8 Things I Never Travel Without

Whether packing for a road trip in California or a long vacation abroad, I always reach for the same travel essentials. These are items that make my travels easier and more convenient. Here are eight items that I never travel without, and see the bottom of the post for a chance to win one of these essential travel items!

The Bagnet

essential travel items: The Bagnet

This handy invention is actually a new item in my travel bag, but I like it so much that I can’t imagine traveling without it. The Bagnet looks like a leather tag that hangs from your bag, but inside is a magnet that’s strong enough to allow you to hang your purse from almost anywhere. I was happy to receive a Bagnet for review because not only does it look nice on my purse, but it’s also very practical!

I can’t count how many times I’ve ended up in a bathroom with no bag hook (ugh!). In fact, it happened to me in an outhouse of sorts while hiking recently, but the Bagnet allowed me to hang my purse on the wall. Check out all the creative ways the Bagnet can be used (while sitting on a bar stool or drinking coffee at a cafe, for example).

Items I never travel without: The Bagnet

Scroll down for the chance to win a Bagnet to use during your travels!

Rubber doorstop

essential travel items for safety: rubber doorstop

A rubber doorstop is an essential if you’re traveling alone or in a place where you want a little extra security. Anytime I travel by myself, I bring one with me so that I can feel extra secure in my accommodation at night.

Cashmere cardigan

cashmere sweater for travel

While traveling, I like to be out at all times of day, and a warm layer is definitely an essential travel item. As the day warms up, I want to be able to take my warm layer off and stuff it in my bag or tie it around my waist. However, most outerwear can be bulky, so I opt for a good quality, cozy, warm sweater like this cashmere cardigan from Everlane. The coziness and warmth of cashmere is worth it, but here’s a nice, less expensive wool cardigan from J. Crew.

This for the airplane

best scarf for the airplane

cashmere scarf: On our annual trips to Brazil, we take an overnight flight, and I always freeze on the plane. When I’m supposed to be sleeping, I’m instead trying to figure out how I can avoid that ice-cold air that always seems to blast down on my head. This soft, warm layer can double as a stylish scarf or shawl during the trip.

Safe yet effective mosquito repellent

essential travel items: safe effective bug spray

While visiting Brazil during the outbreak of Zika and the on-going dengue epidemic in São Paulo, I researched mosquito repellents for my kids and me. I found out that repellents with Picardin are effective at preventing bites from the aedes aegypti mosquito (which can spread dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika, and yellow fever). A safe and effective bug spray need not be DEET (too toxic) or herbal blends (a strong smell but not a lot of protection).

Portable battery charger

essential travel items

A portable mini battery charger for smart phones is a must! (Especially if you’re playing Pokemon Go while traveling!) I use this one all the time when I travel, even on day trips, but there are other portable battery chargers to charge one or more devices at a time. You simply plug the charger cord into your phone and into the charger–no wall outlet needed!

Small but good camera

essential travel items: small good camera

When I travel, especially overseas, I don’t like to carry a large camera because it’s clunky and I don’t want to worry about it getting stolen. My Canon Powershot G16 is my go-to camera when I travel because it’s small enough to fit in my purse or even some pockets. It shoots in RAW, handles low light very well, and allows me to wirelessly share images, so there’s no need to wait to upload photos to my computer before sharing on social media.

Olly Restful Sleep

essential travel items: best natural sleep aid for travel

I’m a light sleeper and can often have a bad night’s sleep while traveling. These Olly Restful Sleep gummies are my favorite nighttime sleep aid–they help me fall asleep and stay asleep without feeling groggy the next day (but I actually take at most a half dose).

The giveaway:

To enter to win a Bagnet, simply leave a comment below answering the following question: What are your essential travel items? One winner will be randomly chosen on Thursday, September 29. Update: Congratulations to Audrey for winning the Bagnet! 


  • I love your suggestions in this piece, especially the rubber doorstop which is one I hadn’t heard before. My travel essential (maybe too obvious to mention!) is hand sanitizer. I always enjoy your posts, Jenna! Thanks for the tips.

