The travel essentials I take every time.
Ciao! If you’re following VRVE on Instagram, you’re well aware that I’m somewhere in Italy right now, probably deep into a glass of Chianti or power-walking the cobbled streets to burn off #allthecarbs. I’ll share detailed posts about my travel adventures when I get home—I promise. (You’ll find plenty of teaser pics on Instagram in the meantime.) For now, since 10 of my besties are in the midst of packing for our meetup in Croatia, and because people often ask me for international travel tips, here are 13 travel essentials I never leave home without.
It’s no secret that airplane food sucks, and when you’re a picky eater like me, your options are particularly limited. Instead, I rely on my own snacks, packed into interlocking Whiskware Snacking Containers. I prefer the durable Whiskware containers over Ziploc bags to keep my munchies from getting mashed. Plus I like to keep some containers on hand throughout my travels. That way, when I buy snacks locally—fresh produce from the farmer’s market, or a bulk bag of nuts—I can pack portions that will stay fresh and protected, and tuck neatly in my tote, to fuel my day of exploring.
Dig into my travel bag and you’ll also find a supply of Bonk Breaker bars. “Hangry Holly” isn’t much fun, so to stave off unpleasantries I pack plenty of my favorite bars among my travel essentials. Thanks to Bonk Breaker, I know I’ll have quality, easily-digestible, real-food protein close at hand. Their bars hold up in the heat (even the chocolaty flavors), which is important for my far-flung adventures. Premium Protein is the newest addition to the line, and I’m convinced it’s the best protein bar on the market. In part, that’s due to its highly bio-available protein source (collagen combined with grass-fed whey). And in part, it’s because of the decadent, to-die-for Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate Chip flavor. Yum!
In the real world, I wouldn’t be caught dead drinking instant coffee. But in the world that is the final hour of a redeye flight, bring on a cup of hot water and a packet or two of Via. It wins in every way over airline coffee, especially when you need serious perking up in order to navigate whatever waits beyond the airport exit. (Mind you, I also count a bag of ground beans for brewing at my accommodation among my travel essentials. And if I’m less than one hundred percent certain I’ll have a reliable hot water source, I’ll even pack a mini dual-voltage electric kettle. Early morning coffee is my jam, and I’m often up before cafes open.)
A friend turned me onto Jet Zone eight or nine years ago, and I’ve used it on long-haul flights ever since. You simply dissolve one of the homeopathic tablets under your tongue every two hours in transit, if you’re awake (otherwise, simply sleep). It’s not a sleeping med, but it gently takes the edge off of jetlag. I’ve definitely noticed a difference the few times I’ve forgotten to take mine
Another must for my travel essentials kit is a good daily probiotic to maintain a happy gut. In my experience, there’s none better than Sound Probiotics. The scientfically-driven team at Sound developed a premium formula that addresses gut health and immune function, both of which are easily disrupted while on the road. If you struggle with GI issues (at home or abroad), or simply want to boost your system in a positive way, give Sound Probiotics a try.
Cankles, be gone! My endurance athlete friends know the critical importance of compression socks. For the rest of you, trust me. Get some to wear on the plane and your feet and legs will arrive feeling fresh, without a cankle in sight. Pro Compression offers an unbeatable array of patterns and colors, including modern Mint Dots, proving that travel essentials can be trendy as well as practical.
7. Rose Water Toner
Hot, sweaty, and ready to refresh? A simple spritz of rose water toner will do the trick. Mine is from Mudbum, a franchise facial bar that recently developed their own product line. I purchased mine at the location in Boulder, but they plan to sell it online soon. I stash a tiny spritzer bottle in my carry-on and around-town tote bag and use it whenever I need an immediate pick-me-up. (It’s also great to spray on your pillow to aid relaxation and sleep.)
Another of my go-to ways to refresh in-flight is with the awesome, awakening scent of this eucalyptus-spearmint lotion from Bath & Body Works. It keeps my hands ultra-hydrated and erases the funky feel of travel. And guaranteed, my seatmate will comment on how incredible it smells.
9. Tiny Little Notebook
Travel is what dreams are made of, and you’ll need somewhere to record those dreams. Or to jot down your contact info for a new friend. Or to make note of recommendations or anything else you don’t want to forget. Sure, you can do all of the above electronically, but sometimes it’s nice to stay completely off the grid and put tiny pen to tiny paper. I adore Poppin office supplies, and a notebook from this colorful collection of 10 makes for a perfect travel companion.
Ever since I first started traveling abroad I’ve had a thing for pocket-sized foreign language phrasebooks from Lonely Planet. I have a stack at home and always tote along the appropriate language version on any trip. In all honesty, I don’t use them as much as I once did, but I still enjoy having them and reading through the language sections and social interaction basics (which I find to be fairly accurate and up-to-date).
11. Lightweight Kimono
A lightweight kimono is the ultimate multi-purpose piece of apparel. Lounging around the Airbnb, plotting your day? Looking for a cover up for visiting the Vatican? Need to keep the sun off of overly-exposed skin? Want to dress up a simple tank and shorts outfit, with a boho twist? A kimono does the trick, and takes up minimal space in your suitcase. Mine came from Evereve. Lovestitch also offers an extensive range.
12. Aloha Bags
Bag obsessed, that’s me! I like to pack a lightweight tote for trekking around a city (roomy enough to hold water, snacks, money, and whatever purchases I make that day). This one from Aloha Bags ticks all the boxes. It’s practically weightless, plus it’s splash proof and stylish. I also have a whole slew of pouches from Aloha in different sizes, which I use for storing everything from jewelry to layers of clothing to toiletry essentials to wet bikinis
13. Cute Passport Holder
Yes, you can travel the world without a passport cover. But if you can dress up a drab passport, why not do it? It will brighten your mood each time you reach for your documents, and it will leave other travelers guessing as to your nationality. My passport cover is decorated with Christmas cactus images. I can no longer find it online, but I did dig up some other fun options, including one with llamas, one with nautical flags, and a larger passport cover/wallet combo featuring a chic cactus design.
Disclosure: I received products from Bonk Breaker and Sound Probiotics in exchange for inclusion in this post. I’ve used the products from both brands faithfully since long before I started blogging. I work for the BlenderBottle Company, which includes the Whiskware brand, making me extra qualified to extoll the virtues of their products. All opinions expressed herein are my own.