Travel Items Checklist: 9 Things I Never Travel Without

Flight

Are you a frequent traveler? I am. Being an avid traveler, I’ve learned from experience that there are certain things I should always travel with because they make my life so much better. This is a list of my personal travel must-haves; use it as your personal checklist when traveling!

1. Universal Power Adapter

Travel Adapter

Different country clusters use different power socket heads. For example, countries in the European Union use a circle-shaped two-pin plug (see below), while United States uses a rectangular-shaped two-pin plug (see further below). 

Travel Adapter - European Union Plug

Travel Adapter - United States Plug

 

Hence, you need a universal power adapter to use your power chargers in other countries—the adapter makes it possible to connect your electric device to other types of power sockets. You can get such adapters in any D.I.Y. or appliance store.

Here’s a handy chart of plug adapter shapes by country: http://www.europlugs.com/Design_Review_Polices/Plug_Adapter_Country_Chart.htm

2. International Debit Card

Credit/Debit Card

With an international debit card, you can withdraw money at any ATM machine in the world at a nominal fee. (I use the DBS Debit Card powered by Visa which charges $5 SGD for every withdrawal, regardless of the amount.) Not only that, you can use the card just like a credit card, except that the amount is directly deducted from your savings account rather than put on credit.

The nominal withdrawal fee is a huge plus over credit cards where you are subjected to cash advance charges and high interest rates. I was once forced to withdraw money in London using a credit card because I was running low on cash, and was charged an exorbitant fee due to the interest rate! Never again would I withdraw money using my credit card again.

Walk-in to your local bank and ask about international debit cards. I got mine in just five minutes and it made my recent Africa Trip so convenient because I no longer had to worry about ensuring I have enough cash on hand.

3. Ear Plugs

Ear Plugs

When traveling, there are times of long commute (such as on the bus, train, or plane) which are perfect for catching a few winks. However, just because you want to sleep doesn’t mean the environment will be conducive for sleep. I often encounter screaming kids and chatty adults who make it hard to get any rest at all.

My solution? Ear plugs. They may not block out 100% of the noise, but they are the next best thing to sleeping in a noise-free environment.

Check out ear plugs on Amazon:

4. Sleeping Mask

Sleeping Mask

Sleeping masks help you to get a sound sleep in a lit environment). I used to think that they don’t matter; but after using them, I realize that I do get a sound sleep when I have a sleeping mask on.

Some airlines like Qatar actually offer it as part of their in-flight amenities and you can keep that for future use. In any case, you can also buy one at an affordable rate. Check out this Dream Essentials Sweet Dreams Contoured Sleep Mask ($9.95 only) which comes with ear plugs and a carry pouch.

5. Local Currency

Local Currency

No matter how many credit/cards you have, it’s always good to have some local currency on hand. Some shops simply don’t accept cards while some shops may have minimum order amounts before cards can be used. (In Singapore, many shops have minimum orders of $10 or $20 SGD for credit card usage.)

Go to your local money changer and get your money changed before you go. Some changers offer better rates than others, so do your research first if you are planning to change large amounts of money. For those of you in Singapore, Money changes at Mustafa (at Little India MRT) and The Arcade (at Raffles Place MRT) offer pretty good rates.

6. Travel Kits for Toiletries

Miniature Toiletries

Instead of packing and repacking your toiletries like skincare, hair care, and dental items every time you travel, why not have separate travel kits? This means having travel-sized shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, tooth brush, tooth paste, facial foam, and so on all packed in your luggage and ready to go whenever you travel. This way, you no longer have to pack these stuff whenever you travel.

Even if you stay in places where such amenities are provided, it helps to have such toiletries available. For example, there was once I was in a hotel which didn’t provide hair conditioner (weird). I had to go all the way to the mall to get a bottle of conditioner as my hair is quite dry and needs it; otherwise it becomes highly tangled during/after shower.

7. Facial Masks

Facial Masks

(This item is specific to females, though there are metrosexual males who put on masks as well! My boyfriend is an example. :D )

I like facial masks because they are fast and easy. Take a mask, put it on for 10–15 minutes, take it off, and you are done. A quick pick-me-up for the skin which is especially useful when you are on the plane (which can be drying for your skin) and when you are on the go and don’t want to fiddle around with an elaborate skincare regime.

8. Passport, Visa, and Travel Itinerary/Receipts

Passport

Passport—goes without saying. Perhaps the more useful point to ensure your passport is not within six months of expiry—airlines will not let you check in otherwise.

