My Favorite Travel Essentials for Women, Including Outfits, Accessories, and Gear

No matter what type of trip I’m going on, there are some travel essentials for women that I just end up reaching for again and again. You know, it’s the tried and true items that you know you can count on!

This post is actually not a big packing list for a vacation – I don’t need to tell you to pack socks and underwear! Plus, your packing list for Iceland is going to vary drastically from a packing list for Paris, which is going to be much different from a list of travel essentials for women in Morocco.

Rather, this post is all about the my absolute favorite things I wear when traveling, the accessories I turn to again and again, and the gear I always bring with me on trips. Some of these travel essentials for women, like shoes, are pretty much the same no matter where I travel, whereas some categories are a little more specific (e.g. travel essentials for cold weather, or favorite beach and pool items).

Everything on this list is something I’ve used over and over on our vacations and often in our regular, day-to-day life as well.

Without further ado, here are my 40+ traveling essentials in 9 categories, mainly for women, but also some for men and kids as well.

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Shoes

Honestly, good footwear is THE most important travel essential for women – blisters and sore feet are a BIG no-go! I’ve been on the hunt for a long time for the perfect travel sandals and sneakers, and these are my favorites! I almost exclusively wear these shoes on vacations now, becuase I can count on them to keep my feet nice and happy all day long.

White sneakers in Paris, France
Sandals in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Sandals: These are my absolute favorite sandals that I always wear in warm weather destinations. I love that they have good arch support, are nice and cushy, I’ve never gotten a blister while wearing these, and they felt amazing even straight out of the box. Really, I can’t recommend them enough – shop here.

White Sneakers: These are my favorite faux leather white sneakers and, with the sandals above, are my other main pair of travel shoes. While you should break them in before your trip (ask me how I know that…), once broken in, with their thick and comfy sole, they are a great walking shoe for long travel days – shop here.

No Show Socks: These are my favorite no show socks that I always wear with my white sneakers. No show socks have exactly one job: staying up on my foot, and these socks do the job exceptionallly well – shop here.

Dresses and Skirts

Dresses are always my #1 outfit choice if we’re traveling somewhere warm and really my favorite type of recommendation when talking about traveling essentials for women. I love that dresses keep me cool while also looking really great in photos!

These dresses are all very comfortable and easy to wear, while also being affordable.

Red dress in Fes, Morocco
Floral dress in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Red Dress: This red dress is striking and beautiful. If you want a dress with some movement and great twirl ability, this is it! It also comes in many different colors. Heads up though – this one does get wrinkly in your suitcase, so be prepared to do some ironing or steaming at your destination. Even with that extra step, I still say this dress is totally worth it – shop here.

Floral Midi Dress: I have this dress in a couple different patterns and it is probably my favorite warm weather vacation outfit – it’s soft, easy to wear, and breaths well. Bonus is that it looks really great in travel photos! I actually think I might need to purchase another print of this dress soon! I highly, highly recommend – shop here.

Blue Dress in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Blue Floral Dress: Another light and breezy dress option that is perfect any warm weather destination. I really like that this dress has a drawstring so you can tighten it enough to create a waistline, but still leave some space for a breeze (and it has pockets!) – shop here.

Casual Dress: This dress is a really great dress option that I like wearing when I want to look cool and casual. It’s definitely more low-key than the other options, but still easy to wear and looks great in photos. I wear this one a ton at home, too. Bonus – it has pockets! Shop here.

Pink Skirt in Paris, France
Red Skirt in Marrakech, Morocco

Long, Flowy Skirts: I’ve worn these long, flowy, skirts all over Morocco, in Paris, and in Iceland, and I truly love them so much. They looked absolutely fantastic in photos, have a nice, stretchy waistband, and make me feel like a pretty pretty princess. This is the nude pink skirt and this is the red skirt (and both of them have other color options!)

Cold Weather Outerwear

There are a few other cold weather recommendations in other sections (mainly the athleisure section), so this category focuses solely on two outerwear pieces that are essentials for traveling to a chilly destination.

Wool coat in Cologne, Germany
Yellow rain jacket in Dettifoss, Iceland

Wool Coat: This wool coat is both affordable and really cute, making it a great winter option for staying warm and looking good – shop here.

Yellow Rain Jacket: Before going to Iceland, I knew I wanted a yellow rain jacket for the trip because – A. It rains a lot there and B. I wanted the yellow to add some “pop” in the pictures. This jacket worked really well to keep me dry, and gave me that pop of color I wanted! Shop here.

