Support TFG by using the links in our articles to shop. We receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) so we can continue to create helpful free content. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases made on Amazon in addition to other retailers featured on the blog. Thank you, we appreciate your support!
As a seasoned traveler, you have certain essentials you bring with you on each and every trip. Find out the things an experienced jetsetter never leaves home without and see if they’re on your packing list.
What’s in My Bag: Unexpected Essentials
Written By: Sydney Vogl
I would like to claim something here, once and for all. I’m a travel addict. An airplane junkie. A passport-holdin’, suitcase-wielding, adventure nut.
I get my fix through foreign cities, and I do it often. As someone who is constantly planning her next adventure, you can bet that I have my traveling routine perfected.
Editor’s note: see my step-by-step packing routine here!
The night before my flight, I individually lay out each item on my floor. I do this to see everything I have, remove what I don’t need (I have an impulse packing problem), and carefully fold everything so it fits just right. Once I’ve packed these items into my packing cubes inside my suitcase, I plan the things I need to include in my personal item.
I always use the same bag as my personal item, and as part of my travel ritual I bring the exact same things inside that bag. Here, I’ll guide you through my list of what I carry inside my personal item during the flight.
Slim Fit Leggings | Loose T-Shirt Dress Plus
An Extra Outfit
I know this sounds a little extreme, but you’d be surprised how often an extra outfit comes in handy.
It doesn’t need to be fancy – just something you can throw on if you start feeling too cold or hot (such as a tank top, sweater, or a pair of leggings). Having an extra outfit is also helpful in case of lost luggage (which, through personal experience, I can say happens!). If this should happen, you’ll have something to wear while you wait for your bag to turn up.
When I travel, I go at it hard. I leave the hotel at 8 AM and wander the streets until the sun sets, finally retiring to bed (after a few cheeky cocktails, of course). Having a few extra clothing items to account for weather changes or unexpected flight delays is always a good idea.
These are the most comfortable shoes for sightseeing!
RFID-Blocking Passport Wallet | RFID Pouch Travel Wallet
This may seem excessive, but bear with me. Carrying 2 wallets is an old trick that my dad taught me when I was young, and it worked for him in a time of trouble.
One wallet holds all your important stuff: most of your money, credit cards, and your ID. The second wallet (which can be a cheap one), you fill with just enough to make it seem legit. So add a library card, an old ID, a credit card you can easily cancel, and a few bucks of the local money.
This way, if you ever get robbed (knock on wood), and they ask for your wallet, give them the cheap one, with no hesitation. No harm done.
We also recommend you stash some of your cash using these money belts and anti-theft accessories or a Secret Bra Pocket!
Antibacterial Hand Wipes | Hand Wipes
Wipes have been my savior during many dirty, sweaty, and long travel days. A wet wipe can make you feel rejuvenated and it’s something you can use anywhere for a quick pick me up.
It feels so good to get off a long flight with a fresh face ready to navigate the city and find your hotel where you can finally shower.
Find out how to stay clean on the go with these travel hygiene tips!
Pocket Notebook | Mini Ballpoint Pen
All Important Info Written Down
It’s crucial to document all the information you need on a piece of paper, but it’s even more important that you tuck it into a small, safe space where it won’t get easily lost or fall into the wrong hands.
Write down your travel insurance info, locations to which you’re traveling, emergency contact numbers, and your credit card help line (in the case of a lost or stolen card). I also like to write down my passport number, as I don’t like to carry around my actual passport in case of my purse getting stolen. Better safe than sorry!
Tip: if you get lost or need directions, showing someone a written address on a $5 notebook is better than handing them your $500 smartphone.
Just booked a flight? Read these tips to find out when to pack for a trip!
Printed Confirmation of Hotels and Flights
You may be surprised to find that not every destination is super high tech; some still require print outs. Unless you want to go through the trouble that I’ve been through (too many times) you’ll print out all confirmations of hotel and flight bookings.
It’s a pain but it’s worth it – especially if your booking somehow gets lost and the hotel staff claim you never made one. Alternatively, you can screenshot the email confirmation and save it in your phone, but I like to have a physical copy, just in case.
Read this post to discover the best purse organizer for your in-flight personal item or travel bag!
