Top 10 travel essentials

While I was thinking of my top 10 travel essentials, I had to consider what my criteria were. I am sure this can change over time, but the following 10 travel items had to be – practical, used every day and easily fit inside a suitcase or backpack.  Every item below has been used by us over the last year  two  FOUR years, EVERY SINGLE DAY.

There is only one thing I would like to add to this list, which we have not had but I would love to try, is an eReader. Particularly the Kindle Paperwhite. I have read so much about them and think that they would be a great way to take our books with us. I have managed to download books onto my phone, however my screen is quite small and a dedicated eReader would be an excellent way to allow us to continue to read, wherever we are!

Packing Cubes

This has to be my Number 1 travel essential. I don’t know where we would be without my packing cubes. These have saved us so much time and expense. They have kept our packing to a minimum as we have travelled the world. We created a bit of a rule, if it can’t fit in the cube it can’t come.  Which amazingly has not stopped quite a few things being crammed into our two suitcases!

The ingenious part of these gadgets is not only that they make packing a breeze but they keep everything organized once you arrive at your destination. They are easy to unpack and place everyone’s ‘clothes’ (crap) into their own spaces.  I also discovered that they helped when my suitcase was overweight, which happened on a flight from Rome to the UK, I was able to easily take out one packing cube and carry it on the plane as ‘hand luggage’ without facing excess baggage fees.  I must admit that this confuses me because it is not as though suddenly there is less weight going onto the plane!! Being over by less than 2kg seems quite ridiculous to ask for an extra 40 Euros.

I have a review of different types of packing cubes here so you can choose your favorite based on functionality and price.

Travel Adaptors

Having traveled to so many different countries, this is an essential piece of travel kit for us.  With so many different devices that require charging, it has been essential to have 2 of these!

We didn’t want to have to carry various adaptors so we focussed on finding adaptors that were a combination. This was the best.

Headphones for kids and adults

We each have a set of headphones.  The kids have some earbuds (noise limited) which we use quite often when we are driving long distances so  they can listen to audio books.  My husband has a pair of earbuds that he likes to use to listen to sleep meditations. And I have a pair of noise canceling headphones.

I love them and they are perfect on the plane and in noisy airports and I have found them invaluable when I need some peace away from the kids without having to remove myself physically. If I close my eyes I can pretend I am asleep!!


Battery Pack

We have two of these, one of which is really light and transportable and another more heavy duty and faster battery pack.  The light one is easy to take around in a jacket or pocket in case the phone dies! However the big bomber is good to take on longer trips – planes, trains and buses as it holds a longer charge and can fully charge any phone at least 4 times.

Travel Wallet (for passports – RFID blocking)

We have a leather travel wallet which can hold all of our passports. 8 in total! (dual citizens).  It is also great for holding boarding passes, customs forms and other important documents such as our drivers licenses.  There are a variety you can choose from, but we have much preferred to have a leather one which has lasted us many years.

Day Pack

Daypacks are invaluable. We did start with three day packs. One each for the kids and one for us. But we quickly realized this was not practical. It created more work for me and I was constantly checking that the kids had not left their packs anywhere, which of course happened when we were in Rome and there was next to no chance of ever getting it back.

We have one day pack. This is usually carried about by our son as he wants to be the pack horse (his words not ours!). He never takes it off and because it usually only contains water and a few other necessities (scarf, hats, sunscreen, camera) it is not too heavy. As we have said above carrying water is a necessity. It reduces waste and we can refill it in most places. If we were traveling in the countries that might require a water filter then I would have a water bottle with a life filter attached. Brilliant invention, should probably add it to the list!

HDMI Cable and/or Mini Display Port

You say what?! Having both a Mac and a regular laptop has meant that we need both the HDMI Cable and the Mini Display Port.

An HDMI cable has been invaluable for us. We can connect to any TV and play movies watch tv shows and live stream BBC news. Without the HDMI cable we have to watch ceaseless reruns of Easter European sitcoms and have no idea as to what is going on!!

Yes, in an ideal world I would love to say that we don’t watch television, but TV is a savior when Hubs and I just need 5 mins to ourselves. Or a moment to think – or in fact not to think. There is nothing quite like watching Death in Paradise and having a competition to figure out who the killer is!

We also have a mini display port which we have to use to connect the Mac to the TV.  For us this has made it so simple to watch videos, YouTube and look at photos on a much larger screen.

Water Bottles – Swell/Earth/Sigg

We drink a lot of water – good eggs. And rather than constantly buying water while we are out it is easy to take a water bottle. There are two reasons this is great for us – One it beats the ‘I’m thirsty’ cry before it begins AND we can do a teensy bit towards reducing our consumption of plastics.  With so many places inundated with plastic and particularly plastic water bottles it is just a small step that we can take to helping our environment.

We chose these water bottles because they are beautiful, practical and useful – hmmm quite like me really… but seriously if it doesn’t bring you joy then whats the point?!

So rather than buying plastic water bottles, we have ensured that we have a water bottle wherever we go.


Panasonic Lumix Camera

Its not a DSLR but it is a beauty. My favourite part is that no matter how many times I drop this baby she doesn’t quit on me! I am a klutz and this was one of the most important features I was looking for. As well as being able to take great photos – it is me proof! But really this camera is also water proof so my trip to SE Asia and snorkeling and scuba diving can be captured in beautiful colour!


Suitcases! We are really pretty good with suitcase travel.

In the old days I had a brilliant backpack. I loved it, but it got lost somewhere over the last 20ish years! So now traveling with the kids and hubs has meant a slight shift for me.  Also my shoulders are not up for hoisting backpacks around. So we have the below suitcases which have been brilliant. They have lasted our first full year of travel without a hitch. The kids are happy to push them about hotels and down roads and we have been able to drag them up stairs.

My only suggestion get the suitcases with double wheels. These are sturdier and support a little more weight. We have not had any issues with the single wheel, but I can see the benefit in double wheels.  The hardshell on these suitcases ensures that everything inside is protected, so no broken bottles or other things.

I also particularly like the compression zip which goes the entire way around the suitcase. This has allowed us to load them up and then be able to make our enormous suitcase a little more slender!   Combined with packing cubes these really are perfect.

They are both fitted with TSA approved locks which means that you can lock them (create your own code) and if necessary the airport security can check the contents if something looks suspicious!


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