Love to travel but have no idea what to pack? Don’t worry. I created this ultimate list of travel essentials for men based on my own travels in more than 50 countries. Read on to make packing hassle-free.
- Choose Your Ideal Travel Backpack or Luggage
- Get an Anti-Theft Day Pack
- Invest in Packing Cubes
- Gather the Essential Men’s Travel Clothing
- Choose the Right Travel Shoes
- Essential Men’s Outerwear for Travel
- Travel Toiletries List for Men
- Essential Travel Gadgets
- Travel Safety Gear for Men
- Essential Travel Accessories for Men
- What Men Need in Their Carry-On
- Things You Don’t Need to Bring
- A Final Word About Travel Essentials for Men
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Let’s admit it.
Guys tend to be a little sloppy when it comes to packing. Most of us spend 15 minutes the night before our flight, throwing a bunch of random items in a suitcase and calling it done.
In fact, the chances are that more women will read this guide than men. And then they’ll pass it on to the man in their lives to encourage them to pack better.
Is that how you got here?
No matter who you are or how you got here, this guide is going to help you pack more efficiently and effectively.
I’ve been nomadic for almost 7 years now and before that, I travelled a lot for work. In that time, I’ve taken packing from a haphazard night-before rush and turned it into a science.
Now I know exactly what constitutes a travel essential for men and what items have no place in a suitcase.
In fact, any time security opens my suitcase at the airport they look at me and say something like, “Wow. Impressive.” I nod and casually respond, “I travel full-time. It’s gotta be organised.”
In this (massive) guide, I’ll walk you through what’s in my suitcase and help you decide what should be on your travel packing list.
I also recommend my favourite travel gear, most of which is eco-friendly and vegan because I want my (and your) trips to be as earth-friendly as possible!
Read on for your guide to…
Travel Essentials for Men
Choose Your Ideal Travel Backpack or Luggage
Travel packing, and travelling itself, is so much easier if you have the right suitcase or backpack for the job. So the first step in gathering your travel essentials is to assess your luggage situation. If you already have a serviceable bag, that’s great! Save money and the environment by using what you’ve got.
If not, then it’s time to figure out which travel bag is right for you.
What Kind of Luggage Do You Need?
Luggage is a personal thing, like underwear or hats. What’s right for you might be all kinds of wrong for the next guy.
You’re going to want to pick your luggage based on a few factors, like:
- Your travel style (luxury? backpacker? or somewhere in between?)
- Your fitness level (can you wander comfortably around a city carrying your bag on your back?)
- Your destination (you’re going to want a very different bag for a trip to New York than one to Cambodia)
If you are going to be mostly roughing it, staying in hostels, visiting rural areas, or doing almost anything in Southeast Asia, then a travel backpack is your best bet. It’s much easier to hop on a bus or a tuk tuk with a backpack and you’ll thank me when you’re making your way down cobbled streets, up multiple staircases, or through packed train stations.
On the other hand, if you plan to stay in upscale hotels, travel mostly to cities, or travel for work, a hard-sided suitcase wheelie is a better choice.
If your travel style is somewhere in between, a travel bag that converts from a suitcase to a backpack gives you the best of both worlds.
I travel with a hard-sided suitcase because it protects my stuff, both from my own carelessness and the rough treatment from baggage handlers and taxi drivers. Sometimes I wish it converted to a backpack as well, but those moments are rare.
What Size of Luggage Do You Need?
Most people think that you need more room in your suitcase the longer your trip is going to be. Totally not true. I pack almost the same amount of stuff for a week on the road or for a year.
For almost all travellers, I recommend a carry-on size bag around 35–40L. This is big enough to fit in all your essentials but not so big that you’re tempted to pack a hundred unnecessary extras that will weigh you down.
Plus, carrying a carry-on means you’re out of the airport faster than all those other fools who checked their bag (plus you saved some essential cash for beer).
The Travel Luggage We Recommend
I’m pretty rough on my gear, so I carry the Haupttstadtkoffer Alex 20, a durable hard-sided suitcase. It took me years of experimenting to find it and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
The best part is that when the wheels or handle breaks (as they inevitably do on wheelie luggage — especially if you’re a full-time traveller) I can order replacement parts from the manufacturer that are super easy to install. Because of that, this suitcase has lasted me far longer than any other piece of luggage I’ve owned before. Seriously.