Clear Toiletry Bag | Sea to Summit (Small)
Travel Survival Kit
This is why my friends call me Mary Poppins when I travel. I have a small makeup bag that I call my “travel survival kit”. In it, you’ll find anything you might need while on a day in a new city: cold/flu pills, a toothpick, a travel toothbrush, a tampon, a hairband, a bobby pin, and some emergency travel money.
You can customize your kit to fit your needs. You only need to have an individual pack or just one of each thing and anything else you can buy at your destination as needed.
Here’s what to include in your travel first aid kit.
A few packing tips:
I have certain rules for packing clothes and shoes (if I didn’t I would be packing my whole closet!)
To keep my bag light, I always limit myself to 2 pairs of shoes. As difficult as it sounds, it’s a necessary evil, especially if you’re going the carryon only route.
Otherwise, I’m lugging around 5 pairs of shoes for a weekend trip. I choose one dressier going-out shoe (a heel or wedge, depending on the destination), and a walking shoe. The day shoe could be a strappy sandal if it’s summer, or a pair of comfortable ankle booties if it’s fall or winter.
Choosing the right shoes for a trip can be challenging! Read this guide on packing the best travel shoes!
As far as clothes go, I try to keep outfits as versatile as possible and load up on the accessories. One simple black tank dress can go from day to night with the right accessories. Versatility is key to a capsule wardrobe. Learn more in my guide!
Another one of my travel clothing musts is a leather jacket. It’s classic, simple, sophisticated, and can be worn both day and night.
Dresses are multi-purpose, making them the perfect staple in your travel wardrobe. Find out how to turn your dresses into versatile dresses that can be worn multiple ways!
Everyone has a different style, so your clothing necessities are going to vary. But if you can keep your shoe count low and make sure your outfits are versatile AND cute, then you’re golden.
What are the things you always pack in your personal item on board the plane? Comment below!
For more packing tips and ideas, please read:
- 10 Step Packing Guide to Stop Overpacking
- Packing Cubes: This Will Change the Way You Travel
- 10 Best Toiletry Bags for Travel
- The Ultimate Packing List for Vacation
LIKED THIS POST? PIN THIS PIC TO SAVE IT!
I hope you found this post on the unexpected items in my bag useful! Please share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Thanks for reading!
Author Bio: Sydney is a freelance writer from Los Angeles, currently living in Sydney, Australia. She loves all things travel and is happiest when she has a passport in her hand and a pair of cute shoes on her feet!
Pack a couple of battery powered tea lights. They save a stubbed toe in dark hotel rooms . My son travels with a battery headlamp. Saved his sanity and phone flashlight power when he was stuck in the Chunnel for many hours. It also lights the way in dark and unfamiliar streets.
Hi Jane, thank you for sharing your unexpected travel item with us! Sounds like a very handy item to have 🙂
Black tank dress is the most versatile! Great with runners, sandals or boots. I love my black Emmy Deaveaux tank dress. It’s double layered fabric and can wash and dry quickly but it hides lumps and bumps.
Hi Athena, thank you for taking the time to share your most versatile item of clothing with us! Sounds fantastic and very stylish 🙂
Very helpful, I do most of them when I travel. About the meds, make sure to check your emergency kit once a year to change the meds that are close to expire. I seldom use Imodium, BUT when I really needed it mine had expired, I took it anyways (desperation) but it did not work, so I learned my lesson. I have 3 more items that I always have in my personal bag, one power bar, a couple of bags of herbal infusion, like mint or chamomile. Infusions help me relax after a long trip, Airlines only provide black tea. I am tea lover so I always bring my very special zojirushi travel vacuum mug, it is amazing, light it does not leak and keeps hot water with you for hours, so you can have tea any time during flight or once you are relaxing at the hotel. I don’t leave my home without it.
Great insight Veronica!
Loved this article! I have an impulse packing problem too 🙁 I always end up carrying multiples of the same item and I always leave home thinking I have forgotten something.
Great tip about the secondary wallet!
Happy second wedding anniversary ☺️
These are great tips, Alex! A few of them are things I usually also bring, but I’m going to start doing the double wallet trick! You just never know what will happen! I’ve always packed extra clothes “just in case” but never needed them . . . until I absolutely did! Last summer, I made it to Tokyo, but my luggage did not. Without the “extra” clothes and toiletries I had with me, I would’ve lost a full day waiting for my stuff! So yes, it’s definitely better to be prepared!