My Top 20 List of ‘Must Have’ Travel Products
We’ve all done it. Packed way too much or packed way too little. Before I even start to pack for a trip, I list my essential items, such as photo identification, keys, phone and charger, medications. By the way, these should ALWAYS be in your purse or backpack (and make sure your backpack is small enough that there’s no chance of an airline requiring you to check it at the last minute if overhead space is full. Anything and everything else can usually be purchased if you and your luggage are separated.
Once I ensure that I have my essentials in hand, then comes the fun part…actually packing. No, I’m kidding. Packing isn’t the fun part. The trip is the fun part!
These are my favorite “must have” travel products that I don’t leave home without, but of course, your mileage may vary. I always love to try new products and I’ll update this list whenever I come across something great. And hey, this post contains affiliate links because baby needs a new pair of shoes.
Do you have favorite travel products that you can’t live without? Pretty please, let me know in the comments!
Food and Snacks
It’s always a smart idea to carry food when you travel. If you travel often enough, you will eventually encounter flight delays, missed flights, and missed meals. Packing your own fuel for the road is particularly important if you have dietary restrictions or are committing to healthy eating on the go. The number one issue I have with travel food is that I end up eating too many carbs and not enough vegetables. Try to order a salad at each meal (if not for the meal, at least with the meal). And always pack more food than you think you’ll need.
1. Protein Bars
I don’t do dairy. Back in my fitness obsessed days, I consumed whey and casein protein powder on a daily basis and actually ate so much of it that I’m now intolerant to dairy. Orgain Organic Protein products actually taste good and fit my dietary restrictions. They are vegan, plant based, and gluten free.
I also keep the Orgain Organic Protein Powder on hand in my pantry at home for breakfasts as I tend to drink coffee and forget to eat in the morning. (Trust me, it’s the ONLY time in my life I forget to eat.) Protein powder mixed with water, oats and nut butter makes a great protein ball that you can eat on the plane too.
Fat, protein and deliciousness. I pack unsalted nuts for when I’m trying to limit the salt around flying days to reduce puffiness and potential swelling. Unsalted nuts are frankly NOT delicious and reduce the temptation to overeat. A bag of raw almonds is great to have on hand in airports and for breakfasts in hotel rooms before your actual meal. I also pack salted peanuts and Sahale Snacks are for when I want something slightly more decadent.
Whatever you bring, make sure it has protein to satiate your appetite and help steer you clear of excess carbs
Skin Care, Cosmetics and Beauty Products
Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away, I did some acting and modeling. I’m turning 40 (and have never been happier by the way) and my skin needs extra attention, particularly hydration without clogging pores. Travel takes a toll on your skin.
By the third night of any trip, my skin and particularly my pores need some deeper attention. I pack pre-moistened cleansing cloths to use during the flight, a travel size cleanser for the trip, a combo sunscreen/moisturizing makeup and a heavy duty moisturizer for the night.
3. Biore Strips
After a day or two on the road (and I have zero proof, but I think the air pressure of flight makes my pores go nuts), I take a hot shower at night to open up the pores and help me sleep and use a Biore Strip. (Is this TMI? Ah well, I’ve told you about my clogged pores so now you’re in my inner circle of trust.)
4. Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Hydrating Treatment Mask
I just cannot get enough of Paula’s Choice Brand. Paula is the author of “Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me” and “The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here” as well as the founder of Paula’s Choice. The ingredients are safe, effective and NOT tested on animals.
I’m prone to dry skin and I just tried a sample size of the Skin Recovery Hydrating Treatment Mask (I got three uses from one sample packet) and LOVED it. The full bottle size is 4 oz, so not TSA approved, but you can order sample sizes or squeeze a dime-sized amount into a travel container. It’s just like a thick clear moisturizer and you wash it off in the morning.
5. Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum
This is another product that I love so much that I’m thinking about settling down with it and starting a family. I saw a HUGE improvement in my 40-year old skin with regular use of this serum and the full size packaging still meets TSA requirements as being under 3 oz.
FYI – you can research your own skin care beauty and makeup products at Beautypedia for a rating and reviews on effectiveness, safety, price and whether or not they are animal tested.
5. La Neige Water Sleeping Mask
La Neige has an extensive line of moisturizing products and I’ve loved all the ones that I’ve used. After washing my face with a pre-moistened cleansing cloth on an international flight, I put this on to hydrate during the flight. (I don’t bother with anything that’s not an overnight flight.) As we get closer to landing, I’ll wipe my face again and then freshen up with makeup.
Health and Sleep
It sucks to get sick away from home. From getting terribly ill at the end of a trip to Paris, to trying to ask for hydrogen peroxide to treat swimmer’s ear in Bora Bora, to getting a head cold in Japan, I’ve had my share of germs and have learned to be prepared as much as possible, including boosting my immune system in the weeks before I go. When you travel, your sleep quality and duration is not as good as usual and you’ve been exposed to all kinds of new germs. I’m a firm believer in Shock and Awe approach of using nutritional supplements at the first sign of sickness on a trip.
(And my inner lawyer needs you to know, I’m not a doctor and this isn’t medical advice.)
6. Natural Calm Magnesium Supplement by Natural Vitality
I take this dietary supplement every night whether traveling or not but always when I travel. The convenient little travel packs and pour into your water bottle on the plane (you remembered to pack and fill your water bottle, right?). For long flights, magnesium can relax the muscles, avoiding spasms and leg cramps and generally helping you relax. It can also promote deeper sleep.
