There are a few items that I almost always pack in my bag when we travel, regardless of where we are going.
Here is a list of things to pack when traveling and why these items might be useful to you:
Chico Bag with shoulder strap: It is always my goal to have all of my necessities fit into my main backpack, so that I am not lugging around a second bag for the whole trip. During the flight, though, I like to have a separate bag into which I can put my book and snacks and keep them accessible once my main bag goes in the overhead bin (yes, you read that right. I almost always travel with just 1 carry on bag and no checked luggage). The Chico bag folds itself into a small ball the size of my fist when not in use, is amazingly strong (I have beaten mine up on quite a few trips now and it is still holding together great!) and is also a great bag for the end of the trip when you have collected a few too many souvenirs.
Insulated Lunch Bag that can be folded and packed flat: Great for picking up food from the market to eat later on for lunch. Combine the insulated lunch bag with a plastic baggie and some ice from the hotel and you can keep your lunch cold until it is time to eat it.
Quart and Gallon Size Ziplock Bags: Essential items for budget travelers, baggies can be used to hold ice (see above), or to scavenge food for lunch from your hotel’s continental breakfast!
Earplugs and Eye mask: Maybe not a necessity for everybody, but I am a light sleeper and my eye mask and ear plugs ensure that I can sleep even in the noisiest hostel. Splurge and buy the more expensive earplugs at the drugstore, they make a difference in the amount of sound that they block out.
Colored Zip Ties: When we check luggage (which I admit doesn’t happen very often) we like to know when/if it has been searched before it was returned to us (no reason, really, just paranoid). If someone cuts the zip tie on your luggage, they are a lot less likely to have a colored zip tie to replace it with than they would be to have a regular old white one. Don’t forget to pack something in the outside pocket of your checked bag to cut them off with!
Airborne: I LOVE this stuff! I take it just before or after we have boarded the airplane with water. It gives us a quick boost of Vitamin C to rally our immune systems to fight against the foreign invaders that it will encounter on the airplane, as well as other immune boosting vitamins and minerals. If we start feelsng a little under the weather while we are traveling, we take more Airborne in combination with other immune boosting measures.
Business Cards with contact information: You never know when you will meet a new friend while traveling that you want to keep in contact with. I always carry some of my business cards with me to give out to new friends. If you do not have business cards already, get some printed up just for travel from Vistaprint.com!
Compass: This one is a new addition to the list. We discovered that it would have been handy to have on our last trip while trying to navigate. We usually have a map, but figuring out which way we are facing is a whole other problem, especially if it is a cloudy day or if it is close to noon.