Jumping at every possible opportunity to explore over the past few years (often at the last-minute) has taught me to be pretty intentional about what does and doesn’t make the trip.
While I still usually end up packing an outfit or three I didn’t need, I’ve definitely nailed down the top 10 things to never leave home without.
With the holiday season upon us, I figured this top 10 would make a perfect Holiday Gift Guide for the practical traveler on your list!
Top 10 Practical Travel Must-Haves
This lightweight carry-on is the trustiest travel companion you could ask for. Sure, I’m working towards a certain trendy leather keepall, but in less than two years I’ve lugged this budget-friendly piece on and off of more than 60 flights, and at a meaty 6.8 lbs it somehow has zero visible wear and tear. The Liftwo expands to easily fit a week’s worth of needs, while still making it past TSA and cozily into the overhead bin. I made the month-long haul to NYC, Seoul and around Japan with just this and a duffle bag — there’s some serious space packed in this road warrior.
Discovered this after yet another $100+ mophie failed and it’s been my go-to portable battery charger ever since. The myCharge spares your iPhone the extra bulk, and has ports for Apple Lightning, micro-USB and USB, so you can charge multiple devices simultaneously for up to 13 additional hours of battery life. Major, major perk on the go.
A (female) necessity no matter the destination. I replaced the hard insert with a 24-cut foam piece for rings and earrings to maximize space, and can’t even remember how I traveled with jewelry before! This and the next piece live inside my Liftwo at all times, ready to go.
Cosmetic cases are a dime a dozen but I particularly love the three-tier and flat design of this set because it divides my things perfectly (1- hair things + flat iron 2- make-up + toiletries and 3- tooth brush, bobby pins, small things), and lays flat to maximize valuable carry-on space.
The a6000 mirrorless is ultra lightweight with wi-fi capabilities and has the fastest auto-focus on the market. This saves infinite amounts of time and energy, and is especially helpful for me when balancing being social in a group and trying to capture some perfect snaps! Read here for super-specific details on how and why I chose this model. “In love” is an understatement.
Home of my beloved a6000, of course these go hand-in-hand. This leather ONA is small and durable with water-resistant flaps on the sides, and in consideration of solo travel — doesn’t “look” like it’s holding thousands of dollars of camera equipment.
2012. Standing on Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Solar eclipse. Taking it all in with my classic Burberry aviators and my new roommates’ boyfriend looks at me like I’m nuts. “Here…” he says. “Welcome to the world,” and hands me his Maui Jims. Well then. A welcome to the world it was. The view the PolarizedPlus2® lenses give you is priceless, and the rose lens has the most versatile contrast. Now, I won’t leave home on adventure day without my Maui Jims.
8- Steiner Safari Pro 10×26 Binoculars
Binoculars don’t usually make it on a younger traveler’s list, but my mom got these for me before our cruise to Alaska and words can’t express how grateful I am to have them. Especially beneficial for cruises (scoping out distance) and hiking, this manual pair is water-resistant, gives a solid range with comfortable eyepieces, and is compact enough to carry around at all times.
Really, Christina? I know… you’re wondering how this made the “must-have” list. At the 5 inches of space this baby takes up… let me just tell you that from hikes and late-night bathroom walks in the dark to impromptu disco sessions in luxurious 5-star hotel rooms (enter strobe feature), never not once have I regretted bringing my cosmo headlamp along for the ride. Just do it! You’ll find all sorts of uses. 🙂
Saved the best for last here! Laugh all you like — mockingly purchased a pair of these in Tokyo because they were on the end caps of EVERY beauty aisle, and at the ripe old age of 25, I will never travel without compression socks again. Exploring all about means miles on your feet daily, and let’s be serious… no one’s walking around in orthopedic shoes. No doubt I’ll regret that in 50 years, but for now tucking these under my boots in Japan saved my feet from long days of street travels. Even if you’re not super mobile all day, compression socks fight jet lag and stiff muscles by keeping blood flowing at high altitudes — beneficial for any air traveler.