6 Tried-And-True Travel Amenities

Sitting at the cafe in Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Travel Amenities Worth Packing…

Most of us want to pack lighter and smarter when we travel. Of course everyone has their own comfort zone when it comes to how much to pack. But finding that sweet spot between having more options and toting less luggage often takes some trial and error.

Over time, I’ve become more selective about what goes into my suitcase. There are a lot of intriguing travel gadgets out there, but I’ve (mostly) learned to avoid too many “just in case” items that add unnecessary bulk and weight. Here are my top 6 travel amenities that provide convenience and comfort, and have earned a spot in my suitcase.

Lighted Magnifying Mirror

simplehuman lighted magnifying travel mirror. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Even the nicest hotels often have terrible lighting in the bathroom. And when they do have a makeup mirror, it’s often in an awkward spot. This little lighted travel mirror was a lifesaver on our most recent trip! While I don’t usually wear a lot of makeup while traveling, I’m nearsighted and have come to rely a magnifying mirror for what I do apply. (Hello, eyebrows!) It runs for several days on a single charge (charger can plug into USB outlet).

Dual USB Adapter

Europe adapter plug with two USB ports. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

If you’ve ever stayed in accommodations with limited electrical outlets, keeping multiple devices charged can require advance planning and complicated choreography. This was the only adapter we used on our recent trip to France and was more than up to the task. We could charge two smartphones and my laptop at the same time. (Also available for other regions/configurations.)

Hanging Toiletries Bag

EMME travel toiletries bag in rose floral print. Details at une femme d'un certain age.I’ve been a huge fan of the EMME travel toiletries bag for a few years now. I even bought one for le Monsieur, and he loves it. I was delighted when Emily let me know that they’ve added some pretty floral print options, both in the regular and petite sizes. I use the regular size (shown above, gifted) for our longer trips and the petite for short getaways. You can pre-order the floral print bags and they’ll be shipping out at the end of this month. Be sure to use code UNEFEMME for 20% off! (These bags make great gifts too.)

Silk Sleep Mask

One of my favorite travel amenities: a silk sleep mask. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I’ve found a sleep mask invaluable for catching some zzz’s on a long flight, but it also comes in handy for blocking ambient light in your hotel room or rental. (Or if you’re rooming with someone who likes to sit up late to read or work.) This silk one is comfortable, lightweight and washable, and won’t crease your skin.

Bluetooth Speaker

Wireless bluetooth speaker. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Listen to your favorite music or audio books in your accommodations with high quality audio. Runs for several hours on a charge. This speaker is about the size and weight of a tennis ball.

Travel Wrap

EMME travel wrap in Plum. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

A large travel wrap comes in handy for chilly airplane cabins and provides another layering option in a travel wardrobe. This wool-free, soft and budget-friendly wrap (gifted) is offered in both black and plum, which I’m modeling here. (Don’t forget to use code UNEFEMME for 20% off.)

What travel amenities do you rely on?

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26 Comments

  1. Marie Fritz
    August 14, 2018 / 4:17 am

    I pack almost the exact same items! I recently discovered the Trtl pillow, which is more like a neck brace, but is great for sleeping on airplanes. I now use FitKicks flexible flats to change into for overnight long hauls – they weigh nothing, fold completely flat, and are great for trotting to the bathroom because they have rubber soles but are still like a slipper. Great items! Love your blog.

  2. Meg
    August 14, 2018 / 4:30 am

    I like to bring ear plugs. The little moldable ones you can buy at the hardware store work great. I am a very light sleeper and any noise will wake me. They were a life saver on a recent stay where the hotel was hosting multiple weddings.

  3. Cosette Pathak
    August 14, 2018 / 4:33 am

    I love the bronze coloured puffer vest. Do you have a link for it?

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 14, 2018 / 6:43 am

      Hi Cosette, mine’s Uniqlo from last year, and I’m not sure if this exact color is still available. But here’s a link to this season’s colors: http://shopstyle.it/l/QqFv

      • Marie Fritz
        August 14, 2018 / 7:25 am

        I got a similar one in that color at Uniqlo.

