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Top 10 Travel Essentials

Packing is not as easy as you think it is, especially when you’re packing for two or for the entire family. I’m sure you’ve had your experiences on overpacking, or not bringing as much as you should have. Over the years, I’ve become wiser (or so I think) when it comes to packing for travel. I used to take so many clothes with me and then end up not wearing them, or bringing too many toiletries or accessories that are unnecessary.

Depending on where you’re going, first you need to check the temperature of your destination.

Let me share with you my travel essentials and then perhaps you’ll learn a tip or two on what to include in your luggage and carry-on bag.

Leggings/Tights. This is a must in all of my trips. Whether I am going to a hot or cold country, I find leggings very important because it has multiple uses. I wear these on my flights as they’re very comfortable and give me ease of movement. It also keeps me warm so I don’t have to use the plane’s blanket, which only makes the space in my seat even tighter.   They’re very versatile too! I can just wear a t-shirt or tunic or anything else that would make it look comfy (or fashionable enough) to go with it. Most importantly, it is very light and it gives a lot of space in your luggage for more important stuff that you need to bring.

Tip: Bring a few pairs, perhaps in different colors or design for variety.

Leggings are comfortable, light and versatile.

Shawl. It’s my blanket, pillow, sunshield, scarf… the list goes on. Plus, shawls are a great accessory to almost any kind of outfit. I bring at least 3 sets of shawls in my trips including thinner scarves.

Tip: For a thicker and wider shawl, use it on your trip then pack only the lighter scarves to save space in your luggage.

Comfortable Footwear. You can never go wrong with a pair of comfortable sneakers, I promise.  (Unless you’re a devotee of the fashion police.)  I don’t care if I’m wearing an orange maxi skirt matched with blue sneakers and printed socks.  And I roamed Paris like that for a day!  Although it was unintended, my point is, sometimes you have to make a decision whether looking fashionable versus being comfortable is what you need.  My trips usually include a lot of hiking, oftentimes climbing so a pair of walking sandals or light sneakers is definitely a must.

Tip:  I recommend you invest on buying a pair of Tevas as they are durable, comfortable and light.

Choose a footwear that is comfortable for long walks

Choose a footwear that is comfortable for long walks

Neck Rest Pillow. Ever since I was diagnosed with a Cervical Spondylosis in 2010, no matter the distance of my journey, I always bring one specially if my flight requires me to sit on the plane or bus for at least 3 hours. If you are not too fussy or someone who doesn’t easily gets stiff neck, you can go without it. Otherwise, most airlines have it (mini pillows) so you can just politely ask for one.  The best thing with a travel pillow is that I don’t need to pack it.  It’s very light so I just drape it around the handle of my carry on.

Lip Balm. I tend to get chapped lips easily so it’s basically my lifesaver. It’s tiny and doesn’t cost an inch of a space in my purse.


You can also opt for a lip balm that doesn't contain petroleum jelly.  If your skin is extra sensitive, go for organic products.

You can also opt for a lip balm that doesn’t contain petroleum jelly. If your skin is extra sensitive, go for organic products.

Spare Cash.  Even though major debit/credit card companies are already widely accepted anywhere, it is still wise to bring some, just in case. You’ll never know when you’re going to need it. Prior to your (international) trip, take a scout of your local moneychangers and compare the currency rates. When you’ve found the best deal, buy a few. If you decide to do it at your destination, chances are, you end up buying the currency at a ridiculously high price.

Tip: If in Singapore, there’s a moneychanger in Chinatown called Crante Moneychanger. They have the best rates in Singapore. But when you go, expect to wait longer as the waiting queue is always long.

Map/Guidebook.  When I was traveling solo, I always bring a map with me (prior to iPad/iPhone generation). I only turned on my home network data roaming service to check out a place once on my trip to Canada and I paid a huge price (literally) for that. If you are going on a solo/backpacking trip and are not intending to join any guided tours, I would advise for you to get a guide map or guidebook. Bookstores generally sell these. Otherwise, you can also take a screenshot of a map or a destination on your iPad/iPhone.

Pen and Notebook. Ok I admit, I’m very conventional. With all the latest electronic gadgets nowadays, nothing beats taking notes the traditional way. I still have a travel notebook with me. I love taking notes about everything – from a sprout of an idea to writing a friend a letter. It’s also safe to write in the address of your destination and the contact person just in case your mobile phone runs out of juice. You are also probably going to need the pen for when you fill out a landing card or visa on arrival so keep it handy.

I often find treasures that were long stuck in my notebook.  Here is the photo of Sean's grandmother, a note from our landlord in Bled and fallen leaves I picked up when I had one too many glasses of reds from Salzburg.

I often find treasures that have been long left in my notebook. Here is the photo of Sean’s grandmother, a note from our landlord in Bled and fallen leaves I picked up when I had one too many glasses of reds from Salzburg.

Handphone/Camera. I have a smart phone that has both features so I don’t have to carry a heavy DSLR with me in my carry-on. For an Instagrammer like me, a camera is very very important. I rarely do selfies. Most of my shared photos are food and places or people.

Tip: Post photos responsibly. Be sensitive enough not to cause issues with religion, politics or sex.  Instead, try to post something that is worthwhile to read/look at.  Something that your viewers can learn of or get an idea from.

Passport.  Lastly, don’t forget your travel document.  After all, this is the most important thing of all.

One more thing is the Headset.  Although I only take this with me on long haul flights,  I find my noise canceling headphones very useful. Along with my neck rest, believe it or not, I can get a nice sleep on the plane (unless of course there’s a nice movie feature on the entertainment system).  Noise canceling headphones can be a pit pricey, depending on the brand of your choice. If you’re using a regular headset and it’s working well, you can use that too (if the purpose is just for watching an in-flight movie). The only thing is that you will need a flight adapter jack, so make sure you buy it first. Personally, I use Audio-Technica because it has the same quality as Bose at a lesser value.

So there you go. My must-haves. As you travel along, you’ll get better in terms of what are the important things you need on your trip. Oftentimes, you just need to ask yourself “do I really need this?” The whole idea of packing wisely is not only because you don’t want to worry about paying extra fee for over baggage, but also because you don’t want to add extra stress in taking care of so many things while you’re on a trip. The less you pack, the lower the chances of forgetting them to bring back home and sometimes, an even lesser chance of losing them along the way.

So then, pack wisely and you’re on your way. Happy travels!

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