As I near the end of a whirlwind tour of eight countries in just three months, I have been reflecting on which items have been the most useful. Packing for so many different places and multiple climates is a daunting task and traveling light is definitely the way to go so every item you pack matters.
I’m hoping that the more I travel, the more unnecessary things I’ll be able to cut out and only pack what will really end up being necessary and useful. Being weighed down sucks when you want to enjoy your trip, especially if you’re moving around a lot. Can you relate? Any trips coming up that have you puzzling over what to pack? Well, every trip is different and we all may need different things but hopefully my personal MVP packing list can give you some ideas and inspiration for your next adventure. Here are my 20 “Most Valuable Players” from this trip:
Packing Cubes / Small Organizing Bags
I never really understood the concept of packing cubes until I did some research before my trip and took a chance on ordering a cheap multi-pack of them on Amazon. They have been a total MVP during this trip for their ability to help my pack stay organized and also helping to condense my clothing.
I few drawstring bags and zipper pouches came in handy as well because I was able to store and organize smaller items so they could be located quickly and easily. One was dedicated to my chargers and cords, others held small clothing items (socks, underwear, bathing suits) or toiletries.
There have been so many times that I have been super glad to have some simple face wipes with me. From cleaning my hands to eat to saving my butt (literally when toilet paper was scarce) or as a way to freshen up between flights, bus rides, car rides etc… These things have been such a relief to have everywhere I’ve been.
Another item that I doubted the usefulness of before leaving but ended up relying on it almost everywhere. Yes, a phone flashlight is a great source of light in a pinch but my small and lightweight headlamp has a much brighter light, provides hands free lighting which is great for camping and hiking, and also had a much better battery life than my phone so I could rely on it to guide me down dark roads or trails. It even has a handy flashing feature that was a life saver when walking near cars in the dark.
Both my travel buddy Nina and I are big fans of our handy little Ipanema sandals that effectively carried us through all of the warmer countries. These little sandals are ridiculously comfortable, durable and versatile. We both got the black sandal with a gold metal decoration on the front that made it a perfect accessory for exploring all day, light hiking and even a night out dancing. I can’t recommend these sandals enough!
I almost made myself cut my leggings down to one pair due to the many hot locations we would be traveling to but I’m glad I didn’t. They were perfect for staying comfortable and covered in the hot countries and an absolute staple for the colder ones. We did a ton of walking, hiking and adventuring so they are perfect for all of that and are easy to pair with almost anything.
There are countless times during traveling where there are issues trying to plug everything in and get all of my electronics charged. The solution I’ve found is this awesome multi-outlet power converter and charging station. It has been a life saver because not only does it keep my electronics safe when plugged into it, there are three regular US style plugs and four USB style plugs.
This pretty much goes without saying but it’s worth mentioning that having power converters for each country is a must. It takes precious time out of your travels to hunt down the correct converter when you get there. It’s often an iffy fit and quality so it’s great to have what you need before you leave.
Before leaving, I was pretty torn about spending money on nice hiking boots because I don’t consider myself a “hiker” and I knew I’d be in warm climates for most of the trip. These things have really come in handy all over and enabled me to do some of the most amazing treks, walks and hikes from Bali to Krabi to New Zealand. I can safely say I wouldn’t have made it up to see some of the most incredible sights of my life without these things so they were definitely an MVP item.
Traveling can really put a great deal of stress on your body in many ways. Whether it’s stress, lack of sleep, unclean food or climate changes that messed up my system, I was always able to find relief using these two simple medicines. They were great to have on hand so I didn’t have to cut my adventures short and miss out on as much.
I did leave home without one of these but they were some of the first things I picked up along the way because they are cheap, pretty and super useful. I have used them as a beach cover-up, towel, temple modesty, blanket, scarf, pillow and more. I prefer the lightweight soft ones because they are an easy way to bring comfort everywhere you go.
I use my backup battery every day and it has saved me and friends on multiple occasions. The enemy of a traveler is a dead phone and/or camera for safety issues and of course being able to record your adventures. I actually have one that can be solar powered in emergencies and a regular one. Definitely a good investment.
I have a lot of equipment to charge and unfortunately I go through cords or lose cords regularly. It has been a relief to have a few extra cords in different bags to ensure that things can be charged.
This is an absolute must if you plan to spend time around and on the water. I have gone through one waterproof sack and I’m on my second one. They are cheap, easy to use and definitely a nice assurance when heading to the beach or out on a boat or ferry. I just keep one in my backpack ready for the chance of rain as well. I like to venture out for the day and not have to stress if there’s rain or extra watery conditions.
This seems a bit specific but it was so compact and easy to pack and really came in so handy throughout all of my travels. Sometimes you just need a small and light bag that is secure to take day trips with. The drawstring bags are hard to pickpocket since it is over both shoulders and the opening is cinched shut when you have it on. I have used it for everything from a beach bag to a hiking back and a carry-on. Mine is actually starting to get holes in it from all the love and abuse it has endured. Time for a new one soon!
This is actually an item I don’t own. Don’t judge me, I’m already judging myself. My travel buddy Nina has been using hers for our entire whirlwind tour and has slept in it EVERY NIGHT. From nicer accommodations to the downright sketchy and creepy ones, from the hot and sticky nights to the freezing ones, she has snuggled up in that lightweight sleep sack and made me insanely jealous. It’s a familiar place to lay your head and perfect in all weather. It is a must have item and I plan on buying one ASAP.
Extra Memory Cards
This is particularly important if you are moving around to see many places in a short amount of time. It takes time to save and backup photos and I have been so happy that I have multiple memory cards for my GoPro that ensure I ALWAYS have room for the photos that I want to take. I have used every single one of them and finally had the time to go back them up on my computer. Now I have more than enough room for the rest of the trip. Easy!
I have a rash guard that I originally bought for surfing but have ended up using it all through my travels because of its lightweight comfort and versatility. It is a great way to block the sun when I’m in the water or the sun for long periods of time and it can guard a sunburn that has already happened to ensure you don’t have to miss out on activities because of worrying about too much sun. It has also been a lifesaver on all of the hiking I’m doing where we go from freezing cold to warm and sweaty. It dries so fast and is perfect for so many purposes.
Pack lots of little locks and you will not regret it. I wish I had packed more because I have used all of mine for the stuff I left in Bali and didn’t have enough to bring on this trip with me. Nina lent me one of her extras and it has definitely been helpful. It’s nice to have an extra bit of security on your baggage for the long bus rides and hostel stays where people are known to get a little forward with your baggage. Theft is an issue many places you will travel and it’s hard to avoid but it’s good to have an extra barrier to deter people.
Nina and I are bag hoarders and we have no shame. It is highly recommended to hold onto at least a few little bags (plastic or cloth) as you go because they can be used for so many different things. From an extra laundry bag or trash bag to something to hold wet items or messy toiletry items, they have been a lifesaver for us both. They are also super easy to pack and don’t take up much space.
Now usually I wouldn’t say this item is a necessity but if you are traveling long term and on many busses, trains, cars and planes it will be a great item to have. We both used a specific pillow that has been extremely comfortable and useful, but any type will be welcome to bring a little extra comfort in those uncomfortable long distance travel situations. I have even used mine in hotels and hostels as an extra pillow or clean surface to put my face on.
So what items are a must-have for you?
I’d love to hear what MVP items you bring with you!