Not all trips are created equal, that much is definitely true, but whether we're going somewhere for two weeks or two nights, or we're travelling by car, plane, or train, I've figured out that there's a few things I always pack. Now, I'm not just talking about my toothbrush, clean underwear, and a comb...those are always coming, yes. But I'm guessing most people pack those things when leaving the house overnight. I'm talking about things that Danny might not pack or you might not pack or whoever. These are ten things that I don't necessarily check off like, "Oh it's time to pack! I need to get my ten essentials!" but rather I've found over time that each and every time I go somewhere, they come along too.
1. Five-Year Journal - I picked this up at an after-Christmas sale a few years ago at Anthropologie, and every day since I've used it to write a sentence or two about my day. I've written about some of my very favorite days, some of my worst days, and every day in between, and it's taken up precious space when all we've traveled with has been a backpack - in other words, it's been everywhere I've been, and is definitely a non-negotiable when I'm packing.
2. Flip flops - I have a weird thing with floors that aren't my own, so I always pack a cheap pair of Old Navy flip flops that I only wear indoors at wherever we're staying (Airbnb, hotel, etc). If we're going to the beach or pool, I pack another pair for that but this pair is just for wearing indoors, and if we're travelling in the winter I've started bringing my slippers on every trip as well (usually in lieu of the flip flops).
3. Crossbody bag/purse - I can't remember who first recommended this style of bag to me, but before Danny and I went to London and Paris on vacation three years ago, I bought a crossbody bag as a way of keeping valuables (money, camera, phone, passport) safer and closer to me. I didn't use it once we got back home, but when we moved to Spain I brought it along and started using it on a daily basis (the original bag has been replaced a couple of times due to much love and use). I've found this style of bag to be best for my current lifestyle for a variety of reasons and can't imagine going back, at least while we're relying primarily on public transit and need things close at hand.
4. Sudoku book - I've enjoyed Sudoku puzzles for as long as I can remember - maybe middle school? - and when my mom mailed me a book of puzzles during our first year in Spain I was reminded of how great they are for traveling. I especially like them when waiting or when cooped up somewhere for a while (like on a plane for ten hours) and I want to break up the time (read for a while, do a puzzle, watch a movie, do a puzzle, read more - something along those lines).
5. Kindle - My Kindle is old and my case is basically a family heirloom at this point (it was my mother-in-law's, then Danny's, and now it's mine), but both work great and the Kindle itself takes up so little battery that even when I read for hours a day, every day, I only have to charge it about once a week. However, coming from someone who worked at a library for two years and was willing to teach people about the ins and outs of eBooks but not use them herself...I am officially a convert. Not only because I have less access to hard copies of English books in my current situation, but also because I find that I read more on a Kindle, and if that's the bottom line, then I'm sticking with it. A Kindle/eReader convert I am.
6. Guidebook, physical and/or digital - The internet is flooded with information on almost everywhere in the world, I know, I know, but there really is something about not having to sift through ten (give or take a few) different blogs, Pinterest, and other websites, whether they're from towns/museums/visitor's bureaus/etc to get information...a guidebook can be really helpful, especially a hard copy. As much as I love my Kindle for reading on the go, I far and away prefer physical guidebooks, although we do frequently download digital copies of Rick Steves' guides, or if our library doesn't have one or they're not available when we need them, Lonely Planet or Fodor's are usually our second choice, to use during the planning process and on the go while we're traveling.
7. Paper Itinerary/Plans - I do a lot of my trip planning on the backs of envelopes and on scraps of paper here and there, but then when it comes down to it, I usually write out everything we're going to do and see (or at least the plan of what we're going to do and see!) in a little notebook, or as you see in the picture, just plain old paper (our French road trip was looong and probably would've taken up all of the rest of the pages in my book, so I just wrote on the backs of paper I found in our recycling bin at home). Then, I carry around the notebook (or paper) in my crossbody bag wherever we're going and pull it out for confirmation numbers, addresses, directions, phone numbers, and so on. About as low-tech as it gets, but it works!
8. Magazines - As much as I love my Kindle and Sudoku puzzles, I turn to those mostly while waiting, while on planes or trains, or in the evenings before bed while traveling. My trusty road trip companion is magazines because Danny is the primary driver, and he likes either talking, singing, or listening to something (music, podcasts, etc) while on the road, but I prefer quiet while reading, which means I can't really get into a book while driving. So, I've found that magazines, with shorter articles that take less focus, are the way to go for me on car trips. I also enjoy taking a few with me on the plane as they achieve the same thing as the Sudoku puzzles do - they break up long flights with something interesting and new.
9. Camera - Maybe we're old-fashioned in that we don't really use our phones to take photos, but our camera is always around. Day trip, plane trip, road trip, family trip, beach trip, all the trips, our camera is sure to be found - and used! Our camera's not in the photo above because although I took a few with my phone at first so the camera could be in the picture, I just wasn't satisfied and pulled the camera out of the arrangement so it could do the job right.
10. Barry - See the dino peeking in at the top right? Yeah...that's my stuffed dinosaur that also goes everywhere with me. I stopped sleeping with a stuffed animal a while before I got married, but then, I got married and didn't sleep well for months (maybe eight months or longer?) and finally dug out an old friend I'd saved for sentimental purposes and just like that I started sleeping through the night again. I know, I'm 26, and I sleep with a stuffed animal, but I'm not (that) embarrassed - I sleep pretty well almost no matter where I go and I know others who do so too, so for now, it is what it is.