traveling bag full of travel essentials

I’ve solo traveled the world and carried everything I own in my 40-liter suitcase/backpack and 15-liter daypack.  When you’re schlepping all your stuff on your back (and front!), it’s very easy to figure out what is essential to pack, and what is dead weight.

So, if you’re planning to travel the world solo, here are 20 easy items to pack that will keep you organized, safe, and looking great.

1. Osprey 40L Farpoint Backpack 

I’ll be honest.  When this bag first arrived, I panicked.  How the $#% was I going to fit my whole life into this thing!?!  But, it’s deceptively bigger than it looks, in a Mary Poppins kind of way.

If you use packing cubes (spoiler alert: also an MVP), it’ll be easy peasy for you to pack all the items I’ve listed here into this bag and still have room for more.  It is simply a durable, comfortable, easy-to-handle bag.  Plus, it’s just small enough to wedge into overhead compartments of trains and technically qualifies as a carryon for most airlines (even some of the super budget airlines in Europe).

2. Vapur Element Waterbottle — 1L

I drink A LOT of water.  I considered getting a Stanley because they’re so hot right now (I love this green one!), but I chose function over fashion, especially since Stanleys can be heavy and cumbersome.

This Vapur waterbottle is my trusty companion, hanging off my backpack loop wherever I go.  It has a secure top with wide opening, holds 1-liter of water, and is super fun to squeeze and squoosh when you’re bored.  I fill it up at restaurants, coffee shops, and water fountains that look somewhat sanitary to stay hydrated, without having to spend any $$$.

I do not stay thirsty, my friends.

3. Travel Adapter

If you’re traveling outside your home country, you need to pack an adapter. This one has 4 USB ports, a plug, and I’ve successfully used it in Europe, Asia, Africa, as well as the US.

I’m sure there are ones with more bells and whistles, but this one is lightweight, compact and does the trick.

4. Kindle Paperwhite 

This may be my favorite item to pack for solo travel.  I am an avid reader and there is plenty of time to read books, as you’re waiting at the airport, traveling by train, or eating by yourself at a restaurant.

The Kindle is small, easy to carry and can be used in any environment, including bright and sunny beaches.

My Mega Tiputilize your local library and download ebooks or audiobooks remotely via Libby.  This saved me TONS of money!  Most libraries use the Libby system which allows you to check out books via Kindle for FREE!

5. PacSafe 15L Backpack

This is a perfectly-sized day pack for solo travel and can carry an enormous amount of stuff.  Plus, it has loads of theft deterrent features including:
• stainless steel wire mesh embedded into fabric to prevent “slash and run” attempts where thieves ride by on motorbikes and slash your bag (sidenote – I never actually met anyone who experienced this but I read plenty of stories online, including one where they sliced part of a girl’s finger off because she was holding her bag.  eek!)
• lockable zippers – this helped me feel much more secure in crowds.  Thieves can easily unzip unsuspecting tourists’ backpacks. While this isn’t TOTALLY foolproof, it makes it a lot harder for sticky hands.
• RFID safe pocket to block IDs and credit cards from hacker scanning.  Better safe than sorry.

My Mega Tip: I also LOVE of Beis’ stuff. I have their Weekender and Backpack in black. All of their bags are great — my friend even uses their Ultimate Diaper Backpack (with detachable fanny pack) as her work bag!

6. Columbia Arcadia II Rainjacket

Ahh, this jacket is my ultimate MVP.  I wore this in all kinds of different weather conditions – blustery winds in London, sudden rainshowers in Thailand, and freezing cold nights in Nuremberg, Germany.  

Breathable fabric, ventilation, large hood, zip pockets, and works well with layers. It never makes you feel suffocated and sweaty like a lot of other raincoats.

My Mega Tip: Mine is shade Red Camellia, the one bright spot in my (mostly neutral toned) capsule wardrobe. I love how it pops in all my pictures.  I researched a lot of travel jackets and would only recommend this one or Marmot.