For visa, make sure you look up the visa requirements for the country you are traveling to. If you require a visa, budget sufficient time to get the visa before you travel. Visa HQ is your one-stop spot to check visa requirements.

Having your travel itinerary and booking receipts for your airline and accommodation on hand makes it easy for you while traveling.

9. Notebook and Pen

Notebook and Pen

Last but not least, I can never travel without my notebook and pen. There are times when I run out of battery for my laptop while commuting, when I want to brainstorm on ideas, or when I simply want to quickly pen down some thoughts and ideas, and these are times when my notebook and pen come in handy.

For you, your notebook can serve as a travel log. Not only that, traveling makes for a great opportunity for self-reflection. Use your notebook to jot down your reflections on self and life and possible plans for your life moving forward post the travel.

How About You?

What are your travel must-haves? Share them in the comments area.

Images: Flight, Travel adapter, Credit Card, Ear plugsSleeping mask, Toiletries, Money, Passport,  Facial Masks,  Notebook

  • Daniel Pelzl

    I would add: cell phone, camera and 1st aid kit.

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      I didn’t include cell phone as I see it as a default that everyone carries around already (didn’t see the need to clutter the list). But yes to a camera if it’s for personal vacation; that can never be missed! Though for work trips to places which I’ve been before, I don’t necessarily bring a camera (if I need to take pictures, my phone would suffice).

  • Migs

    1. Headlamp
    2. Pen
    3. Some cash in the proper currency
    4. Sunglasses
    5. iPod
    6. Chargers for all your electronics (camera, cell phones, iPod etc.)
    7. Optional: Babywipes
    8. Photocopies of credit cards and passports/visas for if you loose originals
    9. One phone number to call if all goes wrong or if someone gets lost for all your group to use.
    10. Layered clothing concept for packing
    11. All your indispensable medicines in your carry on and in your checked baggage.
    12. Google maps, Skype and WhatsApp in your cell phone

    Also, different trips require different sets.

  • Steve

    Make sure you know your country code if you need to call your home country.

    USB Cable to recharge your phone, or copy photos off the camera. Try to copy those photos to another storage media device as it will suck if you lost your camera while you are traveling.

    Your medical insurance card.

  • Laurel

    1. Chargers because I always end up forgetting them :(
    2. Extra underwear, socks, and comfy clothes
    3. At least one outfit for the kind of weather you are NOT anticipating, for example: a jacket and cold weather clothes for someplace that’s supposed to be warm, or hot weather clothes for a place that’s supposed to be cooler.
    That’s about it for me. My trips are biased towards short trips where I spend a lot of time outside.

  • http://achievethegreenberetway.com/welcome Mike Martel

    A roll of toilet paper always comes in handy.

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Actually I have to second that. I have been in hostels before that don’t provide toilet paper or run out of toilet papers and don’t refill them.

  • Anna

    1. over the counter anti-inflammatory pills, vitamin supplements, and allergy meds
    2. a scarf/sarong (can be worn as a head covering or skirt and can be used as a bag)
    3. iPhone = phone + music + digital camera
    4. sun glasses
    5. pen and journal
    6. cash (foreign and domestic)
    7. high quality SPF sunblock facial moisturizer
    8. nail file and nail clippers
    9. silk eye mask
    10. noise cancelling head phones

    • Anna

      P.S. I don’t always carry my passport because I do a lot of domestic travel.

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Yes, shades is a definite must-have, especially if going to a sun-heavy place! My shades were part of my everyday gear when I was in Europe, States, and Africa.

  • Jackson Nyarko

    My Travel must-haves:
    1. change over shirts (number depends on number of days – but usually few)
    2. amount of local currency – enough for my return journey
    3. notebook/diary and pen (regardless of the nature of the trip, I always have these)
    4. tolletories? (not often for peer gatherings. hahaha)
    5. Bible
    etc

  • JadePenguin

    I have a long list on my computer that I always use :D

    Things that haven’t been mentioned:
    *home keys! Would kinda suck coming home tired and realising you’re locked out ;)
    *a bottle of water!
    *some snacking (1 mile high restaurant is expensive lol)
    *a book to read on the bus/train/plane is nice

  • Chili Count

    Ten items i think are important for traveling purposes:

    - Cash
    - A fine suit for meting or business, depending on the weather and the place.
    - Cellphone (Not Smartphone)
    - Shades
    - A good book
    - A photo of you beloved ones
    - International debit card
    - Pen and paper, for any data you need to collect or signing
    - Universal outlet
    - Passport or Color photography of your ID from the embassy of your country.

