Travel Like a Pro: 35+ Quirky Travel Essentials From a Seasoned Location-Independent Entrepreneur -

Travel Like a Pro: 35+ Quirky Travel Essentials From a Seasoned Location-Independent Entrepreneur

I cherish the freedom that comes with being a location-independent entrepreneur, coaching brilliant visionary business owners online, around the globe. But traveling full-time comes with its own set of challenges.

Fun Fact: In the last six months (from April to September), I’ve taken 16 flights and stayed/lived in 20 cities across 10 different countries on four continents!

Over the many years of traveling, I’ve curated a set of essentials that help make every new place, and every moment of my life, a little bit better. Recently, on my Instagram Stories, I shared a sneak peek into some of the unique things I carry, and it sparked an entertaining conversation. Not only did many of you enjoy the few I shared, but I loved learning about your travel must-haves, too!

Moving around like this certainly requires an ability to go with the flow… but when it comes to my living space, I have distinct preferences for having my things organized, easily accessible, and space-efficient. When there’s already so much complexity to navigating foreign places, these little additions help me cultivate more of a low-friction lifestyle.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into the weird (read: genius!) things I travel with. I’ll start with the basics that almost every traveler will benefit from, and then we’ll dive into more homewares, fancy lady things, and my geeky tech setup.

Travel Essentials

Vapur Collapsible Water Bottle: I try to limit my single-use plastic so taking this everywhere I go ensures I always have water on hand without it making my bag heavier or taking up too much space. It’s BPA-free, doesn’t leak (as long as you have the cap shut, obvs), and I love the lightweight carabineer clip that makes it easy to carry – looped on your finger, on the strap of a bag, or on the airplane seat pocket!

Versatile Travel Mug: This mug doesn’t just keep my [chai tea] lattes warm* for hours, it also transforms into a cold tumbler complete with a straw for those hotter climates where only iced drinks will do. I think I have the 24oz version, but here’s a 30oz version if you like to supersize it. *IMHO: If you’re not prolonging the warmth of your hot drinks by drinking out of an insulated mug, what are you even doing with your life?

Reusable Straws: I have gold and silver metal straws for when I’m out (distinctive enough that I remember they’re mine and don’t leave them behind), and a clear, reusable plastic one for when I’m at home or on client calls (less clinking).

Airplane Neck Pillow: A blow-up neck pillow is the way to go! First, I’m not visibly carting a bulky neck pillow through every single airport like a newbie; 99.9% of the time it’s deflated and completely out of site. Note for the one I use, that I’ve linked here: I don’t usually wear mine around my neck. I’m a window seat girl and this one does an amazing job of filling the huge, uncomfortable space between me and the window. I can loop my arm through it, rest my head on it, and get much-needed sleep on long-haul flights! If you prefer the aisle seat and wearing one around the neck, you may want one like this instead.

Manta Sleep Eyemask: You’ll notice these are a bit more expensive than your average sleep mask, but I’ve been using Manta masks for many years and can attest they’re the absolute BEST for making sure no light gets in! I’m super sensitive to light when I sleep, and this one ensures I’m not waking up at the crack of dawn only because my eyemask failed to keep every single ray of light out until I’m ready to wake up. The eyeholes are excellent for protecting long lashes, too! OOH… another addition. Adding a link to Bucky 40 Blinks as an option, recommended in the comments.

Unisom Sleep Gels – While we’re discussing traveling around the world, we must also mention our friend, JETLAG. In the US, there’s an over-the-counter sleeping pill called Unisom that I swear by during the first 3-4 nights in a new time zone. It helps me get the 7 hours I need when I’m supposed to, allowing me to function like a normal human as I adjust.

Triple-Flange Earplugs: I started wearing earplugs to sleep about 10 years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Even if I’m staying somewhere dead quiet, popping them in helps me go right to sleep! These are the best, and most affordable, I’ve found (and I’ve tried sooo many). Note: I cut them down, and cut off the cords, obvs. These are my next favorite triple-flange earplugs if you want to try another kind. I also cut these down, too, so they’re not sticking out of my ear so far. UPDATE: If you have sensitive inner ears, you might prefer MightyPlugs. I used to swear by them! A friend saw this post and mentioned that she still uses them, thanks to my referral years ago! There are also swimmer earplugs you could try that are a little more affordable. I clearly have a lot to say on this topic! haha

Clip for Keys & Keycards: Again, all about the ease. Living the way I do, I rarely even have keys… but when I do I love that this retractable cord springs them right back into my bag so they’re super easy to find when I need them next.

