Amy carrying the 35L Thule AllTrail backpack by the sea

10 essential travel items we never leave home without

After nearly six years of travel, we’ve got packing down to a fine art. Whether we’re backpacking through Asia or road tripping in the USA, there are some travel items we’ve discovered we can’t live without on the road. From insurance to Kindles and Earl Grey tea bags, here are 10 essential travel items we never leave home without.

1. Travel insurance

 If you can’t afford insurance, then you can’t afford to travel. It’s as simple as that. Any number of things could happen while you’re on the road; you could get sick, have an accident, lose your backpack, drop your camera in the ocean or get mugged, the possibilities are endless. Having proper insurance could save you thousands of pounds and untold stress should the worst happen.

Us feeling much better on the way down from Everest Base Camp

We needed extra insurance for trekking at altitude to Everest Base Camp

We budget insurance into all of our trips, whether we’re trekking in the Himalayas, backpacking in South America or road tripping in Europe. Luckily, in six years we’ve never had to make a claim but I rest much easier knowing that we’re fully covered. We always check policies thoroughly to make sure they include adequate medical cover and repatriation costs, things we’d never want our families to have to foot the bill for

2. Macbook Air

I don’t go anywhere without my Macbook, it’s both my most expensive and invaluable possession. As a freelance writer and travel blogger, I use my Mac every day for work as well as travel planning and staying in touch with family. I have separate insurance to cover my Mac, as well as a hard cover and case for protection.

Working on the veranda while pet sitting Algarve

Working on my Mac while house sitting in Portugal

3. Zero-fee bank account

We’ve saved hundreds of pounds over the last six years by using bank accounts that don’t charge you for making transactions abroad. After Norwich and Peterborough closed their zero-fee current accounts, we switched to Starling, which has been great. This online-only bank operates in the UK and doesn’t charge overseas fees, it also has a handy iPhone app.

Pile of money

While we use Starling for withdrawing money and making transactions abroad, we also carry Halifax Clarity credit cards. These don’t charge you unless you withdraw cash from ATMs and don’t pay it back immediately (find out more about how they work in our travel credit card guide). We’ve found them useful for car rentals and as a secure way of booking flights.

4. Skross PRO Plus World Adapter

Our Skross plug adapter has been with us from the very beginning, as you can see from our original 2013 packing list post. We’ve been able to use it in every country we’ve visited, from across Asia to Europe, the Americas, Australia and New Zealand. Earlier this year we also invested in a Te-rich power strip which has a surge protector to stop our laptops from getting fried in dodgy sockets.

5. Travel vaccinations

Protect your health by making sure you have the proper vaccinations for your trip. You can read our full guide to travel vaccinations here, but we make sure we’re up to date with the following immunisations:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Typhoid
  • Tetanus
  • Yellow Fever

We always carry our vaccination cards with us and pack a supply of medicine and insect repellent.

Giving Blood in Cambodia

Giving Blood in Cambodia

6. Mooncup – essential travel items for women

If you’re a woman, I’d highly recommend investing in a Mooncup, whether you travel or not. You’ll save money on sanitary products and help the environment by cutting down on waste. What’s more, the Mooncup is better for your body than using tampons or towels. When it comes to travel, I’ve found the Mooncup invaluable for long journeys and in places where sanitary products are less accessible.

7. Kindles

Although I love the look and feel of a real book, we couldn’t travel without our Kindles. They’ve become one of our essential travel items as they save space, allowing us to carry hundreds of books in our tiny backpacks. Our Kindles have also proved to be really durable and show no signs of breaking down after six years of being bashed about around the world.

Our electronics for our South America Trip

8. HDMI cable

We use a HDMI cable to plug our laptop into TVs so we can watch our favourite shows wherever we are in the world. This is particularly useful now because we tend to rent apartments, so that we can work remotely and cook vegan meals.

9. Ear plugs and eye mask

I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to sleep in noisy, bright accommodation while travelling. Ear plugs and an eye mask have been a saving grace and allowed me to get some much-needed sleep. Don’t forget to take them in your day pack for overnight buses and train journeys, as well as on long-haul flights.

Zipped into a sleeping bag in Dingboche on the Everest Base Camp Trek

Attempting to sleep in a noisy, freezing tea house in Nepal

10. British home comforts

These days we like to travel with some familiar British comforts that you typically can’t get abroad, or items that are very expensive outside of the UK. I always tuck a jar of Marmite and some Earl Grey tea bags into our backpacks and now that we’re vegan, a supply of nutritional yeast and some B12 vitamins have become essential travel items.

Marmite - one of our essential travel items

We never travel without Marmite

What are your essential travel items?

  • Gilda Baxter
    Posted at 09:38h, 02 November Reply

    Well done you Amy for giving blood in Cambodia. Can I add the rabies vaccine also to your list? we just recently had ours to travel to Peru and we had to get 3 shots spaced out. Particularly important for certain countries. I can’t go anywhere without my kindle and also my migraine medicine?

    • Amy
      Posted at 14:43h, 06 November Reply

      Thanks for the recommendation Gilda, we did get the rabies vaccine in 2013 when we first left the UK, but haven’t had it updated since. Yes, totally love the migraine medicine recommendation too, definitely an essential item.

  • Rebecca Brown
    Posted at 05:29h, 21 December Reply

    Great post! I especially agree with your suggestion to take proper vaccinations while traveling. A very few people think about it. It can be easy it wants to see more, more, more, but traveling around so quickly makes it hard to work and just live life. You can’t go that pace for too long without burning out. Great advice — thanks for sharing!

    • Amy
      Posted at 09:47h, 21 December Reply

      So true Rebecca! Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  • Jennifer Berkey
    Posted at 08:05h, 27 December Reply

    Hooray for menstrual cups! I have one and I am loving it. It’s hard to travel without this since using a napkin or tampon is messy. The earplugs and eye mask are must-have too and you are right! Thanks for this! Xoxo.

    • Amy
      Posted at 14:46h, 02 January Reply

      Yep, I’d highly recommend the Mooncup, it’s such a great way to cut down on waste and save money.

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