If I had to trade it in, I would get the same suitcase Jane has. It’s the Standard Luggage convertible suitcase which is a soft-sided suitcase that quickly converts into a backpack.
My hard-sided suitcase is great in Europe but in Asia, I’m pretty jealous when Jane can just swing her bag over her back and take off down the dusty street or easily climb the seemingly endless stairs up to our guesthouse room.
If you need to select a new travel backpack or luggage, make sure to read our complete guide to the best minimalist backpacks for travel.
Get an Anti-Theft Day Pack
Alongside your suitcase, you’re going to need a small backpack that you can load up with your carry-on essentials for the plane and use as a daypack when you’re travelling.
Since we go so many places where pickpockets roam, I covet Standard Luggage’s Anti-Theft Daypack (Jane has one and it’s great). It has an RFID pocket for your passport, a laptop sleeve, lots of zippered compartments for keeping things organized, and a hidden zipper to foil thieves. It also looks nicer than your average backpack, meaning you can carry it almost anywhere without feeling like a bum.
Invest in Packing Cubes
If you’re the type of guy who gets dressed by rummaging through your laundry basket for the least smelly option, you might not need packing cubes.
For those of us who are not barbarians, packing cubes are almost as essential to travel as money and a passport.
Without packing cubes, you waste precious exploration time trying to find your stuff amidst a jumble of toiletries, shoes, and clothes in your suitcase. Packing cubes keep all this stuff organized so it only takes seconds to locate clean socks or your sunglasses when you need them.
Packing cubes also make unpacking easy when you get to your destination. Just grab the cubes, stick them on a shelf or in a drawer, and then you’re good to go.
Packing Cubes We Recommend
Back when I first started travelling, Eagle Creek packing cubes were just about the only ones available. My early packing cubes lasted through decades of travel. Sadly, they don’t make them like they used to. My newer Eagle Creek cubes are good but not as rugged as the old ones (but they are much lighter) and I have had a couple of zippers split after a couple of years of hard use.
These days there are tons of packing cubes out there and they all look pretty much the same.
Jane just got a set from Gonex that seem to be working well for her. Most cubes these days come in sets of 5 or 6, but you realistically only need a maximum of 4 medium ones to fit all your stuff in.
Sadly, we haven’t been able to find any widely available eco-friendly packing cubes. Great business idea for a budding entrepreneur!
Gather the Essential Men’s Travel Clothing
What Should You Look for in Travel Clothes?
Trying to figure out exactly what you need and don’t need on any given trip can be a headache. After nearly 7 years of full-time travel, I’ve got my packing list pared down to the essentials. I wear every item in my suitcase on a regular basis and hardly ever find myself reaching for a piece of kit that’s not there.
When you start packing remember that every item you pack should be:
Comfortable — This is the top priority. Pants that pinch in the wrong places or shirts that leave you itchy and sweaty do not belong in your suitcase. But that doesn’t mean you just bring sweats and t-shirts either.
Stylish — Though your most comfortable clothes might be cargo shorts and old ratty t-shirts, there are lots of advantages to looking a little more presentable while travelling. The good thing is, there are plenty of men’s travel clothes that are comfortable and stylish at the same time.
Versatile — Never bring an item you can only wear for one specific occasion (unless, of course, you’re travelling to a wedding or something). Pants, shorts, and shirts should be versatile enough that they work on the street, on the beach, and for a dinner out.
Durable — Travelling is tough on clothes, so go for fabrics that won’t rip or stain easily. If you’re a bit messy, packing darker colours will help hide any BBQ sauce drips or trail dirt.
Of course, the type of trip and your travel style will make a huge difference to what you pack.
A Quick Travel Clothing Packing List
Start with these essential travel clothes:
3 or 4 quick-dry travel t-shirts — Like most guys, I wear t-shirts every day of my life. When travelling, that means I have to wash them out in the sink or shower every few days. Quick-dry shirts (these don’t have to be special tech material shirts, but shirts that simply dry quickly) make it easy to stay smelling good while you travel, and ensures they will be dry come morning.
If you’re in the market, Bluffworks makes a great anti-stink quick-dry t-shirt.
Long-sleeved button-up shirt — Sometimes a t-shirt just isn’t good enough. For these times, you need a great button-up shirt that will make you feel much more presentable and confident without sacrificing comfort. Try these ones from Bluffworks if wrinkle-free, quick-dry, and stylish sounds good to you.
2 pairs of awesome travel pants — Good travel pants for guys can be hard to find. They need to be comfortable enough to wear on the plane, durable enough for a hike or bike ride, and look good enough that they’re OK to wear out to a restaurant or bar.
I just got a pair of Kuhl Renegade Radikl Aktion pants that are perfect for rainy days out and about. They’re made with water resistant technical fabrics which makes them comfortable when I’m on my bike or out for a hike — even if it starts to rain. But, they look more like chinos than technical travel pants, so I can still wear them to dinner without feeling like a caveman.
Find out more about these and my other favourite travel pants in my post about the best men’s travel pants for your trip.
1 pair of travel shorts — If you’re going somewhere hot, you’ll definitely need a pair of shorts in your bag. You might even want to just bring one pair of pants and bring a couple of pairs of shorts. Like travel pants, travel shorts should look good enough to wear out in the evening but also be rugged enough for days on the beach.
Sweatshirt or sweater — Thick hoodies and bulky sweaters are out for travelling. They’re comfortable, yeah, but they just take up way too much space in your suitcase. Instead, bring a thin sweatshirt to layer over whatever else you’re wearing. If you get one in black with a zipper up the front, you’ll be able to wear it even on dressier occasions.
3–5 pairs no-hassle quick-dry travel underwear — For whatever reason, underwear for dudes always seems to be super thick, which means they take ages to dry and they’re not always that breathable. If you’re looking for sweat-wicking quick-dry travel underwear, check out the Ex-Officio line of breathable, quick-dry underwear. They might cost a little more but they’ll probably be your new favourite underwear.
Blazer or jacket — If you’re travelling for work or just want to up your style game at times, then a suit jacket is probably essential. While I don’t really need one in my profession as a yoga teacher, sometimes I’m tempted to carry the Bluffworks blazer, which is designed to be stuffed into the bottom of a backpack and come out looking great.
It’s also breathable, lightweight, and machine washable. If you want something slightly less formal, the Bluffworks field jacket is also very cool and totally versatile.
These are the men’s essential travel clothes we recommend
Bluffworks travel clothes — From quick-dry t-shirts and button-up shirts to wrinkle resistant pants and jackets, Bluffworks makes reliable and stylish men’s travel clothes. Pants and jackets come with hidden zippered pockets to keep your valuables safe while you travel. Also, if you need to look good on the road, invest in a Bluffworks travel suit, which is anti-wrinkle, breathable, and machine washable!
Prana and Columbia travel pants — These two make some of the most reliable men’s travel pants on the market. They are perfect for guys who want to hike, bike, rock-climb and be active when they travel. Many of their pants feature technical fabric with UPF (UV ray) protection, multi-way stretch, and zippered pockets.
Choose the Right Travel Shoes
Figuring out what shoes to pack for travel is one of the great mysteries of the universe.
Whatever travel shoes you pack, they need to cover almost every possibility, from walking miles along European city streets to hiking miles to the top of a volcano in Indonesia. It’s also nice to have a pair of shoes that will keep your feet cool in hot weather and a pair that doesn’t look terrible if you go out with friends (old or new).
After 7 years of full-time travel, I’ve settled on two essential pairs of shoes that I always need with me. Plus, I allow myself a bonus pair that is a luxury item for me.
The right travel shoes need to be:
Comfortable & worn in — This is the top priority. Don’t pack any shoes that you haven’t worn at least a half-dozen times. Getting a blister on holiday sucks. Don’t do it.
Versatile — Your main travel shoes should be ones you can wear almost anywhere without feeling like a total loser. Personally I take this to mean “no loud colours” but you be you.
Lightweight — When you’re walking more than 20,000 steps per day, every ounce counts. Lightweight shoes make things easier on your legs, ankles, and calves, while also helping you keep under those strict luggage weight limits.
These are the shoes in my suitcase
Lightweight walking shoes — If you want to go minimalist and only pack one pair of shoes, make them a pair of neutral-coloured ultra-comfortable lightweight walking shoes. I wear black Salomon XA Lite GTX shoes which they don’t make any more.
