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During my travels the past 20+ years, I’ve identified my “Must Have Travel Accessories.” Maximizing comfort and efficiency while minimizing waste is important.
Travel accessories – Sleeping
Getting a good night’s rest while traveling on planes, trains and boats or sleeping in hotel rooms is important and can sometimes be challenging.
- Bucky Eye Mask – If you are extremely sensitive to light, a good eye mask is key for quality sleep. Having tried MANY eye masks over the years, Bucky is by far my favorite. Not only is it super lightweight, but it also doesn’t make my face breakout like many others that have more points of contact. And, the generous eyecups are great if you have long eyelashes.
- TIP: Buy it in a bright color so that it’s easy to find if it falls off in flight or while sleeping. Black ones often blend in.
- Neck Pillow – An inflatable neck pillow that packs flat is key. The Lewis & Clark On Air’s large port makes it simple to fill and deflate. While the foam ones are comfortable, they take up a lot of valuable space.
- TIP: Storing it in a ziplock plastic bag will keep it clean and separate from other items in your carry-on bag.
- Sleep pillow app – Finding ways to drown out noise from loud TVs, people chatting or crying children is key for a good night’s sleep. Since it provides a variety of options, you can be lulled to sleep by wave sounds, raindrops, or whale noises. Although a chirping bird option is offered, I’ve never found that effective since that’s a sound that typically wakes me up.
- TIP: Since the free app has 10 sound options, there is no need to purchase the paid version.
Travel accessories – Toiletries
Identifying environmentally friendly toiletries can be a challenge. While small travel sizes are convenient, they create a lot of waste. After discovering Lush’s solid shampoos, conditioners and body lotions five years ago, I swear by them. And, a variety of fantastic scents are offered.
Not only will you save on weight, space and not have to worry about leaking containers, but you’ll also not leave any plastic waste behind wherever you travel. Given that we often visit developing countries that don’t recycle, we try to minimize plastic and paper waste, so these are a great solution.
- After experimenting with a variety of options, my favorites are:
- Shampoo – Jason and the Argan oil – a luscious Rose Jam scent and Moroccan Argan oil will keep your hair silky and smelling divine. The shampoo bars provide 80 washes!
- Conditioner – Sugar Daddy-O – a relaxing combination of violet, rose and bergamot with linseed oil, shea butter and Argan oil that softens and detangles your hair.
- Massage Bar – Therapy – lovely orange, neroli and lavender scent combined with fair trade cocoa butter and Shea butter is a great moisturizer.
- TIP: Buy the tins for $3.95 to store/transport them. To maximize life, tilt them on an angle in the container to dry overnight. Otherwise, they get mushy and stick to the bottom of the tins.
- Vicks Vapo Rub – This is great to combat people’s smelly feet or body odor on planes and trains. By wiping a small amount under your nose, you’ll mask the offending odor. It works like a charm. And, if you get sick or congested while traveling, this is also great to have on hand.
- TIP: Transport one teaspoon worth in a small container that you keep in your liquids bag and then transfer it to your pocket for the plane. This will ensure it’s easy to access.
- Bite toothpaste bits – This is a convenient plastic-free option to decrease the number of toothpaste tubes that enter U.S. landfills each year – currently 1 billion!! Not only does Bite package in a glass bottle, but they send refills via compostable packaging. To minimize their carbon footprint, all Bite shipping is via ground. I prefer the Fresh Mint flavor.
Travel accessories – Packing
Finding reliable solutions to pack both toiletries and clothing will expedite TSA airport screening and improve packing and unpacking efficiency.
- Flanabags Airquart Travel Bag – After using Ziploc plastic bags for years, I converted to this TSA-approved, quart-sized bag two years ago and have loved it. In addition to easily ripping, Ziploc bags are not environmentally friendly, so I’ve tried to convert to reusable wherever possible. With Flanabags gusseted bottom (6.5” x 8” plus 1” gusset), I can fit more into it since I don’t have to worry about ripping this stylish and sturdy bag. The wrist strap also makes it convenient to grab from the TSA bin after screening.
