The 15 Items You'll Want to Pack for a Long Trip
When you’re headed out of town for a weekend, you may not give a second-thought to what you’ll pack until the night before takeoff. And even with a week-long vacation, you probably wouldn’t stress too much about throwing in an extra pair of shoes, just because.
But if you’re considering going on a weeks-, month-, or even a year-long trip around the world, being pickier about what to pack is essential. Especially if your travels have you scaling mountains in Peru while also dancing until dawn in Mykonos, mindful buys will extend the value of your experience and hopefully, save you money in the long-run, too.
Alongside your usual packing list culprits, consider investing in these 15 items when you’re planning a lengthy excursion.
A comfortable pair of travel shoes — with style
The moral of most travel stories? Expect the unexpected. With travel delays, language barriers, and navigating unfamiliar territory, your feet are the last thing you’ll want to be worried about. Even so, the idea of tromping around in stocky, thick, and often — ahem — unflattering travel sandals might sound less than appealing.
But fret not; there are pairs that provide comfort and style without the bulk, like this one from the trusted travel brand, Naot. From sandals to enclosed-toe shoes, Naot designs genuine leather shoes with cushioned soles to get you to point A to point B, be it a bus stop or a tapas hour. We dig the Bounty (zappos.com, $169) for sightseeing and party crashing.
A simple power adapter (or three)
If you’re going to be abroad for a while, you won’t just need one power adaptor, you’ll need all of them. Luckily, this highly recommended buy (amazon.com, $20) is inexpensive, meaning you can grab a few without blowing your savings. What we like the most is the ease of switching between Europe and Asia, without having to keep up with several pieces that could easily get lost as you move from place to place.
A way to drink clean water, no matter what
Does your wanderlust have you thirsty for mountainous adventure? Or daydreaming about sampling hidden food gems in remote parts of Asia? Unlike Western cultures, many Eastern and Southern homelands may not have the same easy access to potable water, making contamination via H2O a real possibility.
You could resort to purchasing countless water bottles, or make a one-time investment in this portable water-filtration system (amazon.com, $139) with new technology that not only keeps you hydrated on the go, but gives you peace of mind, too. You’ll want to make sure you snag enough filters to get you through your travels.
A way to always have WiFi, without paying a ton
Even when airports advertise “free WiFi” any jetsetter knows that’s more of a suggestion than a promise. And when you do manage to go through the lengthy sign-up process — we’re looking at you, Malpensa Airport in Milan — the speed of surfing can be disappointing.
When your digital nomad jobs require you to stay connected (or you just want to see how many Likes that Instagram post got during your red-eye), a portable hotspot is key. The only kicker is that most travel solutions require subscriptions and can be pricey. Enter: Skyroam. You simply make a one-time purchase of the device (amazon.com, $150), register online, and then you only pay for the days you use. Easy-peasy.
A compact, sand-proof towel
You’re likely on a mission to keep your load light, and a bulky beach towel was the first item you wrote off. But imagine your dismay upon arriving to your coastal hostel (or budget hotel or vacation rental), to find a single towel meant for showering that you definitely don’t want to be sandy. To the rescue comes this incredibly compact, absorbent, and fast-drying towel by Tesalate. If the size doesn’t sell you, this fact will: the fabric is designed to repel sand, even when wet from ocean waters.
A micro way to style your hair
Central and South America and certain parts of Southeast Asia are basically a wash for smooth, styled hair. But if you’re traveling to more mellow locations in Europe where climates are a bit more forgiving of your locks, you might consider packing heat tools made for traveling. For straight hair, the Mighty Mini Coral Styler by Amika (sephora.com, $80 as part of a set) will fight frizz and flyaways, while those seeking curly, beachy waves can pack the Conair MiniPro Ceramic Styler (target.com, $20).
A swimsuit that doubles as two
As much as you’d like to bring along your barely-there bikini, your one-piece, and your sporty number, when you’re without a home base for an extended period, you have to edit your packing list. If you’d like to have at least two different patterns, these swimsuits from Patagonia are a sure buy. They’re soft and durable and meant for the adventurous spirit — hello, cave and cliff jumping. Best of all, they’re reversible, so really, you get two suits for the price of one.