Home Sweet, Convenient Home

Tap-on Bedside Light: Who decorates a bedroom without a bedside lamp? For such design mysteries, I’m always grateful to have my compact tap-on light. Even if the bedside lamp is way too bright, I can adjust the brightness of this one and put it anywhere I want. It’s USB rechargeable and has a 10-minute auto-off feature, too.

Nightlight for the Bathroom: This light-sensitive nightlight gets plugged in right away when I move into a new place. It offers just the right amount of light to guide my way without jolting me awake with harsh brightness. Mind you, many places don’t even have plugs in the bathroom, so sometimes this goes in a hallway or the tap-on light is all I need. p.s. If you’re all about not disrupting your circadian rhythms with light at night, you may want to check out a red-light option.

Faucet Extender: Ever encountered a faucet that barely clears the edge of the sink? Filed under more design mysteries, it’s a pet peeve of mine. This simple slide-on extender is a game-changer, ensuring I can actually put my hands under the water with plenty of space!

Pump Bottles Are Life! My shampoo, body wash, facial wash, coconut oil, and face/body moisturizers are all in an assortment of travel-sized pump bottles (each with clips that lock the pump so they don’t leak when traveling). I even carry along a mini pump bottle full of dish soap for the kitchen sink, too. There’s just something undeniably satisfying about the convenience of a pump bottle. It’s the little things, right?

Shower Cap: Especially handy for the late-night body-wash showers without wetting or washing my hair. Fun fact: I wrote a blog post about shower caps way back in 2005 that was quite the hit! Sorry it’s not published anymore, but I’m basically still preaching the same thing thing. Which is that shower caps aren’t just for old ladies… you can find super cute ones these days!

S-Hooks: These are surprisingly versatile and could never live without having a few with me. Whether it’s for hanging a towel, a bag, or a wet bikini – they always come in handy! I bought gold, of course.

Dish Sponge: I’m all for sharing, but used sponges? No, thank you. I buy a fresh one, cut it into thirds, and voila! Perfect new-sponge solution for short stays.

Sponge Holder: This mini suction sponge holder goes on the inside of the sink, which not only ensures my sponge dries quickly but helps keep it out of sight. Note: The one I have is super small with spikes that hold the sponge. I’m not finding an equivalent on Amazon… but the one I’ve linked will give you an idea.

Suction Triangle Hook: This V-shaped marvel is perfect for grabbing onto hand towels and hanging them anywhere you want next to a kitchen sink (often a window, refrigerator, or laminated cabinet). At times, I’ve even traveled with mini microfiber cloths because they come in handy for so many things & dry super fast.

Compact Box Cutters: From opening packages to unexpected DIY moments, these retractable box cutters are an unsung hero in my travel kit. Adding a link to Slice Safety Cutter (better for carryons), thanks to a great suggestion in the comments!

Gold Coasters: A touch of home, wherever I am. These lightweight, lasercut gold coasters instantly elevate any space. I put one on my bedside table and one on my workstation. The pattern on mine is different than what I’ve linked here, but you get the idea.

Sage, Palo Santo, & Nag Champa Incense: No surprise, I carry a little bag of witchy things to burn. These help clear the energy in a new space and make me feel right at home.

Doorstop with Alarm: Thankfully I don’t need this in every country (and it’s never gone off!), but as a solo female traveler, this doorstop gives me extra piece of mind. Sometimes it simply comes in handy simply to keep a door propped open!

Miscellany: Tide To Go Stain Stick, Post-it Notes, Binder Clips, Pens, Snacks, etc.

I travel the world house- and pet-sitting, thanks to TrustedHousesitters… it’s the best!

Fancy Lady Things

Necklace & Earring Organizer: I often joke that I travel with more jewelry than I do clothes, and it’s funny because it’s true. Jewelry is a form of creative expression for me that brings me so much joy! I’ve tried many other organizers and just added this one to my repertoire in May, and I’m loving it. I only wish it had a zipper on each row of the earring pockets, to close them in more securely. The clear flaps on each pocket do stay closed, but if you forget to check them or miss closing one, things fall out.