(Remember, I’m not a a doctor and have never even played one on TV). The Raspberry-Lemon flavor and Cherry flavor are my favorites and are also sugar-free.
7. Vitamin C
I increase my vitamin C intake when I travel. I like flavored packets because they remind me to drink more water and make tap water taste better. 🙂
Melatonin helps regulate sleep and can help with jet lag. I love how it helps me fall asleep quickly but it can make me groggy the next day, so I take the minimum amount to help me sleep. (When traveling, I take 1 mg – 2 mg) each night right before sleep depending on how different the time zone is. This one is sublingual (under the tongue) which is more convenient on a plane.
I used to go crazy with individual supplements and a high potency vitamin, but now I’ve pared down to just a general whole food based vitamin. Also, eat your vegetables. 😉
10. Sleep Mask
I use a sleep mask on long flights and at night. Total darkness will vastly improve the quality of your sleep and help you regulate to the local time zone. Even the light from your cell phone, clock and coming in from the window can disrupt your sleep patterns. I prefer soft contoured masks that don’t have velcro (or if they do have velcro, I cover the velcro with fabric otherwise it gets tangled in my hair). I own a ridiculous quantity of sleep masks and I lose them frequently when I travel. (Same reason that I don’t buy sunglasses that cost more than $20…eventually, I’ll lose them.)
It’s probably a good to take a probiotic all the time, but I make an effort to take one during traveling for extra immune protection. I love the Garden of Life’s Primal Defense as well as their version that contains soil organisms.
12. Pashminas and Wraps
I never fly without a pashmina, even in summer. Plane temperatures vary and I always want a blanket if I’m trying to sleep. For long flights, I’ll pack two. Throw one around your neck as a scarf to save space in your carry-on. I travel with inexpensive, machine-washable pashminas. They’re going to be touching airplane arm rests and brushing against bathroom stalls at LAX, so make sure you can throw it in the washing machine. Go ahead and wrap up in your pashmina (or travel blanket), put on your eye mask and rock the Unibomber look so you can actually get some sleep on the plane.
13. Compression Socks
I only pack compression socks for international travel, but they make a tremendous difference in comfort. Pack a lot of comfy socks whether you’re traveling internationally or not, especially if you plan on doing a lot of walking.
14. Water Bottle
You can’t bring a bottle of water water through security, so save the landfill from yet another plastic bottle purchased at the airport and bring your own resusable one.
Note: a water bottle is only effective if you fill it up and drink it. 🙂 I tend to forget to fill it, drink too much coffee and generally get hydrated. Don’t be like Allie.
15. Noise Cancelling Headphones
Airplanes are incredibly loud and it’s taxing on your system. A friend of mine is a frequent US-Japan traveler. He told me that his ONE indispensable travel product is his noise cancelling headphones. He swears that they utterly changed his travel experience and he experienced less fatigue. High end headphones can be very expensive but Amazon has a wide variety of price ranges. I always make sure to search by a minimum of 4-star rating. Two other options are simply your earbuds playing ambient music and ear plugs.
16. Neck Pillow
I highly prefer a memory foam neck pillow to one filled with beads. If I’m on a very long flight, I add a second neck pillow. The second one is an inflatable cross body pillow, which I don’t find as comfortable, but it saves so much space, it’s worth it. I also don’t always use the neck pillow for my neck. I tuck it around my waist (like a nursing pillow) to rest my elbow which allows my shoulders to relax and drop into a relaxation. For some reason, sometimes that’s more comfortable to sleep than having the support around my neck. On a very long flight, I’ll use the inflatable pillow across my body and neck for support and occasionally sit on the neck pillow to take pressure off my tailbone. (TMI? Trust me, it makes a huge difference in comfort for a flight over 4 hours.)
17. Amazon Kindle
I left my Kindle in the front seat of my Sydney to San Francisco flight. (Actually, it was my husband’s Kindle as he frequently reminds me.)
I’d like to think that somewhere, someone is reading my library collection getting smarter and more motivated with all those books that I purchased and never got around to reading.
My favorite travel reads include Andy Weir’s novel ‘The Martian” and Jenny Lawson’s memoir “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” which is the kind of funny that will make you snort and guffaw with incredulous laughter.
18. Garmin or Fitbit
I walk a lot when I travel. I like to see the city on foot and watch my step count rise toward 20,000. When we were in Asia, my cousin discovered that the Fitbit replacement cables didn’t fit her American FitBit. If you use a fitness tracking device, don’t forget to pack your changer and of course an power adapter if needed.
I bring a carry on suitcase and a hardback backpack that’s big enough to fit both my ginormous laptop and my medium-sized purse BUT that still fits completely under the seat in front of me. Once I’m situated, I slip off my shoes and use the backpack as a foot rest. #I’mNotSayingI’mAGeniusBut…
I use a Travel/Sports backpack which I also use when snowboarding. It has a ton of pockets, dual water bottle holders and a stiff back. Unfortunately, it’s several years old and apparently not made anymore, but these bags are similar.
20. Travel Blanket
If you’re not using your pashmina, wrap or oversize scarf as a blanket, get one that you can roll. It doubles as a neck support, hip cushion and a blanket. There’s a reason why in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy an intergalactic traveler always needs a towel (AKA travel blanket). Sets are available of sleep masks, blankets and cushion or you can get them individually.