Having enjoyed a pretty good slice of the solo female travel experience (let’s just say it’s been a few years!), I think it’s probably fair to conclude I’ve now got my packing down to a fine art!
After all, if you’ve got to carry all your own gear (which includes a mini-office set-up) and you’re travelling over several climate zones as part of one trip, there’s no doubt learning how to pack smart and light is a key survival skill!
Which is why I think I’m pretty well-placed to bring to my list of the top 25 travel essentials for women.
No matter where in the world you’re headed, or for how long, these incredibly versatile, useful and compact objects are absolute necessities I wouldn’t go anywhere without.
So I’m sharing them here to help you, no matter what sort of trip you’re about to embark on, make sure you’re prepared for everything, but not an item overpacked!
Let’s jump straight in…
- Best Carry On Packing Tips for Long Haul Flights
- How to Master the Art of Minimalist Packing Like a Pro
- Why I Was Wrong About Packing Cubes
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5 Travel Packing Hacks for Women
Before I launch into the essentials I think all women should travel with, I also wanted to bring you a few top packing hacks too ladies.
As a backpacker, and therefore serial minimalist, I’ve got the lightweight packing vibes down – which really is the key when it comes to finding the perfect balance between making sure you have everything you need and not trying to fit everything you own into your suitcase!
Because I get it, the struggle is real!
Here’s some tips to help you find that sweet spot too…
#1 Take Time over Your Packing
So it may sound obvious, but don’t overpack!
If you don’t wear the outfit at home, or don’t feel comfortable in it, don’t pack it, as you won’t feel any differently when you’re away.
Similarly, if you’re only away for 8 days, then don’t take more underwear or sets of clothes than you need for 8 days – and remember you can always do a bit of hand washing along the way!
Taking time over your packing – perhaps starting with a larger pile and then whittling it down – is a key way to make sure you pack exactly what you need without overdoing it!
Travelling with clothes of similar colours, or that match each other, so you can mix outfits up and get the flexibility you need, is an absolute key tip for packing light… there’s a reason I wear a lot of black alright!
#2 Layers Win
And while we’re on the subject of versatile clothing items, we need to remember it’s not just colours that can make the difference.
Taking clothes that you can layer is absolutely one of my travel essential tips for women.
Even in cold climates, layers work best at keeping you warm and with lots of thinner clothes that you can wear on top of each other, you’re guaranteed a lot more versatility than a few bulkier, thicker items.
Thinner layers also take up less space and can be compressed down easier in packing cubes (more on these later) to help you pack more efficiently.
#3 Leave the Make Up at Home
I mean, what do I need to say here, you’re beautiful enough as you are.
In lieu of you not believing me on that, remember make-up is heavy, bulky and a nightmare in the heat.
If you really can’t do without it – slim down to mascara, eye liner and lippie.
Ditch the rest.
Your skin will thank you.
#4 Mini Toiletries Set for Travel Days
What you should take instead of make-up however, is a mini toiletries kit in your carry on.
Fantastic for long haul flights, long bus or train rides (as well as if your luggage gets missed placed at any point), carrying a set of mini toiletries with you in your hand luggage will be a godsend.
Personally, I take a pack of wipes, a mini moisturiser and lip balm, toothbrush and mini toothpaste, floss and deodorant to freshen up.
Keeping this all in a zip lock bag so you can easily pass through any airport security is also a good tip!
Oh and I take a spear set of clothes in my carry on too (or at the very least underwear).
Again it’s such a dream if your luggage gets lost!
And talking of luggage getting lost, I wouldn’t head off anywhere on my travels without specific insurance.
And a key reason for this, is to protect my luggage, especially any expensive or valuable items such as electronics.
Yes losing my phone, laptop or camera probably has to be the worst situation for me and there’s no question getting some money back for these items to help replace them asap, is a must.
I also want to ensure my passport, jewellery and other important items are covered too.
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.
My Destination Specific Packing Lists for Women
I wanted this article to be quite broad, so that it could be used to help female travellers pack properly no matter where they are going.
After all, there are travel essentials for women that you can’t make any trip without (and the list of them is coming up!)
Right now, however, I wanted to bring you my specific packing lists, which cover lots of popular travel destinations in case you wanted any more detailed information about packing for the place you’re headed to…
- Ultimate Female Packing List for South America
- Ideal Female Packing List for Central America
- Female Packing List for Costa Rica
- Complete Packing List for Peru: Tried & Tested
- Only Packing List You’ll Need for Argentina
- 11 Items You Shouldn’t Head to the Middle East Without
- What to Wear in Jordan: Complete Female Packing List
- Ultimate Packing List for Lebanon
- Ultimate Female Packing List for Africa
- Complete Female Packing List for Morocco
- Only Packing List You’ll Need for Ethiopia
- Ideal Safari Gear Packing List
- Perfect South East Asia Packing List
- Ultimate Vietnam Packing List
- Complete Packing List for Thailand
25 Travel Essentials for Women
And now we get to the crucial part, my list of the top 25 travel essentials for women that I never leave home without.
