7 Travel Tools I Will Not Shut Up About Till You Buy Them

If we meet in real life, I'm going to be awkwardly pushy about how you REALLY JUST NEED to buy/make/borrow these 7 travel tools. They're all under $50! Click through to find out what I always pack! // yesandyes.org If we ever meet in real life and you make the mistake of telling me that you’re about to travel, you should know what’s going to happen.

I’m going to pull you aside and start speaking very intensely while counting things off on my fingers. I’m probably going to send you a follow-up email in which I reiterate everything I told you in that conversation.


These are seven items that I sweaaaaar by. They’ll greatly improve your trip and I’m not going to shut up till you get them – and they’re helpful no matter how long the trip or your destination!

7 travel tools that, no, seriously, just go get them already

7 travel tools that will make your trip so much betterNon-negotiable travel tool #1: Packing cubes

If I find out that you’re about to take a long trip and don’t have packing cubes, I’m going to try to lend you mine. I AM 100% SERIOUS. More than anything else on this list, these little buddies will change your travel life.

You know how everything just barely fits in your suitcase? And then you pull your jeans out from the bottom and now you need to spend 20 minutes re-rolling and stuffing everything? That doesn’t happen when you use travel cubes. They’re particularly great if you’re backpacking, staying in shared hostel rooms, and trying to dig things out of your bag very quietly because everyone is sleeping.

face mist for travel

Non-negotiable travel tool #2: Face mist

Travel is 80% awesome, 20% dirty/sweaty/exhausting (percentages may vary, depending on your destination/type of transport). No matter where you’re going or how you’re getting there, you probably won’t feel quite as fresh as you’d like upon arrival.

This is why face mist is The Actual Best. I swore by it on my 9,000-mile road trip and I swear by it for long flights. If you’re traveling by land and don’t need to worry about the three-ounce rule, this $7 face mist is lovely. If you’re flying (or prefer to DIY) add a few drops of essential oil to a tiny, empty spray bottle and fill it with distilled water once you get through security.

scarf that with a hidden pocket

Non-negotiable travel tool #3: This scarf/wallet thing

One of the biggest bummers about travel is worrying about thieves and pickpockets, followed closely by the bummer that is hauling a purse or bag everywhere. Which is why this scarf thing is so awesome! No annoying bag! (Probably) no pickpockets!

If you don’t feel like shelling out $39 for this scarf, here’s a video to DIY your own!
black chaco flip flops

Non-negotiable travel tool #4: Black Chaco flip flops

Now, I’m sure my glamour puss travel friends would disagree, but if you are even vaguely laid back in your approach to travel style, these flip flops are for you. They have high arches so you can wear them forever without getting that sore, squashed flip flop foot feeling.

They have decent grip so you can wear them on wet surfaces; they’ll dry nicely without getting smelly or weird. They last forever. They’re sporty without looking too … river raft guide-esque.

I’m on my second pair in 10 years and I’ve worn them through 15+ countries!

If we meet in real life, I'm going to be awkwardly pushy about how you REALLY JUST NEED to buy/make/borrow these 7 travel tools. They're all under $50! Click through to find out what I always pack! // yesandyes.org

Non-negotiable travel tool #5: An Airbnb (or some other vacation rental)

Now, vacation rentals are not a ‘travel tool’ per se, be hear me out.

If you’re going to be in a city for more than one or two nights, staying in a homey space, in a real neighborhood, with access to a kitchen will dramatically improve your trip.

You’ll get way more space for your travel dollar. You’ll spend less money eating out. You’ll see what your host city really looks like – not just the chain restaurants and other hotels around the airport. Your hosts will give you insights into the city you wouldn’t otherwise know.

If you’ve never used Airbnb before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking!

travel tool suggestionsNon-negotiable travel tool #6: Microfiber face cloth

If you’d like a bit more luxury in your travel, this face wash bar is lovely (and you won’t have to worry about the three-ounce rule) and these face wipes are classic. But no matter how easy those are, they’re not as easy a microfiber face cloth. It removes all dirt, oil, and makeup without any soap! One less thing to pack!

dryer sheet as a travel tool

Non-negotiable travel tool #7: a few dryer sheets

I like to tuck a few dryer sheets into the mesh pocket of my suitcase, to keep everything smelling nice. You can also use them to de-static your hair and clothes or wipe yourself down after the beach. They’re weirdly good at getting rid of sand!

