8 Travel Essentials — For Easy-Going Leisure Trips


1. High-Performance Ballet flats

Shoes, like hair care stuff, are the thing each of us must be particular about. Our feet shapes, like our hair types, vary greatly. For me these Patagonia shoes were an incredible find! (REI). When shopping for your ideal travel shoe, think of your comfort objectives. Looks do matter! Here’s a summary of why I fell in love with these shoes . . .

  1. Casual yet polished look for urban sightseeing. I brought these as strolling shoes – something fresh to change into for the evening after being in my Asics Tigers all day (the ones by Serrano, another incredible hot weather travel shoe).
  2. Unlike flip flops and sandals, ballet flats cover feet. Heat and walking make my toes puffy and red. I like a non-flip flop option to cover up the uglies. Clever use of mesh here.
  3. Very comfortable. More support than most flats I’ve tried. A nice balance of squishy and structured. Water resistant. Traction soles. Seemingly blister proof! All the edges mind their own business. Never a sore spot.
  4. Ideal for packing — They don’t take up much space. They weigh nothing.
  5. A neutral color and versatile look. Dress up or dress down.

2. Convertible Pants

  1. You can wear these in four ways. Full, Full leisurely (sides unzipped to mid calf), Shorts long (lower half of leg removed), Shorts shorter (leg removed, side button thing buttoned). Bandita by Kuhl. Find at REI and Zappos
  2. Breathable in heat, warm enough to wear when departing your cold city.
  3. Dirt repelling, wrinkle resistant, easy to wash and quick to dry.
  4. Pockets!!! Well placed and flattering. Two side ones have button closures.
  5. They fit my body! I could bend over without my ass falling out, yaaay!!!!
  6. Prepping for my trip I found the blog Travel Fashion Girl. I never would’ve even thought about convertible pants if she hadn’t brought them up. She’s an awesome resource! Read her blog.

3. A Big Sarong

As in the height and width. Quite the contrary when speaking of volume. This thing is compact! Purchased in 2006 at the gift shop of a resort in Costa Rica. Cost, $15! I genuinely felt I was severely overpaying. Ug! So silly of me. This sarong is beautiful, durable, soft, comfortable, easy to wash, fast to dry, versatile color. . . it’s all good!

Use your big sarong as:

  1. A scarf to keep warm . Essential for departing from your cold city.
  2. A shade cover to keep cool. Lightweight means the breeze travels through.
  3. A shawl for covering up—a requirement for touring churches.
  4. A color, another accessory to help vary your limited-wardrobe look.
  5. A beach cover up. It’s weird how big this thing can get.
  6. A beach blanket — I’ll never stop being amazed by my sarong!
  7. A lap blanket on the plane, or draped over your head for some sleeping privacy. This was a lifesaver on a recent red eye when I was surrounded by a few people that sounded sick! Nothing I could do but cover my head (mouth and nose) for some peace of mind and get some sleep.

4. A Wheely Bag

  1. I tried the duffel. While I can get the volume of my pack down, still struggling with the weight, so the duffel was not a good choice for me.
  2. Wheels are helpful
  3. A structured bag is good if you plan to bring back native liquor or wine. You won’t need to check your bag if you go straight from duty-free to your final destination. But, if you have a transfer city after customs, you will need to check your bag. So, you might as well purchase your liquors for less in the town and check a bag on the way home (you’ve gor your backup bag, #8). Items will be safely secured, wrapped up in the structure of your wheely bag.

5. A Small Camera

We all have dreams of being amazing travel photographers. But, two things always get in the way, skill and time. I’ve wasted so much energy focusing on finding that feature I knew I had, just to grab a stunning shot. The cost is I’m taking too much time. My husband stands by looking increasingly impatient as we travel like snails to our lunch spot—40 pics to document the five-minute walk. I grow as a photographer, but not as a vacationer. Vacationing is my true objective.

Unless you’re a photo expert, carry a fast and lightweight simple camera. Last year’s model of the Canon Elph on Amazon for $120. Perfect for the night time too. Takes solid low-light pics and has a very simple auto-focal point feature for off-center framing. Starts up super fast and quickly responsive too.

Canon Elph

See my Cartagena post, most pics are from this Elph. For many of the street shots I snapped as I was still walking.This thing fit in the tiny pocket of my pants without feeling bulky too—motivated me to see if I could ween off the purse. Loved the hands free, quickly transitioned into feeling carefree.

