taking photos out the window is one of those special solo travel essentials haha

21 Important Solo Travel Essentials for Your Next Trip

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Both packing and traveling alone are skills that require practice. Trust me, nothing is more aggravating than bad luggage or overpacking on a solo trip where you’re 100% responsible for taking care of all your belongings. No one else is looking out for you here. So it’s better to be prepared than not.

To tell you the truth, I, personally, still struggle with overpacking from time to time. I know when I pack at the last minute, especially if I only conducted limited research on my destination, I always end up bringing more stuff than I need to. Always.

Has overpacking ever worked for me? Uhh, with the exception of extra socks and underwear, not really, no. To be honest, lugging around extra stuff is a hindrance rather than a help. Trust me. 

I packed so poorly on my first solo trip to Scotland that I still cringe about it. Who needs a full fluffy bathroom towel in Scotland? So, I wanted to write a guide about my favorite solo travel essentials to help you plan your packing shenanigans in advance. 

comfortable clothes are important solo travel essentials

21 Important Solo Travel Essentials

Below, I’ve listed 21 important solo travel essentials that you should consider bringing for your next trip. While other factors might impact your packing, you’ll need most, if not all of these items, regardless of the destination and time of year. 

Like I said, packing is especially important as a solo traveler, because you’re ultimately responsible for your things (don’t let solo travel anxiety get you down, though). Sure, you can ask to borrow shampoo at a hostel or grab sunscreen in the airport, but you might end of up wasting time and money. 

Let’s get started! 

barcelona's gracia neightborhood is perfect for solo travel

Anti-Theft Day Bag 

Don’t obsess over theft on your solo trip. Most people are kind and welcome tourists, especially if you’re visiting alone. In my experience, so many locals have tried to genuinely take care of me without expecting anything in return. I live by the belief that most people are good.

Still, it’s important to have a bit of protection against those few people who aren’t so nice. Pacsafe has wonderful day backpacks, as well as crossbody bags if you want a more lightweight bag. 

With Pacsafe, you won’t stress over pickpockets nearly as much. 

solo travel essentials include comfy shoes for walking around savannah

Comfortable Shoes

You’ll walk a lot on your trips. As much as fashionable shoes are cooler, you’ll want footwear that is far more practical than stylish when you’re traveling on your own. Your feet will break out in blisters or hurt a lot when wearing bad shoes. Spend the extra money if necessary.

My personal favorites are comfort brands such as Clarks shoes or Merrell shoes, but do your own research too. Everyone has different feet! 

4 days in portugal holiday in lisbon

Copy of Your Passport

Make a copy of your passport photo page. Stick this copy somewhere extra safe in your luggage for the duration of your solo travels.

While I don’t want you to feel paranoid, you still want to be prepared for “anything” as a solo traveler. Having a copy of your passport will make replacing it a million times easier. Lost passports happen. You don’t want to make an already stressful situation even worse. 

Last but not least, it doesn’t hurt to put your original documents in a passport cover to protect it from damage. 

with 2 days in quebec city, i went for afternoon tea

Credit Card with No Foreign Transaction Fees

Check that your credit card has no transaction fees. For instance, Chase’s Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cards are excellent for travel, and you also earn points that can be redeemed with any major airline, hotel, or rental car company. Win/win.

And, sure, you’ll want a debit card to take out foreign currency, but most debit cards have fees. I personally try not to go to the ATM too much. I always use my credit cards with no foreign transaction fees for larger purchases. 

Do some research to find the perfect credit card for you.

solo travel essentials include lots of sunblock

Daily Sunscreen

Sunscreen is a must on your travels. I got the literal worst sunburn in Portugal. Not to mention, I was lazy with sunscreen for most of my long seven week adventure around Central Europe. I regret any sun damage I did to my skin. 

Be proactive. Always wear strong SPF lotion on your face and reapply it. Even if it’s not hot, UV rays wreak havoc on your skin and accelerate the aging progress. Who wants to deal with that?

Furthermore, always have sunblock for your body, especially if you plan a beach vacation. You don’t want to deal with sunburn. It hurts and it’s dangerous. 