7. “Boobs McGee” Sleeping Mask

This sleeping mask has boobs. But it also has so many wonderful benefits – it fits comfortably snug, gives your eyelashes space to blink comfortably, and best of all, shuts all light out.  

I used this on planes/trains/automobiles and countless hotel/hostel/Airbnb rooms to get some well-needed shuteye.  Plus they’re fun to squeeze and play “Tune-in Tokyo” with when you’re bored.

8. Leggings

@Ladies, do not pack jeans for longterm solo travel.  @Men – you may have no choice, but Ladies, you do.  Jeans are bulky and heavy and the absolute worst thing to be wearing in the rain.  Your best bet is a pair (or two!) of black leggings.

I wore black leggings every.single.day in Europe and they worked with everything.  You can dress them up with a pair of booties, or rock a more athletic look with your trainers.  Mine were from Nordstrom but I love these Spanx ones too.  Or these, which are a Lulu dupe.  Just remember:  do not pack jeans — they are not worth it.

9. Packing Cubes

You need these.  You really, really need these.  One of the most important edicts of longterm travel is everything has its place.  Otherwise, you will drive yourself insane trying to find stuff or constantly repacking.

These packing cubes keep your stuff organized.  I used a smallish cube for underwear/socks/bras/bathing suits and a medium-sized for rolled-up clothing (note: pants should be folded, not rolled. ).  Smaller bags can be used for medicinal items, makeup, chargers/cords, and a catchall for random stuff.

Basically, your backpack or suitcase should be an assortment of bags so that you can easily find items and be able to pack up and go quickly.  Also, they keep you honest about how much room you have in your bag.  

My Mega Tip: employ the one in, one out rule — if you buy a shirt, you must get rid of one so your packing cube will zip up.

10. Noise-Canceling Headphones

These are a bit of a splurge but you cannot put a price on your sanity.  When your hostel roomie is snoring logs or a baby is wailing her poor eyes out next to you on an airplane, you will be grateful to have these.  Plus, one of my favorite traveling pleasures is to sit comfortably in a train window seat, listening to a favorite playlist or podcast and watch the world go by.  The only risk is missing your train stop because you didn’t hear the announcement!

My Mega Tip: only use these when you are in a safe environment.  Not recommended for street use or short train rides or you will miss your stop.

11. Waterproof Ankle Booties

These are comfy enough to wear all day (even while rocking a dirndl at Oktoberfest), in the rain (since they’re waterproof), or when you need to feel a little more feminine. Slip these on to feel taller and dressier. Most importantly, you can wear them anywhere because they’re waterproof.

They look good with pretty much anything so your capsule wardrobe is kept intact.

My Mega Tip: wear with black socks. I wore them out to a club in Prague and got mercilessly teased by the young people for my blaringly white socks shining in the black light. 😳

12. Smartphone Wrist Strap

I know for a fact that I never lost my phone (or dropped it into various bodies of water) solely because of this item. It hangs securely from your wrist so you.never.put.it.down on the bathroom counter, store shelf, train seat, or 10,000 other surfaces.

Plus, it helps you feel secure from a snatch-and-grab situation. The culprits would need to cut off your hand to get your phone. Possible?  Sure, but it’s a lot more difficult versus someone who’s untethered.  So, this wrist strap also saves your life and appendages. 

13. Luggage Locks

When you solo travel, you need to pack items that make you feel safe – especially when you can’t always keep an eye on your stuff and don’t have anyone else to watch for you!

Thankfully, these locks provide an extra layer of security for your belongings and better peace of mind for you.  You can use them to lock up your passport and valuables inside your suitcase in the hotel room (never, ever bring your passport out with you!) or secure your assigned locker at a hostel.

If I was out and about and found myself in a crowded and/or dodgy situation, like the metro in Paris, I would affix one of these to my backpack zippers to prevent pickpockets.  I also used these on all flights and train travel, especially when my bag was out of sight.  The only requirement is to remember your own passcode.  

