In case I hadn’t mentioned it enough, I travelled all throughout January and into February. I learnt a bunch of things while overseas, like how the only way to cross the road in Rome is to just start walking while staring down the driver in the car hurtling towards you, and that wild boar meatballs can improve your mood by 100%. But I also learnt what items were essentials to my trip, and what just sat in my suitcase the entire time and should have just stayed home. I thought I’d share my list of packing essentials here, because if you’re currently planning for your next overseas adventure, words of wisdom from actual travellers make the whole preparing part a whole lot less overwhelming. If you enjoy this post please give it a “like” so I know, and lets get into the suitcase essentials!
Note: This isn’t a list of everything I brought with me, because it’d be huge and everyone’s needs are different depending on where they’re going and when. For reference, I visited Rome, Florence, Paris and London in January/early Feb, way before the ‘beast from the east’ swept in, so it was cold but not that cold. But this is everything I think you should definitely bring with you no matter where you’re jetting off to!
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Comfortable, sturdy shoes – It’s travel 101, but seriously, leave the cute fashionable boots at home and get a proper pair. You walk everywhere when you travel, and sore feet are such a quick way of cutting the fun short. If you’re going somewhere in the Winter, look at shoes (typically boots) with a thick, rubber sole for an added layer against the cold. I bought this Chelsea style pair of boots from Wild Rhino and I lived in them for my entire trip, and have been wearing them non-stop at home in Australia too, especially for work. They’re super easy to just slip on, which is great when you’re popping in and out of changing rooms, and are super reliable. Find them online here.
Down jackets – If you’re heading somewhere cold, invest in a down jacket, it’ll save your chilly butt! Down jackets are filled with duck feathers and they act as an insulator, keeping you way warmer than any sweater or normal coat would. Yeah, they’re puffy and not the most flattering or Instagrammable (however my Insta says otherwise!), but when it’s zero degrees, you will be loving your marshmallow outfit! My down jacket was so warm that I found, when I was in Italy, I didn’t need so many layers, just a couple and this coat and I was good to go, which meant I didn’t melt whenever I would go into heated spaces. Jackets like this also compress down and are incredibly space saving. I bought this exact down jacket from Kathmandu and it comes with a little bag, so you roll it up like a sleeping bag and it turns into a little bean that can just chill in the corner of your suitcase. (I did buy a black coat in Florence from H&M because I found my down jacket to be too hot for every outing, especially if we’re just walking a short distance to dinner and back. It was perfect for Florence, but once I travelled to Paris and London, it was freezing and my down jacket was essential.)
Thermals – Another travel 101 is thermal underwear! Make sure you buy long pants and a long sleeved shirt and make sure they’re a snuggly fit (but not too small) so they can keep you warm but also allow other layers to sit on top nicely. I bought merino wool thermals from Kathmandu and I rate them highly! Most thermals also have technology where they don’t cling onto sweat, so they’ll last longer and you won’t need to really wash them while you’re away.
Layers (specifically turtlenecks) – I’m the biggest fan of turtlenecks, and I thought bringing five seemed overboard, but I definitely felt the cold when I wasn’t wearing one! They protect your chest and neck, help you avoid getting sick, and don’t make you so reliant on your scarf. With Winter clothing, you can’t go wrong with long sleeved shirts and jumpers. However, don’t pack big, bulky sweaters that are hard to layer with and will also take up precious suitcase real estate. I packed two pairs of black jeans (for variety, of course) and that was it for me really.
RFID Blocking Travel Wallet – I was so paranoid about my money being stolen, so I took the extra step and got a ‘radio frequency identification’ wallet which blocks scammers from electronically stealing my information. Also, instead of this being strapped to my body like a bum bag (however those are actually trendy now, and I’ll get to that in a sec), this has a strap so it hangs around your neck (and can lengthen it so it sits against your tummy). I loved this because I had my valuables right up against me at all times so I felt at ease, and when I did want to check if I had everything, I didn’t have to hunt through a backpack in fear, but just touch my chest and feel it there immediately.
Portable charger – A lifesaver! Get yourself a portable charger because when you’re using your GPS to find locations and then the camera to prove you were there, your battery is definitely going to drain itself. I bought a super cute rose gold one from Officeworks, only to realise I needed to also pack my freaking iPhone cable cord with me wherever I went, as the cord it came with didn’t connect to an iPhone, even though it said ‘perfect for iPhones!‘ in big writing on the packaging. Is this the deal with all portable chargers? If so, that’s annoying. If not, I didn’t do my research properly and was swayed by the rose gold.
