What Are Your Top 5 Travel Must-Haves, Amy?

July 25, 2012 by

Amy Lynch Top 5 Travel Must Haves

Editor’s Note: We asked our writers to put together a list of their 5 travel must-haves. Now, we’re sharing all their travel-savvy wisdom with you. Check back each week to see a new list of items our writers won’t leave home without.


I travel like a five-year-old, and I mean that in the most positive way possible. I stifle a squeal at the thrill of takeoff. I can’t wait to pop in a road trip music mix. Often, I grossly under-prepare myself for whatever I might need wherever it is I’m going while citing my adventurer’s spirit as the only real tool I’ll need to get through any pinch.

Once I arrive at my destination, I walk around my new environs completely wide-eyed and astounded at everything, already half-spent from the sheer excitement of just anticipating the moment I first breathe in the air of a place I’ve never been before.

I hope I’ll never become a world-weary traveler, irritated at long lines in the terminal or offended by the brusqueness of the people on the sidewalk in whatever city or town I happen to be exploring. I hope I’ll always be awestruck by the hugeness of the world.

Although I’ve graduated over the years from a perennially-overpacked suburbanite to an under-packed, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, aspiring bon vivant (The upside of that? Fewer baggage fees!) I always rely on the same quintet of basics to get me where I’m going.

1. My moleskine journal. I bought the one pictured above just before making a life-altering move halfway across the country to a place where I knew absolutely no one. I simply packed up my whole life with the promise of a new job and hurtled it a thousand miles westward, chronicling the adventure in this little black leather-bound tome.

On trips where a laptop’s just too bulky (i.e., most of them), it’s the perfect place to record stream-of-consciousness reminders of little experiences that might otherwise be forgotten later on. By the time I’m a hundred years old, I hope my stack of Moleskines reaches the ceiling, filled with scribblings of all the adventures I’ve had. Just imagine how much fun it will be to read back over them and re-experience everything decades later…

2. My camera. I’m by no means a ‘photographer with a capital P’ — not even close — but I’m lucky enough to know a few in real life with immense visual talent. I’ve taken mental notes on the way they look through their lenses, dividing things into thirds, paying attention to light… capturing a moment instead of a scene.

I’m an introvert by nature and I respect the need for privacy even when in public, so as a result, I rarely take pictures of people when I’m traveling, unless it’s a crowded street or cafe… I more enjoy snapping tiny details I might not otherwise remember. The hinges on a door… the chip on a coffee cup… street art on the side of a building — those are the things that make a place a place. The people, I’ll remember anyway.

3. A cotton maxi dress. It doesn’t matter if these things ever go completely out of style; for all I know, maybe they already have. Whether driving, flying or just walking all day, there’s nothing more comfortable (for a woman, anyway) than a maxi dress, and although they’re seen as a summer staple, they can work in cooler weather too, with a sweater or scarf added for warmth.

Need to curl up on a plane, in a backseat or on a hostel cot for just a few minutes? One of these flowy little numbers is infinitely more cozy and versatile than jeans, and on the off chance that you need to look a bit more presentable out of respect for your hosts wherever you’re going, a long, sweet, wrinkle-proof dress does the trick every time.

4. Ballet flats. A native of Florida and resident of Texas, I’ll fully admit to being a flip flop enthusiast… but depending on where I am, sometimes ballet flats just seem more appropriate. Particularly when visiting other cultures or stopping into establishments with varying levels of formality, I’m more comfortable in these Audrey-inspired flats. Bonus: lots of them are bendable and can squeeze into the tiniest of spaces in a suitcase, and they also offer more coverage than flops, which can leave the wearer vulnerable to all manner of ickiness out there. (Exception: in tropical locations. There, flip flops and comfy cork wedges are the footwear du jour for sure.)

5. Music, music, music. On some trips, my iPod never makes its way out of my bag nor loses a smidge of its charge. On others, it provides a gorgeous soundtrack to wherever I happen to be. (Dorky confession: one of my best friends and I agreed long ago that if it weren’t completely weird to hand a cabbie a CD with U2’s “City of Blinding Lights” on it every time we found ourselves careening into a new city in a big yellow taxi and ask him/her to play it for us, we’d totally do it.)

Sometimes, there’s nothing better than having the perfect song — or a series of them — accompanying you on a journey, and other times, the natural soundscape of wherever you are is plenty all on its own.

Safe travels, friends… and happy adventuring!


Photo credit: author’s archive

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3 Comments so far

  1. Ruby T. says:

    Nicely written post. I agree about the maxi dress, so nice to be covered and comfy while looking respectable. I hope it never goes out of style!

  2. Amy Lynch says:

    Thanks Ruby! And I agree… long live the maxi dress! :)

  3. Tara says:

    Love this beautifully written post. May we all keep that 5-year-old spirit of exploration alive when we travel!

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