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Simple (Travel) Stories – Elizabeth

Simple Stories - Elizabeth travelcollageElizabeth has been traveling this past year and has had a bunch of experience with simple traveling/packing.   I asked her to share about what she does include in her bags. 

Last month I shared about what we don’t bring with us, but I love focusing on the positives of what ‘simple packing’ should include. Thanks for sharing Elizabeth!

6 Travel Items You Won’t Regret Packing

You know what I love about owning less stuff?

Packing less stuff for a trip.

It’s one of the big reasons I got rid of all the junk I didn’t need. Well that, and I love traveling without feeling like it’s some huge production.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come back from a trip, looked in my suitcase, and stared in disbelief at all the things that never even saw the light of day. So began the “pack less” project.

Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t essentials I’ve come to rely on. In fact, I’ve realized it’s even more important to know what you truly use on trips when you own less.

Here are the six must-have items

These are making my trips more enjoyable and less stressful now that I’m a minimalist. 

1. The “It” Pouch

You know how it is… You’re exhausted. Your phone is dying. And where the heck is your wallet?

I don’t know about you, but by the time I’ve packed for an excursion away from home, my handbag is stuffed to the brim.

That’s why I use a pouch to contain my most important essentials that seem to get lost so easily among everything else.

Now my phone, wallet, tickets, and chargers are always close by.

Ah – I feel less stressed already.

2. A Feel-Better Item

This year, I found out that really long road trips have a way of making me car sick. When I fly, standing in line for the TSA isn’t exactly my idea of a good time. And you better watch out if I haven’t had my cup of coffee (it’s not pretty).

Traveling affects us all in different ways, so it’s good to be prepared in case you start feeling “kind of off.”

A headache medication could make you feel worlds better. Keeping some green tea bags on hand might help you relax when you have access to hot water. And a pair of athletic shoes gives my feet a break after a too-long travel day.

3. Bottle of Water

Be good to yourself and stay hydrated. Your body will thank you later.

About 10 minutes before I head out the door, I like to fill up a bottle of water with just enough room for some ice. That way, it’s still pretty cold after I’ve run around with my luggage, and I need a refreshing drink to keep me going.

4. Something Warm

Growing up in eastern North Carolina has tricked me into thinking that sweltering days always translate to steamy nights. Not the case when it comes to just about everywhere else in the world.

Now I always carry a cardigan, light sweater, or jacket in my bag – even in the summer. And since my days feel longer when I travel, I’m ready for whatever the weather throws at me.

5. Sunscreen

A minimalist may carry less, but when it comes to my health I don’t skip out on packing sunscreen – even when it’s cloudy.

Wherever you’re sightseeing, the hours you spend outside are usually longer than you think, and the sun can be much harsher than it seems. And no one wants to deal with painful sunburns during a vacation.

6. Plastic Bags

Ever need to pack up a damp bathing suit at the end of your trip? Or throw in a shampoo bottle that could leak onto everything that you hold dear?

I’m always having this experience when I’m frantically packing up to make it out of a hotel on time.

That’s why I started bringing a couple of plastic bags along with me to keep anything from spilling in my bag or stinking up my suitcase. By the way, the bags that come in ice cube containers in hotels work well if you forget to pack some from home.

It takes some time figuring out what your personal must-have essentials are, but it’s worth it.

The items we own are just instruments that help us live better lives – that’s all they can ever be.

But the memories we make with the people we travel with?

Those are priceless.

Simple Stories - Elizabeth K profilephotoAnd they’re the best souvenirs we can bring back with us from a great trip.

Bio and Pictures: Elizabeth Kane is a writer and musician. She loves to travel just about anywhere, cook something new once a week, and learn how to do more with less (which is why she loves reading this blog!). Get more from her on Twitter.


  1. How simple, yet so profound! I always tuck my necessities in random pockets of a backpack, only to wonder which pocket when I need it. Love the pouch idea! Jacket, yes! I always freeze in air conditioning. And I need to create a better habit of bringing a water bottle with me no matter where we go. The kids most always want a drink. Plus I always cringe when I end up using “disposable” bottles. Great tips!

    • I did the same thing, Sarah – packing my necessities into different pockets/compartments. I have to say from experience: the “it pouch” idea has saved me some major stress. And as for the jacket – I’m with you. Air conditioner on blast is not my friend. I’m glad you liked the post!

  2. Susanne Susanne

    You have inspired me not to pack less, which I also need to do, but to pack smart. I can’t count the times I’ve packed outfits in my suitcase to go away, unpack them in the hotel, repack to go home and unpack and put the clean but now wrinkly clothes back in the cupboards at home. I’m tired just writing that! Cheers!

    • Yes! I have definitely done the pack, unpack, repack dance and it drives me insane. And then it just gets worse when I start to think…”This is crumpled and really blah looking now…should I just wash it again with the rest of the dirty clothes?”

      It happens with a couple of items of mine even with the best of planning, but hey – the fewer unused items the better. 🙂

  3. And if you have kids, remember to pack things for them to do!

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