Hi, my name is Susie and I am addicted to travel. I am a serious travel junkie and get my fix by hopping on a plane, train, ship, car, etc., to explore new horizons. It’s a serious affliction. When I’m on a trip, I start planning my next adventure before I even get home! My list of travel essentials has evolved over time, but these 10 things are always in my suitcase!
Over the years, I’ve perfected my packing lists and my must-have travel essentials. Yes, I am a serial over-packer and always bring way too much clothing. Every time I travel, I tell myself I won’t bring as much, never works. Half of the clothes I bring are never worn. Hey, a girl’s gotta have choices right?
However, no matter where I’m going there are always 10 things in my suitcase. In fact, I store them in my suitcase year round, that way I can focus on my outfits instead!
Number one on my travel essentials list! I buy champagne for my hotel room, villa rental, train ride, etc., and sometimes (rarely) don’t finish the whole bottle in the evening. So I always pack a stopper, that way I can enjoy a fresh Mimosa in the morning with the leftover bubbly!
Wine is major travel essential when I travel with my husband, or solo, or anytime. One of our first stops is a grocery/liquor store for both wine and champagne. We enjoy sipping a glass in our hotel room in the late afternoon, or whenever. Train travel and wine also go hand in hand. I sound like I have a drinking problem. I don’t, I just like my wine and champagne…a lot.
The inside pocket of my suitcase has a permanent resident corkscrew. In fact, my husband brings one as well. Just in case one gets lost!
Reusable Tote Bag
I keep some packable nylon tote bags in my suitcase. Nylon tote bags are better than canvas because they’re flat and take up less room. Years ago, I bought a 5-pack of large capacity totes that fold up to the size of an iPhone and I always have them with me. These babies come in handy for trips to the grocery store – for those bottles of wine and champagne – and any other shopping.
In fact, I’ve even used them as an additional carry on bag for souvenirs or sun hats. Trust me, you’ll use them so add them to your travel essentials list.
I keep a bunch of gallon and quart size bags folded up in an outside pocket of my suitcase. They come in handy when my TSA liquid bag has a tear. Store ANY liquids in a ziplock bag, checked and carry on. The change in air pressure does funky things to bottles and tubes. It’s horrible to have lotion or olive oil all over your clothing when you get to where you’re going (true story)!
Ziplock bags come in handy for storing dirty laundry and shoes, preventing dirt or odors in your suitcase. Use a bag to store all of your underwear and one for socks, keeps them handy and organized. I use packing cubes for my “unmentionables”. Yes, I’m OCD.
Of course, ziplock bags are available all over the world. However, the American Glad freezer ziplock bags are the thickest and best quality…hands down.
I love these babies! Depending on what type of trip I’m taking, I will either pack all of my clothes in them or just the smaller “unmentionables” and socks to keep them organized.
If I’m going to be checking in and out of hotels and visiting several places, I put everything in packing cubes. Pants go in one, tops in another, and so on. However, on a cruise or if I’m staying put in a hotel or home rental for a while, I unpack everything, keeping the smaller items in the cubes for organization.
Packing cubes come in a variety of sizes and colors. Be sure to get ones that you can see through so you know what’s in them. Obviously, mine are pink and they have netting on the top to see through.
Any antibacterial wipes will do. I have some in my handbag, my carry on and my checked bag. For flying, these are great since they don’t have to go in a liquids bag. I wipe down everything on the plane when I board -tray table, remote, armrests, buttons, etc.- because coming down with some horrible flu at the beginning of vacation is not fun! I also wipe down remote controls, light switches and other surfaces in hotel rooms and cruise staterooms.
No, I’m not a germaphobe. But seriously, think about how many people pass through hotels, planes, airports, train stations, etc. Be safe, add some antibacterial wipes to your travel essentials list!
After years of living and traveling in Europe, I’ve learned to ALWAYS have an umbrella handy. One cloud in the sky could mean a major downpour at some point durning the day! There are so many tiny travel umbrellas out there that take up no room, many of them even fit into a jacket pocket or small handbag when you’re out and about. Get one and keep it in your suitcase.
PACKING TIP: stuff one in a shoe when packing to save space…you’re welcome.
Packable Down Jacket and/or Raincoat
Lightweight, packable down jackets and raincoats are available everywhere and are fabulous for travel. Having learned the hard way and being cold or drenched too many times, I keep both a raincoat and a packable down for layering in my suitcase and bring both with me.
Summer evenings can be chilly in higher elevations in Europe, so the lightweight down jacket has come in handy many times. Buy them, pack them…you won’t regret it. Yes, there will be times you won’t need them. However, I’ve left them at home too many times and regretted it. Now I always add them to my travel essentials list.
Suitcase Locks and Cable Ties
Always lock your suitcase. But be sure to use a TSA approved lock. I don’t trust baggage handlers, and have had things stolen out of my checked bag. I lock the outside zipper compartments too, using a cable ties and locks. My locks and a handful of cable ties are always stored in the outside pocket of my suitcase.
I have lost locks, and keys, on several trips. That’s where cable ties come in handy, and for when I need an extra suitcase for everything I bring back. I travel with a packable duffle bag for dirty laundry and shoes on my flight home, and use a cable tie to secure the zipper. Be sure to have some nail scissors -which you can put in your carry on – to cut the cable tie with. Or, hotels have scissors too!
I store a universal plug adaptor inside my suitcase. In addition, I have a small case with about 6 adaptor plugs that work in the EU stored in there as well. Most plugs in the EU countries of Europe are the same, or at least my adaptors work in all of them.
Having several plugs, or a plug strip, is always a good idea because one is never enough. I need them to charge my phone, iPad, laptop and for hair appliances! Of course, it never fails that one or more of my travel companions forgets an adaptor, so I always have extra in my travel essentials bag!
Obviously, there are many more items that I ALWAYS bring. My iPhone, cords and charging plug for sure.
If you’re planning a trip to Europe, or anywhere internationally, be sure to read Tips Before Traveling to Europe and 12 Tips for Traveling in Europe before you go! For more packing tips for Europe read 5 Must-pack Essentials for Europe.