Must-Haves for Any Journey

In past posts I’ve covered my packing strategy as well as packing tips which related to my move to Vietnam. I realized though that most people won’t be traveling more than a week or two at a time so I thought I’d dedicate a post to my must-haves for any journey, whether it be one week, one month, or one year.

Of course, everyone’s “needs” are different but here’s a list of things that I consider essentials:

  • Sunglasses. Eye protection folks. It’s important.
  • Kindle. I prefer real books but when it comes to traveling, my Kindle does the trick. When I went on my 9-month Asia trip, I didn’t have an e-reader so I ended up acquiring quite a few books which were super heavy and took up a ton of precious luggage space.
  • My makeup bag. Vietnam’s super hot so I rarely wear makeup or very little makeup because it melts or sweats off basically the minute you walk out the door but when I’m traveling, a swipe of mascara along my lashes does wonders for those “I feel ugly” days. There are a few products that I consider essentials. If not for travel, than for life. I’m a believer that you only need the following things in your makeup bag:
    • Moisturizer/BB Cream – This is an absolute essential. I always put some sort of moisturizer on my face daily. I’m a big fan of BB Cream with SPF because it’s moisturizing, gives me light coverage, and has sun protection.
    • Eyelash curler – My Asian lashes grow straight down so an eyelash curler is an absolute must for me.
    • Mascara – If I’m feeling super lazy but want to put makeup on, I at the very least, curl my lashes and wear mascara. While in Hong Kong I discovered really amazing mascara from Majolica Majorca. Probably the best mascara I’ve found so far to tame stubborn Asian lashes. I got the Lash Expander Edge Meister. It changed my life. This mascara is only available in a few countries in Asia, but you can purchase on Amazon or eBay.
    • Eye shadow primer – Especially in Vietnam weather, primer is a must if you expect your makeup to last more than an hour.
    • Eye shadow – I LOVE my Smashbox 3-color palette in shutterspeed. It’s perfect for day AND night makeup.
    • Eyeliner – I’m a liquid eyeliner kind of girl since the way my eyes are shaped, nothing else will stick. I’m a huge fan of Stila‘s liquid eyeliner since the tip on the liner makes it super easy to use.
    • Lipstick – If I don’t want to put any makeup on but want to look pretty, lipstick is always a quick and easy fix.
    • Blush – I use a blush tint if I feel like I need more color on my cheeks. Most of the time I don’t use blush, but it’s good to have just in case.
    • Travel-sized brush set.
    • Travel-sized bottle of makeup remover. I’m a big fan of coconut oil as well if you’re looking for an alternative makeup remover. I use coconut oil to remove makeup, as a moisturizer, for my hair, etc. A little goes a long way so if you’re looking for some more natural products, I highly recommend it.
  • Quick dry towel. While a lot of places will provide towels, you just never know, especially traveling through Asia. They’re super compact anyways so it’s easy to stuff in your bag.
  • Water bottle. While you can buy plastic water bottles anywhere, I try to be as sustainable as possible. I usually buy a large bottle of water and dump water into my 500 ml water bottle since it’s easier to carry around.
  • Headlamp. You may laugh at this item, but my headlamp is an absolute essential. I always use my headlamp as a reading light when I’m on buses, trains, and hostels. I use it to look in my bag when it’s too dark. I use it to light dark areas if it’s too dark to see. Yeah your phone has a light on it but headlamp lights are stronger and they don’t drain precious smartphone battery.
  • Pocket knife. Every time I don’t have my pocket knife, I wish I had it with me. Remember to not pack it in your carry on bags though. It will get confiscated.
  • External battery charger. This is a must to charge my electronics in case I’m not in an area with any outlets.
  • Music and podcasts. I like to have enough music and podcasts for any mood and occasion. This is a great way to pass time on long bus rides.
  • Scarf and/or bandana. You can use them as sweat rags, as eye covers when you want to sleep on a bright bus, and they can keep you warm if the a/c is cranked too high.

Specific to Vietnam:

  • Insect repellant. If you’re like me, than mosquitoes love you. I’m not a fan of deet and try to avoid it when I can but I did discover an insect repellant that works and is way better for you. Anything with picardin will do. I have this brand.
  • Sunblock. You should always have sunblock regardless of being in Vietnam, but southeast Asia is a very sunny place so make sure to bring sunblock with you. Sunblock is hard to find in Asia and might have whitening chemicals in them so it’s better to get this stuff outside of Asia.


If you’re traveling with friends, and have room in your bag, it’s nice to have travel-sized games on hand just in case. I like having playing cards, Bananagrams, and the shuttlecock game on me. I’ve carried my guitar around on a few trips as well and if you’re willing to go through the hassle of lugging that around, I’ve never regretted taking my guitar with me.


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