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What are the travel essentials for men? Read on to learn my essentials while traveling by air, land, or sea.
A little while ago, I saw a meme that perfectly described the Jones Family. The meme said there’s two types of people in a relationship. 1) “Okay, I have our passports, boarding passes, and car rental reservations.” 2) “Where are we going, again?” You can probably guess which one is me and which is Allison (hint: I have no idea where our passports are located, at any given time).
That said, I am the “Scouter” of our little family group. I generally come prepared for just about any situation we get ourselves into on the road. I follow the Scout motto, “Be Prepared!” Even though I may not remember where we’re going, I have my backpack loaded with the travel essentials for men, at all times. Call it a “go bag” or a daypack or whatever. I’m ready to go.
Travel Essentials for Men
Let’s go ahead and get the list out of the way. I’ll get into more detail on each item (and add a few bonus items along the way and at the end).
- Backpack – to hold the travel essentials
- Travel cord organizer
- Pocket organizer
- iPhone – more importantly, what’s on the phone
- Water bottle
- Charging block
- Comfortable shoes
- Rain jacket
I prefer a backpack for my “go bag” or carry on. Some guys like a stylish leather messenger bag. I get it. They’re a little more “fashion forward.” I’m addicted to backpacks. I love a good backpack with lots of pockets, a comfortable fit, big enough to hold all my essentials and still fit under the seat on a flight. My go to backpack is the Osprey Talon 22, although I also use the Osprey DayLite Plus, on occasion.
The Talon is technically a hiking pack designed a bit more for backpacking than as a daypack, but I love the way it wears and all the pockets. It’s laid out, very well and it’s comfortable. Whether you like the DayLite Plus or Talon or another backpack, find one that fits well, is a little stylish, and has the storage pockets you feel you need for your own travel essentials.
2| Travel Cord Organizer
I use this travel cord organizer for all my charging cords (including my MacBook one), charging blocks for charging cords, SD card reader, a pen-sized screen cleaner, and other cords that need organizing.
This really helps at the TSA. I went on a run of 9 times in a row being pulled aside for additional screening. Finally, a TSA agent explained that my bundle of charging cords set off alarms. Now, they’re all organized neatly in this kit and I haven’t had an issue, since.
3| Pocket Organizer
I use a Maxpedition Fatty Pocket Organizer for various odds and ends in my backpack. My EDC in this organizer includes a Buff, a spork, fingernail clippers, zip ties, my first aid kit, a mini flashlight, a water filter straw, a lighter, my rosary, a couple extra pens, salt and sugar packets, and extra batteries.
You can fit a lot in this little pocket organizer and it all stays in one neat package. I will probably get a second one, just because it’s so useful.
I bought the “Fatty” size, but Maxpedition has multiple sizes. “Beefy,” pocket sized that actually fits in your pocket, EDC, and others.
Your cell phone is probably a given essential travel item. I know I don’t leave home without my phone.
That said, I would point out that for travel, I make sure I updated all my podcasts and download a couple Audible books for the trip. If you’re a reader, an Audible membership is a no-brainer travel essential. I love to read (as you’ll notice in an upcoming travel essential), but sometimes, I just want to drown out the noise and listen to a book. I also make sure I have a few select Spotify playlists downloaded to accomplish the same thing while actually reading.
The phone also serves multiple purposes during your travels. Flight update apps. Google Maps for getting around a destination. Weather forecasts. Uber. Even booking your last minute stay. The phone provides an invaluable resource during travel.
5 | Earbuds/Headphones
So, you have your phone and Audible books. Now, you need a way to listen to them! I prefer Bluetooth earbuds, but you might like over-the-ear headphones, like the Bose noise cancelling ones. I’ve used both. Although over-the-ear headphones provide more ambient sound cancellation, they also destroy any hair styling you may have done, no matter how much product you use.
While in Japan, I became obsessed with finding good, wireless earbuds. We spent so much time on the train/subway that I really wanted a GOOD set of earbuds. I’ve bought a few cheaper earbuds, but they just didn’t cut it. The fit was off. Sound was mediocre, at best. Battery life was either terrible or quickly went downhill.
Finally, I decided to just plop down the dough on a decent pair of wireless earbuds. I thought I was set on Apple Earpods, since they’re so popular and friends reviewed them, favorably. After doing a LOT of research, I learned that for about the same price, the Jabra Elite Active 65t provided superior sound, noise cancellation, and better water resistance than the Apple Earpods.
