11 Solo Travel Essentials That Never Leave My Bag

Regardless of where I go, there are things I always keep in my bag.  To be honest, when I unpack, these items never make it out of my suitcase.  This way I never forget them and I know they’re always with me. Considering a lot of trips are planned at most within a couple weeks of departure, I usually don’t have a lot of time to plan so keeping things as simple as possible is the way to go.  

  • 4 Wheeled Suitcase
  • Anti-theft backpack
  • Combination Lock
  • Universal adapter
  • Extra Cables
  • Light Jacket
  • Battery Pack
  • Extra Contacts/medication
  • Cool Rag
  • Compressed Cloths
  • Flashlight

Hopefully this list will help you in your planning.  


So the first is the suitcase itself. I STRONGLY believe in traveling solely with carry on bags.  Regardless of length of travel. It not only allows you to hit the ground running but it almost guarantees that your luggage won’t get lost (every now and then you’re forced to gate check at bag).  That said, I like the 4 wheeled kind. I’ve used the 2 wheeled kind and for me, the 4 wheeled kind is miles better because you can push the suitcase through the airport. That may sound like a small thing but if you’re walking for any length, you’re going to appreciate not having to pull your suitcase all over the place.  It’s also nice since you can rest your backpack on top if you’re tired of carrying it. This is the fairly cost efficient one I use currently.  

Anti-theft Backpack

I used to have a regular backpack that I used on all my trips. It was a regular Jansport backpack and I never had any problems. However, there were a few instances where either I left the front pocket open or someone had opened it with the hopes of stealing something. Ever since, I purchased this XD Design backpack.

This backpack has it’s pro and cons with the major con being it isn’t as wide as a regular backpack. Because the zipper is on the inside, the backpack doesn’t open up all the way so anything wide is a little difficult to fit. But it certainly has enough pockets that are hidden and makes traveling more stress free. It’s one less thing to worry about on a crowded subway and that peace of mind is priceless in my book.

Combination Lock

I always have one of these just locked on my backpack since you never know when you’ll need it.  It comes in handy when you need to store something in a locker, loop it through the zipper so no one can rifle through it, or maybe need a little extra security on something. It’s great to have and I recommend you get the combination lock and NOT one with a key.  There’s no guarantee that you’ll have the key when you need it and if you accidentally lose the key, you’re screwed. These combo locks are also TSA approved so if you need to check a bag unexpectedly, you’re covered as well.  

Universal Adapter

You never know what the plug situation will be in the country you’re going.  However, with a universal adapter, you’ll pretty much be covered. With this adapter, I’ve been always been safe.  I also like this because it’s small and compact which allows it to fit inside my bag along with my cables. 

Extra Cables

Speaking of cables, I always keep extra cables for all my electronics but also try to consolidate the cables that are needed.  So many use the same USB charger that you don’t need to carry one for all your devices. For cable that are unique (like phone chargers) just spend the money to have an extra one in your bag.  Also, make sure it’s a cable that will work. I made the mistake of buying a cheap USB-C cable that didn’t charge my phone because it wasn’t a fast charging cable and it just didn’t work. Having a cable that doesn’t charge is just as useful as not having one. 

Light Jacket

This is one of the only things I always take with me even though I’m not sure if I’ll use it.  I also keep it in the outside pocket of my bag for easy access. You never know when the airplane might be too cold, if it’ll be cold at your destination, when it might suddenly rain, etc.  A light jacket is one of those things that really comes in handy and sometimes there isn’t one to buy immediately. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy but something light and easy to carry. 

Battery  Pack

There is nothing worse than having all your electronics with no battery.  I usually try to charge everything every chance I get but sometimes you just don’t have that chance if you’re in an airport with limited outlets, a long bus ride, etc.  In those cases, I like to have a backup battery pack just in case. It also comes in handy if your hotel room has limited outlets or if you need to charge multiple devices and only have 1 adapter.  What I’ll do is charge multiple devices from the backup battery pack and then charge the battery pack during day when I know I won’t need it (since everything will be charged).  

Extra Contacts/medication

This is in addition to any toiletries you have.  I wear daily contacts but I also try to have a small bottle of cleaning solution just in case I need to wear the same pair.  It’s nice to have them just in case. Also, any mediation you may need should just be in your bag. Asprin, alergy medication, antacids, etc. should just be there at all times.  You never know when you’ll need it and when you’re feeling sick, the last thing you want to do is go out and try to understand what medication does what in a foreign country.  

Cool Rag

I received this as a gift and I think it might be one of the best things I’ve ever gotten. These cooling rags are amazing in the heat. They come in a plastic tube but I just carry mine around in a zip top bag. They need to be a little damp but if it dries out completely, just put it under some water and it’ll come back to life. Just wet it and wrap it around your neck. If you need to refresh it, just air it out, give it a quick snap, and it’ll be good as new. In the heat and humidity, this is a real life saver.

Compressed Cloths

These compressed cloths really work when you’re in a situation where you need to wash your hands but you may not be near soap or water. These compressed cloths are great because they’re lightweight and disposable. They’re about the size of a mentos and you only need to wet them for them to unfurl to the size of a napkin. It’s a miracle as far as I’m concerned. I use them to wipe down a dirty table, clean my hands if I get them dirty, clean my sunglasses, etc. The uses are endless and I make sure I always have a small bag of them in my backpack.


I always keep a small portable flashlight in my backpack.  This might seem odd but hear me out. In developed, industrialized countries, we take street lights for granted.  We expect lights to be there for safety. However, there are a lot of cities, towns, and areas where street lights don’t exist.  For that reason alone, I have a small LED flashlight in my backpack no only so I can see but also so others can see me as well. I like the LED flashlight since it’s bright and small.  Also, I like to have one that uses a normal AA battery. Those are not only easy to find but if you don’t have an extra battery, you can usually “borrow” one from the remote in the hotel.  

Final Thoughts

Hopefully these 9 things will help you in your travels.  These are items that always stay in my bag so I can’t accidentally forget them.  It’s almost always the small things that I used to forget and of course, by the time you need it, it’s already too late.  By never removing these items from my bag, it just makes it easier to focus on appropriate clothing and anything else that might more important. 

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