24 Essential Travel Products for 2024

A short list of some must have items to consider bringing along on your next overseas trip.

Here are links to the products we mentioned within the video 24 Essential Travel Products for 2024.  These are products that we bring along and have worked out for us.

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1. Getting a BAGGAGE SCALE can reduce the stress of travel day by getting rid of surprises at baggage check. We are sometimes close to the limit for weight for our checked bags, so we use a scale to check how close we are to getting additional baggage fees. We can then shift items between bags to get the optimal allocation of weight.

These scales are very easy to use. Just connect the strap to the handle of the suitcase, and lift the scale and suitcase using two hands. You can select pounds or kg for the weight reading.  They are accurate enough for airline check-ins.

And the cost is pretty low - $10 - $15

2. PACKING CUBES can help organize your suitcases. You can use them to pack clothing by type, or by person. The zip closed, and stack nicely within a suitcase. We like them because you can find clothes without having to entirely unpack. Just grab socks from one bag, and a shirt from another. And when you need to move to another destination, you just toss the packing cubes into the suitcase without having to carefully repack.

There are a wide range available. A basic set should work fine. Consider getting a few sets, with each person having their own color so you can easily tell which packing cube belongs to which person. As far as size goes, get a set of cubes that are a bit larger, and put your smaller items and toiletries in clear freezer bags.

You may also want to consider getting higher quality compression packing cubes that are airtight, so you can squeeze the air from to make them more compact in your suitcase.  These are a bit more expensive, but if you plan to travel a lot, may be a better long term choice.

3. CLEAR FREEZER BAGS are great for holding cables, electronics, toiletries, or other smaller items. Since they are clear plastic, you can easily see what is in each bag. And you can throw them away during or after the trip once they become tattered, or your shampoo or cosmetics leak and make them soiled.

Use the quart size for cables and small items, gallon size for a larger number of small items, and 2 gallon for larger items or some smaller clothing items.

We usually also pack extra bags within a gallon bag, folded up, along with some tall kitchen trash bags that we use to collect dirty laundry and carry back clean laundry from the laundromat. You can smash these down to make the very thin, taking up minimal space and weight. .

4. You may need a FOREIGN SIM for your smartphone will allow you to use the foreign cell system without any roaming charge from your US carrier. These generally last up to one month from activation. Get one before you go so you do not have to search for a cell store once you arrive, and activate it as you are getting ready to leave (if you can switch between dual SIMS).

You can get many deals on Amazon. We have had good results with UK Three.

Or ensure that you can activate foreign roaming with your cell carrier, or get a Google FI plan with global roaming included (with a 3 month overseas limit).

5. Bring a COMPACT AC PLUGSTRIP WITH USB CHARGING CONNECTIONS. A plug strip lets you plug in various devices, such as computers, and plug in USB charging cables for your cell phones and other devices. Since the plug strip has a cable, the plugs can be more conveniently located, so you do not have to plug everything in around the wall plug. These plug strips do not transform voltages - so they will only work with devices that can be powered by 100 -240 volts 50-60 Hz sources (most PCs and device chargers).

FOREIGN ADAPTER PLUGS let you plug your plug strip and other chargers into the wall in another country. They also do not transform voltage - they only let you fit your US plug into the wall plug. Some are just the single plug adapter, while others can handle a few plugs and may also have some USB charger connections.  You can get basic adapter plugs for cheap if you buy them before you leave - once you are at the airport, they become pricey.

EU - https://amzn.to/48xXFDA

GREAT BRITIAN - https://amzn.to/490kK1o

6. A POWER BANK can be used to charge your devices while you are on the road. These can come in handy if you are in an airport or train, or on the road, without access to an AC course to connect your charger.

There are a number of configurations available, with multiple outputs and different plug types (USB vs USB C, etc.).  

And remember that these have to go in your carry on bag because they contain large Lithium batteries.

We have had luck with Anker and Belkin brands.

7. POCKET MULTI TOOLS can come in handy during a trip.  We have used them to fix or adjust many things while on the road. I like the Gerber brand.

SWISS ARMY KNIVES also have a number of great similar features. I like the corkscrews, but it may be easier to just get a multitool and bring a separate corkscrew.

And remember that these have to go in the checked bags. We have lost a number of knives due to forgetting them in our carry-on bags.

8. A TRAVEL CREDIT CARD is a must have for frequent travelers. It will give you insurances for various travel related items, like rental cars and lost luggage, membership in airport lounges, reimbursement for TSA Pre or global entry, and better currency conversion rates on foreign purchases. Plus you will earn points for your travel purchases that you can use for hotels and flights - more travel! The best ones have a big yearly fee ($550 or more), but they will reimburse most of it when you make purchases. We like the Chase Sapphire Reserve card ourselves. But do a search for what works best for you - and keep in mind it can get complicated assessing benefits and costs.  

