Do you remember traveling before Amazon?
I remember driving from store to store, buying one thing here and one thing there.
I went to a “travel supplies” store to buy electronic adapters and converters.
I went to a beauty supply store to buy a toiletry case.
I went to a clothing store to buy a wallet.
By the time I got home I’d wasted an entire day, and spent $20 on parking and gas.
Then, along came Amazon.
Suddenly, I had access to all of the travel products that I could ever want, at amazing prices, and thanks to Amazon Prime (life-changing!) they could be delivered to my door within two days.
Update: This post was written shortly before a major trip to Europe. Now that I’m home from that trip, I’m revising the post with a few more details and a few more favorites.
On my most recent trips to Europe (where I visited countries including Ukraine, Germany, Italy, Georgia, Armenia and Spain) my backpack was full of products that I bought on Amazon. I’ve used all of these Amazon products on previous trips and I’ve grown to love these travel essentials. These products have made traveling more comfortable, more secure and more fun – how did I live without them?
These Amazon products for travel in Europe are inexpensive, durable and insanely useful, so even budget travelers can load up on these fantastic Amazon products!
Guys, these packing cubes changed my entire life. A few years ago I came home from a vacation in Roatan, Honduras, and when I unpacked my backpack I discovered a large cockroach that had survived the overnight journey back to freezing Canada! It was horrifying!
After that I knew I needed a system to keep my bag more organized (and to make it easier to check for “hitchhikers”) so I immediately ran out and bought some packing cubes. I’ve since tried a few different packing cubes, but I’ve linked directly to the specific set that I love the most. These AmazonBasics packing cubes are lightweight and very breathable, and they have dual zippers that can be opened from either end. They keep your clothes fresh and organized, and make it super-easy to find what you’re looking for in your bag without having to dig around for hours.
I love the four sizes in the Amazon set that I’ve linked to – I use the long, narrow one for underwear, bras and socks, the small rectangle for swimwear and the large or medium one for dresses, tops and bottoms. They come in lots of different colors – I have the grey set, but you might prefer sky blue, royal blue, red or basic black.
If you’re a backpacker, you need a retractable cable lock. Period.
I’ve had my own PacSafe retractable cable lock for about ten years, and it’s still going strong. This lock consists of a strong wire cable that you can extend to its full length or retract to make a tiny loop, before locking it into the base, which opens with your chosen combination.
I’ve stayed in many hostel dorm rooms that don’t have lockers, so I rely heavily on my retractable cable lock to secure my backpack. I loop the cable through the zippers and then around a large, heavy object (usually my bed frame). The vast majority of petty thefts are crimes of opportunity, and this makes it extremely difficult for a thief to quickly dip into your bags.
I also use my cable lock when I’m traveling. For example, if I’m on an overnight train journey (like the Trans-Siberian Railway) I will lock my pack to the luggage rack or to my chair when I’m in the washroom or the dining cart. I’ve even used it to attach my own purse to my body at bus and train stations that are known pickpocket hotspots.
I am currently mourning the loss of my (previously) most favorite travel wallet, which I bought for $2 in a clearance bin at Forever 21 about eight years ago. I literally used this wallet until it developed multiple holes in the lining and I lost more than $5 in assorted foreign currency to its inner depths, never to be seen again (well, actually I finally cut up the entire wallet into pieces with scissors and extracted the loose change…).
With a big trip to Europe fast approaching I knew I needed to sort out my wallet situation, so I ordered one of these tri-fold travel wallets from Amazon. I ordered it in the color #18 Gold Bronze (which is advertised as “Chocolate” on the Canadian site, and a touch darker than the rose gold shade shown in the photo) and was very pleased with the soft metallic color of the product that arrived. I always prefer to have a light or bright travel wallet, as it’s so much easier to find in the bottom of your purse or backpack. Since Amazon carries this product in twenty-eight colors, it should be easy to find one that suits your style – in fact, I bought my mom the silver version before she went to France!
This travel wallet has some really good features. It comfortably fits a hardcover or softcover passport (dual citizens, take note!) and it has a zippered coin purse to keep your loose change safe. Although this travel wallet looks quite slim, it does have room for at least twenty bills and at least four plastic cards. Apparently you can get a boarding pass in there too, but I won’t know for sure until I test it out at the airport next week.
I bought the world’s largest travel toiletry bag. You could pack a newborn baby in here and still have room for your micellar water. You could pack a chihuahua in here and still have room for your sea salt spray. This thing is huge.
I’ll never be a minimalist traveler. I do own another travel toiletry bag (it actually came with my old Asolo backpack… rest in peace…) but it was never big enough to hold a full summer’s worth of hair care, body care and beauty products and my impressive sunscreen collection. I always had to keep my sunscreen (lotion for the face, lotion for the body and spray for the body) in a separate bag, and I found it was constantly leaking. I kept my makeup in a third bag so that it wouldn’t get crushed or squished by the larger skincare and hair care bottles.
