface he’ll come into contact with. He’s a bigger germophobe than I am. I like to use baby wipes to clean my sticky fingers after I chomp down on a bag of chips. They’re also useful for wiping the sweat off your face and cooling down after exploring on a hot day.

11. Daypack

I’m not a huge fan of carrying a purse when I travel. I just don’t like it for some reason. I’m all about small daypacks though. They’re easy to throw on your back and you can fit all sorts of things in them – water bottles, maps, snacks, sunscreen and more.

12. Passport Copy

Bringing a copy of your passport is crucial in some countries. When we went to Kuwait, it was mandatory for tourists to carry a copy of their passports at all time. We went to the museum there and we were required to show the guard before we were able to get in. It’s also good to have just in case your passport gets lost or stolen. Obviously, the copy isn’t an official document but it’s enough to show who you are.

What is something that you always pack when you travel? Let me know in the comments below.

I hope you found this post helpful for packing for your trip. Don’t forget to pin it for later!

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About Author

Disha is a travel and lifestyle blogger who has visited 85+ countries with South Africa and the Maldives being her favorites. She gets butterflies sharing her travel and life experiences through words. She loves freedom, sunflowers, and long walks on the beach with her husband. She's obsessed with helping others live a life they don't have to escape from. Lastly, she makes travel more accessible and attainable for others.

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  1. Along with an adaptor plug, I always pack a four point plug (powerboard). This way, when I end up in a room with very few plugs, quite common in hostels and quaint little places, my travel buddy and I have enough plugs to charge all our devices overnight.

  2. I’ll admit I travel with all of these, but I do heavily rely on ATMs and fail to carry enough cash on me. I should really make an effort to always have emergency cash on me.

  3. Great list! Never thought of bringing a flashlight because I always have my phone, but things happen! Photocopying passports is a great idea, I just recent started doing that. And hand sanitizers and baby wipes are always a must for me.

  4. Hello Disha!

    I agree with everything you have on this list. It seems like a lot to remember to bring but once you have them and find you use them everytime you’d be glad you have them.

    First time on your site! I like how your site looks! Also, sad to have read your bio regarding your parents disowning you. I just can’t imagine how parents can do that to their own kids but I do know that’s how it is done with other cultures. Happy to know that you are enjoying your “freedom”. Keep up the good work. and I will be following your site if you don’t mind.

  5. Very good list.
    Just bought a portable charger in Indonesia, I am going to spend 4 or 5 days in the jungle, in villages without electricity. The power bank will be awfully important, but this time, I am more worried about my camera running out of juice than being able to charge my phone (of course for some people, the phone is the camera too).

  6. I travel a lot working in Eastern Europe. I always pack a couple different size sink plugs. Many places I’ve stayed didn’t have a plug, and it comes in handy for doing laundry in a sink or even the shower. I’ve stayed in apartments that had a nice big soaker tub….but no plug! They cost nothing at the dollar store and tuck away anywhere in luggage not taking up any room or weight. A must have item!

  7. Wow really very useful tips for travelers. I usually forget #1 every time. I will bookmark this and will check for next travel once I pack my bag. Thanks for such a post.

  8. Great post! I agree with all of them. I ALWAYS have a pen and a little notepad in my bag because you just never know when you’ll need to write something down and your phone might die. I think hand sanitiser is gonna become a staple on every packing list from now on lol.

  9. Post card stamps, binder clips for hotel curtains, reusable water bottle, and a sharpie marker. I’ve used the marker for addressing packages of gifts to others and self that had to be mailed. You can use it in first aid situations to write down the time of the incident on a tourniquet and/or bandages which is helpful for medical personnel. I have used it to mark my cup or bottle with my initials. You’d be surprised what you will use it for.

  10. Hi,
    Thank you for sharing the list. I never thought about the wipes and flashes light, So from the next time these 2 will be in the list of mine too.
    You can also add safety pins and thread with needle. According to me they are very important in case your dress torn up then will help you.

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