Over the years while travelling to many different countries we have collected a set of essential items that we always bring with us. Some of these products are especially helpful for women. Both me and my mum are avid travellers – it was mum who inspired my wanderlust – and between us we have decades of travelling experience. We’re both expert packers. This post isn’t about what to wear or clothes to bring. You have your own style and personal care routine. The clothes you want to pack will depend on where you are visiting and what activities you are planning. But here are some really handy travel essentials for women, at any time of life, from gadgets to hygiene to healthcare.
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Absolute Essentials For Everyone
When compiling a packing list the very first things to remember are the 4 P’s which are:
Passport – You’re not going far without it if you are travelling to another country. It’s also worth taking copies of your passport – paper photocopies and electronic that you can store on your phone or device, just in case your passport gets lost or stolen.
Purse – You’ll need money. Increasing numbers of countries accept plastic, but some destinations, even technologically advanced places like Japan, still use cash extensively. Some countries also have money cards which you can charge up.
Phone/device – While it is still – just about – possible to travel without being connected to the wider world, phones make travelling so much easier. Don’t forget your charger. You might want to consider a power bank if you need to charge while on the road. And you’ll need to check whether your phone will work in another country. You might want to consider getting a SIM for the country you are visiting.
Pills – if you take medication, bring enough for your trip and some more, just in case of delays during your journey. A Pill Organiser can be very useful to make sure you take all your meds on time and don’t forget a day.
And if you don’t need any medication – congratulations – you only need to remember the 3Ps!
Essential Compact Gadgets For Everyone
Minimising the things you pack in your luggage is always a good idea, especially if you are touring a country and travelling to different places on your journey. You want to keep the weight down and the volume of packing low. Small gadgets are lighter, easier to pack and ensure that you can have more space for your clothes… and souvenirs you want to bring home.
Foldable Daypack This is a really handy item. It is lightweight and folds to a very compact size so will fit into your main luggage but you can unfold it at your destination and use it for carrying all sorts of things you plan to use daily – your water bottle, waterproofs, sunscreen and camera. And at the end of the trip it can provide extra volume to take souvenirs back home if you can have been indulging in a bit of shopping!
Collapsible Water Bottle – staying hydrated is really important but avoiding single-use plastic water bottles is better for the environment. This water bottle rolls up so that you can fold it easily into your bag. We find it’s really useful to get it through security at the airport and then fill up at a water fountain when you are air-side. It smells a little rubbery initially, but the smell soon goes and the bottle will last for years.
Different countries have different electrical systems and different electrical sockets. If you need to charge your appliances, take a universal charger which can be used all over the world. (It won’t necessarily adapt to different voltages.) This one has a number of handy USB ports so you can charge multiple items at the same time.
Inflatable Neck Pillow these are really useful on a plane or train if you want to get some sleep and not wake up with a sore neck. These are inflatable so you can squish them up and carry them inside your daypack, then simply inflate when you need them. We never go on a long-haul flight without one.
Microfiber Travel Towel you probably won’t need a towel if you are staying in hotels but you may find it useful to take a compact towel with you. These compact mircofibre towels dry you quickly and dry quickly after they have dried you.
Waterproofs – it’s always worth bringing protection from the rain if a downpour is a possibility. A Rain Poncho isn’t the most glamourous but they are compact and easy to carry in your daysack. Just get them out and fling them on if the rain starts pouring down. Also this style is great if you are planning to attend a Dracula convention on your travels!
Mini First Aid Kit – always useful for minor accidents.
Travel sewing kit – you never know when a button is going to burst off a shirt or you tear a dress just as you are about to go for dinner. This one also includes safety pins, perfect for any minor clothing emergencies where you need to hold it all together!
Travel Essentials for Women at Any Time of Life
You will know which clothes you wish to wear and any make-up you wish to take. In many respects, your clothing choices will depend on the type of trip you are taking. You’re not going to want to wear a ballgown while backpacking or hiking boots on a luxury cruise.
Safety is really important. Consider whether you need to wear expensive jewellery. A money belt, which can be worn underneath your clothes can keep your passport, money and cards safely hidden away.
Packing Cubes are great for organising your clothes – they fit neatly into your luggage and you can easily find the items you need.
Don’t forget a laundry bag for the clothes you have worn during the trip and will need a wash when you get home.
