Traveling solo can be a liberating experience, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. As well as the isolation, the costs, and the added risks, you’ve got to be able to carry your life around with you efficiently, because you’ve got no one else to help you share the load. You’ve got to think about your safety when traveling alone, as well as creature comforts too!
With all of that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of top travel luggage and accessories to make solo travel as easy as possible. But before all of that;
How to Find the Best Luggage for Solo Travel
As well as finding all the right gadgets and gizmos to make solo travel a breeze, one of the most important considerations for solo travelers is choosing the best solo travel bags.
After all, you’ll need something durable enough to withstand being on your own, while also being security-conscious and easy to transport. Here are a few things to look for when choosing the best solo travel backpacks and luggage:
A good set of wheels is essential for any piece of solo travel luggage. After all, you’ll likely be doing a lot of walking – often with your luggage in tow. Look for luggage with wheels that are durable and easy to roll.
Many carry-ons only have two wheels, but paying a bit extra to get four makes life easier. Even better, luggage makers like Tumi use durable recessed dual-spinner wheels that don’t stick out and get in the way. For long trips, I recommend their Worldwide Trip Packing Case. It has lots of room, and its wheels make it surprisingly easy to maneuver.
Solo travelers need to be extra security-conscious, so make sure your luggage has good locks. This will help to deter thieves and give you peace of mind when you’re on the road.
For example, Level8 uses combination TSA-approved locks in their Carry-On Hardside line (I freaking LOVE how these look). Level8 luggage and backpacks are well-made and surprisingly affordable. They sell out fast, so start looking early if you want one!
Other Anti Theft Considerations
For the solo traveler, a backpack is almost a necessity. You only have two hands, and you will need to walk with all your belongings a few times on your trip. For anti-theft backpacks, shop for TSA approved-locks that are easy to access even if it’s cold or raining.
Look for comfortable straps. My best backpack is the Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 Anti-Theft. It has padding to protect my laptop and a zipper inside pockets for organizing. It’s also light (when empty).
If you are big and really strong, Pacsafe has a 65-liter option with the same features. That’s way too big for my needs, but as long as you are willing to check it you will have tons of packing room.
Compartments or Organizers
It can be helpful to have multiple compartments in your luggage, as this will help you to stay organized on the go. Look for compartments that are both spacious and easily accessible. The other option is to use organizers. I love my F.A.R. Organization Cubes from Away Travel. I started with one and now I have four in different sizes.
They are made from recycled nylon and are virtually indestructible (testing courtesy of my 2-year-old daughter). Away Travel has tons of other useful (and fun) accessories for organizing your travel – give them a look.
See Related: How to Pack for a Month-Long Trip
Essential Solo Travel Luggage and Accessories
Traveling solo is so much fun! But it does take some planning. Taking the time to pack all the essentials will let you enjoy your trip more – and fewer expeditions to the local Walmart in search of something you forgot to pack. And so, I present some of the best solo travel luggage items and accessories for any adventure. Let’s start your solo travel packing list!
Best Essentials for Solo Travel
1. Money Belt
When you travel solo, you don’t have anyone to watch your bags or give you a short loan if you are robbed. Crime prevention is essential. Pickpockets and thieves are out there, so protect your cash, passport, and credit cards with an RFID money belt.
The most comfortable money belt I’ve found is the Alpha Keeper. It’s a wonderfully soft leather with nylon lining. The sleeves have RFID-blocking materials. The zipper keeps me from stuffing in too much stuff and losing documents that fall out. It’s waterproof, and Alpha Keeper offers a lifetime warranty.
See Related: Best Travel Toothbrushes | Portable Options That Work
2. Hard Shell Rolling Carry-On Suitcase
I preferred soft suitcases in my early solo trips because they allowed more room to add extras. The tragic moment was when my carry-on bag fell into a puddle, and everything was soaked.
Now I appreciate the weather-resistant hard shell suitcases. In my experience, Samsonite makes the best solo carry-on luggage. I love my Tumi International Expandable.
It has four wheels instead of the standard two, so I don’t have to twist it around to roll. It only weighs 8 pounds empty, so it’s easy to handle on my own.
3. Compression Packing Bags
Take advantage of Samsonite’s Compression Packing Bags for even more packing space. If you haven’t tried vacuum-sealing, this 12-piece set will make you a fan. There’s something addictive about watching a huge winter jacket shrink to the size of a tissue box.
You’ll be amazed by how much fits in a travel backpack and the easy access to your stuff. These lightweight bags are perfect for both checked baggage and carry-on luggage.
