Seasoned travellers know that a few key essentials can make travel more convenient, organized and efficient. Phones, cameras, and passports aside, we asked our talented Canadian Traveller freelancers to name the item they'd be reluctant to leave home without. Some items surprised us, some were things you probably already own in your home, and others were downright nifty (we're looking at you ScotteVest!)
I first used packing cubes in 2013 to keep my bag organized, and I now consider them a must on all my trips - from weekends away to two-week road trips. My bag has never been so organized and clean, even after days of travelling. Thanks to the packing cubes, I don't need to rummage through piles of clothes to find a top or shorts.
- Lies Veldman from nonstopdestination.com
Lewis ‘n Clark packing cubes
I absolutely can not live without my packing cubes from Lewis ‘n Clark. I’m a notoriously messy packer, so being able to separate my clothes is a must. Plus, if you’re travelling with carry-on only, being able to shift things around in your suitcase without having to pull everything out is just so wonderful. Eagle Creek also has fantastic packing cubes of all shapes and sizes.
- Candice Walsh from freecandie.com
Whenever I want to travel with carry-on only luggage, my ScotteVest enables me to stuff t-shirts, books, small cameras, electronic cords, socks, passport, toiletries – even a water bottle - into its numerous pockets. Because it’s sleeveless, I can easily pair it with a weather-proof hoodie for hiking or other outdoor activities. Plus, it keeps me warm, alleviating the need to always pack a puffy (space-consuming) coat or jacket. When out sightseeing or hiking, I don’t need to carry an extra backpack or carry-all, keeping my hands free.
What's more, it’s the best to store money and keep valuables secure. I once had border control agents laughing in stitches because they were able to feel my iPhone secreted away inside my vest - but they couldn’t retrieve it. Talk about picket-pocket proof. I almost never travel without it.
- Doug O'Neill, travel writer and Canadian Traveller contributor
Chloe Glow by ScotteVest
I wear my Chloe Glow jacket by ScotteVest every time I travel. With internal pockets for everything from your passport and boarding pass to your phone, this hardworking travel essential keeps everything important within handy reach and cuts down on your hand luggage.
DIY sleep kit
I have two—my eye mask and a bottle of melatonin. With these two items, I can travel long flights across numerous time zones and still get some shut-eye, so that I’m ready to hit the ground running when the plane lands. Even if not crossing time zones, I’m very light-sensitive, and I’m never sure how light a hotel room will be, so my trusty eye mask assures a good night’s sleep.
- Kate Robertson, travel writer; katerobertson.ca
It may sound funny, but the travel item I can’t live without are giant plastic Ziploc bags. I travelled to Vancouver to live there for two months, and I fit about 23 different outfits, three pairs of shoes and all the essentials, in one suitcase. (And I didn’t even go over the weight limit!) These bags are an affordable and easy packing trick that will allow you to travel to Europe for 3 weeks with nothing but a carry-on (I seriously did this and recommend it). Make sure to roll your clothes tight and use your weight or your butt to take the air out before zipping it up. It’s like a wacky homemade vacuum-sealer. Everyone usually has these bags handy, and they’re also great for keeping liquids from spilling in your suitcase or for holding wet bathing suits. You’ll think I’m nuts until you try it.
- Myriah Saulnier from feministtravelcorner/myriahsaulnier
Skyroam WiFi Hotspot
With Canada's often expensive cellular data packages - it costs me $150/month for 800 MB of data in Europe and $125/month for 100 MB data in part of South America - I love travelling with a Skyroam WiFi Hotspot. The personal WiFi hotspot is convenient, secure, and cost-effective. The Skyroam hotspot provides WiFi and unlimited data to five devices for less than $10/day in 100+ countries.
- Nancy Besharah from luxetravelfamily.com
It may sound silly, especially since it's been a while since my kids have been in diapers, but my most essential travel item is a package of baby diaper wipes. I can use them to clean hands and faces; they are incredibly good at taking spots out of clothes, and I wipe down pretty much anything and everything we come in contact with that looks even remotely gross. As my kids have grown up, my carry-on packing list has become a great deal shorter, but I always make sure there's a package of wipes tucked inside!
- Corinne McDermott from havebabywilltravel.com
I bring my grey travel scarf on board with me on nearly every flight, bus, train, and road trip. It’s large enough to double as a blanket and has a nifty RFID-blocking pocket for my passport and credit cards. I found it at Winners in 2017 and haven’t looked back.
- Alison Karlene Hodgins from aroundtheworldwithalison.com & Canadian Traveller contributor
Zippered travel organizer
I think I received my zippered travel organizer in a swag bag from a tour operator - I certainly didn't expect that it would become one of my travel essentials. It's the perfect size for storing my passport, printed travel documents, credit cards and excess cash all in one place. (I'll transfer out just the items I need for an excursion into my day pack.)
I find this organizer especially handy in-flight because it's slim enough to fit in the seat pocket in front of me while also accommodating my phone, ear buds, a few pills/medication, and ear plugs
- Jenn Hubbert, Canadian Traveller online editor and blogger: gypsetjenn.com
Which gear item or accessory
makes travel easier for you?
Let us know: comment below!
More travel writer "best-ofs" on Canadian Traveller: