My Essential Travel Items: Things I Can’t Live Without After a Year of Travel

When travelling the world is your full-time job and you live out of a backpack, what you pack becomes a pretty big deal. Over the last year of travelling, I’ve perfected my packing list and identified the greatest items I absolutely cannot live without.

These items range a spectrum of categories, but they all take into account a few commonalities:

  • Light-weight

  • Small and compact

  • Environmentally-friendly and plastic-free, or a better alternative to regular plastic packaging (when applicable).

    **🍃 This symbol on an item means a product is an eco-friendly alternative, compared to the more mainstream alternatives people use.

With the holidays coming up, I thought it would be fun to share these with you! Treat yourself or a loved one to these long-lasting investments that make travel — and life in general — more minimalist and efficient. Bonus: most of them are very affordable. Enjoy!

Ps. I want to preface with the fact that I am not paid by any of these brands. This is just straight-up, unbiased feelings and love for the items that have got me through the last year.

This pretty much sums up how I feel about all these items.

This pretty much sums up how I feel about all these items.

schmidt's natural deodorant

Item suited to: Everyone, even the stinkiest, sweatiest of men (like my boyfriend, Matt!)


The most effective natural deodorant I’ve tried. It’s made of ingredients that you know, and doesn’t contain any aluminium, and is sold in a glass tub which is way better than plastic deodorant stick packaging. I’ve tried Lime + Bergamot and Lavender + Sage, and I personally prefer the Lavender + Sage scent. It’s also really cost effective, as one tub lasts me more than a year.

🍃 Packaging is glass; uses less plastic than deodorant sticks.

Price: $8.99

Buy on Amazon.

reusable food accessories

Items suited to: People who eat out and want to avoid single-use plastic waste

One of the worst things about eating out is the amount of single-use plastic waste this produces. This applies to everyday life if you’re buying lunch or snacks, but even more so when you travel, since part of the experience is trying local foods. One of the best investments I made was building an arsenal of re-useable food eating items. Here is what I use:


🍃 All items are a better alternative to single-use plastic equivalents.

GSI Stainless Steel 3-Piece Cultery Set

Price: $13.95

Buy on Amazon or REI.

KeepCup Reusable (Glass) Coffee Cup

Price: varies depending on size.

Buy on Amazon.

Note: Contrary to popular belief, paper coffee cups are NOT recyclable or biodegradable as they are coated with plastic.

OXO Smart Seal Containers

Price: varies depending on size

Buy on Amazon.

Note: I don’t love that they’re plastic (at home I had the glass ones which were amazing!) but it’s unrealistic to travel long-term with glass as it’s too heavy. If you’re just buying these for day-to-day use, I would go with the glass containers.

diva cup (or other menstrual cup)

Item suited to: All women

ALERT: This one involves vaginas *GASPS*. In all seriousness, this may be the single product that revolutionized my twenties. The Diva Cup made my life drastically better in so many ways. I’m all about organization and comparative analysis, so here’s a handy table I used to compare Diva Cups (or menstrual cups in general) to tampons.

Diva CupTampon
Cost$29 - one lasts about 10 yearsWell over $2000 over a lifetime
Effect on EnvironmentAlmost none - only the one or two you will discard in your lifetimeIn a lifetime approx. 11,000 end up in the landfill, and they do not break down. Not to mention all the additional packaging involved (applicators, boxes, plastic covering)
Health ImplicationsNoneRisk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, which can be deadly
How long can you leave it in?Up to 12 hoursOfficially 8 hours, though I don't remember ever being able to leave one in this long...
How does it feel?You will never know that it's there, even when working out swimming, running, hiking, etc.For comparative perspective, I could feel tampons when doing all these activities
Leaking?Once you get the hang of it, it never leaksInsert your own answer here haha.

Get over touching your vaginas, women. It’s no different from touching any other part of your body. If you told a guy to touch his penis all the time, do you think he’d complain?

🍃 Cups are reusable; tampons and pads create a ton of plastic waste which takes hundreds of years to biodegrade.

Price: $29

Buy on Amazon.

sawyer squeeze water filter

Item suited to: People who travel to areas without clean water (South and Central America, Eastern Europe, Central Asia to name a few), hikers, camping


Safe water is something we take for granted in the developed world, but when you travel outside of this bubble, it’s a luxury. Most of the countries I have travelled to do not have safe tap water. The result is that tourists are forced to buy bottled water, which creates a ridiculous amount of plastic waste that developing countries do not recycle. Solution? Get a water filter. I love our Sawyer Water Filter as it’s compact, quick, and makes water available whenever we need it. We’ve also saved thousands of dollars on buying plastic bottles.

