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8 Unexpectedly Cheap Travel Items You’ll Wish You Had With You

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Having traveled to so many places so far, I’m always surprised when friends or family that accompany me don’t have the most basic travel items with them. Packing certain things comes to me like second nature now and when I stopped to think about it, I realized that it may not be the same for others.

Surely, we all have our favorite travel items, and while companies keep trying to advertise some of the most expensive items out there, some of my most used ones will surprise you with how cheap they are! And some are even more unique than the general ones you keep seeing again and again on travel guides! (Yes, we all know that we need to pack adaptors by now)

Of course, the pandemic has ruined some of my overseas plans over the last couple of months, but I always try to see the fuller half of the glass! This way I was able to see more of my home, and while some of my slightly more expensive gadgets for cross Atlantic flights are stored safely in my cupboard, these items haven’t failed me once!

They’re lightweight and really useful, it’s a shame how many people overlook them. Let me know if you’ve ever packed any of these items or if I inspired you to get any of these essential travel items for your travel kit!

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Compact Grocery Bag

Not only do I always have one of these in my bag at home, but I never leave on a trip without one! If you end up adding just one or two travel items from my list to your essentials, this one just has to be one of them. These compact grocery bags take up almost no space in your luggage and they’re extremely light, but they have a ton of uses.

Be it that you use them for just light grocery shopping for your hotel room (never trust hotel tap water), or you use it as a makeshift pool bag, it will definitely end up having a use. So you don’t have to feel like you will never use it on your trip. Worse comes to worst, it will be a lifesaver if you end up having to check-in bags unexpectedly!

Ear Plugs

If you’ve ever been in a hotel or AirBnB with thin walls, you’ll understand the pain of forgetting your earplugs at home. Being a light sleeper, I always make sure to pack my earplugs with me, especially since my partner is prone to snoring loudly after a full day of activities. And this isn’t the only use these little magic foam items have!

You can end up on a noisy airplane and let’s be honest, not all of us can shell out a ton of money for good noise-canceling earphones. (Sometimes not even those can keep away the cries of the baby in row 16). So good earplugs are the next best thing!

Be it that you get your pair for one dollar at the drugstore or at the hardware store, make sure you get the foam ones. They are lightweight and mold to your ear canal so they won’t be uncomfortable. Alternatively to getting them in-store, you can also get them in bulk and you’ll end up paying less than $10 for 50 pairs!

If there’s one travel item I never leave home without, it’s my trusty earplugs: multiple pairs so to make sure I don’t run out!

Quick Dry Towel

Towels are the thing we all forget about and then end up needing the most. Especially when you end up with no dry towels after a day at the beach and you have to towel dry your hair (totally didn’t happen to me). However, getting a normal bath towel in your luggage can end up taking up precious space in your bag. So here come’s your hero: the Quick Dry Towel.

It comes in different sizes depending on your needs, it’s very absorbent and, its best feature, compact and lightweight. You can take it virtually everywhere with you and it will do wonders if you happen to end up needing an emergency towel. If anything, they’re the things to pack when you go camping! Believe me, once you get one you won’t go back to packing normal towels.

Flashlight (a Mini One Will Do)

Everyone has a flashlight app on their phone, but it can happen that you don’t want to use the last remaining battery you have on this. This travel item is generally not thought of, but even having a powerful mini flashlight dangling from your keychain can end up saving you in a pinch.

Be it that you’re in a place with no light, or you are trying to find the box with the key for your Airbnb, it’s gonna be way easier to hold a tiny flashlight than a big phone. There are even rechargeable ones, so you don’t have to worry about finding batteries at the most inconvenient moment!

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Image By The Toidi From

Most Surprising Travel Item: Forever Stamps

You may not have expected this one, but believe me, you’re gonna love yourself for having this one with you. You never know if you’re going to end up having to mail something out. Be it some unexpected documents or even just a cute set of postcards for some friends or family, they’re great to have around. (My mom has a collection of postcards I’ve sent her from my travels).

They’re roughly 50 cents apiece and you can get them in sheets of 10, 16, 20, and more depending on what design you want them to have. I don’t end up using them all of the time but it’s good to have them in your wallet or laptop case (together with an envelope). Be it for emergencies or just for a cute new tradition, it won’t hurt to have them around!

Pictures of Your Travel Buddies

This is one of the most essential things to have with you, especially if you are traveling with people who love to wander away from the group or with children!

I do hope you’ll never end up having to use it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Taking a picture with your friends and family at the start of the day is a good practice to do, even if you’re just traveling throughout the United States.

Plans are always the way to go if more people in your group want to see different landmarks or if you think you may end up separated in a crowded place. Setting up a time to meet in a certain place is just as important. However, we all know that one person in your travel group who might not respect these plans.

That’s why you might end up having to ask around if people saw them, and having a visual cue is always better than trying to describe someone. Having their picture on your phone works just fine, but it’s always good to have a printed one in your backpack for easier access: they’re so inexpensive to print at the drugstore it’d be a shame to miss on this travel item.

Foldable, Water Resistant Backpack

Everyone has their favorite backpack for traveling (I know I most certainly do), and it generally can pack a lot of things inside. Most of the time when I am gone for just a few days I don’t even bother with a small suitcase, I just have my trusty hiking backpack that can hold just as much stuff inside.

However, I always make sure to pack a foldable backpack with me as well, to use a day bag wherever I might be going. Yes, it may not sound like something out of the ordinary or an amazing travel item, but I guarantee it’s better to go around sightseeing with a lighter backpack than a huge hiking one.

Not to mention you won’t have to take everything out of your main one at your accommodation either and you can get such a backpack for under $10 on Amazon. Travel smarter!

Emergency Whistle

If you go on hikes as frequently as I do, you’ll understand why you should pack a whistle with you. And I don’t mean this just because you could happen upon a bear by accident.

You don’t even have to be deep into the wilderness to end up getting lost with no cellphone reception. And even if your lungs are in top shape, yelling can sometimes get you nowhere, or it can result in a horrible throat ache that will last you for days.

This is why you should pack a whistle with you when you plan on going somewhere you aren’t familiar with. And if you don’t end up using it, even better! No one wants to be in a tough situation, but if you end up in one, sometimes you might just wish you had a whistle with you.

They’re inexpensive and some can blast up to 100 decibels so you can be sure that the whole forest hears you!

Make sure you are planning ahead for your next abroad trip with these must-have luggage essentials!

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