See Related: Best Herschel Travel Bags | Top-Rated Options
4. Cheap Plastic Bags
Next on the tips for packing light is an assortment of cheap plastic bags is mandatory for solo travelers wanting to stay organized. You can use them for dirty laundry, messy shoes, flip-flops, wet toothbrushes, and other travel essentials that defy organization (like removable backpack straps).
While the tiny ones can hold medications in their smallest sizes, the others can be used to hold chargers, toiletries, passports, and phone cards for travel.
I even use plastic bags to keep currencies separated. You don’t need anything fancier than a few Ziploc bags, or even grocery or trash bags. You can use a trash bag as a rain cover for your backpack, or even a poncho in a pinch.
See Related: How Much Liquid Can You Carry On An Airplane?
5. Stash Bag
You probably think I’m obsessed with bags, and you are right! Enter the Lovebags Stash Collection. Stash bags are perfect for leaving my backpack, luggage, and the hotel and just wandering like a tourist.
I love that the long strap makes it easy to carry as a crossbody bag. It easily holds my Yeti water bottle, a few snacks, and any shopping. When I get back, I squeeze the Lovebag into a small Ziploc. Pack small. Pack light. Pack smart.
See Related: Monos Luggage Review: Is it Worth it?
6. Filtered Water Bottle
I never leave home without a water bottle. Most hotels, hostels, and rentals offer drinking water to refill your bottle at night.
And after you navigate security, most airport restaurants will let you fill it. I like insulated bottles to keep my beverages cool and hot! For international travel, a filtered water bottle makes me feel safer about drinking the local water.
My go-to bottle for solo travel is a Kiyo UVC Water Bottle from Monos. It has a deep clean option that I like for areas where the water may not be safe.
The battery lasts a month even with daily use. Last winter, I filled it with coffee in London Heathrow, and it was still steaming when I opened it several hours later when I finally got to Los Angeles.
My Kiyo is awesome but gets heavy, so I also pack a lightweight Yonder water bottle from Yeti to carry around when I’m shopping or sightseeing.
Now for one of the top solo female travel essentials (and anyone who is afraid of hotel bathrooms like I am): flip-flops. I always pack one pair.
They are waterproof, flat, and easy to find when I root around in my backpack. They are also helpful in keeping your feet from getting dirty in the toilet or hostel floors. My faves are my rubber-soled Havaiana Slims.
They are the kings of traditional flip-flops. They have an authentic Swarovski crystal on each strap – enough to look dressed up without tempting jewelry thieves.
These sandals are so soft, it’s like walking on marshmallows, and they last forever. Or at least the three years I’ve owned them.
8. Secret Pocket Scarf
I can psych myself out about someone stealing my passport at the airport. So I’ve started hiding it in an infinity scarf with a hidden pocket. My favorite so far is the Denver scarf from Waypoint Goods.
They have several styles available, and the scarf is cozy to wear without becoming suffocatingly hot. The pocket easily holds my passport, billfold, and other valuables, so I don’t have to carry a purse, and my hands are free.
See Related: Best Winter Travel Clothes for Cold Weather
9. Solo Travel Backpack
Keep your valuable objects close and your enemies closer in this tear-proof, water-resistant practical backpack from KoPack. The double-handed anti-theft zipper on this bag will keep your belongings safe. This makes it one of the best bags for hiking and long walks.
With 17 pockets and compartments, you’ll have plenty of space to store cash, belongings, and other items. Plus, the built-in USB port allows you to recharge your phone or other devices when needed.
Most backpacks have features like the above, but what sets this backpack apart is the 4-tooth zipper of the main compartment. I love that the hidden laptop compartment in the back of this backpack stops anyone waiting in line behind me from unzipping and taking my laptop.
Plus, all the extra compartments provide extra storage. The KoPack backpack can carry a maximum of 17-inch laptops and is designed with ergonomic S-shape padded shoulder straps and a padding back design.
I’ve also recently acquired a Level8 Condor backpack which comes with many of the same specs. I haven’t had it long, so I’m not going to go into too much detail about how I feel about it just yet (I’ll save that for a future post). That said, if it’s like everything else Level8 makes, it’s probably tip-top.
10. Light Waterproof Jacket
Get ready for any outdoor adventure with a water-resistant Women’s Ventilated Arcadia Jacket from Columbia or this Men’s Glennaker Rain Jacket, also from Columbia. Whatever your travel destination, you will need a lightweight, waterproof jacket.
These jackets are made of polyester and nylon, which keeps water off and breaks the wind. They’re easy to wash – just toss them in any washing machine then let them drip dry.
Best of all is that these coats are air-permeable, so you’re not sweating to death while you wait for the rain to pass. Plus, they fold up easily into a small, compact packet.
11. Portable Power Bank
Dead electronics can be an issue for the solo traveler. There are several good pocket-sized chargers on the market. I use an Anker PowerCore 20100 because it recharges my iPhone quickly.
I can usually get 4 recharges before I have to recharge the Anker. It barely weighs anything (12.5 oz), and it’s small enough to slip into any pocket on your backpack. It comes with the cables you need and even has a lifetime warranty.
12. Feminine Products
Traveling as a female solo traveler is a damn sight harder than doing it as a man. Sorry, it just is. This is largely because women typically have to carry more things with them. Let’s dive in:
Feminine Hygiene Products
You should consider how your periods should be handled when you travel. It is difficult to find tampons in many developing countries. Even in the best-case scenarios, it can be intimidating for some to ask for personal products even in English-speaking countries, so bring what you need with you.
Reusable menstrual cups like this one from Pixie Cup can be much easier if you travel for extended durations. As long as you clean them properly, they will last for months without taking up much room.
Not all of us solo travelers want to look like an unwashed student on a gap year. I mean, what if you’re on a solo trip for business and you need to brush up before that big conference? Make sure you invest in some compact, well-made ablutions and makeup bags to carry your warpaint.
My partner really likes this toiletry case from Metro, and if I’m honest, so do I. I just don’t wear makeup. Not a lot, anyway.
See Related: Best Travel Makeup Kits to Buy
13. Medication and First Aid
A healthy traveler is a happy traveler, and this is especially important if you are traveling alone. Here are a few things to consider;
Medications and Vitamins
It’s always important to pack carefully when you’re traveling, and that includes prescriptions. If you’re planning to travel abroad, you should keep a few things in mind when packing your prescriptions, daily supplements, and vitamins.
First, make sure you have enough for the entire trip. It’s a good idea to bring along a 30-day supply, to be safe. Second, keep them in their original containers, and make sure they’re clearly labeled with your name and the medication name.
Finally, bring along a letter from your doctor describing your condition and the medication you’re taking. This will help if you need to get more medication while you’re abroad. With a little planning, packing prescription medications for international travel is easy.
The US Center for Disease Control has information about getting medicine overseas and finding pharmacies to fill prescriptions. As for you, think about getting yourself a pill organizer.
First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is an essential item to bring with you when you travel, no matter how far from home you are going. You never know when you or someone you are traveling with might need it.
A first aid kit should be packed with items like painkillers, allergy meds, bandaids, and over-the-counter medicines. Including lotion in your first aid kit is also a good idea.
This will come in handy if you get a minor burn or sunburn. By being prepared with a first aid kit, you can be sure that you are ready for anything that might come up on your trip.
14. Comfortable Sneakers
Walking is part of solo travel, so you need comfortable sneakers. I’ve always been a bargain hunter, but that doesn’t mean sacrificing quality and comfort. That’s why I love my Sketchers.
Their Go Walk line (in both men’s shoes and women’s shoes) consists of comfortable and lightweight sneakers that are perfect for walks. I’ve started using them even when I don’t travel because my feet don’t hurt at the end of the day.
I’ve worn my current pair for two years, and they still look and feel good. One last thought, break in your shoes before you travel. Start wearing them two or three weeks before you leave so that they are truly comfy and your feet have had time to adjust to the new shoes and rest.
15. Pepper Spray
Pepper spray is always a worthwhile investment when traveling, especially if you’re a solo female traveler or heading to the wilderness where you might encounter aggressive wildlife. Do note, however, that there are several restrictions that you need to be aware of regarding pepper spray and travel.
- First, pepper spray is illegal in some countries, so check for details before you pack. A Google search may give you conflicting answers, so check the country’s official travel or embassy site.
- Pepper spray is not allowed in carry-on bags (which makes total sense), so it’s best to keep it in your checked bags.
- You are also limited to a 4-ounce canister and it must have a safety lock to keep it from accidentally discharging during transport.
Despite the extra precautions required, pepper spray can be useful if you are in a dangerous situation. If you’re traveling alone, it’s particularly important to have pepper spray on hand if you need to defend yourself. Overall, pepper spray is cheap and easy to improve your safety when traveling, so it’s worth researching.
If pepper spray is not an option for your trip, hair spray is a last-ditch substitute. You’ll still want a small enough bottle that’s easy to access, but something strong enough that it will distract an attacker (or dog, or bear, or pick whatever impending threat) enough for you to run away.