I recommend packing sunscreen ahead of time, because in some destinations the quality isn’t as good, or sunscreen is heavily overpriced for what you get. You’re better off bringing some lotion with you. 

kayaking is one of the fun things to do in auburn ny

Extra Socks and Underwear 

Ugh, we live in a world where flight delays are more and more common. Always pack extra socks and underwear in case you’re stuck in another city for a couple more days. I won’t go into detail as to why having extra underwear and socks is more important than extra leggings or tee-shirts. We don’t need toooo much TMI on this blog, right?

Unsurprisingly, those extra socks and underwear are important solo travel essentials. Can’t live without them. 

be careful with the cliffs in ireland

First Aid Kit

Accidents happen in travel. You want to take additional precautions as a solo traveler. Now, I totally get it’s frustrating to pack bandaids and anti-allergy medication, and never have to use them. Still, better safe than sorry is always my motto.

You’ll find plenty of TSA approved first aid kits to take on your travels. These first aid kits are easy to fit into your luggage, so don’t stress about them taking up too much space. 

padua's lovely streets are safe and beautiful
Solo Travel Essentials include Luggage that Can Withstand Cobblestones.

High Quality Luggage

Luggage will make or break your trip. I’m a huge advocate for spending more on luggage than anything else on this list. Good quality luggage will last a very long time. Which is well worth the hefty price tag. 

If you have money to spare, a Tumi international carry-on will be one of the best investments that you’ll ever make. Mine has lasted for nearly a decade, and is still in wonderful condition. Tumi also makes elegant backpacks that are lightweight and perfect for important items. 

Fantastic budget options also exist. Samsonite luggage is decent and not nearly as expensive.

Whatever you do, though, wisely pick your luggage to avoid massive headaches. 

solo traveling in milan on the roof

Lock

Hostels offer wonderful opportunities to connect with other travelers. Young (and the young at heart) will love the dorm-style accommodation, as well as the social common rooms and organized activities. I personally never had issues with theft in hostels, but understand my experience isn’t universal.

Therefore a lock (or two) is one of the most important solo travel essentials for people who are planning to go to hostels. You’ll feel secure knowing your luggage is safe and sound. 

there are many ways for how to treat a fear of flying

Medications 

Don’t forget any important medication. If you’re unsure of the quality of the healthcare in your destination, see a doctor ahead of time, and get any important vaccinations.

Keep prescriptions current. In most places you won’t have issues, but in case you’re questioned, having the medications in the original and labeled containers will go a long way. Of course, you’ll want to do your own research to ensure that your medication is legal to take into your destination of choice. 

Additionally, just to stress the importance of this, keep your medication in your carry-on. You’re allowed to pack medication in your checked bag, but god help you if the airline loses it or you suddenly need your pills. You’re so much better off keeping important medication with you at all times. 

fribourg's views are absolutely stunning

Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones are a blessing for a solo traveler. I know I like blocking out random noises on airplanes. I have a fear of flying, and not hearing the engines actually calms me down, even though I know it’s not rational.

Not to mention, headphones are a godsend whenever strangers try to strike up conversations, and you don’t want to talk. You don’t necessarily need to splurge on Airpods either. A simple pair of noise-cancelling headphones will be plenty sufficient for most trips. 

Lastly, during those stressful moments (they will happen), use those headphones to unwind and listen to your favorite music.

solo travel in italy is awesome
Solo Travel Essentials Include a Smile! You are Amazing!

Packing Cubes

I’m a messy packer. After awhile on the road, my stuff sort of explodes all over my bag. It’s gross, haha. You will want to keep things organized to keep your sanity intact. 

One way to keep all your items organized is to use packing cubes on your travels. Another reason packing cubes are among the best solo travel essentials is because they help you save room in your luggage. If you love souvenirs, you definitely want to use them to your advantage. 

To reiterate, packing is a skill and packing cubes will help you fine tune your ability to pack what you need. 

put pltivice on your backpacking trail

Plug Adapter

USBs are universal, but far from universal in hotels and hostels, as well as trains and buses. Your electronic devices might not have the same plug configuration found in your home country. 