Next time I need shoes, I might try the Salomon Outbound hiking shoes which are waterproof, lightweight, and more stylish than your average trail shoe. They’re also non-leather, so no animals were harmed in their making!
Hot-weather sport sandals — My feet get hot, even in cold climates, so for Asia or hot summers anywhere, I need a pair of comfortable walking shoes that also have maximum airflow. I wear Keen Clearwater CNX which are lightweight, washable, and have enough support for city streets and medium intensity hikes.
Luxury casual shoe — My last pair of shoes is not strictly essential and if I was packing ultra-minimalist, I wouldn’t bring them. But, since I travel full-time, I give over some carry-on space to a pair of casual street shoes.
I’ve been wearing Feiyue shoes since I discovered them on a trip to Shanghai several years ago. They are comfortable, have a vintage sneaker style, are small enough to pack easily — and they are the shoes Shaolin monks wear. How cool is that? (They even make a special Shaolin all-black version!)
Essential Men’s Outerwear for Travel
Your choice of jackets really depends on where you’re going, what season you’ll be there, and how long your trip is.
On a tropical vacation, you might be able to get away with no jacket at all. For a winter trip, of course you’ll need something warm and packable.
Since I travel full time, my jackets need to cover all weather possibilities, from winter in northern Norway to wet season in Vietnam.
These are the two jackets I carry:
1. Packable insulated jacket — My North Face Thermoball jacket insulates me from the cold and is water repellent, keeping me warm and dry even in damp conditions. The jacket packs right into its own pocket, so when I’m not using it, it’s easy to stow away in my carry-on or suitcase. Plus, the insulation is synthetic, so no worries about the cruelty of down.
2. Lightweight rain jacket — When it gets really cold and wet outside, I bring out my lightweight rain jacket to add an extra layer of protection. I have the Showers Pass Men’s Elite 2.1, which is designed specifically for cycling, so is extremely waterproof and breathable. I love the under-arm zippers that give me extra breathability if I get too warm. If you’re not going cycling, try out the packable and waterproof North Face Venture 2 jacket or the Columbia Men’s Pouration jacket.
3. Ultimate travel blazer — If you’re going on a city trip, where you’ll be doing more bar crawling and less trail hiking, you can dress up your look with a blazer that’s specifically designed for travel.
The Bluffworks Gramercy Blazer is packable, machine washable, and wrinkle-resistant. It has a total of 7 inner pockets, some with zippers, some completely hidden, to keep everything safe, from your passport to your iPad (Seriously. That’s not a typo!). If you really want to step up your travel style game, you can also get the matching Gramercy pants.
Can’t be bothered reading the whole guide?
No problem! Just go to our Amazon storefront where you can pick out your travel essentials all in one place.
Travel Toiletries List for Men
Expert toiletry packing starts with the right toiletry bag. If you already have something serviceable, stick with it. But, if you’re looking for a new one, I highly recommend the Eagle-Creek Pack It Specter Tech toiletry kit. Jane got me this for Christmas about 5 years ago and it’s been the perfect addition to my suitcase.
While women tend to overpack when it comes to travel toiletries, men usually under-pack. It might be tempting to just throw your toothbrush in a bag and go. But, unless you rock an unreconstructed mountain man look, there are a few more things you’re going to need to keep feeling and looking your best while you travel.
Don’t forget the obvious stuff, like deodorant, a razor, toothpaste, floss, and a toothbrush.
Then consider packing these essential travel toiletries as well:
1. Bar soap and shampoo bar — We’re sick of the single-use plastic bottles that go along with shower soap and shampoo these days. Especially the little travel-sized ones, which are just a disaster for the environment. Instead, grab an all-natural bar of soap like Dr. Bronner’s All-One. I find that this works as soap and shampoo for me.
But if your hair needs a little extra help, grab a bar of shampoo, too. You can cut both in half and store them in a leak-proof mini tupperware container like I do. Leave the other half at home or keep it dry in your toiletry kit until you need it.
2. Lip balm with SPF — Another item a lot of guys don’t usually use, lip balm with SPF is a travel essential because during travel you’ll be exposed to a lot more sun, wind, and harsh conditions that you are at home. Dry, cracked, sunburnt lips are the perfect way to ruin your trip — so slap on that balm anytime your lips feel a bit dry.
