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travel bag necessities packing guide

Have a Happy Trip with a Full Travel Bag (2020 Update)

Everyone knows that terrible feeling when you’re out somewhere, or traveling, and you just realize that you forgot something super important or helpful!

Before you start to travel, make sure you check what’s in your bag.

Here’s our guide from our well-versed travel expert on what you absolutely must have in your travel bag.

The Importance of Your Travel Bag

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Every traveler should know that a good vacation starts with a complete and well thought of checklist which perfectly covers your baseline (the essential and standard items) and any additional items that are required for your trip. We know it all too well that disasters start when you miss out on your essentials only to remember it while you are about to board the plane or worse you’re already at your destination. And the worst part of all? You actually checked in space for the non-essential ones like a back-up dress that you are almost sure you won’t be able to wear. Bummer!

If you’ve raked in your flying miles, I’m sure that you’re somehow familiar with this. So, for first timers and experienced alike, what should be on your packing list? (I’m not swearing!)

Traveling with the Basics

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To travel well means packing only your essentials. A well packed bag is like Dora’s backpack which means it has everything that you need rather than what you think you need! Avoid overpacking because trust me, you will take home most of those untouched and it would just be a complete waste of space and money!

For your list, consider first the length of the trip and movement – will there be layovers? Or will you be moving a lot during the whole trip? – which will help you decide the quantity of items you will bring. Second is the weather. Needless to say, clothes are your basic travel gear so it’s important that you have the right clothes for the weather. Third is the type of adventure you’re going into as this will dictate specific gears. Is it a cityscape chillout? Will you be hiking or trekking or camping out? Or are you going for a casual swim on the beach or taking a dive? And fourth is make sure to study the place you’re going to so you would have a general idea (this includes the accommodations)

For starters, before we list out the basic gears, keep in mind that if you travel a lot, it’s best to invest in your gear so that you can use them over a long period of time and to different places! Make sure they’re high-quality, lightweight, and durable. 

The Travel Bag

Travelers usually choose between a rolling check-in luggage or a backpack. These are basically what you’d prefer and which you are comfortable with but some travelers I see carry both. 

In general, if you’re not a parent (because kids need luggage), it’s best to just have a carry-on with you. First, it saves you time by not having to check-in anything and it pays as well to not have a check-in especially when you have layovers to avoid missing check-in luggages which might be a cause of stress on your part.

As they say, prevention is better than cure. Although some frequent flyers have noted that it’s not as bad to miss a luggage as most people think it would be. And second, if ever there would be any flight problems you can go to the nearest hotel to chill because you’ve got everything with you. 

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For carry-ons, pick one that could be as good as a check-in luggage in terms of organizational space. Although efficient packing plays a major trick in a well-packed carry-on, the bag itself is a major factor. Since it’s a carry-on, it would be good to have sufficient shoulder and back support to avoid straining your body. Make sure that the material is also safe and secure (a waterproof cover may also be a good idea) as we will never know what happens during a trip. 

In any case that you need a suitcase, just like any gear, pick a lightweight and durable one that fits all your needs. There are lots of innovations now for suitcases and blogs that give you an intensive review so that you can pick what’s best for you. It’s also good to take on a second opinion from someone who is already using it. For some, they also bring along a small luggage scale accessory. Travelers tend to bring more back home with all the souvenirs and it’s good to have a weight checker. We don’t want that excess baggage fee. 

It’s also important to bring additional bags like a tote canvas bag (there are countries that have 5P Plastic Bag policy), a light drawstring bag for your daily accessories, and a fanny pack for all your important documents as well as cash.

Luggage Tag and Lock 

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These are also essentials and can be attached to all your bags. When purchasing a luggage tag should be (1) simple and discreet – we need your items labeled but it’s not like we need everyone to see it and (2) durable – luggages and bags are not handled as carefully as we would like it to be so your tag should be able to withstand this kind of problem. Locks are also essential to give your bags an extra layer of security. Any combination lock will do as long as you don’t forget the code!

Packing Cubes

These are space efficient bags that help you organize your packing and avoid the dilemma of having to take out everything just to find what you need. It also makes your things look neat. With packing cubes, you can also easily account all of your items. These are easily purchased in many online shops. Just of course, take a lok at reviews to check for quality. Some travelers also use compression sacks to store in fleece jackets, socks, and other items that are okay with getting wrinkled. They are also multipurpose as you can make them as makeshift pillows in a pinch. 

In-flight needs: Eye Mask, Earplugs, and Neck Pillow 

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These are mainly in-flight needs but are generally used throughout the whole trip. These are generally preference-based items but it’s important that you use brands and material that you are very comfortable with otherwise you run the risk of feeling discomfort from the items that should be giving you comfort. For neck pillows, pick a good one that can fully support your neck and tight enough to keep your head in a comfortable headlock. 

Collapsible Water Bottle

A water bottle is always a good idea to bring into any kind of travel. Travelers who do hiking and trekking activities buy durable and large capacity water bottles. These are good but also bulky even without any fluid. To save space, collapsible water bottles are generally recommended. These are good for on the go activities and can easily fit in any bag. If you’re a first time flyer, water bottles should not have any fluid inside when you pass through airport security. 

Quick Dry Towels

Most hotel accommodations provide hygiene products to guests but you can never go wrong by bringing one yourself. Quick dry towels are first, well, quick dry which makes it a very convenient gear and it’s also thin so it’s easy to pack. 

Toiletry Kit

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This is definitely a must-have in any travel. Some accommodations provide toiletries but they are only kind of “bite-size” so they are not really helpful. It’s good to pack your own and it would be better to have a waterproof material for the bag, can be hanged, and big enough to stash in all your needs . For fluids like shampoos, conditioners, bath wash (better than soaps), skin care, transfer them into travel size bottles. A lot of brands offer these travel kits and they’re affordable as well. This is for environmental purposes and again, there are airport guidelines regarding fluids so make sure that you’re not bringing more than you should. Otherwise, you would have to discard these items. 

First Aid and Medicine Kit

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Some people miss out on these kits but these should be part of your essentials. There are a lot of things that can happen during a trip and small accidents or discomforts should not be disregarded. It’s best to be prepared with a kit with bandages, gauze, and disinfectant. For your medicine kit, make sure you have your basics covered like medicines for headache, dizziness, stomachache, and fever. If you’re taking in daily medications, put that in as well. There are a lot of medicine organizers you can pick from and these are very helpful in categorizing your medicines. 


Depending on your needs, these are good items to bring with you but are not really part of the must-haves. First is mosquito repellent. This could be stashed in your first aid kit. If you’re hiking, it’s a really good idea to have one with you. Second are ziplocks. These are good for packing wet items and to protect items from getting wet as well such as your gadgets. Third is the umbrella. Depending on the weather and region, an umbrella is an optional gear. If you’re traveling to Southeast Asian countries where dry and wet seasons prevail, it’s handy to have an umbrella. Note that there could also be guidelines regarding umbrellas. In my experience, umbrellas are not allowed in carry-ons only in check-in luggages.

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