Accessories

These accessories are generally both practical and add some extra omph to an outfit – here are my faves:

Straw Hat in Charleston, USA
Earrings in Marrakech, Morocco

Straw Hat: This straw hat is waterproof, totally compressible (you don’t have to baby it in your luggage, just smoosh it flat), and it looks great in photos. I really love this hat and have worn it all over the place – the beach, Charleston, Rio de Janeiro, Costa Rica, you name it! Shop here.

Earrings: A hot weather vacation calls for some fun earrings. I love this set of tassel rattan earrings and this pair of circle rattan earrings.

Red beanie in Colmar, France
Black tights in Colmar, France

Pom-Pom Beanie: A hat helps tremendously while staying warm – this beanie is cozy and warm, comes in a lot of different colors, and has a cute, detachable pom on top – shop here!

Black Tights: When I want a little extra warmth on a cool day when I want to wear a dress, I reach for these black tights. They are amazing – very thick and stretchy, and are very durable (they don’t get rips in them easily at all!) – shop here.

Crossbody Purse: I always bring this purse with me on trips! It’s big enough to fit any travel essentials I might need to carry with me (phone, portable charger, diabetes supplies, wallet, sunglasses), without being so huge, you know? It’s also super cute, and I’ve gotten asked about where it’s from many times. To prevent pickpocketing, I always wear this purse zipped and in front of my body – shop here.

Beauty + Toiletries

I don’t pack and use a TON of beauty supplies, but I do have some favorites I use over and over again and for sure belong on any list of travel essentials for women. Here are a few of my beauty must-haves for at home or abroad.

Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin: I have very sensitive, acne-prone skin, and so I use this facial sunscreen designed to not cause breakouts. I love this one so much that I actually use it every day, whether I’m in the sun or not! It’s lightweight and rubs into my skin smoothly – shop here. (Need some regular sunscreen? Check out my recommendation in the Beach/Pool section below!)

CosRX Blackhead Power Liquid: I use this BHA acid on my face every single day, and it’s been a miracle worker for my skin. I used to always have multiple pimples on my face, but since using CosRX, I saw an immediate, dramatic decrease in the number of zits I get. I don’t want to oversell it because not every skincare item works the same for everyone, but for me, this has been a miracle product – shop here.

Mascara: If I’m only putting on one makeup product, I will always choose mascara. I’ve repurchased this l’Oreal mascara at least a dozen times and been very happy with the way that it dramatically lengthens and separates my lashes, at a very reasonable price – shop here.

Dry Shampoo: As someone with very fine, thin hair, dry shampoo is a LIFESAVER so I don’t have to wash my hair every day (and bonus – the dry shampoo gives a lot of volume to my hair, too). This is the brand I always use – shop here.

Hairbrush: This is my very favorite brush – it’s very gentle on snarls and very inexpensive. We always have a few of these around for me and my girls – shop here.

Athleisure Clothing

Biker shorts and athletic tee in Morocco
Black leggings in Iceland – definitely one of those travel essentials for women!

Biker Shorts: I finally jumped on the biker short bandwagon and this pair is not too short, not too long, super comfy, and stays up really well – shop here.

Athletic Shirts: A great price on a set of heathered, wicking athletic shirts – perfect for a day of hiking or adventuring – shop here.

Black Leggings: These black leggings are my absolute favorite leggings of all time. They’re high-waisted and completely opaque and really stretchy and comfortable. They stay up without having to adjust all the time, and are extremely affordable. This is the only brand of leggings I wear now – shop here.

Fleece-Lined Leggings: These are the same leggings as my favorite black leggings just above, but this particular pair is fleece-lined, making it a good option for cold winter days. I wore these in Iceland and they gave a little extra warmth as we explored – shop here.

Baseball hat in Alabama, USA

Plain Baseball Hat: I often like wearing a baseball hat when I’m hiking, but I prefer hats without logos on them. This hat is comfortable, molds nicely around my head, comes in a bunch of different colors, and has zero logos – shop here.

Black Sports Bra: This bra is supportive and comfortable and has some fun crisscrossing straps in the back, exactly what you want in a sports bra. It’s cute enough to wear with a shirt or not – shop here.

General Travel Gear

This list is a catch-all for electronics, gear, and other travel essentials that will help both women and men as you travel the globe!

Microfiber towels were a must when visiting natural hot springs in Iceland
With filtered water bottles, we could drink lake water on a remote canoe trip in the Boundary Waters

Microfiber Towel: These camping towels are really great for traveling or camping, because they packs down very, very small, dry very fast, and somehow still manage to be as absorbent as a fluffy spa towel.  We got them for our Boundary Waters canoe trip but have used them for other camping trips, and brought them to Iceland and Costa Rica – they’re just all-around handy for many situations – shop here.

