As a travel writer who is often living out of a suitcase, sometimes for weeks at a time, I have mastered the art of packing. Since I like to travel with as little as possible, I only pack things that are practical that I know I will need and I have figured out travel essentials that every woman needs to pack. My philosophy on packing is: even if you forget something (unless you’re traveling to a remote destination) you can always buy whatever you forgot at your destination.
Nonetheless, I always dread the hours it takes me to pack but after doing it so many times I have realized there are a few women’s travel essentials that I cannot travel without. These are my travel must-haves and the only constants that exist on every trip I take, no matter where in the world I am traveling to.
Here are 13 travel essentials you need to pack for your next vacation.
- AWAY luggage
- Apple Airpods with Charging Case
- UBeesize 67” Phone Tripod Stand
- Dagne Dover Large Toiletry Bag
- Anker PowerCore Portable Charger
- Tweezerman Slant Tweezer
- Amazon Kindle
- Tocca Florence Rollerball
- Slip Silk Sleep Mask
- Cortizone 10 Maximum Strength, 1% Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream
- Apica Notebook
- Lorna Jane Compress & Compact Sports Bra
It’s very rare that I will check a bag. I have managed to travel to both Europe and Australia for 3 weeks without checking a bag! I know, it was no easy feat and I impressed myself too. But that means having the right carry-on luggage is important. The only reason why I love the AWAY luggage is because of the hard shell. I find that I can fit a lot more things in my AWAY luggage because of the hard case which compresses everything so it’s not bulging out like other luggages (and catches the attention of flight staff). I also like the stylish colors and the battery pack which has come in handy when I’m traveling (just make sure to remove it and store it in your purse before you board a plane to comply with airport regulations).
Shop now: AWAY, $225
If there’s only one thing I had to choose from this list to take with me on a deserted island it would be my Apple Airpods. I love the rose gold color and design of the Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones but they are too bulky for me and I prefer to travel with as little as possible. The Apple Airpods take up almost no space which also means they can get lost easily, but I still think they’re worth it and an absolute must when traveling.
Shop now: Amazon, $119.98
If you do a lot of solo traveling and love to take pictures like I do, then this UBeesize tripod is the answer to all your photo prayers. I always felt uncomfortable asking strangers to take my photos. The pics never came out the way I wanted — my legs would be cut-off or the photo would be crooked.
With this tripod, I am self-sufficient. I can take photos the way I like and as many times as needed. Plus, now that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, it’s even more awkward to ask someone to take your photo. This UBeesize tripod is pretty sturdy and adjustable so you can set it to different heights up to 67”. You can toggle between vertical or horizontal photos and also use it as a selfie stick. This tripod took almost all my photos in Bora Bora!
Shop now: Amazon, $21.24
Fun fact: I actually completed a year of UCLA Dental School! I know, I know, can you imagine me as a dentist? I can’t either. But ever since then I’ve become obsessive about oral care and have never gone a day without flossing. Nope, not even one.
I used to use J&J Reach Waxed Floss for years but then I discovered Cocofloss and I am officially a floss snob. Cocofloss is the Ferrari of dental floss. It’s thick, smooth, and easily glides in between your teeth. It also comes in fun flavors like coconut and mint. I actually look forward to flossing (!!!) because of how satisfying Cocofloss feels. I promise you, once you use this floss, you won’t be able to use any other floss again.
Shop now: Bloomingdales, $9
I have gone through so many toiletry bags. They get really gross and dirty because makeup spills out and smears all over the inside. I was excited to receive this Dagne Dover toiletry bag in a gift bag years ago and have been using it ever since. It’s made out of a flexible, lightweight neoprene material so it can fit a lot of makeup, but the best part is I throw it in the wash when it needs a good cleaning. (I think you’re supposed to hand wash it but I’ve always used the washer and let it air dry and I’ve never had a problem.) I have it in the Moss color but they have other neutral colors such as Dune and Black.