Edited to add: dryer sheets are typically full of crazy, creepy chemicals, so consider getting a hippie brand like Seventh Generation

But I want to know which travel tools you swear by! Leave links in the comments!

P.S. How to live out of a suitcase – glamorously

photos by Gregory Bourolias  and Annie Spratt on Unsplash



Oh my gosh, yes on the packing cubes! Those things are the best thing ever and I have oddly enough ended up using mine on a very regular basis in my daily life:

Going to the gym after work? => toss things in a couple of packing cubes
Need to change after work to get more dressed up => Packing cube in work bag it is
Need to take a towel to shower => fits right in the packing cube, and then into the gym bag
Staying at my boyfriends for a couple of nights => Things fit perfectly in a packing cube and my favourite handbag

And, you know, when I go travelling. Sorts the clean from the dirty, the underwear from the tops and the stuff at the bottom from the stuff at the top. You won’t find me going anywhere without any time soon.


Travel cubes- absolutely the best! Standard gift for anyone that does any sort of travel. Everyone loves them on nice they have tried them. Organizes underwear, tops, etc. The ones with two sides are great to pack one side and store souled in the other. Also love the flat packing board for pants. Have two sizes.

Sarah Von Bargen

Thanks for reading, Sarah! Glad to see you spell your name the ‘right’ way 😉


YES to the Mario Badescu facial mist you linked to! I love that stuff, and it doubles as a makeup setting spray, which is awesome.


YES. I am a freak about the packing cubes too. I will not shut up about them because I think they are the best things ever for travel. High five for putting that at number 1!!


Those Norwex reusable/washable cloths also work AWESOME for electronic screens! I’m going to buy a second set to use for face cloths!

Also clear compression sacks that you can roll the air out of. Rolling things helps quite a bit but just in case you need a little more room.

Also bring a gift with to for someone you may be visiting that room left in your back will be enough for souvenirs when you come back!


Face mist is a godsend for road trips!
I’d add a car charger for your phone, the Waze app, and a great playlist.


I absolutely love my PStyle (http://www.thepstyle.com/). I’ve used it while living in a van in Australia (hesitant to squat with all the creepy-crawlies about). I’ve used it with sketchy squat toilets in Thailand (no more swatting away mosquitoes while trying not to pee on my foot!) I’ve used it in the back country in West Virginia and with the weird seatless toilets at the camps on a trek in the Colombian jungle. It’s the best.


WHAT this is so great!!! I’ve been seriously considering doing a WWOOF-style post-college thing, and if that happens, I’m bookmarking, printing, and laminating this list.

Also, the tip about the microfiber face cloths blew my mind. I hadn’t even considered you could clean your face without water–even though I knew that oil blotting paper was a thing.


I love my chaco flip flops! I bought them in 2012 and, other than the old tennis shoes I mow my lawn in, they are literally the only shoes I wear during non freezing weather. They are awesome. I went on a month long back packing trip to Vietnam where we did everything and went everywhere and the only shoes I took were my chances. So smart. So versatile. So easy.
I also love cetaphil normal face cleanser. You do not need water and all dermatologists i have known prefer it. So nice for planes, trains and automobiles. Camping, etc.

Sarah Von Bargen

Aren’t Chacos AMAZING?! Whenever I see people wearing anything else, I want to shake them!


HOT TIP – I just picked up a black travel scarf/wallet for $14.99. I don’t even think it was on sale. Can’t wait to use it!


Ugh, I hate to be that lady, but be aware that dryer sheets have like a million VOCs in them, which are terrible for you. Anyway, packing cubes are the actual best, and I love the ones you showed! I’ll have to consider an upgrade. 🙂


Those that use essential oils can take a small washcloth or even cut a piece of washcloth and place a few drops on it. Let dry for 10 minutes before placing in your bag as a freshener!


Bar shampoo from Lush. Fels-naphtha for laundry soap. Merino wool shirts. Anything from Arc’teryx urban line. Their clothing is really well designed, doesn’t wrinkle, is versatile, and dries fast! I can’t shut up about it. 🙂 I want to test out that face soap you recommended!