This travel toiletry kit from Amazon is large enough to hold all of my stuff, and it has two added bonuses: lots of padding means that items in one compartment won’t be damaged by items in another compartment, and the water-resistant material means that if something leaks, it won’t be the end of the world. Side compartments can hold sharp objects like tweezers and a razor, while the provided strap means you can hang it from the bathroom door or a towel hook.
This bag comes in black, blue, purple and pink. I bought it in pink, but it was a close tie with this bright purple shade. If you’re looking for a gift for a guy who loves to travel, consider grabbing the black version for him. It’s a great unisex travel gift option.
I don’t know how I was so slow to jump on the power bank bandwagon, but ever since I bought a portable power bank I have been a happy traveler.
We’ve all been there. You woke up, got dressed, brushed your teeth and planned a full day of sightseeing… only to realize you forgot to charge your phone last night. Going phone-less isn’t a big deal, except that a smart traveler’s phone is also their camera, map and guidebook.
Enter a lightweight, slim portable power bank and phone charger. These portable charges give my iPhone 6 a full charge in very little time, and are small enough that I can sneak them inside my tiny clutch and take them out with me in the evening if I anticipate that I’ll be out dancing until dawn. They have two USB ports, so you can charge two devices at the same time. I have a rose gold charger, and I liked it so much that I bought another one, but it’s also available in several other colors.
When I was in Singapore I stayed in a hostel near Clarke Quay. It was an awesome location, but the dorm rooms left a lot to be desired. In particular, I was in the top bunk bed and none of my cables reached down to the electrical outlet below.
Enter the extra-long charging cable. Clocking in at six feet, this cable is taller than me (and thinner too… some girls just have it all…). This cable is Apple-certified, meaning it has been proven to be safe for use with your thousand-dollar phone.
Amazon makes these cables in four lengths: four inches, three feet, six feet or ten feet. I own both the three-foot (standard length) and six-foot (extra-long length) versions, but haven’t seen a need for the ten-foot cable (yet!). They’re available in black and white, and cost significantly less than Apple-branded cables from the Apple store.
If you’re not an iPhone user, you can still get inexpensive, reputable charging cables from AmazonBasics, like this USB C to USB A cable or this USB A to Micro USB cable. Read the descriptions carefully to make sure that the cable is right for your devices!
#7 – A Victorinox SwissCard
I’m the girl in the hostel who always has exactly what you need, whether that is a pocket knife, a pair of scissors, some tweezers or even a tiny little pen. Why am I so prepared? Because I never travel without my Victorinox SwissCard Lite.
No bigger than a credit card, and barely thicker than two credit cards stacked atop one another, this little device packs thirteen useful tools into something that fits easily inside your wallet, pocket or purse. There are actually two models: confusingly, the “lite” model has more functions (including its namesake flashlight) while the standard model is a bit more basic. These mini tools are insanely durable and come with a lifetime warranty. I carried my first card with me for more than ten years of travel, and only had to replace it when a bottle of suncreen exploded inside my purse and made its way into all the little nooks and crannies in the card. Everything still worked, but it was all a bit gooey!
I have personally brought my SwissCard Lite all over Europe, and can’t imagine traveling without it. I have occasionally left the card in my carry-on baggage when taking a flight in Europe, but some airports are cracking down on tools like this and it may be smart to leave it in your checked luggage when flying in Europe and beyond.
Before I planned my upcoming trip to Europe, I sat down and read ten Berlin guidebooks, cover-to-cover. Which one will I be bringing with me to Berlin? It was an easy decision: National Geographic Walking Berlin.
I don’t rely on guidebooks for information about restaurants or nightlife, because that information changes every week. Instead, I look for a guidebook that features walking tour routes, explanations of what I’ll see along the way, and hidden gems that I might not otherwise notice.
The National Geographic Walking Berlin checks all of those boxes, and it’s full of beautiful, full-color photos. The book is small and light enough to fit into my purse, so I can always have essential Berlin travel information at hand (especially when I’m out of a WiFi zone).
(Heading to Spain? I’ve also reviewed all of the best Barcelona guide books.)
My Amazon European Travel Essentials
Here you have it: all of my favorite European travel essentials from Amazon in just one photo! I don’t want you to think that I am recommending products that I haven’t tried – each and every one of the seven items listed above is something that I really own and that I am really taking with me to Europe next week.
You should definitely consider signing up for Amazon Prime if you’re the type of traveler who tends to spend the final days before the trips running around and buying travel essentials. With Amazon Prime, you can spend that time saying goodbye to your friends, getting your house ready and reading your favorite travel guide books. Since there’s no minimum order size on Amazon Prime’s two-day deliveries, you can order something as small as a tube of SPF lip balm and have it delivered straight to your door, just in time for your trip, for free.
What are your favorite Amazon travel essentials? Let me know in the comments!