If you do a quick search on Amazon for “Travel Products”, you’ll be scrolling for days. So what is actually useful when you’re on the go? Here are my top 10 favorite travel items from our trip to Europe!
1. Packing Cubes
I have to admit, when I first heard about packing cubes, I thought they were a waste of money. Why put all of my things in cubes when I can just pack everything separate? I was SO wrong! Packing cubes saved us when we were traveling through Europe. Our main bags were backpacks, but these cubes can be used for all sorts of travel. They helped us stay organized moving from city to city. It was so helpful when we needed to fit our packs together like a puzzle. Trust me, you will be praising my name later! We bought the Bagail Set of 4 Packing Cubes from Amazon. There’s a choice of 5 different colors!
2. Travel Cosmetic Tools
I know makeup isn’t essential, but to each their own. I’m a self-diagnosed makeup/cosmetic junkie, so they are important to me. The fact that I can save some space makes it even better. Tip: if you order from Ulta and Sephora regularly, watch for when they have their sample promos. They will have a free sample bag with purchase every now and then. You’ll get tons of products perfect for traveling and usually a small pouch to organize it all!
- Travel eyelash curler—This saves so much room. It takes up less than half the space of a normal eyelash curler.
- Retractable makeup brushes—This was honestly one of my favorite travel items of all. Makeup brushes tend to get dirty, especially when you’re tossing them in a pouch after each use. They also cause your bag to get dirty because the makeup is just free to rub all over everything. With the retractable brushes, you put a cap on them while you’re on the go. It’s so convenient and I don’t know how I’ve gone this long without them (PSA: don’t forget to wash them!)—I have this one & and this one
- Travel hair brush—”Oh I have one of these that I keep in my purse” No, you don’t. This one doesn’t have a handle so it will blow your little “travel brush” out of the water. How do you brush your hair without a handle?! It’s easier than you would think. My second favorite feature of this brush is the cover. No bent or dirty bristles!
- Travel blow drier—This is more of an insurance policy for your hair. If you are staying in all hotels, you don’t need to worry about this. We were staying in a mix of hotels and AirBnb’s, so there was no guarantee of a hair drier. You might be a lucky soul that can air dry their hair, but my long thick hair takes over 24 hours to air dry so, yes, a hair drier is essential. Just make sure it has dual voltage like the one I’ve linked above!
3. Reusable Grocery Bag
You will use this WAY more than you think you will. I remember when I bought this and E scoffed, “Why in the world would you need that?” Well, let me tell you. If you’re traveling to Europe, or anywhere outside of the US really, no one uses the wasteful plastic bags you find in the US. In fact, many places in Europe will charge you if you don’t have a bag of your own. You may think your purse or backpack will cut it, but you’re wrong. You will have other things in there including electronics. Don’t risk having a bottle of wine or a pack of yogurt explode over everything. This grocery bag from BAGGU folds down to nothing, weighs nothing, but unfolds to a bag that fits so much! We used this in every city we went to in Europe and it doubled as our beach bag in Santorini. It was one of my favorite items we had while we were traveling and it was only $10.
4. Collapsible Water Bottle
If you’re planning on doing a lot of walking during your travels or even if it’s just going to be really hot, this can be a life saver. Switzerland in particular is a fantastic country to have a collapsible water bottle. Why? Because there are free water-fill stations with the purest alpine water you will ever taste in your life everywhere in the Alps. Also, everything is expensive in Switzerland, so it’s one less thing you’ll have to buy. We bought a particular collapsible water bottle for our trip, but I’m recommending a different one because the one we bought leaked. This one specifically says leak-proof so we will be buying these for our next journey! It’s also BPA free, which is always good.
5. Backpacking Travel Packs
I will be the first one to admit I never saw myself as a “backpacker” (I still don’t think we quite qualify as true backpackers because we don’t stay in hostels). I was worried that if we only brought backpacks, I wouldn’t have enough room for everything I needed. Now that we’ve gone, I think I could have brought less! We moved at a quick pace from city to city, so the minimal amount of “stuff” allowed us to unpack and repack quickly (with the help of those packing cubes mentioned above). We were able to fit a lot more than we thought we would, especially with utilizing every nook and cranny on the pack. We each used an Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Pack . I got the small and E got the large (for reference, I’m 5’5 and he’s 6′). They are an investment, but I was so thankful for a quality pack that made it through 5 countries, countless trains, and 6 flights (5 of which we checked our packs). They have a zip-off day pack which we kept at the front of us on travel days. We would keep any train tickets we needed, passports, and anything of value in the day pack so we always had our eyes on them. When checking the bigger pack for a flight, you can zip up the straps so there’s no chance of anything getting caught. We witnessed a girl grab her mangled pack off of the conveyor in Athens, Greece and her mistake was that she didn’t zip up her straps. It looked like the straps got caught in something and it ripped open the entire thing. It wasn’t salvageable. Just another reason why the cubes are helpful. God forbid your bag breaks and your clothes go flying everywhere. With the cubes you have no worries.
