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Essential Items to Pack in Your Luggage

Updated on October 30, 2010

Essential Items to Pack in my luggage when I travel

When getting ready to pack for my travels I always think very carefully about what to take and it’s often a trade-off between what I would like to take versus weight. This article is about the "extra" items I pack which are useful and essential and not about the usual assortment of layered clothing etc which are also packed in my luggage.

 I try to keep my luggage to a weight of no more than 15kgs when I start my trips. That leaves me room for some shopping and gifts to take (or send) home. Of course, at times, that means eliminating some things I wished I could take with me.

 Here is my list of packing tips:

  1. Laptop and Kathmandu neoprene sleeve. The sleeve protects the laptop from bumps. I have taken my laptop on many journeys now and although it is heavy, I consider it worthwhile for writing, updating web pages and downloading photographs.
  2. Books – Aside from my trusty Lonely Planet guide book which is essential for this tourist, I pack in my luggage two books to read. They are usually novels but I also read a lot of travel narratives. After reading them I (sometimes very reluctantly) swap them part way through my journey if I can find a second hand bookshop with books in English.
  3. A Small LED Torch – I take a lightweight LED torch. Mine generates sufficient light so I can read books by it. Bedside lights are not always available in “flashpacker” type hotels I chose to stay in when I travel so I’ve resorted to reading by my torch many times!  The torch has also proven its status as essential luggage to light the way when there are no streetlights.
  4. Diary – I write my observations in a lined notebook. I prefer to hand write my notes (often in cafes or restaurants) because my notebook style diary is more transportable than my laptop.
  5. First Aid Kit – A small first aid kit has come in handy many times. I also keep hand sanitizer in my handbag and small packets of tissues. That was especially important as I was a tourist in Mexico just after the outbreak of the swine flu epidemic. The tissues are a good substitute for toilet paper especially in places like Asia and Cuba where it’s rarely available.  After my last trip when I used the hand sanitizer often, it stripped the skin of my hands so now I ensure I pack a really good hand cream and use it often. I still can’t decide whether I prefer hand wipes or the liquid hand sanitizer. What do you like? Also essential is a good sun screen (I take one for my face and a second one for my body), insect repellent etc.
  6. Plastic Containers – This might seem an odd addition but I like to take two plastic containers for storing the balance of a packet of biscuits, crackers or nuts purchased on the road. It keeps leftover food fresh and unlike plastic bags the supplies don’t get crushed. Many times on a long road trip, I’ve dipped into my containers for nourishment.
  7. A knife – I also take a spoon, fork and plastic plate. I like my small purple Kuhn Rikon paring knife as it comes in a protective sheath. The paring knife is excellent for cutting fruit, a cake etc. These items earn their place as essential additions for the occasions when I want to eat a snack in my room. Sometimes eating a meal in my room, on the balcony or in a park makes an enjoyable change and it’s cheaper.
  8. Rainproof Jacket – I have a multi-purpose Marmot rain proof jacket. It is very light, repels the rain very well and it folds up tight making it very easy to pack in my luggage.
  9. Travel Insurance – Although this is the last point that does not reflect how strongly I feel about having insurance cover when traveling. I always take out travel insurance before I leave on an extended vacation. I look for cheap travel insurance but one which gives excellent health cover and personal effects protection. I read the clauses in the policy so that I understand what will and won’t be covered. I don’t substitute cheap for a more expensive travel insurance policy that will give me better cover or have a stronger underwriter. Like my packing this is often a trade-off.

These are just a few of the “extra” items I consider essential to pack in my luggage when I travel.

I wonder what you consider essential additions to pack in your luggage?

Some of my travel essentials
Some of my travel essentials


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    • travelespresso profile image

      travelespresso 7 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      I can easily travel with 15kgs for 4days and longer now, but when I first began to travel I took just about everything with me and then came home with most of it untouched and no room for purchases! I suggest that you pack early, and weigh it.

    • profile image

      glece 7 years ago

      Is 15kgs a good deal for a 4 day travel?

    • travelespresso profile image

      travelespresso 7 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      Too true Anna. I took a silk sleeping bag on my first trip to Asia but I didn't use it so I left it behind the next time. They are great though and very cheap to buy in Asia.

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image

      Anna the Travel Blanket gal 7 years ago

      Don't forger to carry a sleeping sack/sleeping bag liner. Silk are best as they are warmer in the cold and cooler in the heat than cotton. And if you know it will be extra cold a travel blnket will also come in useful.

      Another great thing to carry along in warmer climates and especially if you will be tracking in and out of water, are sports sandals, better than flip-flops that may cause soreness.