I've gotten to be a savvy enough packer that before I take a trip, I write a list of what I need to bring with me to my destination. Bathing suit? Check. Something to sleep in? Got it. Bridesmaid dress? Uhhh... right over here. (Thank god I wrote that one down – true story.) All the necessary things make it on to the list.
But then there's a whole 'nother tier of "travel essentials" that are helpful to have and make your actual travel experience – the packing, the walking, the plane flights – more enjoyable. And those are the things I seem to forget every time...
Great for keeping shoes and bags scuff-free but also great for collecting dirty laundry and still-damp bathing suits at the tail end of the trip. Dusters – or any other sort of smallish cloth bag – are endlessly useful and take up negative space, almost. So pack a handful before you go.
Look, nobody wishes for rain on their hard-earned vacation. But things happen, yeah? So be ready with an umbrella so that a rainy day doesn't bring you down (or make you miss your flight). A collapsible style is key here; you still want to be able to stash it into a carry-on.
This is a trap I fall into a lot when taking business trips: I pack my daytime and evening shoes – heels, flats – but I almost always forget to bring along the sorts of slip-on moccasins I wear around at home. So when I want to, say, step downstairs to grab an early coffee, I'm the girl in sweatpants and heels, looking like a walk of shame gone wrong. Never again.
Unless you have a diaper-wearing baby in tow, wet wipes are something that usually don't make the packing list. But they're a really efficient tool to have on hand while you're away from home – especially if they're the antibacterial type. Use them to wipe down your suitcase, freshen up during a long layover, or clean your filthy shoes before you re-pack them.
I've never taken a trip where I come home with less than I left with. As tempting as it might be to squeeze that extra pair of shoes in there "just in case," it's better to leave a little room for souvenirs or whatever else makes its way back with you.
What are your always-forgotten travel must-haves?