Top 10 travel must-haves, according to the experts

From water to wired headphones, from carabiners to medical kits, travel must-haves from the travel experts run the gamut.

Everyone has their must-have items they bring along when they’re traveling, but what do the travel experts bring?

Here are 10 items that they recommend for fellow travelers.

1. Water and snacks

"Depending on the flight and the route, sometimes they come by with little cups of water, and that just doesn't cut it," said Melanie Lieberman, senior global features editor at The Points Guy.

She recommends bringing a bottle of water on the plane. Lieberman brings along a reusable Nalgene bottle, which she always tries to fill up before she boards.

She also noted that she makes sure to bring snacks on the plane.

2. Sanitizing wipes

Clorox On-the-Go wipes are a must-have for travel expert Dayvee Sutton.

"The turnover of the planes happens so quickly that I don’t trust that they hit all the touch points," she said, noting that she wipes down the hard surfaces at her seat, including the headrest.

3. Headphones

Wired headphones, in particular, can make the travel experience more pleasant. Sutton prefers to have wired headphones on a flight, which allows her to switch from her phone to the plane’s TV monitor.

"You can’t do that yet with wireless headphones unless you have a Bluetooth attachment," she said. "So, for now, these stay in the pocket of my travel jacket."

4. Portable charger

If you are traveling with a phone or other electronic device, you must also bring a charger.

While you can charge your devices on some airplanes, you might instead opt for charging them while you’re waiting at your gate, according to former commercial pilot and FlightAware spokesperson Kathleen Bangs.

Bangs said that outlets and USB ports on planes sometimes don’t work, and when they do, accessing them may be tricky given the tight spaces in the cabin and around the seats.

5. Collapsible duffel bag

Another item to keep on you is a collapsible duffle bag, according to Lieberman. She keeps one, which reduces to the size of a Kindle, in her suitcase, particularly during longer trips.

"Sometimes it just feels like the things in your suitcase get bigger," Lieberman laughed. "If you're traveling more, you might want to pick up some souvenirs – especially if we're talking about holiday travel, if you're coming back with gifts."

6. Carabiner clips

To create more space in your bag, consider using a carabiner. According to Lieberman, the little clips can free up space by allowing you to hang items, such as shoes and your water bottle, on your backpack. 

"Honestly, I don't leave home without a carabiner," Lieberman said.

7. Compression socks and leggings

According to Sutton, compression socks and leggings have been a game changer, especially on long flights.

"They aren’t just for older people," she said. "I never really noticed the difference they make until I started wearing them."

8. Scarf

Scarves become handy accessories, especially for those who get cold on planes. Sutton said she always keeps a scarf in her personal item, and she uses it for warmth and also bunches it up to create a pillow.


9. Medical kit and mask

"Believe it or not, I always bring my own medical kit," Bangs said.

Her medical kit is the size of a makeup case, and she keeps it in her carry-on. It contains anything she might need, such as prescriptions, aspirin, antibiotics and a thermometer.

For Sutton, another must-have is a mask.

"I still wear my mask … even if it seems like I’m one of the only ones," she said.

10. Travel insurance

Travel insurance allows you to be compensated for losses from canceled and delayed flights, according to Sutton. She added that it can also cover accommodations if you need to stay overnight somewhere due to those flight delays or cancelations.

"To help protect your budget and your travel experience, I think travel insurance is essential," Sutton said.

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