These are pretty baseline items you should strongly consider packing no matter where in the world you’re heading to, or for how long.
Designed to be lightweight, versatile, compact and most importantly, incredibly useful, these are my go-to items I wanted to share to ensure you are perfectly prepared for your travels.
#1 Menstrual Cup
First up on my list of travel essentials for women, it’s a product that solves that pesky problem of our period when it comes to being on the road.
Great for the environment and your body, this reusable cup can be cleaned using drinking water and soap and is both easy and discreet to carry and use.
Personally, I love my menstrual cup and have been using it for years when travelling.
Now I wouldn’t be without it.
#2 Packing Cubes
I mentioned this in my introduction, and I’ve even written a post about how awesome they are, because yes, packing cubes changed my life!
At first, I have to admit, I was pretty cynical about them, but after getting onboard I’m now a sold up fan and wouldn’t go anywhere without them.
Definitely one of my travelling essentials for women (or anyone), packing cubes help you to both organise and compress your belongings, meaning you can get more into your bag when it comes to packing, as well as find things more easily when it comes to unpacking!
#3 Water To Go Bottle
Water To Go Bottles are another travel essential that are great for both your budget and the environment.
Instead of buying loads of plastic water bottles full of mineral water when you’re away, these clever bottles allow you to safely drink the water from any freshwater source, no matter where in the world you are, including rivers, streams or taps.
Affordable and effective, check out the full review of my Water To Go Bottle here.
#4 Toiletries Bag with Hook
It may sound obvious but, trust me, if your toiletries bag doesn’t have a hook, you’re going to rue the day you can’t simply hang it from the back of the door or a hook in the bathroom, especially when there isn’t enough counter space or all the surfaces in the bathroom are wet!
Especially key if you are backpacking or using shared bathroom facilities, ensuring I travel with a washbag that has a hook is absolutely one of my travelling essentials for women.
#5 Eye Mask & Ear Plugs
From noisy hostel beds to long bus rides, overnight flights or even just a snoring partner in the bed next to you, there’s nothing quite like a good set of ear plugs and a decent eye mask to make sure you get the best night’s sleep possible.
Essential for ensuring you enjoy your holiday to the max, check out this silky soft eye mask from Alaska Bear, which I highly recommend.
#6 Travel Wrap
It looks like a scarf, but the great thing about these travel wraps is that, not only do they keep your neck warm and look stylish, but they also have a sneaky security pocket hidden in them too.
Ideal for keeping valuables secure and close to you, I love my Sholdit travel wrap, which I used a lot when hiking in South America – a great place to keep cash and cards when on the move.
I also used it a lot during long night bus rides in South East Asia – the aircon meant it was so cold I needed a scarf, and the pockets allowed me to keep my passport and phone close at hand and hidden away in a place no one would guess they were!
#7 Gorilla Tripod (+ a Good Camera!)
Come on ladies admit, we all love a good selfie!
Especially important if you’ve got a poor Instagram husband or are travelling solo, asking someone else to take your photos can be a nightmare!
Take a leaf out of my book though and you’ll never be disappointed again!
The mini gorilla tripod is an absolute travel necessity I wouldn’t go anywhere without.
After attaching it to either my GoPro or Sony Mirrorless camera, I then use the apps connected with these 2 devices, to turn my smartphone into a remote control!
The sneaky way I get all my good pictures, travelling with a lightweight and flexible, compact tripod is a must for me.
#8 Comfortable Shoes
Let’s be real here, travel is about experience and adventure, therefore leave the heels at home ladies and just ensure you bring a couple of comfortable pairs instead.
Personally, I never take more than 3 pairs with me – 1 good pair of sandals I can walk in (namely Arizona Birkenstocks), 1 pair of hiking boots (I love my North Face Hedgehogs) and 1 pair of day shoes – these New Balance cross trainers are both stylish enough for city strolling or taking on some good sightseeing and day walks.
#9 Travel Pillow
We’re back to the travel comfort here, because trust me, it’s a major part of ensuring you arrive at your destination without feeling like a wreck!
So if comfort is king, then a good, high-sided memory foam travel pillow is about to become your best friend!
Easy to clip-on to the outside of any bag, I would never be without mine!
#10 Bamboo Leggings
I’ve written a whole article about why I think my bamboo leggings might just be my number 1 item of clothing when it comes to travel essentials.
And I hasten to add they might become yours too!
Hypo-allergenic, quick-dry, light, breathable, made from organic natural fibres, compact and so comfortable, I haven’t got a bad word to say about that!
Learn more in this specific article I wrote about how much I love them and why.
#11 Shampoo & Conditioner Bars
Ditch the plastic bottles (which not only take up loads of space, but have a tendency to leak everywhere and only add more waste to the planet) and instead, get onboard with shampoo and conditioner bars.
Mess-free, light and easy to carry, compact and lasting for ages, these are the future and come in loads of different ranges depending on your hair type.
