Traveling can be an exciting but also stressful endeavor. You’ll be away from home and all of your belongings for a few days. It’s easy to leave quickly and forget to grab something once you’re packed and feel ready to start having fun. Make sure you’ve accounted for these eight essentials before hitting the road on your next journey.
Before you leave, you should take care to pack the medical supplies you’ll need for the trip. This includes daily and as-needed medications, emergency treatments (like an EpiPen for allergic reactions or convenient emergency contraception), and first aid. Without a medical kit, you might be caught in an unfamiliar environment at a moment when you need it most. In case of an unexpected medical emergency, having one on hand can be a literal life-saver.
For the sake of saving space, there are numerous options for travel-sized, first-aid kits. Consider keeping one on hand all the time so you can be prepared for a minor emergency. It will also be easier to remember when packing, and then you can simply throw it in your bag.
2. Personal Hygiene Products
During your preparations to leave, your personal hygiene products can be easy to leave behind. Be sure to think through your daily routine so you have everything including toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, soap, and other toiletries. Although you can always pick some up later, you might not be able to find exactly what you need. Try going through your bathroom cabinets and making a packing list of what you need.
Many of these products are small enough to travel with. Still, you can prepare in advance by finding travel-sized versions of the products that are not. You can keep them in your house for when you travel so you won’t be taken off guard when leaving.
3. Hand Sanitizer or Wipes
For the sake of hygiene while on the go, a small bottle of hand sanitizer or pack of wipes can be useful. In case of any spills, you can clean them up before they get worse. If you can’t get to a handwashing station, a squeeze of sanitizer can suffice until you find a sink. Any situation in which you get dirty will be less messy when you can clean up quickly.
If your trip involves hiking, for example, wipes provide a convenient solution for a muddy slip-and-fall. A sunny day won’t have to be ruined by melted ice cream all over your hands. And if you have to fill your gas tank, using hand sanitizer afterward can prevent the spread of germs. In many different situations, wipes and sanitizer will have your back.
4. Multiple Payment Methods
As you head out for your trip, take note of the different payment methods you have in your wallet. If you are traveling within your country, make sure you stop by the bank to withdraw some cash. If you are traveling internationally, try to exchange for some currency in advance or at the destination when you arrive. Keep cash on hand to use if you’re ever in a logistical bind or lose another payment method.
Thankfully, most banks will allow you to use your credit card in other countries, but often with a tacked-on fee. While some plans require no fee, making purchases of any kind will naturally be easier and cheaper with cash.
This point also seems obvious, but leaving your ID at home is an easy mistake to make in a rush. A passport is required if you’re traveling internationally, and it can be easy to forget packing it. Try to keep it in a consistent, visible place in your home so you always have access to it. If you plan to travel domestically, your driver’s license should suffice. Check your wallet or bag to make sure you have one or the other.
In the case of an emergency, having your ID on hand can help you find your way to somewhere safe. It’s also recommended that you bring your state ID alongside your passport when traveling internationally. This way, you can keep the latter secured away wherever you are.
6. Reusable Water Bottle
It’s surprisingly easy to forget how accessible clean water is during your day-to-day life. It makes sense that carrying a water bottle on your person isn’t a priority. But during the process of travel, seeking out hydration can slip your mind. A reusable water bottle will make it much easier to stay healthy and safe. It will also provide the added bonus of saving you money (and plastic waste) on single-use water bottles.
Regular-sized liquids aren’t allowed through airport security, so you’ll have to empty it before entering the secured area of the airport. If you’ve packed efficiently, you can even use the empty bottle to store more items inside it like travel-sized toiletries. Once you clear security, most airports provide water fountains at which you can refill your bottle before a flight.
7. Charging Cables
Charging cables are ubiquitous in daily life, and it can be easy in a rush to take one for granted. Some people often keep them plugged into vehicles or at-home charging stations at all times. Because of this, you might brush past these places without grabbing a cable for the road. Then you may get caught with a low battery percentage. Check-in on your cable before you head out!
Similarly, it might be worth considering purchasing a portable phone charger that you keep in your luggage. With one, you won’t have to be plugged into a wall to keep your device charged. This is, of course, just another thing to remember. Be sure to keep it around your cables so you remember everything when it comes time to travel.
8. Backup Clothing
Clothing choice requires very little consideration in your home city because you’re familiar with the weather. But before any vacation, it’s important to check in on the current and predicted weather of where you’re going. Regardless of what it might be like at home, you’ll want to bring the appropriate clothes for changing weather conditions. It won’t do you any good to get caught in the rain without a jacket!
This also applies to the general climate and geography of the area. How cold or warm can it get? A region on the water will tend to be more windy than one that is not. A tropical destination might be more humid and require lighter clothing. You’ll thank yourself for grabbing a windbreaker or cotton shorts on the way out the door.
Traveling often includes strict time frames, schedules, and a measure of novelty. If you miss something important while packing, don’t beat yourself up over it. It happens to the best of us when we’ve got somewhere exciting to go. Refer to this list for a quick rundown and you’ll be ready to take on your journey with confidence.