  4. ElizabethM
    August 14, 2018 / 4:45 am

    After seeing your earlier posts on the EMME toiletries bag, I bought one and have been using it this summer. It is by far the best toiletries kit I’ve ever had. I particularly like the clear plastic zip off section for liquids. I was given a face mask and will be giving that a whirl Thursday night on my way to Paris !
    To your carryon bag list, I would add my iPad mini loaded with a good book and some podcasts downloaded. I have recent Katie Couric and Willie Geist interviews and a History Chicks segment on Marie Antoinette ready for this week’s trip.

  5. Kristen
    August 14, 2018 / 6:07 am

    I received a set of packing cubes as a gift and they have made packing much easier. I rely on them for vacation packing. My toiletries and HBAs in multiple pouches have always added an additional 10 pounds to my luggage (I am high maintenance), making transporting it stressful. I just jumped on this EMME offer and can’t wait to try it out. This set could make my poor burdened husband very happy.

    • MaryAliceAhlgren
      August 16, 2018 / 4:25 am

      I have been using travel cubes for 3 years now. They are amazing! I tell everyone about hem but many don’t believe they really work. They make packing and traveling so much easier!

  6. Cathy
    August 14, 2018 / 6:14 am

    Great suggestions! I need a new toiletries bag and will give the small EMME bag a try on my next trip.

  7. Cheryl
    August 14, 2018 / 6:33 am

    Will have to give the EMME bags a try. I’ve been using Vera Bradley makeup kits for the past 10 years, and they are just so bulky!
    By the way….the outfit you’re wearing in the top photo is my all-time favorite travel look. It’s the reason I started following your blog. Any woman who can pack that much style into a suitcase has my vote!!!

  8. Cinzia
    August 14, 2018 / 7:42 am

    Also a frequent traveler across the pond, and I agree with a lot of your picks: a small, high magnification make-up mirror, a good toiletries bag (my choices are slightly different than yours but still similar), and a sleep mask (and soft earplugs) all go with me. I actually bought the adapter after you mentioned it in earlier post. Ingenious little device!

    I also bring a good set of noise-cancelling earbuds and my Kindle, which lets me have dozens of books at my fingertips, anything from light reading for long flights to serious reference books for my travel.

    I prefer a nice cardigan or ruana/kimono to a wrap — I have very narrow, sloping shoulders and find I fuss constantly with a wrap. Too bad as I love how they look on others…

    Looking forward to packing light this fall on trips to London and Italy! I’ll be perusing your travel posts again for ideas.

  9. Julia
    August 14, 2018 / 8:32 am

    Excellent advice Susan!
    But there’s nothing more annoying than a hotel bathroom with no hooks! Grrrrrrr!

  10. Lyn
    August 14, 2018 / 9:46 am

    I take a European USB plug to charge my cell phone. The American plug-with-adaptor combo has drawbacks. It’s bulky and can become unbalanced to the point that I’ve actually had it fall out of an outlet. And if the little adaptor separates from the American plug, it can be tricky to remove by itself from those recessed outlets. My husband received an electric shock doing this. European USB plugs are about $10 from Amazon. (They also work on cruise ships, giving you extra USB outlets.) Even if you still need the adaptor for other American appliances, the extra European USB plug will still come in handy. (And have an emergency power bank in your purse. I speak from sad experience.)

  11. Lynn
    August 14, 2018 / 6:20 pm

    My amenities are pretty much the same as yours minus the makeup mirror and a different toiletries bag. Instead of the adaptor with USB’s I use a mini 220v power strip as I travel in SE Asia, Europe and South America and I feel safer with the surge protection. I just take the needed plug adaptor. Mine has 2 plugs and 4 USB slots. It is similar to this one https://www.amazon.com/Yubi-Power-Universal-Protector-Indicators/dp/B0161RKAE6/ref=br_lf_m_gdonzq7q9k6a54u_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&s=electronics
    I will have to check out that bluetooth speaker it looks lighter and smaller than the one I have.