9. NOISE CANCELING HEADPHONES can make your flights more tolerable. They minimize the aircraft sound, making any entertainment you are listening to much easier to follow. They usually have bluetooth connection, and a wired plug that you can connect to an inflight entertainment system. We like the Sony WH 1000.   

You can also get a range of Noise canceling Earbuds: https://amzn.to/47CKmAs

10. If you get headphones or earbuds that are Bluetooth only, you may also need a COMPACT BLUETOOTH TRANSMITTER to connect to the inflight entertainment system.  

11. Get a CARRY-ON SIZE BACKPACK with good organization. This will allow you to bring enough clothes in a carry-on to cover 2 days, in case of a delay in getting your checked baggage. We had lost baggage happened twice to us in 2023, and having sufficient possessions in our carryon saved us. We really like the Mother Lode travel backpack from eBags.

12. We also bring a DAYPACK as a personal item for carry on, and use this after we have settled in to our lodging as a backpack to carry smaller daily items when we are exploring the location. We like the Osprey brand a lot, and have a few of their bags, large and small.

IT may also be useful to consider bringing a lightweight collapsible duffel in a pocket of your checked bag to give you an extra bag in case you buy anything on the trip.

And be sure to bring some compact cloth travel shopping bags in your checked bag so you have something to use to carry home groceries during your trip.

13. Get a good pair of COMPACT BINOCULARS with quality optics if you are going to be enjoying the outdoors . You'll enjoy them for years.  

We have the Nikon Monarch M7 (which we initially bought for birdwatching).  But a good binocular can get expensive, so it is a good idea to visit a shop that has a range of options in stock that you can test out to find the best one for you. The stores that support bird watchers are a good place to find in-stock optics, or a big sporting goods store.  

14. Also, consider a DRY SAC if you are going to be spending a lot of time outdoors, to keep your things dry in an unexpected storm.  They come in a range of sizes, depending on how much gear you want to protect.  A smaller one can be used to organize clothes or other items in your carry on for packing purposes.

15. And consider bringing a COMPACT TRAVEL TOWEL if you are going to be spending tie outdoors. Storms can appear quickly, or you may want to take a dip.

16. A FIRST AID KIT can also be handy. Get one from Amazon if you are in a hurry, otherwise put a basic one together yourself from your home supplies and smush it flat in a quart Ziplock bag.    

16. Kristen sometimes brings a TRAVEL YOGA MAT to exercise or lounge around. But really make sure you'll use this because even though it folds into a flat square, it adds a bit of weight to your bag.

17. Books are bulky. Bring a KINDLE with internet connectivity. Your local library may provide online access to eBooks that can save you a lot of money.  

18. Or bring an iPad or other tablet. We have an iPad Air with a sim card for internet access, using a google FI sim that works worldwide, so we can browse the internet or watch movies from anywhere without WIFI.  IT really comes in handy when we need to search for information during our trip. And not having to connect to WIFI makes it really convenient.

19. A SMALL LED FLASHLIGHT can save the day if you drop something small, or are fumbling in the dark to get into your car or apartment.  They are very small, with bright LED bulbs, and low battery drain.

21. TRAVEL SLIPPERS are important, because walking barefoot on hotel or apartment floors is gross. Slipper sock style footware takes up the least space. They are basically socks with a  thicker sole with non-slip elements attached.

22. AIRORT LOUNGES aren't really a product, but they are an amazing enhancement to a trip. Get a travel credit card that gives you access to Priority Pass (https://www.prioritypass.com/), or see if you can use a lounge with an airline membership. Or if you have a few hours of layover, just pay for entry. The cost may be close to buying a meal with alcohol at an airport restaurant.

23. If you have a number of pills that you take regularly, bring a decent PILLBOX to keep your pills in order.  Make sure that you have a sufficient supply for the trip.

24. It's going to rain, and you'll overpay for a cheap umbrella at your destination, so get a COMPACT HIGH QUALITY TRAVEL UMBRELLA  and a cheap plastic compact rain poncho

Or a lightweight travel raincoat that will look much better, but takes up more space in your suitcase.

Leave your bulky folding wallet behind and get a COMPACT TRAVEL WALLET that you it not as easy to pickpocket.  It can slip into a front pocket, or elsewhere, and is less visible.

And remember to go through your wallet before leaving and cull out any items that you do not need to bring, in case you wallet is lost or stolen.

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