- TIP: They come in a variety of designs and make great gifts/stocking stuffers. I recommended them to my in-laws for a recent Japan trip and they love them as well.
- Eagle Creek Packing Cubes – While Jason initially mocked my organizational tendencies when I suggested these, he now uses them for both business and personal travel. We have found these tremendously helpful for dive trips too. Unloading all of our dive gear on the main deck and carrying only four cubes to our room is super easy! Another bonus is I’ve found I haven’t accidentally left any clothes behind in drawers/closets after converting over to these.
- A great starter set is:
- Two Pack-It Clean Dirty Cubes Medium– use for pants, tops, dresses
- We prefer the dual sided clean dirty cubes with mesh on one side and a plastic covering on the other. Packing clean clothes in one side and dirty in the other is one option. Or, organizing shirts on one side and pants on the other is another approach.
- Two Pack-It Tube Cubes Slim – use one for underwear and one for socks
- One Pack-It Quarter cube – use for medications that you carry-on
- TIP: Buying different colors for each family member allows to you to easily distribute cubes.
- Two Pack-It Clean Dirty Cubes Medium– use for pants, tops, dresses
Other money-saving, eco-friendly travel accessories
- Steripen Ultra + 32 oz Nalgene water bottle – To minimize plastic waste when traveling, I prefer to sterilize water with a Steripen UV Water Purifier rather than buying bottled water. The Steripen destroys 99.9% of bacteria, viruses and protozoa. Having contracted giardiasis while traveling in Northern China and getting violently ill from supposedly filtered/bottled water in India, I now prefer to sterilize water myself.
- TIP: I prefer the Steripen Ultra UV Water Purifier. Since it’s rechargeable, you don’t have to worry about batteries. Each charge allows for 50 water treatments. To use it, make sure you travel with a wide-mouth water bottle like this one sold by Nalgene. You won’t be able to get the Steripen into a water bottle with a narrow opening.
- The downsides of single use plastic
- Only a small percentage is recycled
- Leeches toxins into food and drink
- Pollutes our ocean
- Kills marine animals
- Enters our food chain
- Campsuds – By hand washing items in the sink, we can minimize clothing volume and laundry expenses. Traveling with 3 pairs of pants, 5 short sleeve shirts, 3 long sleeve shirts, 1 sweater/fleece, 1 dress, 3 pairs of socks and 7 pairs of underwear allows us to rotate and always have clean items available.
- TIP: A 4 oz container is sufficient for two people traveling for 3 weeks. Since it’s super concentrated, you only need half a capful to fill the sink with suds. Also, the 4 oz bottle is a Nalgene bottle, so it’s guaranteed not to leak.
Travel accessories – Health related
- Nuun Active/hydration tablets –Staying hydrated while on the plane, hiking and diving is key. After a friend and I suffered severe food poisoning in India and had to make our own rehydration mixtures to avoid IV infusions at a hospital, I ALWAYS travel with these. We drink one per day when traveling. Whenever I suffer a dehydration headache due to heat, these resolve it. Also, it’s much more environmentally friendly than pedialyte packets. Each container includes 10 tablets, which each make a 16 oz drink.
- TIP: We prefer the Nuun Active/Hydration, which is packed with electrolytes. While they offer a Nuun Energy option, it has caffeine, which I don’t need. Our favorite flavors are grape, tri-berry, and strawberry lemonade.
- No-Jet-Lag – While I strive to start adjusting my sleep schedule a day before leaving and sleep according to the destination’s time on the flight, I’ve found these homeopathic No-Jet-Lag pills to be extremely helpful. They seem to reduce the symptoms of jetlag with no side effects.
- TIP: Chew one tablet upon each takeoff and landing and every two hours to counter jetlag effects. It’s best to take it separately from meals.
Additional travel accessory favorites
- For my favorite hiking items, see “Making the Most of a Chilean Patagonia Visit” post
- For motion sickness, see “Suffer from Motion Sickness? 5 Proven Remedies” post
- For sun protection, see the “9 Travel Essentials to Protect You from the Sun” post