    • Jenna says:

      Nothing is too obvious! When I travel with my kids, I always bring wipes and sanitizer for those times when I can’t find a place for them to wash their hands.

  • What a great post, Jenna. I always travel with a medium-weight scarf for warmth and coziness on the plane and for versatility with my outfits in case of shifting weather

  • Megan says:

    Some good ones that I don’t already make a part of my routine. My number one is my kindle. Travel for me, is my chance to get a good chunk of reading in whether it’s on the way there or relaxing during at trip.

    • Jenna says:

      I completely agree about travel being a time to do lots of good reading. I used to bring my Kindle but now just read on my phone or iPad.

  • I’m definitely going to use the door stop trick! When we use to travel overseas we would bring a ridiculous amount of clif bars with us. They are perfect when hunger strikes and would often hold us over until we found a place we wanted to eat at instead of settling for the closest place we could find.

    • Jenna says:

      We have taken bars with us to Brazil, too, because it’s hard to find similar bars there, and it’s helpful to have some filling snacks for those times when you just want a little something to tide you over until that next meal (especially when traveling with kids!).

  • Joan says:

    Love this post! In addition to most of the items you’ve mentioned, I always take along a tennis ball for my chronic back and sciatica pain. My message therapist taught me how to roll on it when I’m having painful episodes and I can’t make it in to see her. It’s easily packed, lightweight and if you forget it you can probably buy one at your destination.

    • Jenna says:

      Such a good idea. We’ve used them many times in yoga class but are a good idea for travel because when we walk a lot while traveling, we may need to relieve tight places in our back, feet, etc.

  • The bagnet looks fantastic! I always fly with an inflatable neck pillow, I can adjust the pressure as I like and it packs down to nothing!

  • The bagnet is a great idea! Besides my iPhone, I always carry a collapsible carry bag inside my handbag; especially in Europe, it comes in so handy that it’s truly indispensable at times. I also have a tiny little tin of Maldon salt on me at all times, not just when I travel. Hey, what can I say…I’m a food blogger, too! 😉

    • Jenna says:

      I also travel with a little collapsible bag, one that folds up into almost nothing and is super light. And with your love of food, I’m not surprised about the salt!

  • Cathy Carson says:

    Hi Jenna,
    Great post . I love the Barney as I hate sitting my bag on anything.
    I have a new item called a ” Pocket Plus” that I can use when I hike or bike or in a busy city. It has a strong magnet that hooks over a waste band or bicycle handle. Comes in many sizes and colors.

  • Andi says:

    That clip looks amazing! I have found great uses for a door stopper in the RV as well! I am going to have to look into those gummies I usually take a sleeping pill which I hate to do.

  • Sandy says:

    I don’t fly much but I always take duct tape and bungee cords on a road trip because you just never know!

  • Kelly says:

    Love that bagnet! Such a great idea. My go-to travel item is Melatonin!

  • Danyelle H says:

    My travel essentials are a good water bottle, portable battery charger, sweater, a good book and some e-mergency to ward off any sickness.

    • Jenna says:

      A good water bottle is essential! I love that there are water filling stations in more and more places these days.

  • I also carry a scarf on they plane because I get so cold! Aside from that, can’t travel without my Microsoft Surface, so I can catch up with work in any location, plus it’s very light and easy to carry.

    • Jenna says:

      I also like to take my computer (I have a Mac Air, so it’s pretty light) or iPad with a portable keyboard. I can get lots of work done on long flights or even car rides when I’m the passenger.

  • Kirsten says:

    I need one of those bagnets! Why have I never heard of them before? Such a cool invention. And I want the sleeping aid for my husband and kid. They always have problems sleeping. We’ve tried melatonin, lavender, tablets, you name it. Maybe one of those could do the trick!

  • Natalie says:

    I love the bag net! It is new to me and I totally need one! I usually travel with a sling, which you just keep on in the bathroom if there is no hook, but I can see how awesome it would be to have an option! LOVE!!

    We travel with the kids and since I’m packing all of us I find having a plan and a list of ‘go to items’ a must!! We never go anywhere without blue painter’s tape. It is like the duct tape for travelers. There are SOOO many uses!

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