At RetailMeNot, we’re really, really big fans of traveling. And after spending our fair share of time without the ability to go wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted, we have a lot of time to make up for now that the world is pretty much returning back to normal.
Although we might be out of practice, we haven’t forgotten the things we refuse to leave without as our journeys are getting a reboot — our must-have travel essentials. While some of our picks might not make your packing list, others might be ones you never knew could make your adventures that much better or maybe even a little easier.
These are the curated travel essentials RetailMeNot staffers always take along with us whether we’re backpacking throughout Europe, living like a native in the mountains of Peru or flip-flopping our way across the beaches of Mexico:
1. Shannon Dwyer’s Travel Essentials
Shannon Dwyer is an editor and shopping expert at RetailMeNot and a world traveler. Take a deep inhale before this lengthy list: Europe, including Dublin, London, Amsterdam (where she studied abroad), Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Rome, Venice, Milan, Santorini, Barcelona, and all over Spain. She’s spent time in St. Lucia, Aruba and the Caribbean islands. And that is just the front side of her list; she still has many more destinations to knock out!
These are the must-haves Shannon can’t be without when she travels:
EZPacking Small Clear Travel Packing Cube
“This EZ Packing cube is my travel must-have because it’s SO helpful with the strong handle and that it fits a lot of products. Also, the cube is clear, so there’s never been a problem with domestic TSA or with international travel.”
Cellphone External Battery Packs
“This charger is a life changer when going on long trips! It’s super compact (about the size of a credit card) with built-in cables so it can fit in just a pocket. I also love that the charger has different types of charging ports so you can use it on pretty much any device.”
Flex Aura Carryon Suitcase
“It has a sleek design while fitting a ton, but my favorite part is the carry-on is collapsible, so we can easily store it in our small city apartment. Also, the front pocket is perfect for accommodating a laptop so you can breeze through security!”
2. Kristin McGrath’s Travel Essentials
Kristin McGrath is RetailMeNot’s editor and a chronic over-packer. She’s been trying to become a lighter packer over the years, after realizing how easy it is to fill a suitcase with souvenirs from shopaholic paradises like India, Peru, Mexico and Japan.
These are the three essentials Kristin never leaves home without:
Ceptics Safest Travel Adapter Kit
“I feel like no hotel/hostel/Airbnb ever has enough outlets for everything you want to charge and plug in. This converts a single plug into a one-stop shop.”
Yogasleep Travelcube Portable White Noise Machine
“A little white noise machine. Masks construction noise, noisy neighbors and snoring travel companions. And helps if you’re that person who needs the sound of a fan on when sleeping and the room doesn’t have one.”
Madewell Packable Braided Straw Visor
“This visor protects your face from the sun and rolls up to fit in your purse/day bag. It’s not always feasible to reapply SPF as much as you should while traveling — and your face will face the consequences because you’re often walking around outside more when you travel and not thinking about how much sun exposure you’re getting. This hat keeps it simple and easy.”
3. Sara Squire’s Travel Essentials
Sara Squire is RetailMeNot’s branded content writer and a fearless traveler who has no qualms about traveling all by herself when the mood strikes. She’s traveled solo to Southern Africa, Costa Rica and Colombia, to name a few, but quickly turned strangers into friends along the way.
These are the travel essentials Sara recommends:
LAPCOS Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Derma Sheet Mask
“I always do a CVS run before a trip and stock up on cheap face masks — there is nothing better than a self-care night in a hotel/Airbnb! These LAPCOS ones are my favorite. Plus, I always bring a facial spray with me when I travel! Whether I’m on a flight or in my hotel room, it’s such a nice luxury.”
LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle
“These water bottles with a built-in filter are a must-have when traveling to places where tap water is not advised for drinking. It’s a great alternative to buying disposable plastic water bottles.”
“I love traveling with this affordable passport holder! It’s great for keeping all of your boarding documents, cash and cards in one place.”
4. Whitney King’s Travel Essentials
Whitney King, head of brand and creative for Ziff Davis Shopping loves taking new adventures with her spouse and two young daughters or sneaking in the occasional girls’ weekend with friends. Her favorite destinations include Rosemary Beach, Carmel-by-the-sea, Big Sur, and any cozy mountain town in the Rockies.
