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Travel Essentials – My Recommended Travel Gear

My Travel Essentials list is based on tried and tested travel gear that I use when I am travelling. It’s based on over 36 years of travelling professionally and trying an awful lot of gear over the years!

Melanie – the professional traveller

Here is the list of my travel essentials, the things that I use regularly when I travel.

Over the years I have tried so many travel accessories and had all sorts of luggage, so it’s taken a while to get to this list!

Travel Essentials – My Tried and Tested Travel Gear

Travel Essentials

1. 45x36x20 Underseat Bag

If you fly with Easyjet you get one underseat case included with your booking. The size is 45cmx36cmx20cm and that must include all wheels and handles.

With a bit of clever packing (see my Packing Hacks) that’s easily enough for a trip that is 3-5 days long.

That means no need to pay luggage fees and no need to hang around the baggage carousel when you reach your destination either – sweet!

My favourite under-seat case is made by Aerolite. It’s soft-sided, with a long handle and 4 wheels.

The handle retracts and has a zipped cover to ensure it’s safe when stowed.

There are pockets on the sides and on the front. These make it easy to grab any essentials easily when travelling through the airport, or when you are in flight.

If you are looking for an affordable underseat case that will pay for itself in a couple of trips this is the option for you.

flight bag product 1

Travel Essentials

2. Flight Bag

For longer trips where luggage is checked in an underseat bag is a great option when flying. It means that all your essential items are easily at hand during the flight. There is no stressing about finding overhead locker space, and no worrying that the thing you need is in the overhead locker when the seatbelt sign is on.

As a nervous flyer having my bag of things nearby helps to keep my calm during a flight.

There are plenty of good under-seat bags available and most of them have a strap so that they can attach to the handle of your main suitcase for easy transporting around the airport buildings.

You might also like my detailed review of this flight bag

Travel Essentials

3. Medium Sized Case for Longer Trips

For some trips a medium-sized case is essential. A hard-sided case is also essential if you want to ensure your clothes and belongings arrive in one piece. They will also protect your luggage from the rain which can quickly soak your clothes if it is heavy and your case is exposed to the elements on the luggage truck.

Lightweight cases are great, and again 4 wheels will make it easier to move around. A zipped compartment will make it easier to store clothes, either in packing cubes or rolled, as you will be able to get more clothes in that way.

packing cube set product

Travel Essentials

4. Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are a bit of a game changer when it comes to travelling. They enable you to pack clothes more easily and also group items together so you can quickly find the items you need. For example, you pack underwear in one cube, daywear in another, and evening in another.

Packing cubes also help to keep your clothes looking better – along with some careful folding. This means there is less chance of clothes getting creased. This can be especially important if you travelling for work purposes.

Packing cubes also make unpacking really easy when you arrive somewhere. There is no need to rummage through the whole case to find something – simply pop the cubes out and you have all your clothes at hand.

You might also like my detailed review of these packing cubes

hanging wash bag product

Travel Essentials

5. Hanging Washbag

If you are travelling with packed luggage then you might be planning to take some toiletries of your own. A hanging washbag is a great travel essential as it means you can get to all your toiletries and keep them together without having to pack and unpack them.

It also means that when the housekeepers are cleaning the bathrooms there is less chance of your toothbrush getting covered in chemicals.

A hanging washbag also saves time as there is no need to pack it up when you leave and risk missing something you might need. You simply hang it up on a hook or a rail and keep everything together.

The best type of hanging washbag has a zip to keep everything securely inside the washbag when you are travelling.

You might like my detailed review of this hanging wash bag

power cable product

Travel Essentials

6. Extra Long Power Cable

Unfortunately, not every hotel room has a power socket near the bed and sometimes they can be in crazy locations.

Given our phones are now our alarm clocks, sleep apps and much more we need to keep them close by. A super long power cable means that no matter where the power socket in the room is the chances are your phone will end up close to your bed.

This is one of those key travel essentials for anyone that needs their phone for being on call, like me when I am working as a Tour Manager, or needs their phone for their alarm in the morning.

Check out my review about why this power cable is always in my travel gear or just click below to buy it now.

Travel Essentials

7. First Aid Supplies

An important travel essential is always to have some basic first aid and pain relief medication when travelling. Some countries may advise specific things to take such as Azerbaijan which advises taking a full first aid kit, so this is always worth checking.

Wherever you are travelling taking some basics such as plasters, painkillers, sterile wipes and wound dressings is a good idea. It can sometimes be difficult to get these supplies when travelling, particularly if there is a language barrier.

