20 essential travel items to have a stress-free holiday


Whether you’re going on a two-week holiday or the adventure of a lifetime, there’s always certain items you’ll need to take with you.

Roll back 100 years and I’m sure the list would have included things like a compass or paper map to help you plan your journey overland.

Thankfully things have now changed for the better, I’ve put together a list of essential travel items…

Top 20 Essential Travel Items

1.  Travel Insurance

Probably the single most essential thing you can get for a trip abroad will be insurance. You have no idea what might happen when you’re away, therefore simply protect yourself by taking out single trip or annual travel insurance.

2. Smart phone

Although on holiday you might be looking to escape the “Digital realm” I always take my phone with me, just in case. Also it’s fantastic for maps and helping guide you through places you’ve never been to before. One app I’ve been using recently is Inkly, it allows you to use one of your photos to create a postcard. In some countries where tourism isn’t popular this is an awesome app to have for a traveller.

Thanks to Inkly I sent a postcard home from Bosnia that was personalised and arrived really quickly!
Thanks to Inkly I sent a postcard home from Bosnia that was personalised and arrived really quickly!

3. Money

Often described as Monopoly money, a currency that is not your usual payment method can seem alien to you at first but you’ll get used to it. I often find using XE as an app on my phone saves me being taken for a ride as it works offline too.

4. Wet wipes

If you are going to a part of the world that is off-the-beaten track trust me you’ll thank me for taking wet wipes, a toilet might not be what you are used to! Therefore wet wipes will become your best friend.

5. Medicine/ Vaccinations

In many parts of the world you won’t find the same medication that you get at home, therefore it’s essential to take what you might need with you. I always take anti-histamines, rehydration salts, flu or cold solutions (damn AC!) and diarrhoea tablets.

As for getting vaccinated, check the requirements at least six weeks prior to your trip. It’s essential that you know of any tropical diseases or potential life-threatening bugs in operation where you’re going to be visiting.

6. Camera

In a digital age some travellers have abandoned the camera altogether, although yes it’s true you can’t upload your photos straight to Instagram but you do get a HD finish. Personally I’d also rather hand my camera over to someone than my phone if I’m getting someone to take a photo.

7. Passport

It might sound stupid saying you’ll need your passport as an essential travel item to go abroad, but many people really are quite dumb when it comes to remembering to renew or even check before a trip if their current passport is still valid.

Also if you have no space left, then you’ll also need a new passport.

8. Visas

You’d be amazed that some people still believe they can enter every country without needing a visa! If you’re going to somewhere far-flung or off-the-beaten track it’s worth being organised and applying for your visa early.

If you’re in the UK most embassies are based in London, some require interviews, others make you go through hoops during the application process. Find out what happened when I visited the Turkmenistan embassy in London. 


9. Shoes

Shoes, an essential item? Duh!

No seriously, I mean a comfortable pair that you’ve worn several times and know won’t kill your feet. When I visited Portugal for a long weekend I wore brand new trainers which killed my feet and I could barely walk so trust me test them before you take them.

10. Multi-socket plug

So you only take one adapter but have multiple things to charge? Argh disaster.

No, simply just take a multi-socket power plug and you can charge everything at once, just don’t overload it and you’ll be fine.

11. Travel adapter

If you’ve got your multi-socket adapter, don’t forget your travel plug for the country you’ll be heading to. Some countries have their own style plugs so check before you purchase.

12. Clothing

Now this is a tough one, depending on the location you may decide to take nothing with as your destination might be a shopping hub. However if it’s an adventure then that’s a different story and you’ll need to take items whatever the weather.

If you’re visiting a conservative religious countries such as Iran, women are expected to wear a head scarf at all times and men are banned from wearing shorts. Do your homework and check before you offend.

13. Money pouch

Yes I sound like my granddad, but if you are staying in a hostel or somewhere with no lock on your door you are going to have to hide your money and passport where no-one will find them. A travel/money pouch can be kept on you at all times and avoid an awkward visit to an embassy for help if the worst happens.

14. Snacks

Heading to Scandinavia? Take all your own food or you’ll be bankrupt by the time you come home.

You may want some home comforts to take with you, but don’t forget when you visit a county always try to check out a local supermarket as you never know what hidden gems of mistranslated items you might find.

Visit local supermarkets - you never know what you might find!!
Visit local supermarkets – you never know what you might find!!

15. Pillow

Long-haul flight? You’ll need a comfy pillow of your own, don’t rely on the one your airline gives you and don’t get me started on how they don’t wash them!

16. Luggage

Are you a top-loader or wheelie-style? Everyone has their own preference, you might be going backpacking and therefore a top-loader would be the quickest and easiest way to take things with you.

17. Hand sanitiser

Have you ever wondered just how many people might have touched those torn, tatty bank notes you’ve just acquired on arrival at the airport? According to a recent survey a UK £20 note has been used by 2,300 people in its lifespan…!! (Source: Metro) My advice is always have some handy sanitiser for use after touching money, before eating food or going to the lovely long-drop toilets still frequented in many countries around the world.

18. Credit Cards

Although this is an odd addition to my top 20 essential items, you never know when you might need them. I once got stuck in Indonesia with no money whatsoever and couldn’t leave the country until I’d paid my departure tax (yes, that was in my early adventure years) so take them just as a back up remembering that some countries are cash-only and a few will run a mile if you flash them an American Express card in fear.

19. Quick drying towel

If you are travelling everyday you won’t want a damp thick smelly towel filling your luggage, a microfibre towel is light and doesn’t take up much space plus it dries incredibly quickly.

20. Toilet roll

Believe it or not some places won’t have any for you, therefore take it with you!

Do you agree? 

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3 thoughts on “20 essential travel items to have a stress-free holiday

  1. I’d recommend having US$100 in $10 notes for the last minute things. I was departing from Montego Bay about 20 years ago, and the departure tax was not included in any air ticket – there were passengers in tears because the airport would’t accept card payments – undoubtedly changed since then, but US$ can be an international backup.

  2. I also scan all my documents and keep photocopies some place safe in my luggage. I sarong is also a must – can be used as a pillow, a blanket for long bus rides, a scarf, a skirt, an eye mask or a shwly when visited temples etc. 🙂

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