These are Whitney’s travel essentials she highly recommends:
Hey Dewy Wireless Portable Cool Mist Humidifier
“With lots of fun winter and Spring Break travels planned to the mountains, this Hey Dewy Portable Humidifier has been a lifesaver at keeping colds at bay — and, fun fact, it also doubles as a great face steamer when my skin needs some extra love in the drier climates.”
Nefeeko Collapsible Water Bottle
“Whether we’re hustling through the airport, or taking the kids on an all-day adventure, having these collapsible water bottles in everyone’s bag is a must!”
Dock & Bay Towels
“One of our favorite no-fuss beach essentials are these Dock & Bay towels. They take up virtually no space in my beach bag when folded, and they’re affordable and sustainable.”
5. Ysolt Usigan’s Travel Essentials
Ysolt Usigan is the head of content for RetailMeNot and has traveled all over with her kids — Disney World, music festivals and tiny cabin glamping. She says, “When you have two kids under 6, their ‘stuff’ takes up so much space in our luggage. As a result, I’ve had to pack insanely light.”
These are Ysolt’s travel essentials she can’t leave without:
STOJO Collapsible Water Bottle
“My husband and I go to two to three music festivals a year. This water bottle has been the MVP. Festivals almost always offer water refill stations, and they won’t let you bring outside water in. So I collapse my Stojo into my fanny pack (because you typically can’t bring big bags into venues), and expand once I’m there and refill throughout the day. It’ll also help you save! You won’t have to drop serious money on upcharged spring water bottles at hotels, concerts, and more.”
Malin + Goetz Best-Sellers Travel Kit
“The Malin + Goetz travel pack has everything I need (soap, face wash, shampoo and lotion) in one compact case. I use Malin + Goetz at home in my daily life when not traveling, so it’s nice to have it available for trips, and I don’t have to pour/transfer any of my daily toiletries in smaller containers that I’d have to buy.”
myCharge Portable Charge
“I love this power bank because it has several different adapters. It works for every device I’m traveling with. When you have kids, you’ve got the phones, the iPads, the other random tablets with their games … I also have to charge some of my beauty tools (like the Solawave!). This power bank gives all my devices energy, and it means I don’t have to pack every cord and plug I have. I bring it on my travels, and even on quick day trips.”
6. Carson Yarbrough’s Travel Essentials
Carson Yarbrough is RetailMeNot’s PR manager who always has a trip around the corner and a passion for traveling and exploring new destinations around the globe. Her favorite places typically involve a beach. She did her first solo backpacking trip in New Zealand, alongside a two-month stay in Australia where she snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, explored the Outback and visited cityscapes in Sydney and Melbourne.
Carson traveled to Paris, Rome and Florence — and hopes to explore more of Europe soon. But her absolute favorite is Mexico, like beachy Cancún and Puerto Vallarta. She hopes to cross more places off her list in Europe, South America and Asia — ASAP.
These are Carson’s travel essentials she takes:
Baggu Reusable Tote
“For road trips, camping and beach vacations, I also love bringing along my reusable Baggu tote bags. They’re offered in a ton of fun patterns and colors, have easy-to-clean, sturdy nylon material, and are useful for packing up snacks, trip accessories and random necessities needed for day trips! Plus they’re sustainable so you’re not clogging up your pantry with old plastic bags.”
Anker Soundcore Mini Super-Portable Bluetooth Speaker
“I’m absolutely obsessed with my Anker speaker and don’t travel anywhere without it — it comes in handy for hotel rooms, lounging by the pool, beach trips, and more so I always have a way to have music on the go when vacationing.”
Penelope Rose Quartz Face Roller
“I always travel as light as possible, but one thing I can’t live without for keeping my skin fresh while I travel is my rose quartz face roller. Travel tends to make my skin puffy, dry or irritable — and this is an easy on-the-go way to de-puff as well as bring self-care into my daily routine when I’m on the go!”
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