These are my travel essentials. In no particular order.
The famous Longchamps Le Pliage foldable tote is invaluable. For the past twenty years, women all over Europe have carried this bag, for that extra sweater, or purchases on the road.
You might think it goes without saying, but it’s worth having on the checklist. Make sure your passport is up to date (some countries require at least six-months to expiration date), has enough blank pages (some countries require at least two), and that you have any necessary visas. I like to put mine in a cover that can hold a credit card for the flight.
NOTE: Make copies of your passport, credit cards, and driver’s license before you go. Put one set in a safe place in your suitcase, leave the other set at home with someone you can call if you need to.
The first thing I do on a transatlantic flight is take off my shoes and put on a pair of lightweight leather slippers or shoes. (You could do socks, but you don’t want to walk into the bathroom in them.) These Yosi Samra foldable flats fit easily into your carry-on tote and can double as slippers when you get to your destination.
PASHMINA OR PONCHO.
I always have a pashmina or poncho, or both, in my tote bag. It’s an absolute must-have…to wrap up in on chilly flights, drafty trains, and in a cold snap.
Factoid: Pashmina refers to a type of fine cashmere wool that comes from the pashmina goat in northern India and Pakistan.
Just in case you need sustenance during a delay or between meal services on the plane. My personal favorite is RXBAR. They come in multiple flavors, but I’ve tried them all and the chocolate sea salt wins.
ON THE ROAD
“Small” and “lightweight” are my keywords for packing. So get the smallest umbrella you can find. (It has to fit in a purse.) The Totes Micro Mini, five inches long when closed, fits the bill for me.
There’s just no electronic substitute for these little black notebooks. I can’t live without them. I love the pocket at the back for holding receipts and business cards. This is the classic 3 1/2″ X 5 1/2″ hardcover, but the softcover version, in classic size or extra small, lightens the load.
Yes, you’ll be prepared, come rain or come shine. I love my classic Ray Ban Wayfarers…classic, sturdy and compact.
FOLD-UP SHOPPING BAG.
These shopping bags fold up into a tiny pouch to keep in your purse. Invaluable for flea market and grocery shopping. (Grocery stores in Europe usually charge for bags.)
These Seda travel candles come in yummy scents like citron de sud, epices de saison, lavande provençale, figue d’orleans. Instant aromatherapy for your hotel room.
In case you meet someone that you’d like to stay in touch with. I also keep one in my suitcase, so if my luggage tag gets torn off and the suitcase leaves my possession, it can be identified. I swear by Moo cards. They come in a plethora of shapes and sizes and various card thicknesses, and you can customize them with your own photos and logo, or use their very cool designs.
TRAVEL SIZE TOILETRIES.
Dispense your toiletries into travel containers that hold a maximum of three ounces. My personal favorites are Humangear Go Toobs and Go Tubbs. They’re squeezable and have a secure “no drip” cap.
CLEAR POUCH FOR TOILETRIES.
You can use a quart zip-loc bag, but these clear vinyl pouches from Flight 001 are more durable. [For all TSA regulations, check the website.]
PORTABLE HAND SANITIZER.
Need I say more? Available pretty much everywhere, even at the airport. If you want to be prepared you can order these on Amazon.
FIRST AID KIT.
Buy a ready made travel-size first aid kit that has bandaids, cleansing wipes and antibiotic ointment or put together your own version in a small ziploc bag. I also take foil-wrapped over-the-counter meds (immodium, antihistamine, decongestant, pepto bismol, omeprazole) out of the boxes and carry one or two sheets in a ziploc bag. Write the dosage onto the back with a Sharpie.(Especially a good idea if you’re traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language. Heal thyself.)
MINI DISPOSABLE TOOTHBRUSHES.
These Colgate Wisp mini toothbrushes can’t be beat for morning after an overnight flight, or where the water is undrinkable. Needing no water, it’s a tiny single-use toothbrush with built-in toothpaste, and a toothpick on the end. It’s not a substitute for your regular toothbrush and toothpaste, but it’s great to have on the go.
EYE MASK FOR JET LAGGED PUFFY EYES
New Zealand company, La Pure, makes these individually packaged (as in, perfect for travel) eye masks made with plant collagen, rose essential oil, and grape seed extract.
Not only is it lightweight and the perfect size to tuck into a bag, but I can always start a new book when I finish one on the road. The Kindle Voyage is the lightest weight version and also has the brightest and highest resolution. I also like how the lighted display automatically adjusts to the level of light in your location. Protect it with the thin origami cover that puts the Kindle to sleep when closed and can be folded to make a stand.
Yes, you can use your smartphone (and I do), but I swear by the Canon PowerShot for my blog photos. It takes the best photographs next to an SLR, and I can carry it in my pocket. Buy an extra battery so you always have a fully-charged backup.
PORTABLE HARD DRIVE.
If you’re taking photos or doing work on the road, bring a portable hard drive to upload your valuable digital content. I like this La Cie mobile drive. I use this protective case. For obvious reasons.
POWER CORDS AND CHARGERS.
Seems obvious, but I’ve left more than once with my power cord still in the wall at home, and they are not always easy to find overseas. I use Cord Tacos from L.A. company This is Ground, to keep everything neat and tidy.
If you have a Mac, I highly recommend the Apple World Travel Adapter Kit. It has six interchangeable AC adapter plugs that slide right into the power cord plug, and eliminates the need for separate adapters for the computer.
For all other electronics, I love the Kikkerland universal travel adapter because it’s streamlined and the smallest adapter I’ve found. (If you’ve seen some of the clunky “old school” adaptors, you’ll know what I mean.)
At three inches square, this JBL bluetooth speaker is great for listening to tunes on the road. The battery is easily recharged in a USB port and the sound is impressive for such a cute little thing.
A lipstick-sized charger to keep in your bag or a pocket, so you’re never without a phone. Because you know what it’s like when you’re on the road and your phone dies.
NOISE-CANCELLING EAR BUDS.
I always bring my own ear buds on a flight—the ones they hand out are usually uncomfortable and of sub-par quality. Bose Quiet Comfort are the gold standard and we all know you get what you pay for. That said, Huawei is a great alternative at a lower price.