Cross body bag – The type of bag you bring depends on where you’re heading, but a little cross body bag is so practical! It can sit across your body and stay in front of you (unlike a backpack), and they’re easy to reach and get stuff out of. Since I had my wallet under my clothes and my phone zipped up in my down jacket pocket, all that was in my bag was tissues, a lipstick, and nothing super valuable anyway. Bum bags/fanny packs are trendy now (I know right) which is great news as they’re super practical and you won’t feel like such a goose sporting one!
Travel adapters – These are essential if you’re travelling somewhere and their power outlets are not the same as yours or the appliances you have! I thought these would be expensive but they’re super affordable, so go to the travel section of a department store and check out their range.
Travel card – Not really an ‘accessory’ as my subheading says, but an essential. I had no idea about travel cards until I was told about them. Basically, you just load them up with money in the currency you’re heading to and it’ll be accepted everywhere free of charge. I know you can use debit cards overseas, but you’ll get a fee on every transaction you make. When I was in Italy however, I used cash almost everywhere because it was just easier, especially when you’re going out to dinner with a big group.
Touch screen friendly gloves – I bought a pair of gloves with little grippy bits on them so I could use my iPhone with them on. They were good in theory, but I have small hands, and the gloves only worked if they were pulled tight against your hand. They can be a little temperamental, but when mine did work, they were so good! Definitely look into them if you’re going somewhere cold because again, I thought they’d be expensive but they weren’t.
Hand sanitiser – I always forgot to transfer mine from my suitcase to my little bag but jesus did I love the person who would always offer up some of them own when we were out and about. It’s an easy thing to forget but once you’ve got it, you’ll be in good (sanitised) hands.
Clear toiletries bags – I am a sucker for transparent bags, whether they be pencil cases, makeup bags or toiletry bags, I just love them. I searched high and low for clear toiletries bags and the ones I found were so expensive! However, I walked into Kmart (or Target?) and found a set of three in varying sizes for just $15. They gave you a large, medium and small one and I was cheering. The big one stored all my shower, hair and skincare products, while the little one was my carry on toiletries bag with my toothbrush, contact lens case, deodorant etc inside. Clear bags are so practical because not only can you see what is inside them at a glance, but so can security. Most airports, especially London, want you to transfer you toiletries into clear bags so they can search them, but I’d already done that step with these bags.
Snap Lock bags – Two words, my friend – saving grace. Shampoo exploded all throughout your toiletries bag? Chuck that bottle in a snap lock bag to avoid future explosions. Need to separate your dirty underwear from the rest? Chuck them in a snap lock bag. Want to have a designated location for your thermals in your suitcase? Grab another snap lock bag. Need to save space? Chuck your whole life into a snap lock bag and squeeze the air out of it so it’s half the size. Snap lock bags are amazing and have a bunch of uses so pack yourself some. They come in a range of sizes, they’re transparent, they have a little writing label and are an easy way to organise yourself.
Any and all medication – Take all the precautions and pack medication for a bunch of circumstances! I have never taken cold and flu tablets in my life but they saved me towards the end of the trip where I got all congested in Paris (how romanic!) I’m so glad I packed them with me because it meant I didn’t have to waste time and money trying to find a pharmacy and buying them overseas. I was at the train station in Florence about to head to Venice for the day when I realised I had left my travel sickness tablets at my accommodation. I ran into the station’s pharmacy and said “travel? sickness?” to the woman behind the desk who I then realised obviously spoke great English. Save yourself the embarrassment and pack yourself a bunch of meds!
These are things I brought that I actually didn’t need, but it’s still good to consider them!
Polaroid camera – I know I included in it this post’s main image, but my polaroid camera never left my suitcase! They’re just not practical to carry around when you’re sightseeing as they’re bulky, and you’ll want better photos on your phone’s camera, or a proper camera!
Makeup wipes – I don’t use makeup wipes in my normal routine, but I thought they’d be so useful when travelling. However, I didn’t use them at all! When I was on the plane the staff would always give me hot towels to help rehydrate my drying skin, and since I always take my makeup off in the shower and shower every night, they had no real purpose!
So, besides the obvious like your passport, those are all the things I consider to be essential items when travelling overseas! Comment below if you’re jetting off somewhere anytime soon, I’d love to know about other’s trips now that I’m back home!
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All the love,