10 best travel essentials for women

I spent hours figuring out the travel essentials I’d need to take on our first backpacking trip. I wanted to pack my favourite home comforts while making my travel life a little easier, and my backpack a little lighter.

Ann walking through Meiji Jingu shrine

Needless to say, backpacker life doesn’t really allow for a 10-step skincare routine or hair tools for every occasion. Instead, it’s all about cutting down on the faff and making life as simple as possible. 

There are a few things, however, that I consider to be the very best travel essentials for women. These items will turn your usual home luxuries into travel-ready necessities, and introduce you to a smoother and more comfortable backpacking experience. 

Here’s my list of top travel essentials for women.

1. Shampoo and conditioner bars

I wish I’d known about hair bars before my first trip. Shampoo and conditioner bars are not only better for your backpack, but better for the environment, too.

Shampoo Bar

They’re lightweight, last months, and come without the plastic waste of your usual hair care duo. 

Admittedly, I don’t think shampoo and conditioner bars offer quite the same experience as the liquid versions. But if they make my bag lighter and help to save the planet, I’m all for them.

TOP TIP: Buy soapboxes to store your hair bars. This will make sure they dry out properly after each use and can be easily packed away.

I’ve linked the shampoo brand I use here, and I hope you come to like it as much as I do. Ethique also sells solid face wash and body butter if that’s down your street.

2. Face Halo

Face Halo pads are REVOLUTIONARY.

Face Halos

These clever microfibre cloths will remove all traces of makeup from your face without the help of a cleanser – just add water to the Halo and swipe across your face.

This means you won’t need to pack your usual makeup remover, saving you room (and weight) in your bag. Just follow up with a solid face wash- Ethique sells a great one.

What’s more, each cloth is reusable for around 200 wash cycles. Simply use, then pop in your next wash to clean. Eco friendly AND travel-ready, I love it. 

3. Non-greasy face sunscreen

I think we all hate the sticky, greasy feeling of suncream. And while it’s bad enough to apply to the body, it feels even worse on the face. Until now, that is.

Bondi Sands Suncream

Introducing the fragrance-free, non-greasy sunscreen from Bondi Sands. This sunscreen is SPF 50, water-resistant up to four hours, vegan, and cruelty-free. The product glides onto the face, is quick to absorb, and leaves the skin feeling moisturised – but not sticky.

It’s so important that you look after your skin every day – and sunscreen should be a part of that routine. 

4. Detangling brush

Backpacking can wreak havoc on your hair. Whether you’re swimming, running, sunbathing, diving, or even just sweating – you’re about to see a whole other side to your locks.

Detangling Hairbrush

 That’s where a detangling brush comes in handy.

I have a thick and curly head of hair that has a mind of its own. This brush, however, helps me to detangle and style it quickly. Honestly, you don’t know what you’re missing. 

The VMagic brush lets me work through my hair pain-free, whether I’ve had an extra-long travel day or spent a little too long swimming in the sea. Buy it, try it, then leave me a comment telling me how much easier it is to tackle your hair now. I’m that confident.

5. Mini hair straighteners

Without sounding too pathetic, I can’t live without my hair straighteners. I only use them on my fringe, but without them, I struggle!

Mini Hair Straighteners

 The BaByliss Nano Pro 200 Straightener is a small but powerful styling tool that will get the job done without taking up too much room in your backpack.

We all know the stigma around taking a pair of hair straighteners on a backpacking trip, but I say if they make your life easier, go for it. A mini pair will have the job covered in seconds then store away in any compartment of your bag.

It’s also worth pointing out these straighteners are multi-voltage, meaning they will work just as well anywhere around the globe.

6. Noise-cancelling earphones

This is less a top travel essential for women, and more a top travel essential for anyone who goes anywhere, ever.

Bluetooth earphones

Whether it’s a long-haul flight or a quick trip to the corner shop, you’re covered with a good pair of earphones.

I recommend these AfterShokz headphones, which work using bone conduction technology. This means you don’t actually have to place them in your ears- you’ll be able to listen to your favourite songs or podcast while remaining completely aware of everything going on around you. 

Note that the pair linked below are the mini version for women – look for the larger set if you’re a male.

7. Shower caps

This may seem like a bizarre suggestion, and I’m not saying shower caps are a travel essential for women to use on their hair. No, these are for your shoes.

Shower caps

There will be times when you’re away where you’ll need to pack up quickly to move to your next destination. Placing muddy or wet shoes into your backpack in a rush is 10/10 guaranteed to end badly when you arrive at your next hostel.

Instead, carry a pack of shower caps with you to place your dirty shoes into. This stops you from ruining everything else in your bag while moving from place to place. If you own a bag like the Osprey Fairview 70, you’ll then be able to pop your shoes into the front pouch of your backpack. Trust me on this one.

8. Padlock

Here we are with yet another one of our top travel essentials for women.


If you’re planning to stay in hostels when you travel, you’ll probably need a padlock far more than you realise. 

This padlock from BeskooHome is a four-digit combination lock that’s robust yet small and lightweight. You won’t need to mess with small keys either, which is a huge bonus. 

Padlocks are very handy to keep closeby whenever you need to lock up your belongings – you may even find them handy for securing your luggage from flight to flight.

9. Compression socks

Compression socks are very important for flights, especially long haul journeys.

Compression socks

They help to promote blood circulation and relieve swelling in the legs, in turn preventing thrombosis and varicose veins. It’s even more important to use compression socks if you’re on any kind of medication. 

Simply pop them on before any flight – you can even take them off straight after landing if you’d prefer – I know they’re not the most fashionable items. 

This kit comes with two pairs and there’s a few colours to choose from – I know, lucky you. Anyway, they’re definitely essential so just bite the bullet I say. 

10. Travel kettle

Now even I’ll admit that this might be stretching the ‘essential’ part of travel essentials for women.

Travel Kettle

However, if you’re going on a camping trip rather than taking a backpack halfway across the world, a travel kettle may just be exactly what you need.

We’ve done a full blog post on the best travel kettles, but if you’re looking for a quickfire answer, go with the Quest Compact Travel Kettle linked below. This small kettle comes with its own cups and holds enough water for two perfect cuppas.

Go on, you know you want to. Indulge with a great morning brew.

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