Honestly, if you have a long trip or plan to visit several countries, it’s probably easiest for you to pack a universal and worldwide plug adapter

With a universal plug adapter in your bag, you never need to worry about charging your devices overnight. You’re connected, my friend. 

solo travel essentials include relaxation time in haarlem

Portable Phone Charger

You want to keep your phone charged all day, especially when you are alone. Sure, you don’t want to aimlessly scroll social media on the trip of your dreams, but at the same time, phones are super helpful for navigation and photographs. You might even use your phone to pay for things.

Therefore have multiple portable chargers with you to keep your phone energized! Taking photos and videos drains your battery faster than you might think! 

Better safe than sorry.

go to the wineries in tri-valley

Reusable Water Bottle 

Staying hydrated is key to health. You walk a lot on your travels, so it’s important to drink lots of water. I suggest bringing a reusable water bottle with you, especially in hot and dry destinations where heat exhaustion is a very real possibility. You’ll also protect the environment without going through a million plastic bottles.

At the end of the day, you can never “overdo it” drinking too much water on your travels, in my opinion. 

Without a doubt, a reusable water bottle is one of the most important solo travel essentials.

gorgeous Alhambra photo taken with one of my solo travel essentials a sony camera

Sony Mirrorless Camera

I’m still a sucker for traditional cameras. Sure, I will also be the first person to admit that cellphone cameras have come a long way. I strictly use my cellphone camera for short videos, for example. However, if you want to practice your photography, then a quality mirrorless camera is one of my top solo travel essentials. 

On my trips, I use a Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera that I’m absolutely in love with. It’s relatively light-weight and compact, so it’s easy to carry when I’m busy exploring a new city. 

an important solo travel essential is insurance especially if you go on desert hikes

Travel Insurance 

Travel insurance is a mandatory solo travel essential. You might not think anything bad will happen to you. Until it does. You need to protect your health and finances, especially when the only person looking out for you is … well, you.

For short term travel, I personally recommend World Nomads insurance. Their policies are comprehensive and reasonably priced. Additionally, World Nomads has adventure insurance that will cover riskier sports in your destination. 

Don’t skimp to save money here. Money is replaceable. You are not. 

the library of congress is absolutely gorgeous
You Don’t Need to Go to the Library of Congress to Find a Journal.

Travel Journal

Memories of your solo trip are priceless.  I suggest bringing a small and compact travel journal with you on your adventures around the world. Travel journals will provide you with hilarious stories and life-changing experiences long after your trip has ended. 

In the digital and remote work age, when we’re overwhelmed with screen time, it’s important to take a break and reflect on our solo trips. Furthermore, thanks to bad AI writing and constant social media stimulation, I see handwriting in a journal even more valuable and relaxing in the future. So bring that travel journal with you. 

solo travel essentials include patience at the train station

Travel Pillow 

Planes, trains, and buses are efficient transportation, but not always comfortable. If you’re traveling overseas, you’ll want to ensure your own comfort, especially those of you who actually are able to sleep on planes (I’m seriously jealous).

Invest in a cozy neck pillow for those long journeys. Unfortunately, most of us cannot afford to fly business class on long haul flights, so a soft microfiber pillow is even more important when you’re trapped in a small economy class seat. Treat yourselves, solo travelers.

your phone is definitely an important solo travel essential

TSA-Approved Liquids Bag

Liquid limitations aren’t fun, but the law is the law. While things might change in the future, limitations on liquids in one’s carry-on bag are still in full effect, and you need to follow the rules if you want to fly commercial airlines.

Sure, you can shop for shampoo and conditioner overseas, but it’s always good to have TSA-approved liquids bag to take your favorite products with you. I think this is especially important for travelers who have a particular skincare regime. You don’t want acne or breakouts on your solo trip! 

solo travel in arizona is lovely
Comfortable Clothes are Among the Most Important Solo Travel Essentials.

Weather Appropriate Clothing

Know the weather in advance. I’m not saying to compulsively check the weather for months out, but have some awareness of a destinations climate and pack accordingly.

Then, roughly three days prior to your solo trip, check the weather again and make sure your clothing is comfortable. You don’t want to have to shell out extra money on basic clothes. I know I’d rather sightsee than frantically run around a department store for a rain jacket. 

a solo trip to jacksonville beach offers wonderful sunrises

I hope these 21 solo travel essentials help you plan the trip of your dreams. As always, feel free to contact me for solo travel coaching for an upcoming trip if you need additional support.