At least one outfit that makes you feel confident
Sure, when you’re trekking from one airport to another, battling heat waves and unforgiving humidity, a romantic dress might seem like a frivolous addition to your packing list. But while new horizons will open your mind and change your definitions of life, beauty, and love, having at least one piece of clothing that makes you feel confident is essential. The VICI Collection features materials and fabrics that fight tooth-and-nail against wrinkles, while also providing smart style and flattering hemlines.
A money belt, just in case
Just mentioning “money belt” probably conjures visions of your grandpa, circa 20 years ago, nervous about venturing to Disney as a family. While times have changed, keeping your most valuable items safe is still an important, warranted concern, especially hundreds of miles from home.
Alpha-Keeper makes a wide variety of RFID-protected money belts (amazon.com, $19) in patterned pieces ideal for wear under a colored shirt and nude ones that fly undetected beneath whites and light fabrics. And at this price, you can get a few and take your remaining fun money to the fish markets of Thailand to haggle with vendors, free of worry.
A safe way to secure your things
For travelers, choosing the right luggage is as paramount as picking a compatible travel companion. We love this smart spinner from New York City–based luggage start-up Away. Developed by two Forbes 30 Under 30 winners, these lightweight and durable polycarbonate four-wheel suitcases will get you going quickly — and safely, with a TSA-approved combination lock.
Most importantly for long-term getaways, the interior laundry-bag-meets-compression-system not only gives you more space but keeps your clothes from wrinkling, too. Another perk? Right smack-dab on your luggage is a portable charger, so flight delays won’t be quite as bad.
An extra backpack, just in case
For when the ridiculously cheap price tag on quality spices in Morocco has you coming back with more than you can carry, you’ll want this micro, packable backpack (amazon.com, $20) that starts small and expands to fit whatever you need it to. Might we suggest you pack two, just in case you want an extra gift for mom?
A way to pack even more things, easily
If you haven’t yet jumped on the packing cube bandwagon, you’re missing out. It might feel like an extra step to roll or fold your clothes into yet another compartment, but these smart cubes (ebags.com, $40) help compress your tanks, dresses, workout pants, and more to save space. Another big benefit is organization: if you don’t need to pull out your winter clothes for Japan because you’re spending the current month in Croatia, just pull out the swimsuit pack and get to the beach, ASAP.
A carry-on for side trips
Planning on setting up camp in one city for a while, but doing some side trips, too? You’ll want one giant bag that stays put in the homestead, and a smaller bag that can be toted around everywhere and anywhere you want to go.
This super-convenient Osprey carry-on bag (ebags.com, $350) easily transforms from backpack to two-wheel roller. It’s got backpack straps so you easily run to catch your connection, and save the wheels for a more leisurely stroll to the bus station once you arrive. With an interior that fits at least a weekend’s worth of shoes and clothes, you’ll be ready to hit the town sightseeing, sans back pain and annoyance from an oversized bag.
A charging clutch or handbag
Repeat after us: never, ever leave home without a personal charger. While some are super slim — like the beloved Anker (amazon.com, $26) — others are bulky and at times, heavy, making them feel obtrusive in a compact bag. Check off two packing items with one purchase via this luxe leather charging clutch (oliveandcocoa.com, $198) or the budget version pictured above (oldnavy.com, $28).
Both pack a cleverly hidden built-in battery, so your phone can charge while it’s kept safely zipped in your bag. The Olive & Cocoa clutch goes a step further, including charging cords and adaptors for every device, along with a smart storage setup for credit cards and coins.
A luggage scale to avoid stress at check-in
If you’ve ever boarded a puddle-jumper to get from one tiny island to another, you probably received a rude awakening when that 50-pound checked bag weight limit was suddenly cut to 40, and each kilogram over came with a price tag of six Euros. Yikes. You can avoid chaos and added stress at check-in by packing a lightweight luggage scale (amazon.com, $60) so you know what you’re getting yourself into before you call that Uber to the airport.