Top 10 Must-Have Travel Items

Items We've Used Again and Again

Article by Andrea Larson

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My husband and I just returned from a trip to Seoul, South Korea. We have traveled overseas a lot, with and without our kids, and I've compiled a list of 10 must-have travel items that we use over and over again! This applies to U.S. travel as well!

1. Travel Backpack/Tote

Having something carry all of your essentials that you want to have with you on the plane is essential! I like to be handsfree, so a backpack is a great choice. I recently purchased an everyday backpack to use while traveling. It allows for hands-free storage (souvenirs you grab, water bottles in the side pockets, phone, sunnies, extra charger, jacket), but it allows you to also feel cute/trendy and not like a tourist! We also purchased travel backpacks for our kids within the last year and they are so durable and have so many compartments and have tons of room!

2. Tote/Shoulder Bag

My husband wears a shoulder bag when we head out for the day on our travels. It allows him to be hands-free while also having a place to store his items he might need. A large tote also works for easy access. These both are great if you are traveling with a computer for work as well.

3. Packing Cubes

We started using packing cubes a few years ago, and now every person in our family owns a set! Not only do they provide a compact way to pack your clothes, it also helps keep you organized while you are on the trip. I keep undergarments and socks in one, shirts in another, pajamas and swimsuits together, etc. Keeping things contained while you are traveling helps if you are hotel/city hopping. We used to just roll our clothes and put them in the suitcase. We still roll but now put them in organized packing cubes. Simple concept, yet so effective!

4. Portable Chargers

Everyone in our family has a portable charger for travel. Most aircraft now have chargers, so we use those on flights. We do like to carry portable chargers when we head out for the day. You wouldn't want to get stuck with a dead phone while you are traveling, especially if you take photos with your phone! The one I've linked stays charged forever!

5. Make Up Bag/Toiletry Bag

This seems obvious, but I recently purchased a hard exterior makeup case and now I don't worry about any makeup getting ruined when I pack it in my checked luggage. My husband has been using the same dob kit for years and years. I love a toiletry bag with a hook for easy hanging and access.

6. Noise Canceling Wireless Headphones

I never realized what a HUGE difference these make until I got a pair for Christmas and starting using them! My husband swears by them. They are a little pricey, but we only use them when we travel, so it's really a one-time purchase! These help on long flights so much! Sleeping is easier and it's easier to watch movies with noise canceling headphones.

7. Smart Watch/Step Tracker

We use our smart watches whether we are traveling or not! But when you travel, a smart watch automatically switches to the current time zone. We were on a 14 hour time difference in Korea and our Apple watches synced immediately. We also have fun tracking our steps and miles and fitness trackers because we do so much walking when we travel! I have the oldest Apple Watch and it still functions perfectly fine after several years. My husband has a newer version and he wears it in the shower and the pool and the ocean when we travel! The older versions of smart watches are becoming very affordable now

8. Comfy Travel Clothes

I'm always cold! I always like to travel with a short sleeve cotton t-shirt and some sort of sweatshirt/wrap/cardigan and always a scarf. I find this to be the most comfortable and the layers help with hot/cold status on the flights! I usually always wear leggings or yoga pants, socks, and a cute sneaker that I will wear on the travels. One less pair of shoes to pack!

9. Sneakers

Speaking of shoes! A great pair of sneakers are necessary when traveling! You will need something comfy to get around the airport and you will need to be comfy while pounding the pavement on your trip. I find that a great pair of white or black sneakers go with just about every outfit. You can certainly bring running or work out shoes, but I like to feel trendy and cute when I travel!

10. Suitcases

You can't travel if you don't have good suitcases! We bought our kids hard case suitcases last year and I got a new one for myself recently, all from It's good to have multiple different sizes in your home to pick and choose what you will need based on travel time, etc. For Korea, I took one large suitcase. My husband took a smaller roller suitcase (borrowed from our son) and a larger soft backpack style bag he could throw on his shoulders. We have had that soft bags for 10 years and we use it ALL THE TIME. It's a great weekend bag too!

Follow Andrea Larson at @lifelovelarson

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