  12. August 14, 2018 / 6:34 pm

    I love the plum colour shape of that poncho – it seems to actually have a shape – but why on earth would something polyester be “dry clean only”?

    I’d find that more cuddly than a cardigan if working in chilly venues…

  13. Jean
    August 14, 2018 / 10:11 pm

    Can the bluetooth speaker be packed in carry on or does it have to go into checked baggage? Thank you.

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 15, 2018 / 6:28 am

      I don’t see any reason it couldn’t go in a carry-on.

  14. Phyllis
    August 15, 2018 / 3:21 am

    The lighted travel mirror I use has a locking re-positionable adhesive attachment (the same type used in cell phone mounts for cars) so it can be stuck to any vertical/horizontal surface and the joystick post on the mirror moves 360 degrees – very handy! I use rechargeable batteries with it.

    • Jill Ann
      August 15, 2018 / 4:38 pm

      Phyllis, is that mirror still available? Sounds like something worth checking out.

      • Phyllis
        August 15, 2018 / 6:15 pm

        Yes, the company is Upper West Collection its their 7x magnifying mirror

  15. RebeccaNYC
    August 15, 2018 / 4:40 am

    I am a super minimalist when it comes to travel, so I travel with very few gadgets. In addition to an adaptor with a 3 way plug, my other two MUST haves is a plug in insect repeller with cartridges ready to go the first night, and a set of mesh curtains from IKEA (super light weight, but huge in size and are packed in a 9 x 11 envelope, so they take up no space). I am so allergic to the bugs in France and of course there are rarely screens in the homes we rent, so I put up the curtains and plug in the bug repeller (which I buy in France, and bring home with me, making sure I have replacement cartridges ready to go the first night). I have learned to do this over the years after spending our 6 weeks covered in bug bites. I also cover the kitchen windows with the curtains because of flys….how does anyone cook with all the flies? Makes me crazy. So that’s what I do. My other must have is not a gadget, but I always always bring some sort of craft. Sitting on the roof deck in the afternoons with a glass of rosé with some knitting is sheer pleasure.

  16. August 15, 2018 / 7:59 am

    In your last post several people talked about spider vein treatment. Do you still have to wear super-support stockings for 2 weeks after each zap? That’s what’s putting me off. Thanks!

    • Lisa B
      August 15, 2018 / 9:28 am

      Hi Noelle, I had mine done years ago and never had to wear support stockings. I think what you’re referring to is the large varicosities (bulging veins) some women develop in their legs. Sometimes they need to be surgically removed whereas spider veins, which are small broken capillaries, can be in lysed in office by a physician. When varicosities are removed I think support stockings are necessitated.
      PS I am a retired RN so some of my knowledge may be dated.

  17. Lisa King
    August 15, 2018 / 1:29 pm

    I travel with all the things you had plus the following:
    -single use packs of woolite
    -packable down jacket (can be used as a pillow and layered under a rain jacket)
    -when I’m headed to europe I always keep some euros from my last trip handy for a quick coffee between connections
    -A Pareo that can function as a scarf, swimsuit cover or a bath wrap.
    -I also always have meds, makeup, jewelry, a swimsuit, a 2 changes of clothes in my carryon – EVEN IF IM TAKING A DIRECT FLIGHT. You just never know when you’ll be separated from your baggage.

  18. Deb
    August 15, 2018 / 7:51 pm

    Bose cordless sound cancelling headphones let you travel half-way around the globe and arrive half as fatigued as you otherwise would. It’s incredible how much stress comes from all that plane noise.

    In eastern Europe, a quick dry washcloth since facial washcloths just aren’t customary in some countries. In Japan, a small hand towel in my purse since paper towels are often not offered in public restrooms.

    In Asia, packs of tissues for sniffles and bathroom use (especially in China) and Purell.

    Benadryl cream for insect bites and a couple of diuretic pills (ask your doctor for a prescription) for flight induced ankle edema.

    A flexible plastic hanger for drying sink washed clothes (it weighs next to nothing and slips in the large pocket of any suitcase).

    A slim power bank battery with built in connecting cords – it is a sad rule of life that you will run out of charge on your phone when you really need it.

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