I really don’t advise this unless you have no other option. You MUST aim for the eyes, and then run for it because using the bottle as a club is far less favorable.
Anywho, this little bastard from SABRE is the pepper spray I know and trust. Don’t ask me how I know to trust it.
See Related: Best Travel Safes | Portable Options for the Road
16. Cleaning Products
If you’re traveling solo for extended periods, you’ve got to consider how you’re going to stay clean, and not just on a personal level – you’ve got to keep your clothes and kit clean too! Here are a few things I make use of;
Laundry on the Go
Clothing wrinkles when packed into suitcases, and you might have no ironing tools, even if you are staying in a hostel. I like this wrinkle-releasing product for a dress and shirt.
It is constantly impressive. It’ll never replace irons, but it certainly does its job without one! It also eliminates odor and refreshes fabrics, making it suitable for hikes.
I carry the travel-size bottle of Bounce Rapid Touch-Up 3-In-1 Wrinkle Release Spray. It fits easily in my suitcase and takes care of wrinkles so fast. If my clothes start to get a bit grungy, it also is that it also eliminates odors and adds a fresh, light scent.
And (no surprise) Bounce gets rid of static. Using it is simple: spray it on dry clothes, tug and smooth with your hands, and then hang or lay flat.
Stains can strike at any time, which is why I always carry a Tide stain-remover pen with me on any travels, solo or otherwise. These things are pure magic, and if they don’t get the job done right away, just add a little warm water to the equation.
Note: I’ve had trouble getting these products through TSA, so I recommend packing them in your checked baggage.
There’s no guarantee wherever you’re staying will have shampoo or shower gel when you get there, and I’ve found that carrying these, even in checked luggage just adds tons of weight. The solution? Wet wipes! Invaluable for campers and frequent fliers alike!
You need a way to keep yourself clean so always use wipes to reduce the risk of germs. I use Wet One’s antibacterial hand wipes for my hands.
I also bring Clorox disinfectant wipes for my plane seat and the hotel bed. For tougher cleaning situations (say cleaning a dirty sink or wiping mud off my shoes) I also carry a couple of old washcloths that I don’t mind throwing away.
17. Noise-Canceling Headphones
My favorite part of solo travel is the quiet. Sometimes I may want to chat, but I want to be the one to make the decision.
So my last recommendation is (for me anyway) a most important of solo travel accessories: Noise-canceling headphones. Because shut up outside world.
Bose’s QuietComfort 45 wireless headphones are the perfect choice if you are like me and want everything – quiet, comfort, and sound. According to Bose, the headphones have tiny mics set to listen for outside noise and adjust to cancel it out.
So I can enjoy my music without the outside world’s distractions. Or I can just have pure, blissful quiet. Baby crying? Man snoring? Couple “quiet fighting”? Bose makes it all disappear into a peaceful background hum.
Sometimes I don’t want to listen to music or a book, but I still want people around me to respect my silence. So I can turn off the input and hear lovely, lovely nothing. Bliss.
Is a backpack considered a personal item or a carry-on bag?
Each airline has its own policies and regulations regarding what does and does not count as a personal item or carry shown. Typically, you can bring two bags on board (a carry-on bag and a personal item), so you don’t have to choose between your purse, laptop, and camera. You won’t have to identify which bag is which, so as long as one fits overhead and the other at your feet, you will be fine.
How do you pack a bag for solo travel?
Apply minimalist packing tips like using plastic bags to store small items like socks and underwear. This will help you save space and keep your bag more organized.
You’ll also want to pack items that are easy to mix and match, so you don’t have to overthink your outfit choices. If you are limited to one case or backpack, pack the less-needed items at the bottom and the frequently needed ones at the top.
What should a solo traveler bring?
First and foremost, depending on your destination’s climate, you’ll need something to keep you warm or cool. Even if you are packing light, a rain-proof jacket is also essential, as is at least one pair of trousers, some jeans, a couple of t-shirts, shorts, socks, and underwear. You might also need a bathing suit or a skirt if you are so inclined.
In addition, it’s a good idea to bring a few tops that can be mixed and matched with different bottoms and a hoodie. Finally, be sure to bring a good pair of shoes for walking and exploring.
How can I enjoy traveling solo?
A solo trip can be a rewarding experience. It allows you to move at your own pace, explore new places without feeling pressure to conform to someone else’s agenda, and enjoy your own company.
First, it’s important to plan ahead. This means booking hotels that cater to solo travelers, researching the best places to eat and drink, and mapping out your route. Second, don’t be afraid to smile and talk with strangers. You may be surprised how many people are happy to chat with a fellow traveler.
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