3. Use anywhere moisturizer with SPF — Even if you don’t use moisturizer at home, travel can wreak havoc on your skin, leaving it dry and itchy. Bring a bottle of moisturizer with SPF that you can put on your face every morning and use as needed on other rough spots.
4. GoToob travel bottles — Instead of buying mini travel-sized toiletries, which are a rip-off and a waste of plastic, get a set of reusable GoToob travel bottles. These bottles are seriously dope. They never leak no matter how much I put them through.
5. Shaving oil — OK, this is probably only good for the less hairy dudes out there, like me. But, if you can’t really grow a full beard, shaving oil is genius. A small bottle will last you ages and you won’t need to carry shaving cream. How I had never heard of shaving oil before becoming a full-time traveller I don’t know.
One last note on toiletries. If you’re packing cologne, that’s fine, but dammit dudes, go easy. There’s nothing that turns people off faster than you smelling as though you’re just back from a swim in a vat of Eternity for Men.
Essential Travel Gadgets
If guys under-pack our toiletries, we also usually overpack when it comes to gadgets. What can I say? It’s a sickness!
The thing about packing too many gadgets is that they weigh a LOT. Plus, they cost a lot, meaning you’ll spend more time than is necessary worrying about people stealing your precious gear.
To prevent this, just stick to the bare essentials when it comes to travel gadgets:
- Phone & charger: Obviously the first and most important items. A good phone, set up properly, can be your compass, your map, your travel planner, your tickets, your entertainment and so much more. Don’t miss my list of essential travel apps below.
- Power adaptor: For frequent travellers or multi-continent trips, get a universal adaptor that can accept any kind of plug and be inserted into any kind of plug. If you’re just heading to a single destination, then a smaller adapter specific for that country makes more sense.
- Headphones: About a year ago I got a set of Sony noise cancelling headphones which I credit with keeping me sane while I travel. I wear them on the plane, in the airport, on busses, in crowds, and when I’m trying to get to sleep at night.
- Portable charger/power bank: Since phones are the new Leatherman (a million uses in one device), it’s pretty essential that you keep yours charged. Travel can use your battery more quickly, since you’ll be shooting videos and photos, listening to music, using maps and other apps, and probably watching videos more than normal. If you have any doubts about your phone battery’s lasting power, get a portable charger. I just got the RAVPower 18 W charger which is compact, charges super-fast and holds enough charge for two phones.
- Action camera: This is perfect for anyone who is going on an adventure and wants a video record to bring back home. I recently got the DJI Action Camera and it has transformed the way I shoot videos. The stabilization is incredible (even when I’m running it somehow manages to look smooth) and the huge wide angle is perfect for capturing all the action. It also takes a pretty great still shot when I need it to. Highly recommended!
The apps on my phone are as important as the device itself. These are my top 5 essential apps for travel:
1. Maps.me – This offline mapping app allows you to add your own pins. I add pins for my hotel, restaurants I want to visit, useful services like banks and laundry, and the must-see tourist attractions. With that done, I can confidently wander wherever I want and check back in with the map when I want to get unlost.
2. Apple Wallet or Android equivalent – Now that much of the world offers payment by tap, my Apple Wallet is an essential app. I love not having to take my real wallet out to pay for things, which greatly reduces the chances that I might lose it. Apple Wallet also stores all my travel documents (boarding passes, hotel confirmations, transport tickets) so I no longer have to keep track of a bunch of paper. Plus you can also toggle a switch within the app and use your phone to pay for public transport in many cities around the world without having to use your thumb or face to confirm the purchase.
3. Local metro app – If you’re travelling to a big city, make sure to get the local metro app. This will save you tons of time staring at the metro maps in the station trying to figure out how to get from A to B. It’ll also help you not look like a lost tourist, which reduces the chances of becoming a target for pickpockets or con artists.
4. WhatsApp – Everybody everywhere uses WhatsApp to keep in touch. Except China where you need WeChat. From contacting your Airbnb host to getting in touch with friends, WhatsApp is indispensable when travelling. Heck, it’s pretty much indispensable full stop.