Recently started striving for this since I always feel like I’m digging in my bag for something! I get to the point where I’m muttering “ya know what bag?!?, next time why don’t you just stay home.” It’s weird, when you decide you don’t need stuff, you really don’t. A camera, a lip gloss, a few bills. That’s all I ended up needing. No phone!!! I was on vacation after all. I was in a walkable city and with my man. What do I need a phone for?

6. Pack Cubes

  1. When I first heard of these things I thought they sounded like a complete waste of space. My suitcase was already tight, why would I add more stuff? Especially stuff I couldn’t wear? Then I began to notice how I spent my time with my stuff when traveling. I was always digging! Always flinging stuff around, always disrupting my once neatly organized supplies into a mess of wrinkles and confusion.
  2. Pack cubes solve this problem. There’s a new variety by Eagle Creek. They’re thin and strong like a windbreaker.
  3. Use a small one for electronics — things like back up camera battery, SD cards, phone charger. Medium for swimsuits and undergarments. The big garment envelope  to neatly fold and secure all your clothes.
  4. The best part, when you unpack at your destination just unpack the cubes! Leave them unzipped with the lid rolled back to expose what’s inside. They work like storage bins. Your brain doesn’t have to re-learn where everything is. It already knows the categories and how things are grouped.
  5. Even better, get each in a unique color. You’ll find your shiz that much faster!

7. Fun Recovery

My travel health enemy is hydration. I seem to need two days of acclimation in order to regulate what the airplane did to me. But I’m on vacation, I’d like at least a Pina Colada or something. My system getting so wigged out has led me to locate some remedies. Luckily, they’re pretty simple and readily available on Amazon. Cambridge Naturals in Cambridge, MA is a great place too. They stock Party Smart.

  1. Oral hydration packs. It’s like a powdered Gatorade full of electrolytes. Pour one into a glass of water if you’re feeling like your body isn’t quenching easily and drink it down. Great for travel dehydration, travel sickness and a hangover. Cons – full of Dextrose. Potential for packet to pop open with cabin pressure (1/5 of my flights caused this. So, put in a baggie or other container). This stuff saved me from developing headaches a few times. A common occurrence previously.
  2. Party Smart pills or Forget Hangover patches. I like both. Both seem to really help me be able to process alcohol. I’d like to say we’re talking 3 to 4 drinks in a 6+ hour stretch. 1 sunset cocktail, 1 drink with dinner, 2 at the club. Normally I take it easy and listen to my body, but when I’m on vacation I use these. The Party Smart pill works as an absorption device, diverting toxins from being soaked into your system. The Forget Hangover patch is a slow release B vitamin. You wear it for 24 hours. It feeds your body with a constant supply of B. Apparently alcohol depletes you of B, so this patch is just designed to counteract that.
  3. I use Airborne as a bounce back if I’m just feeling drained. Also a nice boost-up pre plane boarding.
  4. Arsenicum Album — Haven’t tried this one yet. Was just reading about food-based illnesses (travelers diarrhea, etc) and apparently this is the thing to combat that. It’s a low-does of arsenic of all stuff! Goodness! Supposedly it works great on bad bacteria in your gut brought on from the wrong food. I carried as insurance. Buy on Amazon or health food store.

8. Emergency Carry On

My flight/carry-on strategy is based on being one of the first three groups to board. But, this can’t always be counted on.

To ease my mind from the what if’ing (what if all the overheads are full? What if my bag has to be checked? What if they lose my bag!?!) I pack a solution—a tiny backpack. This works great in tandem with those pack cubes (#6). If you’re asked to check your bag, you can pull out your critical pack cubes (the one with your chargers, the one with your swim suit and undies, the one with your toiletries). Stuff them into your reserve bag, wedge under the seat. It’s a solution that’s rapid to execute, takes one small-hand-full of extra space, mission complete.

Hope you found that helpful.

Find more packing tips under 4 tips for an efficient travel toiletry pack

3 thoughts on “8 Travel Essentials — For Easy-Going Leisure Trips

  1. Hi Jennifer! Nice to meet a like-minded packer. If you’re hoping for a local purchase and can’t find the patches or pills, a liquid B complex vitamin with B 12 is also supposed to be a helpful remedy. Good luck!

  2. All of what you said are also in my travel essentials list! The only thing I haven’t seen here at home so far is the Party Smart pill / Forget Hangover patch… Must look into whether that’s being distributed locally here in the Phils! Sounds like a must-have for me. ;)


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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s