Accidental Wanderlust’s Top 10 Travel Essentials – or, Stuff Kat Can’t Travel Without!

Travel opens doors to new cultures, and opens minds to new ideas and new possibilities. When things run smoothly, travel is a pleasure, so anything you can do to make the process simple and easy will expand the chances that you will go back for more! In almost 20 years of traveling for work, and many more vacationing domestically and internationally, I’ve discovered some things I can bring with me, on my travels, to make that happen.

Here are a few of my Essentials! I hope one or two will increase your ease of travel! And if there are bumps in the road…well, that just adds to the excitement. Happy exploring!

Ciao, from Italy!

~ Kat

Hydaway Collapsible Bottle –


My love for the environment comes along with me when I travel. (See my blog post about environmentalism. I still struggle to eliminate baths from my routine, and give in a couple of times per week.)

Lightweight, flexible, collapsible, and dishwasher safe, this is a mighty little H2O bottle that fits into my purse, pocket, or backpack. It’s the sort of thing you don’t realize is missing from your life until you have your hands on one, and never look back.

One month it showed up in a Cairn box, like a surprise waiting on the doorstep. It’s items like this one that prompts folks to keep paying for the monthly “mystery shipment”.  As I travel, many folks comment on it, and I’m never shy about giving a demonstration to anyone who asks.

Lily Cup by Intimina –


No demonstrating going on here!  Printed materials and web resources for this product are illustrated, not photographic. This substitute for tampons or maxipads is great for reducing unnecessary waste, but also better for the female body.  Manufactures advertise a reduced risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, and no bleached items being inserted into the body.

Why is it great for travel? (1) Twelve hours between emptying, so you can forget about it for the day. (2) No leaking. (3) Only one small case to carry. (4) Saves lots of money!

Just be sure to remember to bring it along, and you are all set. To make this easier, and more of a habit keep it handy, I simply take it along, as part of my travel kit, on every trip.

Q-Tip Travel Case –


In my home, we go through Q-tips just as frequently as we do  ketchup. For those who have never seen me put away a plate of french fries, I eat a LOT of ketchup! It’s a strange deviation from my lack of a sweet tooth, and I love it most in contrast to the salty, fatty goodness of McDonald’s french fries. It’s a real weakness.

Back to the Q-tips – I just don’t like the wet feeling of water left behind, sloshing around my ears, after my shower. The tiny, cotton end of a Q-tip is my solution. (Note: the product manufacturer instructs to never place their product in your ear, so use at your own risk.)

It’s a pleasure to be able to offer one to a fellow traveler, lamenting that they wish they had one. I’m working my way through the last of the plastic Q-tips, so I can switch to the paper version. I can imagine a long list of uses for the empty container, but right now I just fill it with more Q-tips from my stash at home.

Ezydose pill-sized baggie –


With age comes the need for organizing a growing number of pills – vitamins, supplements, and prescription medications. For trips of seven days or less, the weekly pill organizer I use at home will suffice. Each daily container latches closed, so I can be confident it won’t spill open, while in transit.

Traveling more than seven days I have two choices: 1. Use the weekly organizer, separating the pills by medication type, or 2. switch over to small, plastic Exydose bags, separating the pills by day.

The advantage of the bags is having the ability to label them by day/date, to keep track of whether or not I’ve taken the morning dosage of pills, on a given day. (I mentioned age, which brings forgetfulness along with it.)

The disadvantage is the environmental impact, but I’m careful to reuse the small pouches, as long as they hold up to the abuse of being transported.

Light My Fire Spork (Original) –


Purchased for use on camping trips, bike excursions,  and bike camping weekends, this inexpensive, multi-use device has made it into my purse for every day use, and into my carry-on bag for work trips.

With this simple behavior I’ve been able to eliminate so many single use disposable forks, knives and spoons. These sporks are very sturdy plastic, with the spoon on one end and a fork with serrated knife edge on the other. Most of my eating needs, as a vegetarian, are taken care of, quite well.

Lightweight, and available in a rainbow of colors, the tools nest into one another, so it’s just  as easy to pack a handful of them as it is to pack just one. I’ve been known to share with friends, helping to reduce their trail of single use plastic. Together with my collapsible H2O bottle, I’m making a significant impact.

Nalgene Polyethylene Bottle – 1 fl. oz. ($1.29) –


I not only try to be low maintenance when I travel, I also do all I can to conserve space in my suitcases and other travel bags. That means the blow dryer and hair straightener stay behind, allowing my hair to air dry into its natural waves.

So, I need my hair gel, to keep the gentle curls under control, and to minimize frizz. The container that the gel comes in is as bulky in circumference as a 1 L bottle of pop, and half as tall. This makes it heavy, and too large to make it into my carry-on.