Shop now: Nordstrom, $55
A portable charger is another big travel essential. When I’m traveling, I usually leave my house during the day and don’t get back to the hotel until the early evening so it’s important to have a portable charger on hand. There’s nothing worse than trying to take pictures of the Eiffel Tower only to find your phone is on 3% battery. With this portable charger, you don’t have to worry about foreign outlets either, it uses a USB cord. When the Anker Charger is fully charged, it will add one full round of battery to your iPhone before it needs to be charged again.
Shop now: Amazon, $19.99
A good pair of tweezers is not just a women’s travel essential but it’s an everyday essential. Have you ever been getting dressed on vacation and noticed a random hair on your upper lip or eyebrows that literally grew overnight? Yah, we’ve all been there, and let me tell you, having tweezers on hand is a real lifesaver in those moments. This is why I own two of these — I keep one at home and I have one in my travel toiletry bag and it never comes out!
Shop now: Amazon, $14.62
For the longest time, I would buy books. There is something about physically holding a book and turning the pages that is so nostalgic. I resisted getting a Kindle for so long. Books take up a lot of unnecessary space in my overhead bag and if I’m traveling for a while, I want multiple books for variety. Eventually, I caved and upgraded to the Kindle and I’m so happy I did. It’s thin and lightweight and I love that I can download books for free from my local library using the Overdrive app. I can read multiple books at any given time. Pro-tip: Put your Kindle on Airplane Mode so the books don’t expire.
Shop now: Amazon, $95
I have been wearing Tocca Florence for over 10 years now. It’s one of only two perfumes I wear (this is the other one) and it has become my signature scent. A friend gifted it to me for my birthday because she knew I loved floral scents and she was right. This is one of my favorite smells — it’s feminine, light, and smells like fresh jasmine flowers. When they came out with a travel-sized rollerball I was stoked because I didn’t have to check my bag anymore.
Shop now: Sephora, $27
I never understood why people wear sleep masks on planes until I tried it for myself. This is not just a women’s travel essential, men can use sleep masks too! Every time I wear a sleep mask I can actually sleep. If you have trouble sleeping on planes or you’re trying to rest on a daytime flight, try a sleep mask.
Shop now: Amazon, $50
I always carry a bag of medicine with me when I travel. It’s a lot easier to have Tylenol on hand for an unexpected fever than trying to translate your symptoms to a pharmacist in a foreign country. I always have hydrocortisone in the bag because bug bites can be a real pain in the a** if you don’t have something to relieve the itch. Having hydrocortisone readily available on my travels has helped with bug bites, rashes, or minor cuts. (And it’s TSA compliant!)
Shop now: Amazon, $5.99
I have a slight obsession with notebooks (read: a serious problem). But it’s not just any notebook! It has to be made of really, really, really, soft paper. I like a very specific texture and trust me when I say, I look like a lunatic when shopping for notebooks. I open each one and caress the pages to see if it passes my test. 9 out of 10 times they do not. (Please don’t judge me for my crazy antics.) I get really giddy when I find one I like and this Apica notebook passed my test with flying colors. Your pen just glides on the paper and you will actually enjoy writing.
I love having a notebook with me at all times when I’m traveling. As you may (or may not) know, I’m an impulsive list maker. It’s how I came up with the name Leila’s List! I create a lot of lists when I’m traveling — where I visited, story ideas for an article, business ideas, etc. I’m most inspired when I travel so I like to have a notebook to keep track of my random thoughts. If you’re looking for a good ink pen (I love those too!) I have been using this refillable fountain pen for years.
Shop now: Amazon.com, $7
I always like to pack at least one set of workout clothes because I try to workout during my travels (keyword: try). In my opinion, Lorna Jane makes the best sports bras. They are made of thick, high-quality fabric and they keep everything in place if you know what I mean. I love this sports bra because it has a hook in the back so you have the option to wear the straps like a racerback or bra.
Shop now: Lorna Jane, $80
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