We asked Austin-Lehman Adventures’ travel consultant Mindy Vanderhoof what she carries in her travel bag, and why. Learn her list of must haves.

“Every trip is a little different,” says Vanderhoof, “but in this world of fast paced connectivity and limited suitcase sizes, here are five travel essentials I don’t leave home without.”

#1. iPad.  It seems you either are or aren’t on the Apple bandwagon. I am on definitely on it. The iPad has everything in a super small, completely packable package!  You can e-mail, take notes, play games, watch movies, and listen to music all from one gadget. Not to mention it takes photos and videos.  I recommend getting the WiFi 3G model so you can log in anywhere. Also, buy more memory than you think you’ll need: 16GB seems fine… until you take a bunch of video and download a bunch of apps.  Better to put forth a little more money and have the storage space. 

#2. Flip Flops.  This is probably the most low-tech, but important thing that I pack. They take up limited space, weigh practically nothing, and are great for walking around the hotel or a casual dinner. I don’t usually have much spare time when I travel, but I am always grateful to take off my ‘real’ shoes and slip on sandals.

#3. A Pashmina.  No matter where my travels take me, these multi-functional wraps come in handy. They can dress up an outfit, keep your neck warm in the cold, be worn as a shawl, or act as a make-shift picnic blanket or beach towel.  Available in so many patterns and colors, you are sure to find one that is just right for you. 

#4.  Classic Black Pants  There is nothing better for travel than a fashion classic and you can’t go wrong with a pair of casually elegant black pants. Find a pair that won’t wrinkle and you are even better off. You can stroll the boardwalk, go shopping, have a nice meal, or take in a business meeting and always look the part.

#5.  Gum.  You never know who you are going to meet or when. You can be ready for anything with a pack of minty gum. Think long flights, and airplane meals: You can pop your ears, or eat garlic without worry. Gum is an inexpensive and failsafe travel essential.

What can’t you travel without? Leave a comment below and let us know.

About the author: Mindy Vanderhoof came to the adventure travel business with more than a decade of independent travel experience and has now traveled to 41 countries. Working in the travel industry she is able to bring her knowledge, passion for travel, and background to help others experience the world. 

photo via istockphoto.com



Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".