Check out these top picks for more info.
Be it a cap, or a big sun hat, or perhaps even a woollen beanie, the sort of hat you take on your travels will depend on where you’re going.
But either way, you should take at least one!
Ideal for ensuring you keep the sun off your face (and the skin on your face protected from the sun) in hot climates, or that you keep your head warm when in cooler climates, a hat is just a practical travel essential that doesn’t take up much room, but one many women tend to overlook.
#13 Natural Deodorant
Honestly, I’ll spare you the gory details, but a natural crystal salt deodorant is the only thing that stops me sweating in those insanely hot Mediterranean summers or those sweltering tropical seasons.
Chemical-free and lasting for ages (usually months if not years) this is a great travel toiletry I wouldn’t go anywhere without.
#14 Good Moisturiser & Lip Balm
And another travel toiletry essential you shouldn’t miss out on when packing ladies, is a good old moisturiser and lip balm.
Especially key if you’re heading to any dry climates such as deserts or at altitude, these 2 items will be crucial in helping your skin stay hydrated and feel good.
When it comes to moisturiser, I’d always choose something as natural as possible and when it comes to lip balms (especially those that offer SPF protection) these ones from Burts Bees are my go-to.
Is this the most versatile travel essential for women on the planet?
With tens of uses (discover my top 20 uses for a sarong here) this simple strip of cloth can be a travel lifesaver and there’s no way I’d go anywhere without at last 1… ideally 2!
#16 Anti Theft Backpack
This is another of my absolute musts when I travel.
For me, the anti-theft backpack is essentially my travel office – the place where my laptop, power banks, camera, lenses, tripod and chargers reside – and it never leaves my sight!
For most travellers however, this bag is used as their daypack and what a great option it is.
Slash-proof, water-resistant and ultra-safe from pickpockets, the Bobby Anti Theft Backpack is the original and best.
Learn more in this article I wrote.
#17 Waterproof, Thin Jacket
Yes I’m aware this may make me sound incredibly British, but you just never know when the rain might catch you out!
As such, I never travel anywhere without a thin, lightweight, waterproof and windproof jacket that I can roll up and stick in any bag or day pack.
The North Face Venture 2 is a great option if you’re looking to get your hands on a new one.
#18 Travel Towel
Crucial for backpackers, when towels might not be available in the places you’re staying, but also excellent for those who are camping hiking, diving, snorkelling or generally being outdoors and active when travelling, a good microfibre travel towel is another non-negotiable on this list of travel essentials for women.
I think the ones from Latrek are impossible to beat – light, quick-dry, large and never go smelly! Want more can you ask for?
Read my whole review here.
#19 Travel Yoga Mat
Also a must for active travellers, a travel yoga mat is a great piece of kit that can easily fold down into your suitcase, or be strapped to the outside of your backpack.
No matter whether you’re a yoga fan or not, this is a great travel item for women who want to stay fit when travelling, because you can use it for any home workout wherever in the world you are.
Read my article about the best travel yoga mats here.
#20 UV Sunglasses
Can’t go anywhere without a good pair of sunnies.
Make sure they offer UV protection to shield your eyes from those harmful rays.
#21 Compression Socks
It’s not called being an old grannie, it’s called being sensible!
Yes if your legs and / or feet have a tendency to swell up when you are long haul flying or staying sat on bus for many hours at a time, then I can’t recommend a pair of compression socks enough ladies.
A key way to avoid getting DVT – learn more about what this is and how you can prevent it here.
This affordable item is a great investment for your health… even if they don’t look the most stylish!
#22 Silk Sleeping Bag Liner
I know loads of women travel with sleeping bags when hiking, camping or backpacking, but do they travel with silk sleeping liners?
I think not…. and they should!
The best way to avoid sweating so much at night, and therefore also to avoid having to wash your sleeping bag as much, I sometimes just take my silk sleeping bag liner and a thin blanket travelling with me – it gives more versatility, especially in hot climates, and is a more compact option too.
And while we’re on the topic of hiking, camping or backpacking, a good female traveller should leave home without a decent headlamp.
Even regular travellers can benefit from this item when walking home at night or trying to find things in the dark!
My go-to, the Black Diamond Storm, is absolutely one of the top travelling essentials for women.
#24 Handwash & Travel Line
Doing away with the need for pegs and to stop you having to use shampoo or soap, these 2 guys will make doing any washing you need on the go, really simple.
#25 Tiger Balm
And finally, if the mosquitoes and insects love you as much as they love me ladies, then get a tub of tiger balm in your luggage asap!
The number one remedy to stop those bites itching (plus it works well on sore muscles too), you’ll always find a tub in my travel first aid kit.
PIN IT TO PINTEREST!
So there you have it, my list of the 25 travelling essentials for women I wouldn’t head anywhere without.
I hope you also found my top travel packing hacks for women useful and my list of destination-specific packing lists too.
Anything I’ve missed off the list that you never head anywhere without?
Drop it into the comments and let me know…