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7 items you should always pack for a trip

When it comes to packing for a trip, deciding what to bring can be tough. So many options, so little space—especially when you want that roller suitcase to fit in the overhead. (Do you really want to check that bag?) But instead of panicking, take a breath and take a piece of advice: Start with the necessities.

You know what we mean. There are a handful of items that should be first and foremost on any packing list. Get these right and then take care of the rest, the nice-to-haves, the fancy outfit or three, the extra pair of shoes. But first, set yourself up for trip success by packing the following seven items in your carry-on.


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 so you comply with regulations. Then apply away. (And drink lots of water—hydration is a key component of a successful journey and healthy skincare routine.)


It's true that we live in an increasingly digital world where you can handle pretty much every day-to-day transaction with a phone or credit card. But when you travel, it's always smart to carry cash. Maybe the Wi-Fi is down at your destination. Or maybe you need a little dough for tips—when you get money, make sure to pick up some smaller bills for this very reason. While cash might not be king anymore, it remains a necessity on the road.

Read more:  Spending while you’re abroad: What you need to know

A puffer jacket

Neck pillow for the airplane? Nah, they take up too much space for a conscientious traveler. A puffer jacket, however, can serve as a plane pillow (or blanket) while also providing warmth when you get to your destination. Smart packing is all about versatility, and a puffer is dressed up for trip success—in a lightweight and easily packable (and stuffable) form.

A portable charger

You never know where and when you're going to need a bit of battery power. With a portable charger, you won't have to worry about finding a plug or USB port—for security sake, just don't go plugging your devices into random USB ports! Most travelers are going to live on their phones, so keeping a slim and portable power supply on hand is essential to keep you powered up so you have access to your maps and travel plans.

A reusable water bottle

We already mentioned the importance of drinking water, so here's an item to help reach your hydration goals at a fraction of the cost of buying a single-use plastic bottle every time you fly. A reusable water bottle makes it simple to fill up once you're through security at the airport, sip water on the plane, and keep drinking while you're walking around your destination—and refill on the fly. Get one that's collapsible, if possible, for maximum bang for your hydration buck.

A quick-dry towel

Trust us: Take a towel. A quick-dry towel doesn't take up much space, but it does solve a nearly infinite number of problems. While you might go a whole trip without needing it, which would mean nothing went wrong, you'll be ecstatic to have it with you if something does.. And throw in a pack of disinfectant wipes, too. You can never be too clean or too cautious.

Contact information on paper

Finally, it's always smart to keep a few contact details on a piece of paper in your wallet. Think phone numbers such as your hotel, a local embassy (if you’re traveling abroad), an emergency contact back home. Who would you call in a pinch? 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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