Travel Accessories for the Frugal

Article originally published Jan. 14, 2014

If you’re backpacking, just out of college, traveling solo, or don’t have the kind of money needed to get all the cool accessories you’ve seen on Instagram, don’t worry! Your daily needs can be met without skipping out on your Hot Chai Oat with Whip.


The # 1 thing you want to have on your person is a rechargeable portable battery. The best bang for your buck and possibly the best brand period is Anker. It lets you charge multiple devices, it’s not heavy, and the fact that your mobile will always have battery life – is a lifesaver! Don’t tie yourself down with just one specific type of charger. CHARGE ALL THE THINGS! So keep an extra charged battery inside your bag, and you’ll have a way to quickly recharge when you have some downtime.


The second thing you want to do is always use a local sim to place calls. It’s straightforward to get a sim card for your phone and BAM; you can make calls without incurring those long-distance fees. If you’re traveling to multiple countries, it is easy to lose those sims. So keep any new sims in your wallet. It’s the safest place because you won’t ever lose that item.

If you are a bit clumsy with your wallet, that’s another issue for another post. Keep in mind, in Europe, you can usually get one sim card for multiple countries. However, the rates are generally higher, and honestly, even the local 7-11 should be able to sell you a very cheap, reliable sim card. If you have an Android phone, just pop out, pop in, and make a call. 

Mini-size Me

Oh, and we can’t forget the crazy rules on carrying liquids. Gone are the days when you could bring a whole bottle of your favorite shampoo or, in my case, the correct type of hair product to do my hair in a super-humid jungle environment. Grab some re-useable bottles online, or just visit your local .99 store and buy them in person. Seriously, a whole set comes out to less than $5.00, and instead of putting them in a fancy bag, just stick them in a gallon-sized ziplock bag. Why? Little thrills, but also no spills. If an accident does happen, at least the rest of your luggage won’t smell like Dove body wash. You’re welcome, btw.

Drink up!

For me, the most overlooked item when traveling is water. When you travel, it’s no secret that your skin can get dehydrated and have you exiting the plane looking like the ghost of Christmas past. You could purchase lotions, creams, or whatever else you think you need to keep your skin glowing, or you could drink water. Yeah, crazy, right? But it really is that simple! Bring in an empty water bottle through security, fill it up at the airport and drink every hour while in flight. 

You might not realize it, but that’s precisely when your body needs that extra water! Besides, you probably don’t drink enough during the day as it is. I know, I know, the whole getting up/going to the restroom. It will bother people if you don’t sit in an aisle seat, but whatever. Your skin will thank you.

You snooze, You Lose.

Except you won’t lose out if your own bring your own blanket and pillow! For around $30, you buy your own blanket/pillow travel set. Small enough to fold and take on board with you in a carry-on. It’s worth it to bring these extras – even if you get one from the airline. I’m a mutant, and I’m always cold, so I feel frozen when the airline cranks up the air. Having that extra blanket improves my mood, and oh man, a pillow that fits my head. Trust me, you’ll arrive refreshed and really happy.

You can buy many things, but these are my go-to items when traveling, and they’ve saved me a bunch of headaches.