I don’t travel (business or personal) without these items – unless I forget them

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

Traveling a lot – like doing anything a lot – ends up getting us in a routine. That routine involves having some must-have items and some leave-behind items.

Here is my list of must-have items for when I travel:

The Otter iPhone case

Otter iPhone case

Certainly this iPhone case should always be on my iPhone-whether I’m traveling or not, but especially when I’m traveling it’s important to have it in place. It’s saved my phone from being severely damaged when dropping it while getting off a plane. It’s also proven to protect the phone from water damage-you can probably guess where I’ve dropped the phone before.


Insoles I can’t stand when my feet hurt from walking a lot or standing a lot. At one point my wife suggested I get insoles so I did and today I basically won’t wear shoes without them. About to give a keynote or stand around at a conference and looking to wear a new pair of shoes, I’ll go right over to Amazon to make sure I insert these guys. They’ve really made things more enjoyable.

Sleep mask

Sleep mask

I always have a couple of these in my backpack. Modeled here by my daughter, I can’t offer you a link to this one specifically as I have a number from international American Airlines business class flights in my bag. I use these on all kinds of flight including within the United States-especially late at night.

Neck pillow

Neck pillow

I’ve always bought my neck pillows at the airport as kind of a last-minute decision buy, so I don’t know if they’re cheaper online or not. But neck pillows do make sleeping easier when there are no lie down seats – in my opinion. So I always take one.

Portable Chargers

Portable charger I currently carry two portable chargers with me when I travel. The one above and one I received from Adobe as a gift at Advertising Week 2017 in New York City. The Adobe one even recharges with solar power.

A backpack with lots of pockets

The one I currently travel with was also a gift from Adobe and I never thought I would love that many pockets. There are different sizes for passports, charging cables, portable chargers, the laptop and clothes. I would highly recommend something like that.


I likely will never complain about crying babies on airplanes because I always have my headphones in anyways. I’m still an iPhone headphone kind of guy and still use those white Apple headphones. One time I forgot a pair and ended up having to buy one at the airport, which of course was outrageously expensive. Lesson learned. I try to keep the extra pair in one of those many pockets of my backpack now.

More than one credit card

With all the traveling I do it’s surprisingly rare that a credit card gets declined because the bank thought it was somebody else using it but it has happened. I was in New York City making a purchase and it was declined because they thought it was a fraudulent transaction.

As I’ve written about before it’s also still good to have some cash-especially when traveling in foreign countries-on hand.

Flightview app

This app is fantastic to track where my incoming plane is and when I see that something starts to be delayed I start looking for alternatives on Google Flights to make it where I’m going quickly.

Related: The Google trips app

What I stopped taking while traveling


It’s not always possible to travel without a laptop but I leave it behind whenever I can and try to substitute what I need it for with apps on my iPhone. Some of those business-related apps include:

  • WordPress
  • Chartbeat
  • Google Analytics (Related: The easiest way to check metrics)
  • Email
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook Pages
  • Basecamp
  • Google Slides and other Google apps
  • Zoom
  • Hootsuite
  • Etc.

When I’m speaking somewhere and I am using a PowerPoint I often will just send the PowerPoint ahead of time to the organizers and ask them to pull the deck up for me. When heading to a client site I sometimes do the same thing as it actually cuts down on us trying to figure out how to hook up my laptop to their projector and give them a chance to see the PowerPoint before I get on-site.

Related: How to present without PowerPoint

Too many clothes

I pack as few clothes as possible. If I’m going somewhere I have to wear a suit I might even wear that on the plane to save on luggage space. And by luggage space I mean carry-on space because I typically don’t check luggage.

I used to fly with my passport even when flying domestically but I’ve stop doing that so I don’t lose it before my next international trip. When I am flying with my passport I always try to keep it (and my wallet) in my pocket – in case of an emergency.

I’m certain my list of must-have items on business travel will continue to evolve but this one has worked for quite a few months now so I’m happy where things are heading.

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