OK. You are officially a genius. Dryer sheets!! Chaco flip flops! I’m a former flight attendant. I know what I’m talking about.

Nisie Wertenberger

We agree on the packing cubes! They are getting easier to find (and at better prices) since they are becoming so popular. One thing I would add to this list: Laundry Detergent sheets. They are found in the laundry aisle of most supermarkets, are practically weightless, and won’t spill. I use them for hand laundry or if I am desperate and need to run a washer load somewhere. Happy Travels! ?


I love my travel cubes!! I have two sets and have bought others as gifts. I bought them on Ebags.com but you can find them on Amazon now.


Eagle Creek have a great selection of packing cubes and even recommends sets to fit into their cases.


‘No Jet Lag Pills’ – they are all natural and they really work. I’m like you, I try to make my friends take mine if they are going to be traveling.


Sarah! I bought the packing cubes on your advice and just got back from a trip to Vietnam where I tried them for the first time…they’re BRILLIANT. No more having to reach shoulder-deep into my backpack to dig around for something and then going nuts because I can’t find it until I get home. Consider my life improved. Thanks for the recommendation!

Sarah Von Bargen

RIGHT?!! They’re *always* great but they’re particularly great for backpackers!


I have recently started using packing cubes after 2 years of not believing they would make a difference. They are the BEST idea and keep everything so much more organized. I recently started using a half gallon baggie that has an expandable bottom instead of my quart sized baggie. TSA didn’t seem to notice on the last 5 flights I took. Also can’t travel without my rechargeable backup battery for iphone/ipad

Sarah Von Bargen

Yessss! I’m on a personal mission to make every traveler in the world use packing cubes. E-V-E-R-Y-B-O-D-Y.

Andres Rozo

the nose can get missprogrammed by the marked vs nature, “dryer sheets to smell nice” dryer sheets are toxic cancerigenous unwanted chemicals.


I used vaccum sealed bags on a recent trip which were fantastic. Customs opened my bag all my smalls in a clear bag making checking bags a lot more painless.
Packing cubes will be my new go to packing essential.

Friday Five

[…] the library. I’ve also been reading different travel and packing blog posts like this one here and looking to buy one of those weird pocket scarf thingies. Are those even […]


I always bring a large, soft, regular scarf. It works as a blanket on cold planes, a pillow on a train or bus, an appropriate cover for shoulders or legs when visiting religious buildings in summer and a cushion for my camera in the bottom of my day pack. Its second only to my packing cubes. 🙂


I don’t leave home without cordless earbuds-Jaybirds have been great. Guaranteed for life if stop working. Also an audible books-audible.com is great or local libraries have on-line systems to download books. Also take a wall plug extender that takes more than one USB plug in. Never enough electrical outlets in hotels to recharge.


Thanks for the tips, love the travel scarf, looks and functionality at its best. I always take a pair of Smart Wool socks and a beanie with me on long flights (8+ hours) to keep my feet and head warm.

Traci Grogin

I absolutely adore my Flight 001 packing cubes (spendy but with a way cool double-sided feature for dirties) but my favorite is their seatpak. It is small but has many pockets and holds my phone, charger, cords, chaptstick, eyemask, earplugs, pens for customs forms, lotion, face wipes, etc. I just take it out of my carry on, toss it in the seatback pocket of the plane and I never have to jostle my neighbor to get my carry on out from under our feet. It’s a bright color, so no danger of leaving it behind and I don’t have to reach into the icky seatback pocket to get things that fall down in there. Ugh. I love it! http://www.flight001.com/in-flight-comfort/seat-pak.html


Thanks for the tips, one thing that drives me crazy at the (UK) airport security is that I need my inhalers that count as liquids, on me all the time on the flight plus ear plugs, travel sickness bands etc. But having to take them in and out of the ‘liquids bag’ which then has to be stuffed back into the case and then sometimes I have to put my handbag also into the case because there’s no more luggage room on the plane means I am lumbered with all that in my hands which makes life difficult and stressful- any tips for a better plan?


I wasn’t convinced about the packing cubes until I got a set. They can hold SO much. This is one purchase that I do not regret.


Thanks for the tips, I agree about the packing cubes. I have always been a great packer but they help in ways I didn’t think possible.
One of my NOT TO FORGET is a 6 way power strip. You never have enough outlets!


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