I Can Not Travel Without… (Volume 1)

I sometimes get emails asking about products I travel with.  I never really think too much when packing my suitcase or backpack for another trip, but I guess compared to some travelers, I probably travel with some unconventional products and things.  While I have my reasons for each, most of my readers will probably laugh at some (laugh away…some of them are kind of funny and weird).  My packing, of course, depends on where I’m going.  Here are some of the products I currently have with me in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan:

1)  Coconut Oil

Okay, there is nothing strange about this.  Coconut oil is the most practical and versatile resource on the planet.  Well, one of them, anyways.  On my last trip to Central America, I did not have the need to pack coconut oil because I could purchase loads of it there, and for dirt cheap (which I did).  But here in Central Asia, this product is my savior.  While a little bit goes a long way in terms of putting it in my body, my real reason for bringing it out here is to help my hair against the poor water quality.  My hair is so damaged from color that any source of oils in it can be a major help.  The air here is also super dry, so it has been a major help against static, as well.  There are a million uses for coconut oil.  This article showcases eight of those uses, all of which are ways I use this product.

Coconut oil in the United States is super cheap and can be found virtually anywhere.  In Norway, it is a bit harder to find (although all health boutiques have it) and is more expensive.  I just use this small 200g jar from Cocosa and once it runs low I melt some of the other brands I have from Central America and the US and take it with me in the same portable jar.  You can buy your own coconut oil here from iHerb.com if you live abroad, or you can purchase anywhere in the United States.

2)  Bitters

When I’m in my normal routine in Norway, I eat no meat, only fish.  I also try to eat gluten free and I do not consume dairy products.  When I travel…anything goes.  I don’t restrict what I eat for the most part.  Part of the reason is that I think food is an important part of a culture and I want to taste (almost) everything.  The other part is that trying to find places that ‘fit’ my normal regimen is a pain in the butt in most places I travel to.

Bitters is a product that aids digestion, among other things.  I tote it with me for that purpose, and that purpose alone.  I’m an avid tea drinker and I often will add some drops of this to my tea, or just lemon water, and it helps tremendously.  I’m not a big believer in pills if my ailment is something that can be suppressed with something more natural.  Bitters are natural and a great way to relieve stomach pains caused by eating something that is not part of your normal diet.  I also travel with some other things that help, like activated charcoal and chlorella (tablets, not powder), but a little bit of Bitters in my tea is the most practical solution.

The kind I have brought with me are Vermont Bitters, but my preferred type are Swedish Bitters.  You can them in the US at any Whole Foods, apothecary, or health foods shop.  For those living abroad, you can purchase them at iHerb.

3)  Workout Clothes

I don’t often work out when I travel, aside from the usual hiking or walking around a city.  But, as someone who doesn’t stay in 5-star hotels (shock, I know) because of my financial situation, I find myself sometimes in a crappy shower situation.  Therefore, if in a city (which usually I am because I don’t like remote villages), I will locate the nearest gym, buy a day pass, and pretend like I’m a workout addict.  I go and piss around for an hour (sometimes I really work out though), and then take a nice, hot, clean shower at the gym.  Many gyms offer free trial passes, too.  I actually booked my hostel in Astana, Kazakhstan right over top of a luxury gym as a ‘just-in-case’ measure.  Fortunately, the shower situation in my hostel was great, so I didn’t have to go and pretend to work out for an hour.  In addition to packing workout clothes, I always am sure to carry protein powder with me as I tend to eat very plant-based and it keeps my protein levels normal.

4)  Mophie iPhone Battery Pack

There is nothing worse than having no charge in your phone on a really long trip and missing out on those Facebook and Instagram opportunities as a result.  But on a more serious note, we live in a digital age and I can’t remember the last time I used a map as anything but a decoration.  I use my iPhone for everything and when I arrive to a location fresh off the train or plane, I want to be able to find my hostel, use my translator (if needed), and be able to play some tunes.  I can’t do this if I have no battery left.

You can purchase a Mophie here.

5)  Keep Cup (and some packets of tea)

I hate using paper cups when I grab a tea or coffee to go.  So I bring a reusable cup with me wherever I go.  Hot water is always readily available in most places, so I also bring some packets of green tea with me, as well.

While I use and like Keep Cups, you can bring any cup with you when you travel.

6)  Probiotic Powder Packets

Traveling can take its toll on a person.  I don’t eat the most balanced of diets on the road as I previously mentioned, so I like to ensure I have a few packets of Probiotic powder with me in the event that I feel myself slowly getting run down or on the verge of being sick.  I will pour the contents of a packet (or half) in some water, or coconut water, and voilà!  Well, not really…but it usually helps my body fight whatever is trying to take me down.  Probiotics are also found in sauerkrauts, yogurts, and kefir.  I’m just not a fan of dairy, even when I am on the road, so I generally have to have some type of a supplement if I’m traveling and can not find dairy-free alternatives to yogurts and kefir.

You can find probiotics in capsule form in almost every drug store or health food store.  These particular packets are from Whole Foods.

7)  A Document Organizer

We probably all have some way to keep ourselves organized, but if you’re like me, things can get messy on the road.  I often find ticket stubs in shoes, SIM cards in purses, and wads of money tucked in pockets of my backpack that I didn’t even know existed.  A document organizer is a lifesaver for someone like me.  This is just a random one I bought at a book store, but I like it because it has many different pockets.  My passport fits perfectly, as do my insurance card and itineraries.  I always keep a little extra money of my home currency (Norwegian Kroner) so I have a little once I return home for that expensive airport train ticket back into the city.  I carry around some USD, too, as well as passport photos, and SIM cards from like twelve different countries.  Knowing where all of my important things are is a refreshing feeling for me.  Because I usually don’t know where any of my lipsticks, sunglasses, or headphones are.


As mentioned earlier, what I bring with me often depends on where I’m traveling to…but these are some of the things I find necessary for me personally.  I will continue to do posts like this throughout the year if I discover new travel necessities or things that make traveling more efficient for me!

So, please share with me…what are some of your travel necessities?  Regardless of how conventional or how quirky they may be… :)

Comments (15)

I travel to Norway frequently. Besides your iPhone juice pack:

Small Norwegian change to tip the barista at that first, blessed coffee kiosk in the Oslo Flyplass domestic departure terminal, just outside of security….splenda…..a small toiletry bag with added underwear and fresh socks after a long overnight flight….alcohol for my cousins….220-volt charge cables for my iPhone and laptop (a bit expensive outlay at first, but better than hauling clunky converters that break or burn out.

I love lists like this :) Coconut oil is genius!

When we travel we don’t travel light any more. When we fly anywhere I bring a full change of clothes for each of the kids and a clean shirt for the adults in our carry on. I have a big bag that I put all of the kids’ special stuffed animals and blankets, it is big and bulky, but keeping the kids happy is a priority. I always have snacks with us, as many as I can carry with us. We haven’t traveled yet with all 4 kiddos, but we are getting ready to do our first trip in February. I miss the days of being able to travel light. I love reading your posts of all the adventurous places you go.

you seem really organized. i’m very frugal in that department. but one of the things I always do is bring 2 pairs of shoes and 1 birkenstock only. no more than that for feet attire.

Alex @ ifs ands & butts

These are certainly some unique ones! My only essential is a rain coat and obviously camera, phone, and chargers. Everything else I just kinda go with the flow, but after my sick stint in Morocco, I’d be better off packing with the considerations that you do.

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