5. Spotify – Remember when a thousand songs in your pocket was Earth-shattering? Now, you can bring your whole music library when travel! With apps like Spotify, you can listen to whatever, whenever, wherever. I use it every day.
Travel Safety Gear for Men
Even though guys don’t have to worry about personal safety as much as our female friends, to prevent any unpleasant experiences, you should still be aware and prepared.
Start with these travel essentials for men.
Don’t leave home without travel insurance
If you ignore all the other advice on this list, make sure you don’t ignore this one tip:
Get travel insurance.
Lots of guys have an invincibility complex but shit happens, even to the luckiest of us.
Travel insurance is a small expense (usually about a dollar or two per day) to guard against bankruptcy in case the worst comes to the worst. It certainly came in handy that time I had to have elbow surgery in Germany after a simple fall off my bike. And Jane was happy to have it when she got malaria in Laos.
The good news is, we can recommend a couple of travel insurance companies that are great — reliable, inexpensive, and trustworthy. Their plans give you coverage for delayed or lost baggage, emergency medical treatments, trip interruption and more.
Plus, they both make it super-quick and easy to sign up so you can spend your time trip planning.
World Nomads — One of the most popular brands recommended by most of the pro travel bloggers we know, World Nomads provides reliable coverage for short and long trips.
SafetyWing — A new player in the market, designed especially for people who travel frequently or for long stretches at a time. You can sign up for the monthly plan and then cancel whenever you decided to go home.
Get a quote now.
Bring a travel-size first aid kit
Chances are, you’ll never need to use your first aid kit to save a life. But it’s damn handy to have around when you get minor cuts, blisters, food poisoning, or bug bites. Of course, if you ever do need to staunch a severe wound or survive in the wilderness overnight, you’ll need to write and thank me. For food poisoning make sure you pack some activated charcoal pills in the lot. Again, thank me later.
Fact: Most travel injuries and disasters are caused by guys acting like total idiots. OK, I don’t have a study to prove it but life has taught me it’s true.
Try not to let your most testosterone-y self rule your every decision while you’re travelling. It’s A-OK to say “no thanks” to a challenge or to back down from an argument before it turns into a fight.
Also, if you’re in a foreign country and a woman who is way out of your league starts hitting on you, think twice. Some of the most common travel scams are focussed on single guys who are looking for some holiday action.
I’m not saying you should let fear be your guide but a healthy dose of caution is worth gold.
Essential Travel Accessories for Men
Refillable water bottle for every adventure
It’s almost 2020 and there is no excuse for single-use plastic water bottles in the world! Maybe carrying a refillable water bottle won’t solve the climate crisis but it can reduce your plastic consumption dramatically when you travel.
Finding a versatile and packable water bottle can be tricky though.
That’s where the MODL utility bottle comes in — it is so much more than just a water bottle. It is designed for all your adventures, from climbing dramatic peaks to enduring endless flights and everything in between.
MODL comes with a unique set of interchangeable lids and accessories, which transform it into a:
- Sport-top bottle
- Hands-free hydration pack
- Water filter
- Hand-held shower (yes, seriously!)
- And more to come…
It has an extremely tough silicone shell that folds in on itself to make it perfectly packable, is equipped with loops at either end so you can attach it to practically anything, and it opens at both ends to make cleaning super easy.
Plus, the MODL team keeps on creating — they’re currently working on new designs to expand the functionality even further.
This is a bottle you’ll love from day one and keep for a lifetime of adventures.
Sleeping well is the most important part of any trip. If you’re a light sleeper, you’ll want earplugs to drown out street noise, early morning roosters, chirping frogs, buzzing fridges and mosquitos, and babies crying next to you on the plane.
Bamboo cutlery set
Not only does having your own travel cutlery set save you from eating using bendy plastic forks, but it also prevents you having to use questionably clean cutlery at the street stall. And, of course, it’s way better for the world!
Jane and I have been carrying our To-Go Ware bamboo cutlery sets for more than 10 years now — think how many plastic forks that is!
Ergonomic eye mask
It might not be manly but trust me on this one. Usually, I can sleep pretty much anywhere but with an eye mask I can sleep literally anywhere!
Hat & sunglasses
When you travel you spend a lot more time outside than usual. A hat and sunglasses will stand between you and permanent UV damage when you travel. (Note to self: I should really get a hat.)