I ordered a pair before I even left Japan, so they’d be waiting for me at home and I LOVE them. They take a little getting used to in your ear, but once you do, they’re phenomenal. They even have a “hear-through”‘ feature that allows you to hear surrounding sound while they’re in your ears!
Earbuds also provide a dual benefit. They eliminate the need for ear plugs. I love items that serve more than one purpose. Less stuff to carry.
6| Water Bottle
Most airports now have those water bottle refilling stations at the drinking fountains. I try to drink water, mostly and I hate spending $4 on a bottled water at the airport.
Don’t make the mistake I made, though and forget that there’s water in it while going through security! They’ll make you leave, dump it out, and wait in the line, again. I’m not kidding!
I prefer the stainless, double-wall vacuum style water bottle, like HydroFlask. However, I buy the Takeya water bottles, instead for two reasons. 1) They’re much less expensive than the HydroFlask. 2) They have great tops on them for easy drinking.
They come in multiple sizes, so I recommend getting the size that fits in your daypack or messenger bag. I have the 40 oz. and the 24 oz. The 24 oz. fits much better in my water bottle pockets of my backpacks.
Similar to backpacks, I love pens. With my background in construction management, pouring over blueprints and estimates while making notes, I enjoy having a good pen.
Useful for filling out customs forms (when no one else has one), taking notes (there’s something about actually writing a note down), or filling out the crossword to pass the time on a flight. I constantly use my pen.
Currently, I carry the Fisher Space Bullet Pen with a clip. I also like a good tactical pen, but those are NOT allowed through TSA, so beware of taking these in your carry on. You won’t be allowed to keep it.
8| Buff/Face Shield
An absolute travel essential for men, the face shield provides so many uses for a traveler. Need a small towel for that drink you spilled? Face shield. Runny nose giving you heck on the flight? Face shield. Eye cover because your neighbor just has to keep the window blind open? Face shield. Sun protection on your cruise excursion? Face shield. A towel to wipe the sweat off your face? Face shield. You get the idea.
I carry at least two, if not more, face shields with me any time I travel. Even if it’s just up to the grocery store, there’s one in my pocket.
Remember, I mentioned that I like reading? I prefer to do it on my Paperwhite Kindle. I get to carry my whole library of books with me in one, compact (and now waterproof) little package. I love the way it feels in my hands and the lighting of the “pages” is perfect, now.
Just like my face shield, I almost never leave home without my Kindle. If you like to read, you must get one for your travel adventures.
10| Charging Block
My list of travel essentials for men includes quite a few electronics. You probably need a way to charge them all. An electrical outlet may not always be available.
Allison and the kids always borrow my portable charger. For years, I’ve carried an Anker with about 20,000 mAH capacity. It holds enough charge for several devices to use and two USB ports (the newer version includes three ports).
For our Philmont Scout Ranch hiking trip, I knew the Anker would not last for 12 days in the wilderness. I needed an alternate solution. I found a 4 panel solar charger from Hilucky Outdoor that also included a 25,000 mAH capacity charging block. It worked, perfectly! I gave Allison my old Anker (so she wouldn’t keep “borrowing” mine) and now use the solar charger, exclusively.
11| Comfortable Shoes
XeroShoes are flexible (as you can see with them stuffed in my backpack, above) and comfortable. They’re also easy on and off for the TSA checkpoints (although with Pre-Chek, I don’t have to do that, anymore).
I also hiked over 100 miles in them with absolutely zero pain or comfort issues.
Regardless of your choice of shoe, make sure they’re comfortable and you can walk for miles in them. I would also recommend compression socks to reduce swelling while flying. I wore a pair for the first time for our flight to Japan and they made my legs feel great!
12| Rain Jacket
A basic, packable rain jacket comes in handy during your travels. I’ve used mine in Castaway Cay during a quick rain storm. At Disney World during the standard Florida afternoon rain. New York City. Japan. Every place I travel, the rain jacket comes out of the bag.
Don’t feel the need to buy an expensive Gore-Tex rain jacket. Mine cost about 30 bucks. It’s comfortable, packable, and works.
Bonus Travel Essentials for Men
A couple additional items that usually come in handy during our travels include Colgate Wisps and anti-bacterial wipes.
The seats and tray tables of airplanes attract and hold some nasty germs. A quick clean with an anti-bacterial wipe goes a long way to keeping you from getting a cold or sickness.
The Wisps just provide a nice, fresh feeling after a long day on the road or an overseas flight. No furry teeth.
Even as I finish this post, I think of many other travel essentials for men. The longer I make the list, though, the less “essential” they become. What are your travel essentials?