Travel Accessories: What to Bring

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Close up of someone's hands packing a camera into an orange backpack

Editor’s note: This article was published prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you need to travel, check the CDC FAQ page about COVID-19 risks for travelers, which provides the latest guidance. For information about outdoor activities wherever you go (close to home is best), read Recreate Responsibly: An Activity-Specific Guide.

Here are some travel accessories you'll never be sorry you packed.

For Your Luggage

These accessories make it easy to pack by keeping your clothing and personal items separate.

  • Packing folders hold several dress shirts, slacks or blouses and keep clothing wrinkle-free. Multiple folders simplify packing and unpacking by keeping clothes organized.
  • Stuff sacks come in a variety of sizes and styles for packing and organizing shirts, underwear and small, miscellaneous items. These inexpensive bags make it easy to find your last clean pair of socks or keep your laundry separate from your other gear.
  • A toiletry kit keeps all your personal items together. It can be as simple as a small bag for soap, shampoo and toothpaste, or include pockets, holders and containers for a variety of personal-care items.
  • Locks include a small padlock to secure the zippers of your pack together or safeguarding your gear in hostel lockers. 


While in Transit

While you're on the road, these accessories often come in handy.

  • A daypack can be either a small backpack, shoulder bag, waist pack or organizer. It can be small enough to hold just your money and passport or large enough for a camera, water bottle, book and jacket.
  • A security pouch/wallet is designed to be worn under your clothes and is the safest way to carry your money and passport.
  • Extra insoles for your shoes or boots provide additional support and cushioning, nice when you spend a lot of time on your feet.
  • A water bottle is good to have if you're traveling in an area with safe drinking water (rather than buy expensive bottled water).


At Night

To make sleeping in a new place a little more comfortable, pack these accessories.

  • A sleeping bag liner is convenient if you plan on staying in hostels, since some charge extra for sheets. A silk or cotton travel sheet may also feel more comfortable than the hostel bed linen. Since they take up little space, they're a luxury worth packing.
  • An alarm (either as a travel clock or on your watch or phone) is necessary for making sure you're up in time to catch your plane, train or bus.
  • Ear plugs are indispensible if you're sharing a hostel room and are useful in many hotels, too. They take up almost no space and can help ensure a decent night's sleep.
  • A small flashlight or headlamp is useful for reading, finding your way to the bathroom at night or getting dressed in the dark when you're staying at a hostel and it's too early/late to turn on the overhead lights.


Just in Case

These tiny accessories can come in handy for minor emergencies.

  • Multi-tools are available with many different options and tools. Some are small enough to fit on a key chain while others have nearly every tool you could want. At a minimum, a knife and bottle opener are handy for picnic lunches or dinners.
  • A sewing kit can be as simple as a needle, thread, safety pin and extra button, or it  can be more comprehensive for backcountry travel. A basic needle and thread is all you need to make small repairs on clothing and gear.
  • Extra shoelaces can also be used as a clothesline for drying laundry or an emergency belt. Again, they take up a small amount of room.
  • Clothespins can be used for drying clothes or closing food bags.


For Your Electronics

Other countries provide electricity of different voltages through differently shaped electrical sockets. So if you'll be traveling with electrical appliances or your computer, these accessories are a must.

  • Virtually all travelers need an adapter plug. Adapters are necessary for both electrical devices (e.g., hair dryer) as well as electronics (e.g., laptop) for them to work in the various 220V outlet types found internationally. Adapter types vary by country, so get a multi-adapter or find out which type is needed for your destination.
  • A voltage converter or transformer may also be needed if you're traveling with any single-voltage devices whose voltage is different than the voltage provided by your destination. Read your device's label to determine this.

See the REI Expert Advice article, Electricity Guide for Travelers, for instructions and country-by-country outlet/voltage charts.


Other Travel Accessories

If you can't leave home without it, there's likely a travel-size version that will take up less space in your luggage. These accessories range from mini curling irons and hair dryers to clip book lights and travel radios. Whether you pack these accessories is up to you.

If you'll be staying in urban areas, aren't worried about carrying extra gear and prefer to have all the conveniences of home while you're on the road, they could be worth bringing. Otherwise, consider taking a vacation from appliances by leaving them at home.


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