6. A Really Great Carry-on
If backpacks aren’t your thing, the best thing you can do for yourself is to purchase a really great carry-on. I put this Travelpro Maxlite Rollaboard Carry On on my Christmas list last year and I’m so thankful I got it! I’ve used it several times now for quick trips across the US and it’s worked perfectly. It’s light (hence the name), holds way more than you would think, and has lots of pockets. I was able to easily put this up in the overhead bin on the plane by myself. On newer (bigger) planes, it fits perfectly in the overhead bin on its side, leaving room for more bags. On smaller, older planes, you might have to lay it flat. If you have any issues, the flight attendants will help (they are pros).
7. Portable Charger
If you only take one piece of advice from this article, let it be this: BUY A PORTABLE CHARGER! I used ours at least once a day if not more. There are many different sizes, but if you’re planning on bringing a day pack around with you most of the time, I would invest in a nice portable charger like this one. It’s a little more expensive, but it will last a long time and will charge your phone fast. If you want your items to be as small as possible, this lipstick-sized charger should do the trick!
8. An All-in-One Power Adapter
The power adapters made today are small, versatile, and inexpensive. For instance, this power adapter takes care of USA, EU, AUS, UK, and Asia. It has 4 (!!!) USB ports so you can charge phones, laptops, iPads, Kindles, etc. Note: Italy and Switzerland use different plugs than everywhere else. You’ll need a Type L Converter for Italy and a Type J Converter for Switzerland.
9. A Sturdy and Comfy Sandal
One of my biggest dilemmas while packing for Europe was my shoe situation. Even though I worked really hard to bring as little as possible, I still brought too many. In my defense, I was trying to be prepared for all situations and all weather. What I brought were 1 pair each of flip flops, nice sandals, tennis shoes, slip on comfy walking shoes, and black flats. What did I not use? The black flats. I brought them just in case we went somewhere nice in Switzerland; I definitely could have left them behind. What was my favorite shoe? My Naot Dorith sandals! I wore them EVERYWHERE (except Switzerland because it was cold). My criteria for finding sandals for Europe included: comfort, versatility, ankle strap, and quality. These sandals checked all the boxes! I need really good arch support in my shoes and this helped in that area as well. The sole of the shoe is like a Birkenstock and conforms to the foot the more they are worn. They are definitely an investment, but I walked countless miles in them and never had any foot pain or blisters. I didn’t wear them in at all before our trip and I didn’t need to. They are cute enough to go out to dinner in, but comfy enough to walk all day. It was the answer to my shoe problem for sure. If you want something a little dressier, the Naot Footwear Women’s Papaki is a wonderful option as well. Just read the reviews! You will understand. Men, Naot makes some fantastic sandals for you too! Check out the Naot Men’s Electric Flat Sandal and the Naot Men’s Santa Cruz Flat Sandal.
10. A Comfy Close-Toed Walking Shoe
Shoes are so important when traveling, which is why they are 2 of my must-have’s. The second shoe I wore all over Europe was the Skechers Performance Women’s Go Walk 4 Achiever Walking Shoe. Why? So many reasons:
- Style: They are cute with jeans, shorts, and dresses (that’s a hard box to check)
- Comfort: They are extremely comfy to the point that I would wear them around even when we were just hanging out in the hotel/AirBnb
- Weight: They weigh almost nothing and you can squish them as much as you want without worrying about ruining them.
- Breatheability: They are airy so if you’re prone to getting really hot feet when walking around all day, no worries here.
- Ease: I wore these on our flying days because I could easily take them on and off in a couple seconds. This was fantastic for security as well as on the plane when I didn’t feel like having my shoes on for 8 hours. If you’re wondering, yes, I wore socks. I bought the gray version of these shoes and got gray no-show socks to go with them. The socks showed a little bit, but they almost looked like part of the shoe so it didn’t look goofy. I didn’t wear socks with them every time, though. There’s just something about walking barefoot through airport security than makes me a little nauseous. You can see me wearing them with socks in the left picture below.
BONUS: Travel Wallet
You’ll get mixed opinions on this one. We bought the Zoppen RFID Travel Wallet. It worked well for us because we didn’t have to wonder what pocket or bag to look in to find anything. We knew all of our important documents and items were in one place at all times. Here’s a few more reasons why I loved having this:
- It’s RFID blocking. This means that someone with a skimmer can’t walk past you and gather all of your credit card information.
- We kept everything in one place. Both of our passports, printed items (tickets/confirmations… we printed everything just in case), driver’s licenses, cash, train passes, etc. It held everything important.
- It has a little key ring on the inside. If your hotel/AirBnb only has a key for entering/exiting, this can become extremely helpful.
These are just a few items that we loved having with us on our trip to Europe. What are your favorite things to have while traveling?
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