Ten Essential Pieces of Travel Gear

Over the last two decades, I’ve been to over a dozen countries and a good few states, traveling by car, plane, foot, and train. In those travels, I’ve noticed that there seem to be some things that are constants, especially unpredictability. No matter how well you plan or prepare, there will likely be a situation that you just couldn’t predict that can make your day a little bit harder. Here, I want to share with you ten things that I keep with me whenever I travel to help offset that unpredictability and get to my destination as smoothly as possible.


These days, most of us, at least Americans, are used to paying with a credit card, or now, our phones acting as digital wallets. This is convenient, but always at the risk of being lost, stolen, or useless. I’ve had cards suddenly stop working even within the US when, for example, you drive too far in a day on a road trip and purchase two states over from where you live trip a fraud alert- on a Saturday night. To avoid those headaches, I always bring enough cash to take care of at least my basic life needs for 24 hours so I can sort out other forms of payment.

Wool Socks

Traveling usually means long days, a lot of it on your feet. Moisture and discomfort on your feet are the surest way I know of to make a day worse than it is. Thus, when I know I’m having a long day, I opt for wool socks that are weather appropriate. These keep my feet dry and breathe really well so that I don’t get blisters even if I walk miles through airports or up the side of a mountain. Good socks are an absolute must, and cotton holds too much moisture for my liking.

A Sweater

At home, we get to set the temperature. This is not the case in most other places, especially in public transit settings. To make sure I’m comfortable no matter what, I bring a sweater: my go-to is a blue wool zip-up cardigan I’ve had for about a decade now. Over that time it’s kept me warm on planes and hikes, and severed as a pillow on more than one occasion in warmer weather. While it might take up some room in a bag, this is a must.

A Raincoat

It’s going to rain. I know the forecast might tell you otherwise, but it’s going to rain. When it does, I’d recommend having a raincoat in your bag, close to the top so you can get to it quickly in the event of a sudden downpour. The few extra ounces added by a packable raincoat are well worth the knowledge that you’re prepared, and saves you the deeply unpleasant experience of being rained on while waiting outside on the tarmac at a rural airport, before boarding a long, cold flight when you have to go right to work once you land.

A Multitool

On a daily basis, I keep a full-sized multi-tool in my car, and another few in the house, and I find them extremely handy. When traveling, things will break, and having a little pair of pliers, scissors, or something to pry with will come in handy. Nowadays, most knife companies make a version of a tool that has no blade at all, so that you can take them right in your carry one. Otherwise, double-check the laws where you’re going and put a multitool in your checked bag, if you’re taking one so that you can solve all of those annoying little problems with screws and loose threads once you get where you’re going.


About once a year, I get a bloody nose. It’s been happening since I was a kid and there’s no real way of knowing when, or why, but getting into an airplane, with the dry air and change in pressure, might just induce one. For that, or for a runny nose or spilled coffee, I always keep a travel pack of tissues stashed in my backpack or jacket pocket. Every now and again, they do save me from having to rush to a bathroom, if there is one, to clean up from the aforementioned nose-related events.


Running with the theme of not wanting to publicly bleed on myself, I make sure that, no matter what, my travel kit contains a few bandaids. More often than not, I end up giving one to someone who just got a papercut. Also, if you’re in a pinch then can serve to temporarily hold the bathroom stall door closed if you happen to get the type that has especially strong adhesive: when you find yourself in a truck stop and don’t exactly want to meet the locals in a vulnerable position in the bathroom, one tends to get creative.

Water Bottle

The prices that airports charge for a bottle of water are embarrassing, and when I can, I try my best to be environmentally responsible. Thus, an empty water bottle is part of my kit any time I’ll be flying. Here, being empty is the important part, as you’ll have to dump it out before going through the security checkpoint anyway and that’s one extra thing you don’t want to have to make time for if you’re already on a tight schedule.


Choosing a travel snack can be tricky. I go for things that can’t be crushed, don’t smell, and generally don’t leave a mess. Domestically, some fruits can be fine, but if you’re flying international that can run you afoul of customs. Typically, I go for a granola bar or some beef jerky to tide me over between meals or on long flights. Also, please don’t be the person who brings a tuna sandwich on an aircraft full of people, the smell is pretty irritating to some folks.

Eye Care or Medical Needs

I’m dependent on glasses or contacts to stay functional. Thus, whenever I leave the house, I keep my glasses on my person and some contact solution and a case in my bag. If the trip is anything more than errands, at least one spare pair of contacts is a must to make sure I can still see to get around and read. If you have any needs that are immediately pressing like I do with vision, think about that first and foremost when packing.

Those are the ten things that always go with me when it’s time to hit the road, which we’ll all be doing more of now that it’s safer to travel. Hopefully this piece helps you to remember something you’d have otherwise forgotten to pack!
About author
Garrett is a writer and commentator based in the South. His areas of expertise lie in cooking, fashion, and the outdoors among others. He has been writing and educating professionally for years, and enjoys creating online discourses around positively masculine spaces.


There are no comments to display.

Article information

Last update

More in Hobbies & Activities

More from GCurtis