Travel Essentials

8. Medicines in Original Boxes

If you take prescription medication which you will be taking when you travel then a travel essential is to take the box, ideally with the information booklet still inside. This is because the booklet and box list the ingredients of the medicine. In different countries, medicines can have different names so a way for doctors to find out what the medicine is, and what it is used for, is to look at the ingredients.

If you are not able to take the information leaflet and boxes at least take pictures of them so that in the case of any medical problems the doctors treating you will be able to understand what medication you are taking.

This is also important if you run out of medication and need to get more for any reason. The process for getting medication varies in different countries but having the original boxes and the booklet will make things much easier.

Travel Essentials

9. Sleeping Tablets

This tip was given to me by a doctor that I travelled with. She recommended taking a sleeping tablet on the 1st and 2nd nights of any new trip so that you got accustomed to the new sleeping regime more quickly.

Often when working as a Tour Manager I have found it difficult to sleep on the first night of the tour, and definitely the night before a tour. This can often mean that after a few days, tiredness becomes a big issue.

This has also been an issue with guests travelling to tours on long-haul flights and then having to adjust quickly to the new time zones. I have seen travellers really be affected by lack of sleep.

Personally, I would recommend trying the sleep aids that you can get from the chemist rather than anything on prescription. There is less risk of relying on them and it becoming an issue in the future, plus if there is a serious sleep problem you can always visit a doctor if needed.

I find taking them for one or two nights really helps me get a good start to a trip and helps me get the most out of my travels.

Travel Essentials

10. Good Travel Insurance

I really don’t see why anyone would take the risk of travelling without travel insurance – it simply isn’t worth the risk. Having seen first-hand what happens when things go wrong, which I have seen in countries all over the world, I know the benefit of having travel insurance.

It’s one of my absolute travel essentials, I simply wouldn’t travel without it. Travel insurance is available as single trip cover or there are annual travel or year-long travel insurance policies. These cover multiple trips and can cover parts of the world, or all of the world depending on your travel requirements.

If you are travelling on an organised tour you may want to consider taking the holiday company travel insurance, even if you have your own policy.

Check out my guide to annual travel insurance, including how to make sure it pays out when you need it to. It’s based on the company I use for my travel insurance which I have been with for years. I have a pre-existing health condition and the cost for 1 year’s insurance is £60 for worldwide cover.

If you want a quick quote now head directly to the company I use for my insurance, Coverwise.

book light product

Travel Essentials

11. Book Light for Travelling

If you are unable to sleep on a plane then this is one of those travel essentials that will ensure you don’t disturb all those around you.

Having been on an overnight flight and pretty much the only person who was awake (apart from the crew and pilots I hope!) – I found having the overhead light on disturbed others around me. Taking a little clip on reading light meant I could read without disturbing them.

This travel essential is also handy for any hotels where the bedside reading lights are a bit low, making it difficult to read in bed. Simply clip your reading light onto your book and you are good to go.

Check out my review of this book light or just click below to buy it on Amazon

silicone ear plugs image

Travel Essentials

12. Silicone Ear Plugs

Travelling can be really noisy and hotels can be really noisy too. That’s why earplugs for travelling are another one of my absolute travel essentials.

They ensure that no matter where my room is I can drift off to sleep without being disturbed by noises from the corridor, or from around the hotel.

Ear plugs also make sleeping with the air conditioning or fan on much easier as there is no noise disturbance.

Having tried lots of earplugs when travelling I now travel with a selection. I have foam earplugs for when there is little noise disturbance, and silicone ones when it is quite noisy. These are one of my absolute travel essentials – I don’t stay anywhere without them.

Check out my post about silicone ear plugs which includes a video or just click below to buy them directly on Amazon.

earbuds product

Travel Essentials

13. Earbuds

If you have ever travelled on a long haul flight then you will have no doubt experienced the constant noise of the plane. It is really quite loud!

Earbuds are a great travel essential because they reduce the outside noise interference to make whatever you are listening to sound much crisper and clearer.

They are also much easier to travel with than headphones.

Check out my review of these earbuds which includes a video or just click below to buy them directly on Amazon.

wired earphones product

Travel Essentials

14. Wired Earphones

For shorter trips and journeys wired earphones are really handy. Some flights, especially on smaller planes, don’t allow the use on Bluetooth devices during flights, and this can include Bluetooth earbuds and headphones.

Sometimes on difficult landings, there may be restrictions on the use of tablets and Bluetooth on larger planes so wired earphones come in really handy also.

There is also the advantage that they don’t need charging so you never have to worry about the battery level and if you do lose them they are much cheaper to replace.

Check out my post about these wired earphones or just click below to buy them directly on Amazon.

travel document holder product

Travel Essentials

15. Travel Document Holder

A travel document holder is one of those travel essentials that helps you keep everything together in one place, including your passport.