With a tripod, you can take couple or family pictures together easily, like here in Savannah
Or get a crisper night sky shot, in the Sahara

Tripods: We have two tripods that we regularly use: this bigger, yet compactible one and this small, bendable one. We’ve used both tripods during our trips to get photos of Matthew and I together (or the whole family together if we’re traveling with the kids). The bigger one is ideal if you want to be able to get a shot anywhere, whereas you can easily bend and adjust the legs of the smaller one to balance on uneven surfaces or wind around a pole or tree.

Tripods are really useful for photo hacks like the fake drone shot (attach your phone or camera to the tripod and hold it as high in the air as you can, while taking the picture either with the self-timer or the remote shutter), and if you want to get a night sky shot (the tripod holds the camera really still for a crisp shot – the picture above was just taken on our phone!)

Travel Adaptors: Most foreign countries use different plugs for their electrical devices, so you’ll need an adaptor to charge your gear. This set of type C adaptors is inexpensive and comes in a set of three, which is ideal if you’re traveling with another person or a few different electronics. Type C works in most of Europe, as well as many countries in Asia, Africa, and South America – shop here.

Packing cubes: These packing cubes have been so. dang. useful. A set of these comes with 8 different sized pouches that you can use to group, organize, and contain different categories of clothes. They really have become one of those essentials when travelling – I can actually find things without digging through my entire suitcase now! As someone who goes a little crazy when things aren’t organized, this has been a lifechanging women’s travel essential – shop here.

Portable Power Bank: We love this portable power bank to charge our phones as we spend a long day sightseeing (and using up all our battery on pictures!). This is absolutely a travelling necessity, as this power bank can charge our phones at least four times, is affordable, and has a digital display of how much charge is left – shop here.

Steamer: While US hotels basically always having ironing boards, I can’t count on that when traveling abroad, so I often pack this lightweight steamer to quickly get wrinkles out of clothing when traveling – shop here.

Filtered Water Bottles: These filtered water bottles are a must for any outdoor type trip (camping, canoeing, hiking, etc), where you will not have access to potable water. The water bottle has a filter in it, so you can just fill it up from any water source and drink from it straight away, with the bottle filtering the water to make it safe for drinking. This is also a great option if you’re traveling in a country where it’s not recommended to drink the water – shop here.

Hydro Flask: I LOVE our hydroflask for keeping water cold for long periods of time. We have the 40oz size with the straw lid – this is a great size and the straw lid is so convenient – shop here.

Travel Insurance

While this is less exciting than other items on this list, securing some travel insurance is absolutely a travel necessity for any international trip – you never know when something might happen, and your regular insurance generally won’t cover you overseas. Costs for a medical emergency on vacation can add up extremely fast, so it’s just better to be safe than sorry. (If covid has taught me anything, it’s that you never know what could happen!)  

I like booking insurance at Insure My Trip, as they offer a variety of plans with different coverages to choose from, so you can find the right option for you. Plus, they have great customer support if you need help before, during, or after your trip.

Check rates at Insure My Trip here!

Pool + Beach Gear

We LOVE a trip to the beach (and always make sure to get some pool time in too!) These are some of our beach and pool travel essentials, perfect for families, men, and women.

Unicorn floatie in Orange Beach, Alabama
Pool toys in Navarre Beach, Florida

Unicorn Floatie: I got this unicorn floatie for my girls (who immediately named it Sparkles, ha!), but I have to admit, I love floating in Sparkles as much as anyone! FYI, we have the big size one (the “Party Tube”), but it’s almost too big for our 4 and 6 year old to lie in it. If this is primarily for little kids, I’d go with the “Party Tube Jr” size – shop here.

Diving Toys: A trip to the pool must involve some diving toys – this set has a variety of different toys to dive for and has held up well over years of play – shop here.

Sunscreen Stick: For Matthew and the kids, we always use this convenient sunscreen stick. If you haven’t tried a sunscreen stick yet, you are in for a treat – it makes sunscreen application on your face so much easier – shop here. (If you have acne-prone skin, check out my favorite sunscreen for sensitive skin in the Beauty section, above!)

Beach cover up in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Beach Cover Up: This cover up is floral and lightweight and works great as a kimono over an outfit or a coverup on the beach – shop here.

Final Thoughts on My Favorite Travel Essentials for Women

Aaaand that concludes my best and most beloved travel essentials for women, men, and children, the traveling necessities that I don’t leave home without. These items have really made my travel easier, more comfortable, more organized, and in some cases, more fun (I’m looking at you, pretty dresses!)

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