travel must haves

A Glimpse into My Carryon: My 8 Travel Must Haves

In Travel by Katelyn2 Comments

travel must haves

I consider myself to be a pretty low maintenance person. I normally don’t wear makeup or even brush my hair on a daily basis. I probably should since I do work professionally in the healthcare industry. I promise you I do if I have an important stakeholder meeting!

I’m pretty picky about my clothes and the things I own. I’m not a fashionista and I tend to be slow on the techie gadgets upgrades. I don’t own a tablet, although it is on my list to buy this year. And I certainly don’t run out and buy the latest iPhone the second it comes out. Actually, I no longer own an iPhone because I prefer to pay $30 a month for an unlimited plan than $100 like I previously did!

When I travel I’m definitely more of the dirtbag backpacker. Yes, I enjoy a comfy bed with a pillow that isn’t pancake flat, but if I can save money then I will totally sleep on the floor! I don’t like resorts and super touristy areas and tours. I’d rather explore on my own or seek out expertise from the locals. And I love free shit! I don’t care what it is, if it is free then I want it! #collegestudentmentality

I’ve also recently jumped into the world of community sharing programs, such as Couchsurfing, Airbnb, and RelayRides. I’m sure most of you know what Couchsurfing and Airbnb is, if not, then you might want to crawl out from under your rock and check out their awesomeness! RelayRides is new to the game and will probably change the way we look at car rentals in the future. Hello, expensive! RelayRides is a peer-to-peer sharing car rental service similar to Airbnb, but for cars. Relay Rides has cars across the country at various airports and is growing everyday.

However, there are a few things that I’m picky about that I never leave home without. I used to be a chronic over-packer. I once brought a down jacket with me to Costa Rica. In May. Because you never know when a freak snowstorm could hit Costa Rica! Palm to face! But, I recently discovered I don’t need everything I think I need on my trips and my backpack has become much lighter as I travel more. As I pare down my packing list to the bare minimums that I need, these are the following items that will always make the cut:

My Travel Must Haves

Canon Rebel T3i – I purchased my first DSLR camera this past spring as I was prepping for my trip to Belize and Guatemala. As a travel blogger it’s important to have a decent camera that takes good pictures because after all, everyone just wants to see you pictures and envy your tropical vacation! I love this camera and I think it is the perfect introductory DSLR camera. I still have a lot to learn about photography, but I feel that I’m not half bad with it and look forward to upgrading to a new lense in another year or so.

GoPro Hero4 – I’ve been wanting a GoPro camera forever, but decided to wait due to the cost. When the new Hero4 line came out I knew the Hero4 silver was the GoPro for me. I’ve been hemming and hawing about when to purchase a camera and with some upcoming projects and trips I knew the time was now! GoPro cameras are perfect for the active traveler like myself because it can go anywhere from the water and snow and everywhere in-between. It’s also great for selfies. Personally I’m not a fan of selfies, but for the selfie-obsessed traveler, it’s great.

travel must haves

My 8 Travel Must Haves

Journal – I have a really bad memory. Like to the point that some days I can’t remember my own name when I wake up. I chalk it to an old head injury from my horseback riding days or maybe it’s old age. I digress. Again, because I am a blogger, I need to jog notes down about my travel details so I can write about it later on my blog. It’s also a great way to remember your travels a few years from now. With my journal I always keep a pen, usually stuck in my hair.

Wally the Wandering Lobster – Wally has been my travel buddy since this past spring. I tuck him into my bag and he travels around with me on all my journeys near and far. He’s kind of my blog’s mascot.

Barclays Arrival Plus – The Barclays Arrival+World Elite MasterCard is my go to credit card. I do a lot of travel hacking, but this card is generally what I use for my day-to-day spending and the card I use while I’m abroad because it does not have foreign transaction fees and I earn points that I can use to erase travel expenses! The card has EMV chip for easy use in Europe, but I did learn while I was in Portugal that it doesn’t always work because some debit/credit card machines won’t let you sign for the card.

Lululemon Yoga Pants – I like comfort. I only dress up if I’m traveling on business, other than that I like comfy clothes on the plane and on the ground. I find yoga pants are versatile. I can wear them for workouts. I can sleep in them. I can pair them with a t-shirt or long sweater or even wear them over my bikini.

A Book (or 3) – I like books. A lot. I’m actually addicted to buying them. Someday I am going to have a library/office with floor to ceiling bookshelves. Le sigh. I’m still the type of person that needs to read with paper in my hand. I just can’t do the ebooks. Someday when I do travel longterm I will most likely start reading ebooks because having 10 books in your backpack at once takes up a lot of prime real estate, but for now you will see in my hostel bunk or on a beach with a paper book in my hands.

Lonely Planet Guidebooks – Everyone has their guidebook preference and mine is Lonely Planet. I have multiple Lonely Planet guidebooks that are either being actively used for trip planning or I just read through with major wanderlust. I think Lonely Planet does a pretty good job at identifying the best places to stay, eat, and things to do, but sometimes their information is outdated. But, I still love them!

What are your travel must haves? Are you an over-packer?


  1. I found my way here via the Careful Cents Club, which I just joined a couple of days ago. I enjoyed this piece. For years, I was a yearbook advisor (among many roles at my old high school teaching job), and we used to like doing a “what’s in my gym bag” feature on the athletes or a “what’s in my backpack” story. It’s interesting to know what other people routinely carry with them, especially what they would never think of leaving behind.

    I think all writers must travel with a journal, but I must have a zillion pens in my bag; it’s a sort of a pathology, like always needing the linen closet to be well-stocked with toilet paper. I had a trusty SLR that my dad bought me in high school, but then it started taking bad pictures and I had a couple of different digital cameras. These days I just use my iPhone for photos, but I find it frustrating because I can’t get the great shots I want. I might need to invest in a DSLR soon.

    If you ever come to Hawaii, I have to say there is a better guide than Lonely Planet, and that’s the “Revealed” guides. We live on the Big Island, and everything in Hawaii, The Big Island Revealed is right on target. We also traveled to Kaua’i and found Kaua’i Revealed to be equally spot-on in its recommendations. A friend who visited us here was told by Lonely Planet that a really awful restaurant was a “must-do.” My husband and I were utterly confounded by that advice. My friend was bummed that he wasted the time going there.

    I’m sure I’ll see more of you in the Facebook group. Just wanted you to know I am checking out your blog and enjoying it!


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