Packing for a trip is often stressful, but when you’re trying to bring only what you can carry on your back, it can be a complete nightmare!

Throughout my travels I’ve picked up quite a few items that make packing and life way easier. I’m someone who likes to just get what I need at an affordable cost, nothing fancy or state of the art. There are fantastic travel products out there that have all the features, but will cost you a fortune! If you have the money and value the extras, they are worth buying. However, if you want to be fully prepared for a trip with as much money to put towards travel as possible, these products are for you!

When I travel, I opt for bringing only what I know I will wear more than once. Bringing only a carry-on size bag will save you money, time and knock out the possibility of the airline losing your luggage. Plus, when you are hopping from place to place, you’re relatively comfortable, and not dragging a ton of luggage around. With that being said, you could do the same with a small duffle or suitcase, it doesn’t have to be a backpack. But this is my post, and I say use a backpack!

Carry-On Size Travel Backpack

best travel backpack by cotopaxi

A reliable, carry-on size backpack is essential for any type of trip. You want a bag that’s comfortable, sturdy, 30-50L and has the amount of compartments you need.

If you want to invest in a backpack, go with the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Del Dia Travel Pack. It’s over $100, but you’ll have it for years and years to come and it’s so cool looking. For an extremely affordable option that you’ll also have for many years, go with the Outdoor Products Technical Pack for under $50! The Outdoor Products Pack was my first travel backpack. It went through A LOT and held up just fine!

Quick Drying Towel

quick dry travel towel

Quick drying towels are amazing! They’re soft, thin and take up minimal space in your bag. Many of them even dry if you’re in a rush and pack them away while they’re still wet! I use the Wise Owl Outfitters XL Travel Towel because it’s a cost effective quick drying towel that will cover my whole body.

Packing Cubes

I never understood the hype about packing cubes until I bought my own for $1-5 each in a Daiso store in Seoul.

I had initially looked into them before my trip to Asia and they were $30-70 a piece in the store I was shopping in, so I wrote them off immediately. Since I’ve only ever used my cheap mesh packing cubes, I do not have firsthand experience with others. The TravelWise Packing Cube System is the most similar I could find. The Dollar Tree also carries very basic mesh packing bags that may suit your needs. Packing cubes are essential for travel because you can keep everything organized and not have a huge mess when you need something at the bottom of your bag. I also love how they keep your bag in a nice shape since everything isn’t crammed in. I like to bring 2 large for bottoms & dresses, 2 medium for shirts & underwear/swimsuits and 1 draw-string laundry bag to separate dirty clothes.

Secret Pocket Infinity Scarf

secret pocket infinity scarf travel packing

Safety is always a big concern of mine during travel. Robbery or losing your passport is an absolute nightmare, so I always look for sneaky ways to stay extra safe and hang on to my belongings.

That’s how I came across this Secret Pocket Infinity Scarf! These scarves are perfect for winter travel in areas where pickpocketing is common. I kept my passport, cards and money in this scarf and when worn correctly, you cannot tell anything is there. I did a lot of research on sellers before buying and I found that Ruby’s Daughter1977 on Etsy had the highest quality scarves at the best price. I bought $10 ones on Amazon and the quality did not compare. Ruby’s are $20, high quality material, and come in a variety of colors with zippers that blend in perfectly. I wear the scarf in denim, because it goes with anything and has a unique look to it.

Plastic Folder

This may seem like a random item, but it is really nice to have all your backup travel documents and onward itineraries in a safe place you can easily access. I like to keep mine in the lining of the backpack that is along my back, because many packs have a little sleeve there. However, even if your bag does not have a sleeve, you can probably slide this in nicely behind your packing cubes. I chose Avery Heavy-Duty Plastic Sleeves because they are sturdier than paper folders and will easily slide in and out while your bag is full.

Toiletry Bag

toiletry bag for backpacking

Having a toiletry bag that is both compact and can hold everything you need is a tall order, but the Mossio Hanging Toiletry Bag has somehow done it!

It has a hook so you can hang it in unclean bathrooms, and multiple compartments to keep everything organized. I think it’s just the right size, but if you know you have a small amount of toiletries, I recommend finding an even smaller travel toiletry bag. Also, don’t forget to pick up travel size bottles for all your liquids so they are carry-on compliant (usually 3.4 oz/100 milliliters).

Jewelry Holder

travel jewelry holder

I usually bring a nice assortment of jewelry on my trips so it’s important to me to keep it from getting damaged or lost. So far my little travel jewelry holder hack has been using a hard container, like a tin that once held mints. Most people have a number of containers lying around the house that would work, so get creative!

Portable Battery

Portable phone chargers have a special place in my heart.

On my last big trip, my iPhone stopped working on day 1! For whatever reason, it would go from 100% charge to dead if I took one or 2 photos. My phone was my only way to take photos, so I was pretty upset.

After silently channeling my anger at Apple for a day, I remembered Portable Chargers, A.K.A external power banks. You can usually pick one up that is good for 2 full charges for $15-30. I just kept mine in my purse with my iPhone cord plugged in so my phone stayed charged. Portable chargers are convenient because often during travel you are on the go all day and don’t have time to recharge your phone. Side note: if you have this problem with your iPhone when abroad, try putting it on Airplane mode instead of just turning your data off.

Helpful Reminder

Never forget to pack a little baggie of things like Advil, immodiom, Tums, bandaids, etc. depending on what you will be doing. You will thank yourself!

Don’t see a travel item in the list you know is essential? Let me know in the comment section below!