Think about the toiletries you will need. It is much more efficient to decant the required quantity of shampoos and lotions into smaller containers than to take the whole bottle. This will save on packing space and mean that your toiletries don’t have to do the same mileage as you – going out and coming all the way back. If you are travelling with carry-on bags and not checking your luggage into the aircraft hold, make sure the containers are less than 100ml (3.5floz) volume. This situation may change in time but the limit is currently 100ml.
Travel Bottles Cute little bottles are perfect for a variety of toiletries. Some even come with a set of sticky labels so you don’t end up in a commotion with your lotion.
Liquids also need to be placed in a clear, resealable plastic bag if you are taking them on board a plane as carry-on. They should be removed from your luggage prior to going through security.
Travel Hairdryer You may find a travel hairdryer useful. Ideally you want something compact. This one will work at two different voltages, so can be used all over the world and automatically cuts out if it gets too hot, which means that it has a safety factor built in. The handle also folds away to minimise space in your luggage.
Not Make-up But Maintenance
Whether you use make-up or not, there are some products that are really useful to have when travelling.
Sun Cream – factor 30+, ideally factor 50, provides good protection from the sun.
Lip balm – especially useful for avoiding chapped lips in dry climates. You can get Sun Protection Lip Balm
Moisturiser – particularly useful if you are in dry climates, whether hot or cold. Your skin can easily dry out, so moisturiser is a very useful item to bring.
When we first started travelling we were given some advice: if you get a chance to eat, eat; if you get a chance to drink, drink; and if you get a chance to go to the bathroom, well, you know what to do…
When travelling to different countries, toilet facilities may not be as pristine as you expect at home. There are some countries where you may have to squat instead of sit and, over the years, we’ve come across some really vile toilets. Or you could be travelling in the countryside with no access to toilets at all! Having a private pee can be quite troublesome for women. The following items may be a bit TMI (too much information!) but they can really help make life easier when you’re on the road.
She wee A she-wee is a clever little device that allows you to pee standing up. Definitely have a practice at using in your bathroom before you travel. It can feel incredibly strange learning to pee standing up if you’ve been sitting down all your life! Multiple colours are available.
Sanitiser/wet wipes. Sometimes you may not get a chance to wash your hands, so it’s always useful to be able to clean up, especially before eating.
Scarf – One of the most useful items to bring with you, it scrunches up very small and will easily slip into a bag, taking up minimal space. Depending on where you are travelling, you may be required to cover your head to enter certain buildings, particularly religious buildings, so a scarf is an essential item for the packing list. It is brilliant because it has so many other functions – for sun protection, as a swimming suit cover-up, a shawl for warmth if you start feeling cold, an impromptu blanket if you need to sit on the ground, or you can wrap it around precious, breakable gifts to provide some protection while transporting them home. And there are so many pretty scarves out there, you can certainly find a style that co-ordinates with your clothing.
Travel Essentials for Younger Women
If you have periods, you may find that some destinations aren’t well equipped to handle sanitary towels or tampons. A menstrual cup or period pants can be washed and reused while you are travelling and are much kinder to the environment.
Travel washing liquid can be very useful if you need to wash your pants or any other clothing. This Travel washing soap is easy to carry and kind to the environment.
Travel drying line This compact little drying line without pegs has suckers on each end so you can put it up anywhere and will help dry any items that need to be cleaned while you are travelling.
Travel Essentials for Menopause
Just as you reach that time of life when you don’t need to worry about managing periods when you travel, a whole bunch of other issues start up for many women. Menopause can be a time of change and uncertainty as hormone levels are all over the place. There are some travel products that can help make things a little easier on the road.
If you are using HRT (hormone replacement therapy) don’t forget to bring it with you and some spare items in case of travel delays. You may be using supplements, so remember to pack those too.
Fight those hot flashes with fans.
Folding Fans – a folding fan can slip into a day bag. There are some very pretty ones available.
Did you know that in the 17th and 18th centuries ladies used fans to communicate with potential suitors?
USB Fan For those restless sticky nights, a small portable USB-charged fan by your bedside can be invaluable to cool you down. These come with a little stand incorporated and you can change the angle of the fan to get maximum airflow.
A neck fan which you can just sling around your neck, is great if you want hands-free cooling on a hot day. It is useful and quite effective but can be a little loud. Again, it’s charged via USB.
In terms of clothing, natural fibres are best if you suffer from hot flashes – cotton or linen.