Philadelphia is my home base and will be for the foreseeable future. But about half the time, I’m traveling either three hours away to my mom’s house or across the planet to countries I’ve never been to before.
Wherever I go, though, I take my trusty Jansport backpack as my carry-on. In this pin-covered bag, I hold plenty of things. Sometimes it’s the latest book for my book club, sometimes it’s a sweatshirt and a can of Starbucks espresso. Often times it’s just my laptop for blogging or working remotely. In addition to these sometimes items, I keep these seven essentials in there no matter where I go:
1. Hand Sanitizer
Guys, the world is beautiful — but disgusting. Keeping hand sanitizer in my backpack is something I unintentionally picked up from my parents.
PRO TIP: Hand sanitizer doesn’t exclusively have to be used on your hands. Thinking
about using your tray table to sleep on during that long flight you have coming, or just using it for literally anything? Use some hand sanitizer and a tissue to wipe that sucker down first. Trust me on this one.
2. Multi-Purpose Charger
Before my first trip across the pond, I bought a multi-purpose USB charger that (supposedly) works on every continent in the world for just $17 on Amazon. It’s slightly bulky but man does it come in handy. You can charge up to four things at once in (theoretically) any outlet that you come across.
3. Noise Cancelling Earplugs
For me, noise silencing earplugs are the difference between getting a good night’s sleep and being awake the entire night — everyone in my family is a chronic snorer. But noise cancelling earplugs can be used in all kinds of situations: flying with a crying baby, working remotely, sleeping on a train (or with snorers like I do), or reading virtually anywhere.
I’ve been known to put all my eggs into my credit card basket and have it come back to bite me in the ass. You shouldn’t travel anywhere without a little cash on you — both bills and change so you’re covered in all situations. Your credit card can’t always save you.
Traveling can be really hard on your body especially when you’re flying. Most commonly, you’ll have headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, and changes in your skin. While most of these things will right themselves eventually, the pain of them in the moment can put a damper on your trip. I prefer Tylenol but any over-the-counter pain killer will do the trick. If you’re flying, just be sure to keep them in their original container to adhere to TSA regulations.
6. Mini Toothbrush & Toothpaste
I don’t know about anyone else but my obsession with my personal health ramps up when I’m traveling mostly because of how dirty buses, trains, planes, and taxi cabs are (though, I will admit that I haven’t been in a taxi since like 2015). Simply brushing your teeth can turn that all around… and you’re supposed to be doing it twice a day even when your days and nights run together with jet lag and whatnot.
Did you know that flying dehydrates your skin including your lips? My lips are in bad enough shape as is most times of the year so I can’t afford to go without chapstick even for a short one-hour flight. Chapstick also plays a vital role in keeping your lips healthy when you’re spending lots of time in the sun.
These are the things that I never leave without, and I obviously think they’re essential. Ultimately, though, what you need when you travel is based on your personal needs and the kind of trip you’re going on. My backpack has been all over the world — in some of the driest deserts and some of the furthest beaches.
Take a minute to reflect on your next trip and think about what you might need to succeed. Otherwise, my list of carry-on essentials is a great place to start!