It’s the night before you depart. You are literally hopping up and down in excitement, in anticipation of the adventures that await you just on the other side of the airplane. Your flight is just around the corner. As you watch the clock tick nearer and nearer to your time of departure,your anticipation increases …and so does your dread. Did I pack too much? What have I forgotten?

I am well known to have a memory that lasts about as long as the average goldfish. I often ask myself whether I forgot anything, and if I did, how I would replace it while far away from home. Here are, in my opinion, the essentials to have while traveling.

Critical Items

  • Passport
  • Phone
  • Wallet

These are the items that you cannot lose. Of these three, the passport is most important. The phone and the wallet can be replaced, but to replace a passport is usually a long and arduous process through your embassy. If you’re lucky, the employees at the embassy are quick and efficent, and the turnaround time to replace your passport is short. If you’re not, you could be stuck in the country for a while. But hey, you chose to be here, right? It could be worse. You could be instead stuck at home.

One very clever tip to ensure continued travel is to reduce or remove the passport as a single point of failure. (See, Dr. Muzio, I learned something in your fault tolerance lectures.) Take a picture of the photo page of your passport and store it in a secure location on your phone. Keep a paper copy of the passport somewhere where your passport will not be. Write down your passport number, that way if you happen to lose your passport, you can help expedite the recovery process.

As for the wallet, I travel with the Bellroy Travel Wallet. It has a pocket for your passport, as well as a hidden pocket for your sim card. This way, you can lose everything at once! 👍

I also keep the addresses of the closest Canadian Embassy as well as their phone number and email addresses on my phone and in my wallet, just in case I happen to lose my travel documents. Don’t forget to register on your embassy’s site before you set off, so that better-than-average looking actors from Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders can come to your rescue should anything go horribly wrong.

Other essentials

  • A good suitcase or rucksack
  • A combination luggage lock
  • A luggage name-tag with your country’s flag
  • An Universal travel adapter
  • External Power bank

I’m a spoiled brat, so I travel with a suitcase. I put my Victorniox Avolve 2.0 22” Spinner through hell, and it comes back each time begging for more. An ideal suitcase should have omnidirectional wheels that take a lot of abuse and should also be made of fabric, because I find that hardshell luggage tend to crack easily and are difficult to repair once cracked.

The luggage lock should be a TSA-approved lock with a steel cable to fit through the zippers of your bag. I use some Lewis & Clark Combination locks, and as an added bonus, these also work well on the storage lockers found at many hostels.

Last but certainly not least, your country’s flag. I use the Samsonite Canadian Flag Tag, which are fixed proudly to both my checked and carry on baggage. I would have affixed a Chinese flag too, but for a country that manufactures everything else, one is surprisingly hard to come by.

As for Travel Adapters, I swear by the Kensington Universal Travel Adaptor which features two USB ports to keep all your devices charged at once. I unfortunately left mine on the ÖBB train to Vienna, I’ve been trying out the Satechi Travel Router, which also works quite well.

For the power bank, I recommend the Xiaomi 20000mAH Power Bank that has yet to do me wrong. If you are an iPhone user, I highly recommend a combination lightning/micro-usb cable that is at least 4 ft long, so that you can charge your headphones or powerbank as well as your phone.


Luxury items are ones that you pack only if you have the space for them.

  • Laptop

Being someone that usually types on a keyboard for a living, I am rarely if ever without my computer. I also happen to the the most picky person on the planet when it comes to my machine, so I am seldom without my trusty retina Macbook Pro. But when I am traveling, I find that more often than not the laptop only adds unnecessary weight to your luggage and doesn’t come in handy all that often.

Why is this so? Because of computer, at it’s core, is a work device. And when you are traveling, you most likely aren’t working. (To those of you that happen to be working and earn enough to continue travelling, let me know what you do and put in a good word for me if they are hiring.)

  • Towel

As much as a fan as I am of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Towel Day, I must advocate for fellow travellers to leave this behind. While it may be cool to wipe certain body parts with your own private absorbent country flag, they are large, unwieldy, and often more trouble than it’s worth. What’s more, they are often provided at hostels for a small charge.

That’s all, I think. Unless I’ve forgotten something. What are your travel essentials? Let me know in the comments below.