8 Travel Essentials You Shouldn’t Leave Home Without

Alevin Chan

Alevin Chan

Last updated 30 June, 2023

From ease of packing to peace of mind, travel essentials can help enhance an overseas holiday in enjoyable ways. Here are eight travel essentials every traveller should consider bringing with them.

Travelling is an adventure that comes with its own little rituals. We all have our cherished cities, favourite itineraries, and even preferred airlines (shoutout to Starlux for making my unplanned early return home from Taipei a little more bearable) that we look forward to time and time again. 

Seasoned travellers would no doubt have come up with a list of items and things that they never leave home without. These travel essentials can truly enhance a holiday by making everything just a little better. 

Here are our eight favourite travel essentials we think every traveller should bring with them.

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1. A dedicated travel card

When travelling, it’s best to pack light, and this goes for your wallet as well. 

Most travellers will need at least three cards, a credit card for cashless spending, one as a backup, and an ATM card in case they run out of cash. But since we’re trying to declutter our wallets before we fly, what’s better than three cards? One card of course!

We’re talking about the Instarem amaze card, which is a payment card and digital wallet that lets you link up to five Mastercard debit or credit cards at once. Link your favourite credit card and a debit card, and you can use one single card to make payments and withdraw cash while in a foreign country.

There are other benefits too. When you spend overseas, your transactions are converted to SGD with no foreign transaction fees (but subject to forex spreads) which means you enjoy a tiny bit of savings. 

You can choose which of the linked cards to charge the transaction with – your selected credit card will earn its usual rewards, just like with any other retail transaction. 

If you don’t want to link any cards to your Instarem, no problem. You can also simply pay using your amaze digital wallet, which can be topped-up with any debit or credit card.


2. A data roaming plan

If you’ve ever been stuck behind long lines at the airport while fumbling with your mobile phone’s SIM card tray, you’d probably wished there was a better solution.

And of course there is, it’s called an e-SIM. Basically, it’s a digital package that contains the same information encoded on a physical SIM card that your mobile phone needs to work.

All you have to do is to purchase a plan online to receive a QR code. Scan the QR code just before you fly with your phone and the e-sim will be automatically set up and ready for use. Then, when you land at your destination, simply switch to your e-SIM for your mobile phone to automatically connect to a compatible network.

The whole process is so seamless (SIM-less, geddit?) and convenient and fast that you’ll never want to look at another SIM card tray ever again.

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3. A travel insurance plan

C’mon, you knew this was coming.

No traveller should risk going on a holiday without a proper travel insurance plan in place. Afterall, if it’s literally a small price to pay for some very important and helpful benefits, should you or your travel mates somehow end up needing them. 

There are many different providers and plans out there, so it can be confusing. The key is to right-size your travel insurance by focusing on the benefits that you think you will need the most. Trust me, choosing a travel plan will become second nature faster than you think!

Also, it’s all but guaranteed that someone somewhere is having a promo or discount, so be sure to use your favourite comparison website to stay updated on the latest deals.




4. A medical kit

You may think that packing a medical kit is a Boomer mover, and only necessary for those on long-term medication. 

Well, when you inevitably underestimate the lethality of the local cuisine (or worse, actively flirt with getting food poisoning for TikTok), and you end up in a foetal position in the middle of the night in your hotel room, you’d wish your luggage contained more than just your cute outfits.

Do yourself a favour and pack the basics – flu medicine, pain reliever, heartburn medication, and something to soothe the stomach and stop the runs – so you can hold yourself over until you can get to a GP. 

You don’t want to have to resort to going to the ER at 2am because you don’t know where else to go, especially if you don’t have travel insurance.



5. A travel water bottle

A travel water bottle is no longer just for posing subtly in the background of your Instas to signal you’re practising conscious tourism. Those rugged, large-capacity, vacuum-sealed bottles that are all the rage these days can be very useful and practical travel tools. 

Bringing a travel water bottle means you always have a source of clean water to drink when you’re out and about. Apart from that, you can also use it as an eco-friendly container for your bubble tea or pineapple slushie; as a makeshift container for keeping food warm; as or as a waterproof stash to store your valuables. 

For best results, go for something built to survive more than a knock or two, and a suitably large capacity. Options that offer water filtration or self-disinfecting capabilities might also be worth considering if you’re unsure of the safety of your water sources.

6. A travel adapter with surge protection 

If you’re bringing several devices with you, you might want to make sure you have a travel adapter with surge protection built in.

This will help avoid damage to your laptop, tablet and other electronics due to short circuits or an electrical surge. 

You’ll want to look for international travel adaptors that have passed safety certifications and come with a built-in fuse that can spare your precious devices the brunt of a bad connection.

It’s also a good idea to avoid overloading power sockets in general, so if you have multiple devices, consider bringing two travel adapters and dividing up your electronics between them.

7. Travel neck pillow

Travel neck pillows weigh practically nothing, but are invaluable in saving you from a sore neck – all too common nowadays when flying via cramped budget flights. Just be sure you’re using one in the correct position; the U is supposed to face backwards, not forwards.

In a pinch, a travel pillow can also be used as a substitute pillow in case your hotel room pillows are too flat or lumpy or just… wrong.

You may not want to grab the first one you see at the airport transit lounge, though. As we all have different body proportions, it’ll likely take some effort to find one that’s just right for you.



8. Packing cubes

Small, lightweight and versatile, packing cubes are box-shaped zippered parcels that help you organise and pack your travel items. They may not look like much, but give them a try and you’d be surprised at how useful they are.

What makes packing cubes so great is that they allow you to use your luggage space more efficiently, while helping you organise your belongings. They are also beneficial when settling in; with all your items grouped into their individual cubes, you can easily and quickly set up your room the way you want. 

Also, they can be a lifesaver if you’ve unwittingly exceeded your check-in luggage allowance. Simply transfer a cube or two into your carry-on, or just tuck them under your arm.


Read these next:
Single Trip vs Annual: Which Travel Insurance Should You Get?
Best Annual Travel Insurance Plans In Singapore
Travel Insurance Plans For Stolen/Lost Phones: Claim Up To S$2,000
Travel Insurance Policies that Cover up to S$3,000 for your Jewellery
Travel Insurance Policies that Cover up to S$2,000 for your Laptops


An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.


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