Packing correctly for travel takes practice and repetition. The most experienced travelers know to leave the must-have travel items in their travel pack so there’s no chance they will be forgotten. Matador’s Travel and Outdoor editors are among those believers — in fact, each has spent years honing his or her travel setup to be optimized for the type of travel and activities they most frequently embark on, whether that be a yoga retreat or tour of Paris museums. Here are those small travel items, each of which can fit in your travel pack without hogging all the room you need for clothes, laptop, and other must-haves. Every item on this list is available via Amazon Prime. So go ahead — trip out your travel pack and own the road on your next adventure.
trtl Pillow for neck support
Whether you’re on a long-haul flight, a bumpy car or bus ride, or simply relaxing after a long day of sightseeing, this trtl Pillow is the perfect way to help unwind your head, neck, and upper spine. This pillow looks like a scarf and sleeps like a pillow. It also packs easily and can even be strapped to the outside of your pack if you’re short of space on the inside. Throw it in the wash when you return from a trip and then right back into your bag. Finally, those worries about whether or not your accommodations have good pillows are over.
Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes
A necessity on the road even before 2020, Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes are the easiest way to keep your hands clean and sanitized no matter where you are. Carry-on ready, the individual boxes in this six-pack are perfect for refreshing your surroundings on a plane, at a restaurant, or when using a public restroom.
World Travel Adapter Kit by Septics
Though you may not be traveling abroad nearly as much right now, be prepared for when you get back out there by keeping a universal charger in your bag permanently. This one from Ceptics has two USB plugs and two grounded plugs. That’s more than enough for an iPhone, computer, and the charger for whatever camera you use. Even when traveling in North America, though, it’s handy to have on hand to keep all of your plugs in one place if there aren’t a whole lot of outlets where you’re staying.
Rumpl Original Puffy Blanket
Having a packable blanket with you when traveling is a lifesaver whether you’re on an outdoorsy trip or plan to spend your time in cities. This Rumpl throw blanket can be used to keep warm on the plane, to sit on at the park, or wrapped around you when camping on a warm summer evening. As far as easy comfort goes, there’s nothing better.
SUUNTO MC-2 Mirror Compass
Every outdoorsy person should have a compass. This one from SUUNTO doubles as an inclinometer, which helps you gauge slope steepness in the mountains. This is beneficial when summitting peaks or ascending steep slopes year-round, and is absolutely essential in the winter to assist in determining avalanche risk while mountaineering or backcountry skiing and snowboarding. Along with other backcountry ski gear, this compass and inclinometer could be instrumental (pun intended) in saving your life.
Cameron’s Coffee Single Serve Pods
Checking into a hotel, lodge, or Airbnb, only to find it only offers disposable Keurig K-cups for your morning joe fix is so discouraging. K-Cups are absolutely horrible for the planet, but these single-use Cameron’s Coffee Single Serve Pods are the perfect alternative for travelers. The pods are biodegradable and the coffee is just as good — maybe even better, depending on what your host provides. Keep a few in your bag or bring the whole box if you plan to travel for a while.
Price: $29.65 for 36-count pack
A quick burst of energy is often essential when embarking on a long day’s excursion in the wilderness. Keeping a few RX Bars in your pack at all times is a great way to ensure you always have something with you to stave off encroaching hunger and help you power through that last mile. RX Bars are built from ingredients optimized for exerting energy, like egg whites, nuts, and dates, and are free of the added sugars that many energy bars mix in. These RX Bar minis are even more convenient, as you can better control your portion size and keep a wider variety of flavors in your pack (because we all get sick of the peanut butter + chocolate combo after while, right?)
Price: $38.02 for a 30-count box
Welly travel first aid kit
The Welly travel first aid kit is perfect for flying and road trips. Keep it in your pack or vehicle and always have light medical supplies on hand when you need them. Included are bandages in multiple sizes, adhesive tape, gauze, prep pads, butterfly strips, antibiotic and hydrocortisone packets, and ibuprofen pills. This kit is particularly useful when traveling with kids or a group of people. If any arrive underprepared but succumb to a light pricking during a day of sightseeing, you’ve got them covered.
Sun Bum Premium Day Tripper Sun Care Travel Pack
Sunscreen is essential no matter where you travel. This Sun Bum Day Tripper kit has you covered from head to toe, including lip balm, and comes with a hydrating cool down lotion to apply after a long day in the sun. All are reef safe, so whether you’re headed to the beach or a mountain lake you can rest easy knowing that you aren’t damaging the habitats in which you play.
Sawyer Products SP 134 TAP Water Filtration System
Gone are the days of needing to buy plastic water bottles when traveling in places without drinkable tap water. The Sawyer Products SP 134 TAP Water Filtration System connects to taps and filters the water into your water bottle, so you can have a zero-waste water source while traveling. The filter is small and portable, and is designed for travel. It can filter up to 500 gallons per day and is reusable. And, it connects to things like hoses and other Sawyer products giving you an extra dose of versatility.
Kleen Kanteen Classic Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Of course, you need a water bottle to filter that water into. Kleen Kanteen’s classic filtered bottle does the trick, and fits comfortably into the drink pouch on most travel backpacks. The lid is secure and leakproof and can be fasted via carabiner to your pack if you decide to throw it in the trunk or want to make sure you don’t leave the bottle behind in the hotel room. And, it keeps your water nice and cool for up to 50 hours and keeps hot drinks hot for up to 20 hours.
Price: $24.25-$53.49, depending on size
Bearz Outdoor Quick Dry Travel Towel
You can count on a towel being provided for you if you’re staying at a hotel, but outside of that, the presence of a towel can be a bit of a toss-up. If staying in a budget Airbnb, camping, or doing anything where you may want to jump into a body of water, it’s nice to have a microfiber towel on hand, and this Bearz Outdoor Quick Dry Towel does the trick. These don’t take up too much space but still get you dry. They also double as something to sit on — just remember that microfiber is clingy so you’ll have to spend some time getting the grass or dirt off if you put it on the ground.