Velvet Ring Tray: This may seem quite extra to travel with, but I have a lot of rings! It’s lightweight, ensures my rings aren’t jangling around together and getting scuffed, they’re all visible and easily accessible, and it’s a touch of luxury while I’m on the go.

Travel Mirror: Whether I’m deciding which earrings to wear, or just checking out my hair from the back, adding this travel mirror, with rechargeable light and stand, has been a great addition! I tuck both the mirror and my velvet ring tray (wrapped in a cloth) into the jewelry organizer, so it’s all zipped up into one!

Lip Gloss Galore: I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a little obsessed with lip stuff. I pretty much always have at least 3-4 different options on me – some with a little color (I love Burt’s Bees), some clear. Oh and my favorite SPF lip balm, DCT, only comes in a tub. So, I bought a pack of empty lip gloss tubes, and transferred it in, allowing me to apply it on the go without worrying about germs. Plus, the chic gold caps? I know, I’m a genius. haha

Accessorizing with Eyewear: I also travel with an impressive spectacle collection. I am currently traveling with four prescription eyeglasses, three pairs of prescription sunglasses, and two pairs of non-prescription sunglasses (for when I wear contacts). At some point, I may get one of these cases or a few travel holders like this, but for now, it’s easy enough to have them in their own cases in my carry-on suitcase. Once I arrive where I’m staying, I usually unpack and have them out, easily accessible, or have a specific drawer for them.

Handbag Collection: Just to share you can have it all when you travel… and fellow ladies will get it: I have at least nine different handbags with me. Hey, different outfits – and different outings – call for different bags and I like options!

Handbag Hook: This thing has come in so handy countless times! Use it to hang your bag from a table or when there’s (insanely) no hook in a bathroom and you need to make sure your bag goes nowhere near the gross floor. Recently, I used it to hang my jewelry organizer from the top of a door, with an S-hook in between, so that it hangs right at eye level for me.

Magnetic Hat Clip: How do I travel with a sunhat everywhere I go? It’s simply attached to my bag, so I never have to hold it or wear it, and it doesn’t get crushed! This isn’t the exact one I have, but it’s the same idea. If you like to bring a hat with you… you must get one of these.

My Geeky Tech Setup

Nexstand (Laptop Raiser): This collapsable stand elevates my laptop to an ergonomic height, ensuring eye-level comfort during long work sessions. Note: Nexstand isn’t on Amazon, but there’s a similar stand.

Magic Keyboard + Magic Mouse + Airpods Pro (Noise-Cancelling): Clearly a Mac girl over here. Love a smooth and efficient workflow! I even have two pairs of noise-cancelling earbuds which come in crazy handy when I’m doing back-to-back coaching sessions or have super long days of travel.

I also travel with Kindle Paperwhite and an iPad Mini with Apple Pencil. If you have an iPad, I highly recommend upgrading to these Pencil Tips, Pencil Holder, and PaperFeel Screen Protectors to make it feel a little more like you’re writing on paper.

Ring Light: People ask me about lighting all the time and, believe me, I’ve tried them all! This little one is lightweight, portable, and perfect for video calls, recording content, or any situation where optimal lighting is key. Bonus: It doesn’t need a converter when traveling around the world either!

Ring Light Tripod + Selfie Stick: The Ring Light above comes with a tripod stand, but I left it behind and bought/use this one instead. It’s much more compact and it doubles as a selfie stick/tripod with just my phone. Dual purpose is so key when you’re limited on space!

Rode iPhone Mic (Cordless): If you’re recording videos on your iPhone, this mic is a must-have! It’ll give your vids a studio-quality sound and ensures your audio stays clear even in breezy conditions. Highly recommend buying this windscreen foam cover for it – which is much less distracting than the big, furry cat that comes with it – and this additional extender adapter (especially if you use an iPhone case).

Rode Lav Mic (Wired): I’ve had this lav mic for years, but found I didn’t use it very often because the wire + iPhone adapter is a hassle (hence buying the new iPhone mic above). However, it’s small enough that I still keep it around because it works well when I’m recording audio on my laptop.

Magnetic MacBook Charger Add-On: This handy little add-on makes your charger magnetic, like the older Macbook versions!