  • Julie

    Thanks for this handy reminder as I’m leaving tomorrow. I took a sleeping mask & ear plugs.
    What do you mean by facial mask? to get a better moisturized skin, just like a second peel?

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hey Julie, glad you find this post handy! :) On facial mask, perhaps this link will help ;)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facial. It’s a part of my weekly beauty regime!

  • Lingeswary

    A mini first-aid kit. A book for light reading while you wait at certain areas.

  • Allan

    My laptop and a good book in case I don’t feel like chatting to whoever is sitting next to me (or vice versa).

  • Bryan

    the pen and notebook is a good idea. out of habit i already have a moleskin which i record my spendings but using it for ideas maybe a good choice too. as for my list I tend to travel light as most of what i need i can probably get where I’m going at, or i bum off others. not always a good thing but useful in a pinch

  • Michael

    I second the debit card! Many cities/countries are heavily cash-based. Even though credit card alleviates the job (I use it and usually it’s exchange rate + 2% surcharge), cash is still king. Not only that, it’s a safer way when you’re unsure if a store is shady!

    There’s a certain comfort knowing that there’s enough in the pocket. In fact, I depended on it when I had to replace my credit card. The whole process took 7 days with courier instead of the expected 3 due to customs & national holiday!

  • Johanna

    Useful article. I always know I forget something and then I end up having to buy it! Fortunately I have the foresight to always bring these little hidden pouches you can attach and tuck into your clothing to keep IDs, and extra money if you get mugged. That is a must on my list! (You can find them at most outdoor sports stores and amazon, of course)… I would never have thought of an international debit card.

    Sounds like your trip to Africa was fun, I would love to see any articles on that as well :)

  • Sophie

    I’d recommend a cash passport if you’re travelling in Europe, I got one from a popular travel agency and it didn’t cost me anything. It’s a debit card that you load up with money before you leave and you can use it anywhere within the EU (and a few other Euro countries if I remember right) just like a debit card (although when I was in Iceland a lot of places just swiped it – you didn’t even need to type in the PIN). It saves a lot of hassle as the card works in all the EU countries so you don’t need to keep switching between different currencies and when I got back home to the UK it just switched back to GBP so I could use what was left at home. Sorry if I’m not explaining this very well! I just found it very useful and I’d definitely recommend it to those travelling in Europe.

    • Sophie

      I should have mentioned it costs nothing to get one and you don’t get charged anything when you use it

  • http://www.ricocompagnie.com Rico Compagnie

    My travel must-haves:

    1. My beloved eBook Reader. 10+ books in one hand.

    2. Camera. A picture is worth a thousand words.

    3. Perfume. You never know who you’ll meet ;)

    That’s about it. The rest are the usual stuff. Clothes, razor, toothbrush etc.

  • http://www.keoleny.wordpress.com Leny Keo

    Hi I have an item like you all list down but I would like to add you one item that is important is travel insurance. No one know what bad things will happen to ourselves.

  • Rhinosd

    Celes,
    Thank You Very Much for all of this…I just stumbled on your website looking for the teachable/motivational movie “The Ultimate Gift” by Jim Stovall ( which i found in another Google search ;) But, it seems to me that finding you is going to be a WONDERFUL thing !!!
    And this Travel blog (is that what you call it ?) ( I don’t do Facebook,Twitter etal)
    But I am spending @ 3 months a year in ‘southeast asia’ & am for sure open to ‘travel suggestions’…
    Thanks a million,
    RhinoSD

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hey Rhinosd, thanks for your kind words! :) This is a personal development blog on personal development and self improvement content. :) A travel blog is a blog focused on travel topics which is not what this blog is fully about (this travel post is just one of the 400 over articles this blog has). Feel free to click over to the articles section to check out the other posts there and let me know if you have other questions! :)

  • Sandy

    A Backup. When actually travelling it holds my passport, wallet, iPad or laptop (whichever one I decide to bring), toiletries and when I check in my luggage it holds spare clothes in case something happens to my checked in bags and I am left without something to wear for a day or two.

    When I am actually at my destination I usually have the backpack empty just to fill with things in case I ever go shopping since I prefer to keep my hands free.

    Pen and Paper along with contact information for local taxi services along with the address of where I am staying and all the places I plan to go along with directions.

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