Top 5 Simple Travel Essentials

Cambodia, Koh Rong Sanloem, Boat on Beach


Never one for travelling with an array of gadgets and creature comforts, I always try to make my luggage as light as possible.

It’s very easy to get carried away with all the latest technical gizmos, but often one of the forfeits of being a budget traveller is having to do without.

Nonetheless, there are a few travel essentials you shouldn’t do without simply because they are so useful.

Most of these are actually light, small and cheap items, so they really won’t set you back that much, but they are easily forgotten.

To help you remember them for your next trip, I’ve compiled my top 5 simple travel essentials, so here they are…

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#1 The Alarm Clock

This is the number 1 of travel essentials you shouldn’t go without because I hazard a guess it’s actually the most forgotten item when people set off on their travels.

I certainly know it’s mine.

That’s probably because most of us use phones as our alarms these days, but don’t forget there is a good chance you won’t be travelling with one, especially if you’re going off the beaten track a bit.

Even if you do take your phone, there is always a chance of it getting lost, stolen or broken, so a back up really is no bad thing.

While you might be out of routine when you’re away, that doesn’t mean you won’t have to get up early sometimes.

Be it a sunrise bus ride or a morning scuba diving lesson, there are some things you just don’t want to miss out on and an alarm clock can definitely help with that.

I love my trusty Casio model as it’s light, cheap and the batteries last forever. Although do make sure you buy some quality ones.

So far my batteries have been going about 2.5 years and the alarm clock still works like a dream!

(I do recommend taking a spare set of batteries just in case.)

This model also has a sliding front cover that stops the buttons being accidentally pressed when in its stowed away in your bag.

Very handy for the times when you don’t want to get up early!


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#2 The Combination Padlock

I really recommend a good travel padlock for a number of reasons, not least for their diversity.

Useful for luggage in transit, tents in parks and bags in dorm rooms, the beauty of a combination model is that you never need to worry about forgetting a key.

Well that’s one less thing to worry about!

When I’ve travelled, I’ve found many hostels across the globe that provide lockers, but not padlocks, hence why it’s one of my top simple travel essentials.

Sometimes you can rent a padlock, but normally you have to go out and source one.

Save yourself the trouble and just buy one before you go.

Not only will this stop the hassle of trying to find a suitable shop in a new country, but you’ll also be more able to guarantee the quality of what you buy – pretty important when talking about the security of everything you own!

Make sure you buy a padlock that is study and large enough to fit most things, but not so heavy that you feel you are lugging a paperweight round in your bag.

The Go Travel Sentry Combination Padlock is a great model , being both compact yet secure. Available in a range of colours, you can pick one that will help you identify that your stuff!


#3 The Head Torch

If you’ve ever set up a tent in the dark or wanted to read a book in a hostel dorm when everyone else is asleep, you’ll know the extreme usefulness of a hands-free lighting solution.

Forget every other type of travel light; it really is all about the head torch.

Granted, fashion statement it is not, but practical?

Woah mamma, is it ever! Petzl headtorches a top brand name in this field and Black Diamond produce some great headlamps too.

I recommend one with an adjustable head strap and with batteries that will be easy to source abroad. AA or AAA are best and can be cheaply sourced while still at home or on the road.

Unless you’re going caving, something fairly small and simple, should do the job, don’t buy anything too bulky or complicated.

I’ve tried a number of rechargeable head torches in my time, but despite my love for environmentally friendly products, sadly they just don’t cut it.

Mostly, this is because they are bulky with a number of leads that connect the rechargeable battery to the head torch.

I’ve also found the lights don’t stay bright for nearly long enough.

Sadly, till I find a better product, I’ll be sticking with the battery-operated numbers as one of the simple travel essentials you shouldn’t go anywhere without.

See my list of the 3 best headlamps for backpacking for ideas.


#4 The Universal Sink Plug

The universal sink plug is a small, but surprisingly useful piece of kit.

After finally giving in to the science that even thick socks don’t keep the water from going done the plughole in a sink, I finally relented and bought one and haven’t looked back since!

Mine is by Walkabout Travel Gear and it works brilliantly

A universal sink plug is so handy when you want to just wash a pair of undies and will save you a surprising amount of coin in not having to fork out for a full washing load.

On that note, shampoo is an ideal multi-purpose weapon for washing your clothes, thereby saving you money and allowing you to do your own laundry easily wherever you are.


#5 World Power Adapter

Quite simply, you never want to risk not being able to charge your camera (or other electrical items) wherever you are and power adaptors are the only way of guaranteeing this if you’re travelling somewhere that has different plug-pins to your home county.

Nowadays you can get a compact adaptor that is compatible with a multitude of global plugs.

This makes it a great buy and weight-saver compared to a range of separate country-specific chargers, particularly if you’re on a round-the-world trip.

Skross is a great brand that offer these multi-country products, some of which also include USB chargers – super helpful for phones and digital players etc as well.


So there’s my list of the top 5 simple travel essentials.

Not bank-breakers and certainly handy, I highly recommend investing in them before any trip!

What are your simple travel essentials that you wouldn’t dream of leaving home without?

Do you have any to add to the list?


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