Generally, I just use a travel wallet for travelling through airports so I know where my passport, any tickets and cards are.

Using a travel document holder can reduce anxiety when searching for things at the airport, and airports are stressful enough as it is!

Check out my review about this travel document holder or just click below to buy directly on Amazon.

travel fan product

Travel Essentials

16. Travel Fan

Sometimes it can get quite hot when travelling. Waiting on a plane or being on a hot bus can make travelling uncomfortable.

A small rechargeable fan can be a great way to keep cool and avoid getting overheated or feeling sick when travelling.

This tiny fan takes up hardly any space, it operates for a long time on one charge and it has two power speeds.

Check out my post about why this travel fan is one of my travel essentials or just click below to buy it directly on Amazon.

Travel Essentials

17. Power Bank

We rely so much on our gadgets now when we travel so it can be difficult to manage if the battery goes flat on our phone for example. Of course, they often go flat at the worst possible time. Taking a battery power bank means that there is a charge available if you need it or until you find the next power circuit.

Just be mindful of airline requirements. If battery packs have lithium in them some airlines won’t allow them in hand luggage so this is always worth checking.

A battery power bank is one of those travel essentials that you won’t generally need but when you do you will really need it!

travel adapter product

Travel Essentials

18. Travel Adapter

In different countries, power sockets are different making power socket converters one of the key travel essentials you are likely to need if going overseas.

Different countries have different sockets so check what you need before you travel. If you do happen to forget many hotels will often have spare adapters to lend guests, although they may require you to pay a deposit.

Check out my review of this great travel adapter which also has 4 USB connections or just click below to buy it directly on Amazon.

ginger sweets product `1

Travel Essentials

19. Ginger Sweets

If you suffer from travel sickness, like I have done all my life, then you know how uncomfortable travel sickness can be.

Ginger sweets are a great option for keeping low level travel sickness at bay, while ginger tablets can help if you know you are going to be travelling on a boat for example and it’s likely to be a bit bumpy.

Be careful with ginger sweets – if you get really strong ones they can have the opposite effect and actually make you feel sick. These are the ones I recommend.

Check out my post about these ginger sweets and why I like them or just click below to buy them directly on Amazon.

ginger tablets product

Travel Essentials

20. Ginger Tablets

Ginger tablets are really helpful when it comes to dealing with nausea. They don’t have some of the side effects of travel sickness tablets which can often result in a feeling of sickness.

Check out my review of these ginger tablets and why I use them or just click below to buy them directly on Amazon.

travel probiotic product

Travel Essentials

21. Probiotics

Travelling is all about trying different foods and of course with that comes different methods of cooking and differing hygiene levels depending where you are travelling to.

Generally, when I am travelling it is for work and it’s important that I am fit and healthy otherwise I can’t do my job. Thankfully I have a good constitution but for countries where food hygiene might leave a bit to be desired, I take travel probiotics.

These have really helped me avoid upset stomachs and other issues caused by food when travelling and they are now one of my travel essentials for going to places where there might be a risk of food-related issues.

Click below to buy the probiotics I use on Amazon.

Travel Essentials

22. AroundMe App

Do you often get somewhere and wonder where the nearest ATM, supermarket, coffee shop or restaurant is?

AroundMe is a great travel app that has lots of information about what is nearby based on your location. It covers all the important food related options such as supermarkets, coffee shops and restaurants but also cinemas, theatres as well as banks and ATMs.

Restaurants and cafes often include links to reviews so you can check the places out before you visit. It’s a great app to help you find something to do or eat when you are travelling.

The free version has ads but these are not intrusive so it’s worth downloading and trying out for your next trip.

Travel Essentials

23. Calm Sleep App

If you have trouble falling asleep then Calm is a great sleep app. It’s basically grown up bedtime stories, often told by famous voices such as Cillian Murphy (Peaky Blinders!).

For travellers, there are lots of travel related stories too including railway journeys, and explorations of interesting and famous places – everything from a cruise down the Nile to a journey in the Scottish Highlands.

That’s why the Calm Sleep app is a great app for travellers and for travelling. It is wonderful to drift off to sleep thinking of new adventures or enjoying memories of places that you have already visited.

Calm isn’t just a sleep app, there are meditations, breathing and stretching exercises plus masterclasses to help you with all aspects of your life.

£39.99 might seem like a lot to pay for an app but it’s well worth it if you plan to use it regularly.

Check out my detailed review of the Calm Sleep App and why it is particularly great for travellers.

sleep mask product

Travel Essentials

24. Sleep Mask

Why do hotels often have the flimsiest of curtains or curtains that are so far away from the window that lots of light comes in around them, or curtains that don’t join up?