Magnetic 3-in-1 Foldable Wireless Charger Station: This awesome, little compact charger goes next to the bed and charges my iPhone, Apple watch, and earbuds while I sleep. Note: I always buy a clear, magnetic case so it has no problem locking onto wireless chargers. I use a magsafe ring holder, too, which is great as a built-in stand, hook, or simply to ensure I never drop it on my face while scrolling IG in bed.

Anker External Charger: When you’re out all day, snapping photos, listening to music, or on calls, you’re eventually going to need to recharge your battery. I love this one because it’s wireless… but even still I usually bring the cable with me in case I want to charge it up extra fast while it’s rolling around in my bag. You could also get this super travel-friendly mini external charger (and I bet the extender adapter I suggested above would come in handy for this one, too).

HDMI Cable + MacBook adapter: If where I’m staying doesn’t have a smart TV, this combo allows me to hook up my laptop and watch whatever I want. Comes in handy when I need to hook my laptop up to a projector for a speaking event, too.

Google Nest Mini: I love being able to use a voice command to start playing music (on Spotify), and it’s also handy for quickly checking the time, the weather, setting a timer, or any other random question that comes to mind that I want Google to check for me while I’m busy doing other things. It also helps me control my lights, when those are set up! See below…

Smart Bulbs: I’m all about good lighting. Having at least one smartbulb with me makes it easy to turn on/off a side table lamp light with my voice, and gives me customizable lighting options, perfect for setting the mood.

Smart Plug: Easier than carting around a second bulb, this plug comes in handy when there’s a second light or appliance I want to be able to control with my Google app voice commands, or having lights switch on with a timer.

Travel Converter/Adapter: A must-have for global wanderers. You can switch it from being an adapter to a converter when need be… so even if I don’t always use the converter part, having all the various adapters has been a godsend more than once!

See? Even while traveling, you can make any temporary place feel like home!

I’d love to hear which of these you use and/or which of my travel items have inspired you to level up your travel game.

Now, it’s your turn…
What are some of your travel essentials that make your life better on the road?
Share with us in the comments below!

Do you dig geeky resources like these? I have them in spades!
Be sure to check out my favorite books, apps, and more

About the Author

Willo Sana has been empowering entrepreneurs who are standing on the precipice of their next level for over 20 years. An international keynote speaker and sought-after Transformational Business Coach, Willo's experienced and intuitive guidance has served as a catalytic force for visionary business owners around the world. Anticipation is building for Willo's upcoming book, Double Down on Your Genius: Own Your Gifts, Align Your Actions, and Flourish in Your Calling, set to release in 2023.

Leave a Reply 2 comments

Ara - September 20, 2023 Reply

What does obvs mean?

Always great to learn about new products, especially from an American traveler perspective. My take on some of the items:

Box cutters are not a good idea if you travel carryon (the only way I do around the world). Safety cutters are better, like this:

More compact and safe for fingers. Really great for opening packages, and the magnet feature is handy.

The Manta mask is too bulky and uncomfortable for side/stomach sleepers. I prefer the Bucky 40 Blinks. It still allows for eye blinking, is cheaper, and knockoffs are available if I can’t find the exact brand. All the cool colors and designs are a bonus.

In-ear earplugs become too irritating over time. On-ear silicone earplugs are good. It’s where you roll the ball of silicone and mold on the outer ear so it’s a perfect fit.

Too bad ring lights don’t work when one wears glasses (contacts are not an option). Luckily the newer MacBook Pro has a great camera for low-light conditions. (And very happy that new Macbook Pros have returned to Magsafe!)

Interesting about the need for cold drinks. In many cultures (and in Chinese Medicine, as told by my acupuncturist), icy drinks are a no-go. One less thing to worry about, in terms of needing to keep a drink cold.

Also I have a red light motion sensor night light, so that doesn’t interfere with your circadian rhythm if you have to get up at night.

    Willo Sana - September 20, 2023 Reply

    These are great tips, Ara – thank you!

    Manta Sleep Masks do take some getting used to but I tried to quit them and couldn’t find any that worked. I will check out Bucky 40 Blinks!

    obvs = obviously

    Your safety cutter & red light motion sensor night light tips are tops, too. Wow, you’re going to help me level up my game with these great suggestions. Love it!

    Thank you again for this thoughtful & helpful comment.

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