14. Travel Towel

This microfiber towel is so versatile – you can use it in lieu of the teeny, tiny towels provided in European hotels and it does double-duty as a compact beach towel.  I got the Medium 28×56-inch, which was big enough to wrap around my entire body, and yet, it can be rolled up into a netted bag the size of a croissant.

You can also use as a makeshift blanket while riding in vans with aggressive A/C or as a germ protectant from dodgy seats or mattresses (I’m a recovering germaphobe, but sometimes I still have to draw the line).

15. Portable Charger

A portable charger saved me so many times from disaster. This one can charge your phone, camera, reading device, computer or even other chargers!!! 

Above all, make sure the charger is always charged…so that it can charge.  

My Mega Tip: this charger also helps you make friends by being the generous traveler in the room who can charge everyone else’s device.  🙂

16. Selfie Stick/Tripod

If you solo travel, you must pack this. Yes, you will get side-eye looks sometimes, but honestly, who cares, as long as you get the pic.

This is the best selfie stick out there. I saw so many different kinds, especially in Asia, and mine was superior in every way.  

It feels sturdy enough to ensure your device or camera is safe, even when you’re dangling over a cliff’s edge in Malaysia.  It extends to 49″ so you can get a wider shot of the background and your smiling face.

It also has a remote so you can discreetly take pics without contorting into strange positions.  In short, it simply ticks all boxes.  I unabashedly love this selfie stick.  Just don’t bring to a Disney park because they’ll confiscate it!

My Mega Tip: The sturdy handle allows for better control so you can take steady pics — outdoors, indoors, or extending over heads in a crowd to get an interesting shot. As a bonus, it functions as a tripod as well!

17. Sandals

Unless you are headed to Norway during the dead of winter or Antarctica, you should pack a pair of trusty sandals.  They’re useful as buffers in gross showers or hotel rooms, or just walking around when it’s hot outside.  If you’re headed to SE Asia, they’ll become your primary shoe, as everyone there wears sandals or flip flops 24/7.

18. Fake Wedding Ring

As a solo female traveler, a fake ring helps to ward off any unwanted attention. You can tell when someone is focusing on you and this ring gives you an ‘out’ if they approach. You can always switch fingers or leave it at the hotel if you’re *looking* for company, but otherwise, the fake ring trick works.

Additionally, there are countries (Egypt) where a married female is more “respected” than a single female because of archaic connotations of being a ‘loose woman’.  By wearing a simple [fake] wedding ring, you can more adequately deflect unwanted attention as a single woman in certain areas of the world.

My Mega Tip: have a short backstory ready if someone asks where your husband/fiancé/boyfriend is. Or, just deflect attention away by ignoring their probe and asking them a question instead. Or, even better, just ignore them!! 

You don’t owe anyone information. NOTHING. You don’t have to divulge where you’re staying, if you’re traveling alone, how long you’re in the city for, etc.  Go ahead and share if it seems OK, but if a skeezy person rolls up on you while you’re trying to enjoy a site or experience, feel free to lie and move on.

19. Mack’s Earplugs

Earplugs are an ab-so-lute essential, and these are the best.  They fit comfortably in your ears (tip: squeeze the end into a point with your fingertips and shove ’em in there) and block out most of the annoying sounds you might encounter on your trip.

My Mega Tip:  these are also useful for planes, trains, and automobiles if you want to tune out and enjoy the journey.

20. Bag/Luggage/Jacket Strap

Such a random item but it’s super handy to keep your jacket/coat from flopping around everywhere or dipping into the toilet as you attempt to squat whilst wearing two backpacks. It keeps your stuff out of the way so you can be hands-free to hold your tickets, another bag, or even a beer.  🙂

There are plenty of other items I brought in my handy-dandy Osprey but these are the easy items I’m so glad I packed and couldn’t live without.  What are your essentials items to pack for solo travel?

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means that if you buy through the link you support the site at no extra cost to you. All reviews and suggested items are items I have used and loved and am now singing from the rooftops about.

Subscribe

Subscribe now

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.