🍃 One water filter lasts a lifetime, which will stop hundreds to thousands of plastic bottles going to landfill depending on how much you use it.

Price: $39.95

Buy on Amazon or REI.

Best perk about our Sawyer Squeeze Filter is getting to drink from places like this (Triglav National Park, Slovenia).

Best perk about our Sawyer Squeeze Filter is getting to drink from places like this (Triglav National Park, Slovenia).

marmot rain jacket

Item suited to: People who live in rainy areas or need a waterproof hiking jacket


A rain jacket that actually keeps water out may seem intuitive, but when you start researching jackets there are actually various levels of waterproof-ness. For the most part, lots of the mainstream jacks aren’t waterproof – they’re only “water resistant” (i.e. if you’re in legit rain you’re in trouble). After much research, I decided on the Marmot Precip Jacket from . After 6 months of use, it’s held up amazingly and kept me completely dry.

Price: $69-100 (varies by color)

Buy on Amazon or REI.

patagonia clothing

Item suited to: People who need reliable clothing for everyday use and the outdoors

I used to shop the sales and purchase almost all my clothing from mainstream fast-fashion brands, like Zara, Madewell, and H&M. However, this trip has taught me that price matters SO MUCH when it comes to clothing durability. Pay an extra $30-50, and you’ll get something that lasts years – not just a season. My favorite brand is Patagonia, and I’m actively trying to convert the majority of my wardrobe to it. Everything I have from them is made really well, and I can rely on it to hold up in extreme conditions. If the clothing gets damaged, Patagonia will repair it at no cost – or give you a new one! I own and wear the following items on an almost daily basis.


🍃 Patagonia has a ton of environmental and social responsibility initiatives, I encourage you to learn more about it on their website.

Patagonia Down Sweater

Price: $229.00

Buy on REI.

Patagonia Leggings

Price: $79.00

Buy on REI.

Patagonia Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Pullover

Price: $119.00

Buy on REI.

Note: This goes on sale often for as low as $50, so if you’re more budget inclined hold out and check back for sales!

Left: Patagonia Synchilla Fleece in Huaraz, Peru. Right: Patagonia Down Jacket in Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia.

Left: Patagonia Synchilla Fleece in Huaraz, Peru. Right: Patagonia Down Jacket in Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia.

merino wool cold weather accessories

Item suited to: People who live in cold places or go hiking in them

Wool items are something that I did not own before I started travelling, but it’s made a huge difference to my comfort when it’s cold or when I’m hiking. The best thing about wool is that it breathes. No more sweaty feet in socks or hands in gloves. The wool thermals I have keep me really warm but never get stuffy. I’m 100% brand loyal to Smartwool, simply because their items are made so well. Here are the pieces I own, and after a year of heavy usage they show basically no wear.


Smartwool Socks

Price: $17.95

Buy on REI.

Smartwool Gloves

Price: $32.00

Buy on REI.

Smartwool Merino Base-layer bottoms

Price: $80.00

Buy on REI.

Note: Thin enough to fit under pants or jeans and you’d never know it.

teva verra sandals

Item suited to: These sandals are for women — for the men, Matt owns and loves his KEEN Newport Hydro sandals (yep, we’re one of those matching shoe couples…)


I know, I know: Tevas are ugly. That was my opinion about them even after I bought a pair last year. That said, they are the greatest and most versatile shoe I have ever owned. I have hiked mountains in these, pounded pavement, showered, beached, trekked through mud — you name it. Give how much I have used them, they’ve held up incredibly well; the sole still has all its tred and they look like-new. Just give them a shot, I promise they’re worth the aesthetic for the most comfy, practical shoe that will get you through life.

Price: $70.00

Buy on REI.

anker charging block

Item suited to: People who travel and need to rely on their phone having battery


A charging block that actually holds battery and isn’t the size and weight of a brick — hallelujah! An amazing charging block that has saved me countless times, especially when I’m on public transport for hours on end. I usually get at least 4 iPhone re-charges.

Price: $25.50

Buy on Amazon.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which help keep Nutrition Traveller running. I personally own every brand I recommend on here and truly love them!

Questions on outfitting the perfect travel kit? Drop us a comment below or say hello @nutritiontraveller.

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Post updated on November 9, 2018.