People ask me a lot of questions when I tell them how much I travel or they see my Instagram/blog… but the question that makes me the most curious is when people ask: how do you live for 2 weeks out of a tiny suitcase?! How do you fit in all the essentials??
To me it feels like a really easy and simple thing to do; to pack for 2 weeks and only take a tiny hand-luggage suitcase. But then I remember that I’ve been doing this for so long that I’ve kind of developed a technique that I now take for granted 😉
Here’s the secret to my travel packing: I take as little as possible.
I’m used to never being in one place or having to wear the same stuff all the time; I’ve done this since I was a teenager (travelling around and never being at home) and it’s really nothing new to me.
But for a lot of people it’s not a common thing for them to do, which of course means, first you need to change your view on living simply.
At home you can have all the luxury you want, and hoard as much stuff as you want. But when it comes to travelling this just isn’t going to work. You need to be simple – minimalist – practical. And that’s really all there is to it!!
So, sticking to our simple-minimalist-practical vibe, here are the essential items I think you need to take (besides obvious stuff like clothes and your phone charger etc).
Trust me, you don’t want to be hauling a huge suitcase around when you’re running for a flight; you don’t want to have to wait ages for baggage to come through on the carousel, and you definitely don’t want to be pulling a massive suitcase through the cobbled streets of Italy whilst tired, a little stressed, and searching for your hostel…
TECH & ESSENTIALS
✈ Small suitcase (hand-luggage size) – First you need a small suitcase to put all this stuff in. In Europe I recommend looking in Carrefour, especially when the soldes are on!! In the USA try TJ Maxx, and in the UK, try TK Maxx or Tesco/Asda. Bonus points when the sales are on because they can get super cheap!
Before you buy, make sure it will fit all the airlines you’ll be travelling on with this handy guide courtesy of Skyscanner.
✈ Earphones – I use the trusty earphones that come with the Iphone. Even though I’m a music producer I really like them for their basic sound quality, relatively cheap price and the fact that they’re easy to get hold of in most countries.
✈ Portable charger – Trust me, your phone battery will not last long if you’re taking photos all day.
✈ Travel adaptor plug – don’t get caught out with this (I especially found it hard to find UK to EU adaptors… even in France, which is super close to the UK). Just get an international adaptor and you’ll be ok in every country! I suggest taking 2 in case you lose one, or one gets broken.
✈ Camera – I have the Nikon D3100. I’m not a photographer and I don’t know how to use a camera properly, so I like automatic settings and quick/easy use. This one is relatively cheap for what it is and takes good photos.
✈ SD cards – I take a few (normally a mix of whatever I have lying around) but anything around 32GB is perfect.
✈ Notebook & pen – a tiny mini notebook. You can write memories, notes, whatever. I always I wish I had a mini notebook with me when I forget to bring one.
✈ Cash – I try not to carry huge amounts of cash for obvious reasons!! But I do take a little bit, and normally because there’s small things you want to buy while you’re travelling that are cheaper to buy with cash than a card (or there’s no card payment available).
For example, water, chewing gum, etc. Some train stations and buses won’t take card either so don’t get stuck without some change!
✈ EXTRA: Travel money card – I actually have a Travel Money Card that I got from the UK Post Office which is really useful as it holds up to 13 currencies. It’s an alternative to taking lots of physical currency or your personal, daily debit card. I know this Post Office travel card works throughout Europe but further afield I’m not too sure.
Other options include:
TUI travel money card (my fave option!)
- Holds 13 currencies, includingEuro, US Dollars, Australian Dollars, Canadian Dollars, New Zealand Dollars, South African Rand, Turkish Lira, Thai Baht, Mexican Peso, Bulgarian Lev, Croatian Kuna, UAE Dirham and Pounds Sterling. This is the most extensive card I can find!! And what’s more, you can hold all of these currencies ALL AT ONE TIME.
- The card is free
- You receive 2 cards so if you lose one you have a backup
- Not linked to a bank account
- There’s an app to help you manage your account.
- Works worldwide and can hold Euros, British pounds, Australian dollars, Japanese yen, Canadian dollars, and Mexican pesos
- The card is contactless
- Not linked to a bank account.
And that’s it! You don’t need anything else, trust me. Keep it simple and you’ll be fine with just hand luggage.
These are my choices for (literally) the most basic of clothes options when travelling. This is assuming you’re in a city and intending to walk/explore a lot. Of course you can take other stuff than this but I find this stuff is really practical.
Also these items clearly don’t work for somewhere super hot!!
[aesop_image img=”http://cosmictravellerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/travel-essentials-cosmic-traveller-1.jpg” panorama=”off” alt=”travel essentials cosmic traveller” align=”center” lightbox=”off” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]
✈ Sturdy, flat boots – Perfect for walking, dancing, getting dirty, taking the back alleys, doing graffiti, whatever… black boots will never let you down!
I spend a lot of time dribbling over Timbalands on the internet but they’re super expensive so I normally buy cheaper knock off versions (as 200€ for boots could buy me another trip somewhere 😛 ) If it’s too warm for boots like this, take your favourite trainers.
✈ Hat (beanie or cap) – If its cold, or if you’ve haven’t washed your hair for days, or if you didn’t take straighteners or curlers (likely when you pack light) and your hairs a mess… use the hat. Easy!
✈ Leather jacket – It goes with everything. It’s perfect for day and night. You can dress up a girly dress or dress down with casual jeans!
✈ Basic vest tops (no-sleeve and long sleeve) – Good for sleeping, layering… and you can wear casually or add some jewellery or something if you wanna look more fabulous.
✈ Fingerless gloves – I prefer fingerless so I can use my phone but you can buy gloves that can interact with phone screens… I just think they’re kinda expensive to buy when I ruin/lose/rip/ get paint on all of my clothes. Therefore I prefer to buy super cheap ones (like literally 2€ for 2 pairs) from somewhere like Primark and then it doesn’t matter what happens to them.
✈ Backpack – A sturdy one.
Don’t believe all those pictures of travel bloggers who only wear tiny little handbags in their pictures 😀
There’s gotta be someone (probably the person taking the photo) carrying all their stuff for them because when you’re travelling you need a lot of stuff on a day-to-day basis (I mean, makeup, money, passport, water etc alone takes some space!).
Unless you’re a luxury traveller (which isn’t possible for the majority of people, and certainly isn’t my style), you need a sturdy backpack. I suggest waterproof or canvas.
Personally I like Eastpak but Kipling is becoming really popular (I just haven’t ever had a Kipling backpack so I can’t tell you whether they’re any good). I also randomly bought a cool one from New Yorker the other day which was supposed to be 15€ but I got it for 5€… YES!
✈ Sunglasses – If you’re tired and look like crap, wear sunnies.
If you drank too many beers in the ruin bar in Budapest last night, wear sunnies.
If it’s warm, wear sunnies.
If you cant be bothered to put on make-up, wear sunnies. If you just wanna look flyyyyyy… wear sunnies!
Pro tip: Seeing as you can wear most of the clothes listed above on the the journey, that leaves you space in your hand luggage for the other stuff like the camera etc. Genius, aren’t I?