My 1 oz. Nalgene bottle, filled by a dozen pumps of the gel, is enough to get me through a 10 – 12 day trip. I take along my bar shampoo and conditioner, and my beauty needs are pretty well taken care of. The bottle is so small that it is barely noticed.

Logel Suitcase – “Let Our Journeys Enrich Life” –


Thailand was the country of origin for my first hardshell suitcase, and I’m now hooked. Suitcases take a pretty severe beating, especially when bags are checked and you change planes multiple times on your journey. The hard plastic case can go through a lot, resisting tears and doing well to stand up against an onslaught of scrapes and dents.

My $10 Thai purchase lasted me about two or three years of travel for work and personal trips.  In the end, it only suffered a damaged wheel, broken handle and a few scrapes, but is still functional, and a good size for long weekends or short work weeks.

My next hard suitcase was one I spent quite a bit more on, and expect to get a LOT of years of use out of. Too large to carry on, that just means there is a lot of room for stickers, to chronicle my many adventures. This reminds me of old trunks, traveling by ship, and covered in national customs stickers. Domestically it calls to mind  the way cars were once adorned with US National Parks stickers, before they introduced the handheld passport for collecting stamps.

So, my new suitcase will chronicle my Travels, and a sticker from Italy will be its first!

Keen Sandals, Brooks Running Shoes, and $3 sparkly flip-flops – 

On a vacation, these three styles of shoes have me covered for most occasions. Only on work trips do I toss in a pair of closed-toed, low heels that I can stand in most of the day, if necessary.  On such occasions, either the Keen sandals or the Brooks sneakers stay home.

Keen Sandals:  A pair of Keen sandals will take me from a rainforest hike to a desert excursion, just as easily navigating across rocky trails as I can cruise along crushed gravel bike paths, or an asphalt parking lot. Waterproof and lightweight, they are great for spring rains or summer heat. In colder temperatures I might dare to wear them with socks.

Brooks Running Sneakers: When my feet demand a break from the Keens, which can occasionally dry out my heels, or my feet just need a bit more protection, I switch to cushioned, breathable gold toe socks and  my Brooks running shoes.  I can wear them all day, with great support, ride my bicycle with them on, and run after a train, bus, taxi or pickpockets, as needed. (Don’t worry, Mom, I might let out a cry if someone snatched my purse, but I would not run them down.)

 $3 sparkly flip-flops: When walking is easy, or the day is done, I slip into a pair of cute sandals, or my favorite black flip flops! It feels amazing! Just taking the other shoes off is a relief, but I may not be in an environment I’m comfortable walking around barefoot in. A pair of flip flops is an inexpensive purchase – a drugstore find is sufficient!

Why a sparkly pair…? So the can double as shows do head out on the town in, if there is an occasion to do so, and you have your simple black dress along.

Passport holder – 

For international travel, organization is really critical, but so is keeping your most important documents highly visible and easy to find. A unique and colorful passport holder takes care of both of these requirements, in one purchase.

With pockets to keep maps, tickets, and vouchers separated, and a spot to bring a small photo of loved ones along on the trip, my passport holder has done the trick for me. I’ve had it for at least a decade, and the durable fabric has held up well, staying clean, or at least hiding the dirt I’ve picked up in the sands of Morocco and the streets of Cuba.

Splashed with vibrant pink, a painterly flower adorns the cover, and the small holder is easy to spot, on a nightstand across the room or down at the bottom of my leather bag.

Pen & Paper Journal – 

Three years of weekly blogging on word press has resulted in real gratitude for social media, web based editing, Photoshop access on my iPhone, and the digital era in general. When it comes to my creative process, however, there is still a place for good old-fashioned pen and paper.

The words sometimes come with ease, as I’m strongly motivated on the topic, and have so much to say that the pen can hardly keep up. Other times it’s a struggle, shifting for ways to express in words the colorful and flavorful experiences I’ve had. The words sometimes come with ease, as I’m strongly motivated on a topic, and have so much to say that the pen can hardly keep up. Other times it’s a struggle, shifting for ways to express in words the colorful and flavorful experiences I’ve had.

Either way, in the end it’s a pleasure to write, and a privilege to be able to share my experiences with my blog  followers and even the casual, or accidental, reader. I hope you have enjoyed being taken along on my journey.

Bonus = A List Of Other Items I Travel With:  compression sack for dirty laundry, small plastic container for snacks, snacks!, Kindle, chargers, outlet converters, change of clothes in my carry-on –  just in case, bar shampoo and conditioner, Moroccan leather bag and compartmentalized wallet, smart phone, apps, copies of important documents, immunizations, umbrella, inflatable neck pillow, eye mask, earplugs, power bank extra battery, REI credit card, water mist spray, the travel section of the Columbus dispatch (watch for “Accidental Wanderlust” in the newspaper!).

Join me on my next adventure,

~ Kat

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s