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7 must-have items to pack for your next trip

It’s no secret that deciding what to pack for a trip is a daunting task There are so many options and variables and so little space. You want your roller suitcase to fit in the overhead, don’t you? 

So, if you’re intimidated by the prospect of packing, you are not alone. Instead of panicking, take a breath, and take a piece of advice: Start with the necessities.

There are a handful of items—seven to be exact—that should have top priority on any packing list. Get these right, and everything else should fall into place.

Read more: How Ally Bank Savings Account buckets can help you save up for your next trip. 

1. Moisturizer

If you’re traveling by plane, recycled air sure can dry out the skin. It's vital to pack a moisturizer or two for application during and after flights, especially on those long-haul trips. Remember to keep the size of the container under 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters to comply with regulations. Then use liberally. (And drink lots of water. Hydration is a key component of a successful journey and healthy skin.)

2. Cash

It's true that our world is increasingly digital and pretty much every day-to-day transaction can be handled with a smart phone or a card. But when you travel, it's always smart to carry cash. Maybe the cute little roadside stand where you’re shopping doesn’t accept cards, or you need a little dough for tips. While cash is no longer king, it remains a necessity on the road.

3. A scarf

No matter what time of year you’re traveling, airplane cabins tend to be on the chilly side. If that’s the case on your flight, you’ve got something to keep you warm. If the cabin temperature is comfortable, you can fold the scarf and use it as a neck pillow. Smart packing is all about versatility, and a scarf sets you up for success—in a lightweight and easily packable form.

4. A mini-toiletry bag 

Pay a visit to the travel section of your local pharmacy and pick up a mini toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, shampoo, body wash, contact lens solution, case, the aforementioned moisturizer and any other daily use items. They’ll all be compliant with airplane regulations and will fit snugly in the mini bag you’ve also purchased. Boom: all your daily hygiene gear in one compact, travel-friendly place. 

5. A reusable water bottle

We already mentioned the importance of drinking water cannot be overstated, so pack a reusable water bottle and reach your hydration goals at a fraction of the cost of buying single-use plastic bottles. A reusable water bottle makes it simple to fill up once you're through security at the airport and allows you to sip water on the plane and once you get to your destination. Go next-level and get one that's collapsible to help save on space.

6. A quick-dry towel

When all is said and done, you might be most thankful that you packed this item for your trip. Quick-dry towels don’t take up much space, and they solve an almost infinite number of problems. They’re bacteria- and odor-resistant, they dry as quickly as advertised and they’re good for the beach, the pool and the campsite, not to mention any spills, mishaps or other hotel-room calamities.

7. Hard copy of important contact information

Finally, it's always smart to keep a few contact details on a piece of paper or card in your wallet. Think phone numbers such as your hotel, a local embassy (if you’re traveling abroad) and an emergency contact back home. Don't write down anything too personal, like your passport number. A good rule of thumb is to consider whether it would be a problem if someone else had access to the information.

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