Leak-proof travel mug
Here’s another item to save the world and save you from having to drink coffee from a paper cup. If you’re a caffeine addict, bring a travel mug and use it every day. I love my Klean Kanteen coffee mug and have travelled with it non-stop for 7 years.
Small hand towel / handkerchief
I carry a handkerchief to use instead of paper towel. It saves trees, comes in handy to mop away sweat, and is useful in about a dozen other ways (yes, I am talking Bum Gun usage).
Travel is harder on your clothes than regular life, and you never know when a seam will split or a fabric will rip. My favourite shorts just got torn open on a rickety chair in Bali — my sewing kit has saved me from walking around with my boxers hanging out.
What Men Need in Their Carry-On
Now you’ve got all your gear together, the big question is, what goes in your carry-on to take on the plane, and what can you safely put away in your suitcase?
Here are the essentials for your carry-on luggage:
Passport & other ID — Obviously you won’t get far without this.
Earplugs — Whether your seatmate is a crying baby or a constant chatterer, earplugs are essential on the plane.
Noise-cancelling headphones — See above.
Eye mask — Flight crews always seem to turn on the lights just when you’re really falling asleep. Foil their evil plans with an eye mask.
Water bottle — Yes, even on the plane, you can say no to single-use plastic. I politely ask them to fill my water bottle when I run out.
All electronics and chargers — I never check my electronics. Baggage handlers can be rough, plus, you never know which gadget you’re going to need at 40,000 feet. Also, it’s the law now that any rechargeable battery must be in your carry-on.
Hand towel / handkerchief — Great for drying hands or mopping the sweat from your furrowed brow.
Snacks — Have you ever had a meal on the plane that was satisfying? Me neither. That’s why snacks are an essential carry-on item.
Toothbrush & toothpaste — Are you planning to meet a friend when you arrive at your destination? Brush your teeth before you meet them. They might not thank you but they also won’t recoil when you greet them.
Things You Don’t Need to Bring
Keeping your luggage light and nimble means leaving behind some of the more useless items you might be tempted to pack. Here are a few you should definitely leave at home.
Expensive clothes & shoes — Unless you’re travelling 5-star the whole way (In which case, why didn’t you get your assistant to read this post? And why don’t you sponsor our next year of travel? Email me!), expensive clothes and shoes are going to get ruined while you travel.
Either that, or you won’t take them out of the suitcase because you’re worried about them. So, just leave them at home. Instead, bring clothes that are designed to stand up to the rigours of travel.
An expensive SLR camera — Are you a photographer? Will you be doing anything with your travel photos other than sharing them on social media? If not, then you don’t need the latest SLR with six interchangeable lenses. This stuff is heavy, expensive, and a target for thieves. Leave it at home.
Laptop — Chances are you do not need your laptop when you travel. If it’s even an option, leave it at home! Having a laptop with you just adds weight to your suitcase and is an extra enticement for thieves. If you do NEED to work while you travel, or will be doing a lot of photo and video editing, then investing in a lightweight laptop is worth it.
Fancy watch — Nothing says “Hey pickpockets, come steal from this guy!”, quite like an expensive watch on your wrist. Leave the watch at home and look at your phone if you need to know the time.
A Final Word About Travel Essentials for Men
Saying that each item on this list is essential for every man and every trip just doesn’t make sense. Essentials vary widely between each person travelling and each destination visited.
For example, for me, my Tempur-Pedic Travel Pillow is completely essential. But I didn’t put it on this list, because I doubt it’s essential for most of you.
So use my suggestions above as a starting point for you own travel essentials list. Then add and subtract items to make this list your own.
We hope you’ve found this guide to men’s travel essentials useful. Our goal is to help make your next trip into a transformational journey. With the right gear in your suitcase, you’ll be ready for any opportunity that arises. If you have any questions about this list, give me a shout on email or Instagram.
♥ Happy transformational travels, Jane & Stephen
We’re not going to lie, it takes a LOT of work to create travel guides like this. But it’s easy to help us out! If you book or buy something using one of our personal links in this post, we’ll earn a small fee at no extra cost to you. Of course, we would never recommend anything we didn’t 100% believe in! Huge thanks in advance! –S&J