Top 5 Essentials That Every Traveler Must Have (But Usually Doesn’t)

I never did enjoy packing for a trip. It’s hard for me to decide what clothes to bring, or how many books I can stuff in my luggage (yes, that’s a real concern). Oftentimes, because I’m so caught up trying to fit everything in one bag (I never liked checking in baggage so I usually just hand-carry my stuff), I forget to pack the obvious and end up regretting it.

If you’re like me, this list should help. Here are top 5 essentials that every traveler must have, but often doesn’t:

1. Water. I cannot overemphasize how important this is, especially for backpackers. A water bottle may take up space in your bag, but it beats having to buy expensive water, juice, or soft drink during a city or country tour because you have nothing to drink. Also, tap water in some places isn’t safe for drinking, so it’s always better to bring your own than risk a stomachache or water poisoning.

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2. First aid kit. Let’s say you end up with a stomachache (because you didn’t bring your own water). Or you scraped your knee during a mountain hike. Or the heat got to you and you find yourself with a headache. Truth is, you’ll never know what might happen during your trip, so it’s best if you come armed. Prepare a small first aid kit with paracetamol (for headaches), mefanamic acid (for cramps and body pains), ibuprofen (for inflammation), loperamide (for stomachache and diarrhea), and any other prescription medicines you may have. Add band aids or sterile gauze and a small bottle of antiseptic to clean wounds, and throw in  small tube of calamine lotion if there’s still space for it.

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3. Wet wipes. I’m sure you’ll need to use the comfort room at least once during your trip. Wet wipes are convenient because you can use them even without water. They are also handy to have when you need to wipe sweat or grime off your face after a long trek. Just make sure to dispose of them properly, as wet wipes are non-biodegradable, unlike ordinary tissue paper.

4. Loose change. Always prepare loose change before traveling. Local drivers will appreciate it if you pay them the exact fare. Also, some local stores do not have change for big bills, especially if you buy from them early in the morning. So save yourself (and the vendor) the extra trouble and just pay the exact amount, if you can.

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5. Sunscreen. Whether you’re planning to walk around the city, hang out on the beach, or spend the day indoors (yes, even indoors), applying sunscreen will help protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. It may be cloudy outside, but the sun’s rays can still penetrate the clouds and burn your skin if you’re not careful. So protect yourself. Use sunscreen.

Runner-up:

Extra phone battery / power bank. How many times have you found yourself unable to make that call or take that photo because your phone or camera died on you? (Me? Too many times to count.) While it is important to charge your electronic gadgets before leaving your hotel room or dorm, it also helps if you bring an extra battery pack or power bank, in case your gadget runs out of juice. Wouldn’t want to miss out on capturing a great view during your trip, right?

Is this list helpful? What other must-haves do you bring during your travels? Share your personal recommendations and help build this list. I’d love to hear from you!

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