Items That Should Be on Every Traveler’s Packing List

There are a few staple items that you will probably find in every traveler’s bag until the end of time. A passport. Toiletries. An assortment of clothing. Maybe a journal, laptop, or money belt. But there are a few other items that, while they might not be as ubiquitous as the usual packing list items, can be extremely useful. These often-forgotten packing list items are invaluable for saving you in a pinch or for simply taking your traveling to the next level:


Paracord is standard string/twine on steroids. Even the survival prepping community unanimously recommends carrying paracord with you because of how versatile it is; when it comes to possible uses, you’re really only limited by your imagination.

Use it to tie items together, or secure them to the outside of your bag. A long piece of paracord, or even short pieces tied together, makes for a great clothesline to hang your laundry. Some more uses for paracord include, but are definitely not limited to:

  • compressing items like clothing
  • reinforcing a tent or other shelter
  • replacing missing shoelaces or bag straps
  • using as a self-defense tool
  • fashion small items like lanyards or slings
  • using as a clothing accessory, like a belt or bracelet

There are also many uses for the strands within the paracord casing:

  • temporarily sew up holes
  • use it as fishing line
  • stitch up wounds in an emergency
  • make an emergency snare or tripwire
  • even improvise dental floss, if you’re so inclined

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Sarong (or similar piece of fabric)

Most seasoned travelers know that clothing takes up the most space in one’s bag. It’s no secret that sarongs are great in that department, being versatile enough to serve as a scarf, shawl, or (if you’re a woman) a skirt or dress.

But what makes sarongs great isn’t just their flexibility as a clothing piece; a sarong can also serve several other useful purposes, such as:

  • a towel for general traveling or a day at the beach
  • a blanket for a picnic
  • an airplane blanket if you’re cold on the flight
  • an emergency bed sheet or blanket for a sketchy hostel bed
  • a privacy screen or curtain
  • a swimsuit wrap
  • a rudimentary bag/daypack
  • in an emergency, an impromptu tourniquet/sling/bandage

So this one’s not only for the ladies; men who travel could find many uses for a sarong as well!

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It’s vital to carefully examine every single item on your packing list since space is at such a premium when you pack your entire life into a bag or backpack for a trip.

What’s one of the best items to pick up to maximize functionality while taking up very little space?

Enter the multi-tool.

These nifty gadgets often sport a small knife, a pair of scissors, pliers, a screwdriver, a bottle opener, and more all rolled up into a compact device that easily fits into your pocket. The combination of versatility and portability with these is practically a godsend for travelers and backpackers, who often find themselves in a host of different situations where multi-tools can prove extremely useful.

Keep in mind that traveling by air with a multi-tool in your carry-on luggage can be an issue, as most airline regulations will treat it as a weapon. There are particular “TSA-approved” or “travel-safe” multi-tools available on the market, but if you’re traveling with one, your best bet would be to put it in a checked bag, just to be sure.

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Portable Charger

In the age of electronics, a portable charger that can charge your phone, tablet, or other electronic gear on the go can be another handy item to include in your packing list.

It can give you peace of mind to have a backup power source at the ready if you’re miles from the nearest plug-in. And if you like venturing deep into the great outdoors but still don’t want to go completely off the grid, a solar charger might be something to consider as well.

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Small Packing List Extras

Additionally, there are several small, versatile items that may not be absolutely necessary but would be great to bring along regardless, as they can be useful in a variety of situations.

Duct tape can be a great all-around quick-fix. Use it to seal holes in shoes, backpacks, clothing items, or seal up leaky containers. Mark your belongings, use it as a bandage, or use it to prevent your feet from getting blisters. Others have gotten even more creative with duct tape, using it as a rope, clothesline, or even flypaper in buggy dorm rooms.

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Carabiner clips can be used as a theft deterrent, holding zippers closed. They’re also great for latching items to the outside of your bag, like a water bottle, shoes, a stuff bag, sleeping bag, or yoga mat.

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Rubber bands are ideal for keeping your bag organized, from compressing clothes so they take up less space to wrapping up cords and cables. They’re also useful for keeping containers or bags of food or other items closed up.

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Safety pins are great for closing things up and keeping them closed in a pinch, like unexpected holes in your bag or clothing. Clip two zippers together to keep your bag more secure and deter thieves, or use a pin as a zipper pull if it’s fallen off.

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Plastic bags are also nice to have. You can use them to store food for later consumption, and larger plastic bags can be used to compress clothing, keep wet or dirty things separate from the rest of your bag’s contents, or keep items dry when you’re around water.

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A packing list isn’t just about what to wear or how to maintain your personal hygiene on the road. Including versatile items such as these not only saves space and unnecessary expenses, but it’s also wise in helping ensure that you’re prepared for the variety of situations you’ll face on the road.

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