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Earlier this year, I embarked on my first-ever solo trip to the beautiful country of Portugal. While naturally I was fixated on creating the perfect itinerary (I landed on flying into Lisbon before taking a train down to the Algarve), as a shopping writer, I also wanted to make sure that I came into the trip prepared with all of the necessary gear that I’d need. Solo traveler or not, you always want to be ready for whatever might come your way on a trip — and I had the added challenge of making everything fit in just a carry-on and personal item.
Since I was planning on spending time in both the city and along the coast, versatility was the name of the game when it came to building my packing list. So, whether your next trip is to Portugal or another equally stunning destination, below I’ve rounded up the 12 products that I couldn’t have traveled without. From comfy sneakers to stretchy yoga pants, and even the bag that came with me from the beach to my city strolls, these essentials will keep you safe, prepared, and at ease; prices start as low as $14.
Apple AirPods (2nd Generation)
Traveling alone necessitates the perfect playlist to fuel my main character complex at all times, so my Apple AirPods were an essential companion during this trip. These small-but-mighty Bluetooth headphones can hold more than 24 hours of battery in the compact case alone, which is vital for long days taking in the sights with a constant lullaby of Lana Del Rey crooning in my ears — and right now, they’re on sale at Amazon for just under $100.
Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet
If you know me, you know how dedicated I am to my Kindle. And if I loved this device before my vacation, my status as a die-hard fan of this compact e-reader was further solidified when my Amazon Fire tablet single handedly allowed me to read five books during my 10-day trip without weighing down my suitcase. A 12-hour battery life supported relaxing days at the beach without concern of losing my entertainment before I was ready to pack up, and the device is incredibly lightweight so it hardly took up precious space in my luggage or purse. The best part? I was able to connect my Kindle to my local library account, swapping in books at will throughout my trip without a fee.
Emdmak Door Stop Alarm
Seeing as this was my first time traveling solo, safety was always at the forefront of my mind, especially when staying in a hostel in an unfamiliar city. This portable door stop alarm from Emdmak was incredibly effective at providing me with the peace of mind I needed to get a good night’s sleep each night, and was easily inserted beneath the door to keep out potential threats. And you can take my word for it, the alarm sound is incredibly jarring — a fact that I discovered when I did a test run one night.
Baggu Horizontal Zip Duck Bag
While I was packing for this trip, I knew that everything I brought along had to function in multiple roles to effectively use the limited space I had. This lightweight bag from Baggu easily rolled up into my carry-on during the first leg of my journey, but later transitioned into a beach bag, a purse, and even a shopping tote as I went through the week. This elevated tote bag is even great for cautious travelers as it boasts a zipper across the top, which leaves no space for pickpockets to reach in, and the adjustable strap is long enough to be worn as a comfortable crossbody for an added layer of safety.
Nike Air Force 1s
Comfortable sneakers are no-brainers for travel, and since I only allotted the space for three pairs of shoes in my suitcase, I needed to pack an option that was both supportive and stylish. The Nike Air Force 1s were my shoes of choice as they effortlessly elevate every outfit (even my loungewear), while still featuring impressive cushioning that evenly distributes your weight while absorbing the impact of every step. I wore these while strolling the notoriously hilly streets of Lisbon, and was eternally grateful for the undeniable support these shoes provided.
Anker Portable Charger
After failing to fully charge my AirPods ahead of my overnight flight to Lisbon, I was eternally grateful (to myself) for having the foresight to pack this portable charger along for the journey. Not only did it allow me to not miss out on a second of the carefully curated solo travel playlist that I had made for my trip, but it was especially great for keeping my phone on the grid once I landed at my destination with hours to kill before I could check into my accommodations. In fact, this slim device even holds more than two full iPhone charges worth of battery within it, and is designed with technology to support your phone battery health for impressive longevity.
SwissGear 1900 Scansmart Backpack
I have been traveling with this durable backpack for nearly 10 years now, and I can confidently say that it makes for one of the best personal items thanks to the sheer volume of space it offers, alongside its thoughtful and comfortable design. The large zippered pockets of this pack make it especially easy to access my electronics while heading through TSA, effectively limiting the stress of an otherwise chaotic experience, and the vast array of pockets on this bag makes staying organized a cinch. Plus, contoured padding at the back of the bag is incredibly comfortable to wear (even when it’s stuffed to the brim), and nearly a decade of wear speaks to the durability of this backpack.
Supergoop! Glowscreen SPF 40
Without another person to remind me to reapply my sunscreen on this trip, I needed to be extra vigilant in keeping my skincare on track, which meant it was easiest to simply build my sunscreen application into my beauty routine. This Supergoop! Glowscreen SPF not only acted as the perfect stand-alone product for glowy, sunkissed skin, but it also effectively warded off sunburn throughout the duration of my trip — even when I wasn’t reapplying as frequently as I should have been. I like to travel with as minimal of a makeup line-up as possible, and this product replaced my foundation thanks to the healthy sheen it offered.
Offline by Aerie Real Me Xtra Bootcut Leggings
A classic pair of yoga pants will never go out of style in my eyes, and these simple and stretchy Aerie leggings were staples for me on this vacation. The stretchy waistband was perfect for travel days because I often struggle with inflammation during air travel, but the style is neutral enough that they can even be dressed up or down depending on the shoes and top that they’re paired with. I didn’t bring many pant options on this vacation due to the warmer climate, but for the chilly airport and cool evenings, these yoga pants proved to be a saving grace.
AiRunTech Waterproof Waist Pouch
One thing that I was especially worried about while traveling alone was how I was going to swim in the ocean without leaving my phone unattended on the beach. My solution? This two-pack of waterproof waist pouches from Amazon that are entirely submersible and great for keeping my phone and wallet within arms reach while I took a dip. This waterproof pouch features an adjustable strap that’s comfortable against the skin, and I even used it as my makeshift pack while embarking on a three-hour hike across the Seven Hanging Valley’s trail. Not only did this convenient pouch give me peace of mind, but I was even afforded the luxury of hands-free travel.
Ecco Women’s Yucatan Sandals
Hiking and walking were cornerstones of this vacation, but with the limited space that I had in my carry-on, I needed to be choosy with the shoes that I took along with me. These sporty Ecco sandals were perhaps one of my best choices for the trip because not only did they make for the perfect hiking shoes without packing chunky boots, but they were even cute enough to wear during the day while I was sightseeing or heading down to the beach for hours of relaxation. The adjustable straps and supportive insoles made them incredibly comfortable straight from the box, and I was grateful that blisters were the last things I had to worry about during this trip.
Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag
I have waxed poetic about my love for the Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag in the past, but it stands true that this is one of my favorite accessories for traveling — especially if I’m adventuring alone and need to be extra vigilant with my belongings. This spacious pouch is excellent for storing my passport, wallet, boarding pass, and other important documents while heading through the airport, but it’s also versatile enough to be worn as a purse during sightseeing days without worrying about the threat of theft. The adjustable strap allows it to be styled across the body or at the waist like a traditional fanny pack, and it’s even available in 14 bold and neutral colors to best match your personal style.
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