Whatever the reason it can be difficult when travelling to make the bedroom dark enough for sleeping, or perhaps as dark as you are used to at home.

A sleep mask is a great way to get a better sleep when travelling, especially if you are travelling somewhere where it is lighter later in the evenings for example.

A sleep mask is also handy for naps during the day and if you are lucky enough to be able to sleep on a plane, bus or another form of transport.

Over my 36 years of travelling, I have tried so many sleep masks including silk ones, cooling ones, Bluetooth speakers etc.

Thankfully I recently found the best sleep mask I have ever tried and it is now one of my absolute travel essentials because it is just so good.

Not only is it comfortable in whichever position you sleep in, but it’s also not heavy on the eyes and it has an adjustable noseband which ensures light doesn’t seep in under the eye mask. This simple addition makes all the difference and I can pretty much now sleep in daylight conditions as a result.

This sleep mask comes with a little travel case just to keep it clean and it takes up hardly any space either.

Check out my review of this really great sleep mask. or just click below to buy directly on Amazon.

Travel Essentials

25. Google Translate App

Languages can often be a barrier when travelling but thanks to Google Translate that can be less of a problem now than it used to be.

There are lots of languages available in this app which enable you to put in a word or phrase and translate it into another language.

You can then have this word or phrase spoken or just read it out. I really like using this app to learn and practise a few words before travelling somewhere with the spoken option helping me to get the pronunciation right.

A really handy feature of this app is the ability to download the language for offline use, so you can continue to translate when you don’t have a phone signal.

It’s free to use and a very handy travel essential, even if just for menu items and signs.

Travel Essentials

26. Ticketless Travel

Ticketless travel can make travelling much easier, no more fumbling around trying to find actual tickets!

One of the things I like about ticketless flight apps, particularly EasyJet, is that you get the gate notification sent through to your phone. You are also notified of any delays which makes managing your time at the airport a little bit easier.

The only downside is remembering to turn the brightness up on your phone to scan the ticket and then turn it back down again so you don’t waste all the battery.

It also makes one less thing to carry!

Travel Essentials

27. Analogue Entertainment for Flights

Flying can be tough at the best of times and on short and mid-haul flights there are often no seat-back entertainment systems. While we generally now download things to watch on a plane and take our own entertainment for these flights it’s always a good plan to have an analogue backup.

Sometimes if planes have to make instrument landings they make everyone turn off all electronic devices. If you are a nervous flyer, like me, this can make things quite difficult. Having something to focus on like a magazine or book can help.

On long-haul flights there can also be problems with the onboard seat entertainment systems which can then make the flight time more difficult to deal with.

Something like a book or magazine is also good in case of any delays or unexpected hold-ups.

Travel Essentials

28. Snacks

Travelling with a snack and drink means you can manage in case of any unexpected delays or issues. Sometimes flights run out of food and drink, or perhaps a delay earlier in the day means they haven’t been able to pick up supplies.

Whatever the issue having a little something to eat and drink can help you cope a little better with any unexpected issues when travelling. It will certainly help prevent you from becoming hangry which isn’t much fun!

Travel Essentials

29. Chewing Gum for Flights

Although planes are pressurised there are still changes in air pressure which can affect your eardrums. Some people seem to be affected more than others. Yawning can help by evening out the pressure in your ears.

Chewing gum also helps to stop your ears from hurting and it has the added bonus of helping to keep you calmer which is great if you are a nervous flyer.

Click below to buy directly on Amazon.

Travel Essentials

30. Airport Lounge Access

Airports can be noisy and overwhelming places, made worse at peak times and if there are delays. An airport lounge offers a quieter environment, with good WIFI, comfier seats and unlimited snacks and drinks (there are sometimes extra charges for alcohol).

For those of us that are nervous flyers an airport lounge turns the airport experience into a more relaxing start to the flight. It’s harder to worry about the flight when you are enjoying cakes and treats!

There are plenty of cheap airport lounge options for one off usage and there are also airport lounge membership schemes if you are planning on using lounges regularly.

For my list of travel essentials, I wanted to focus on the things that make the most difference to people’s travel experiences.

Check out Cheap Airport Lounges post to find the cheapest way for you to access an airport lounge.

If you plan to use lounges regularly then check out my Airport Lounge Membership Comparison and see which is the best membership scheme for you.

Find All my Travel Essentials Posts Here

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Travel More and Spend Less – articles, guides, and hacks to help you squeeze the most from your travel budget

Annual Travel Insurance – all you need to know about this travel essential

Airport Lounges – Everything you need to know including lots about Priority Pass

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About Melanie – background and travel experience

About the Professional Traveller – what this website is all about and why it was set up

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