Ease anxiety by always packing these 4 essential items

By  | 

A few years ago at 7:00 a.m. on the 4th of July, standing in my front yard with my luggage in one hand and my carry-on in the other, a pair of sunglasses atop my head and my friend’s car idling in my driveway, I nervously said to her, “What if I forgot to pack something?”

I had booked a last minute ticket to Oahu, Hawaii yesterday afternoon, and now I was about to leave to catch my plane. I packed lickity split. Nothing like rushed packing to get the anxiety train steaming.

My friend, a much older, wiser lady who always shoves all worry aside by cutting through the bullshit (especially when time is of the essence) asked me if I had four items, which she quickly listed.

Thinking quickly, I nervously replied, “Yes,” and she reassured me again in a matter-of-fact tone, “That’s all you need.  Who cares about anything else?  You’re on vacation.  And anything you forgot, you can buy when you get there.”

And that was it. Done deal. I got into the car and confidently set off on my adventure with peace of mind.

Each time I pack I remember this 19-second conversation, her reassurance (this always hushes worrying) and the calm that washed over me. I use to spend a lot of time and energy worrying about whether or not I forgot an “essential” item, especially while packing for last minute trips that require a plane ride. Something about being in the air… it feels far more permanent.


The lighter I pack, the happier I am.  And trust me, it’s been a process learning how to pack light. As long as I have choices and flexibility within my wardrobe, I’ve found that traveling with options to buy rather than packing every little thing I might need, is far more freeing.  Plus this allows room for souvenirs!

Three of the items on her recommended list may seem obvious, but the peace of mind that comes with knowing I have each one is priceless.  It’s always the obvious ones we forget.  Ammiright?  These are the essentials, unless you’re traveling to a far away land that requires several vaccinations.

Get your vaccinations first, then check these four off your list.  Please and thank you.



These days there’s not much we can’t do with our phones. Everything from rescheduling a flight, to looking up a hotel, to taking photos, to contacting the person who picking us up at the airport — it’s all we really need. Even if we forget the phone charger, odds are we can buy one when we arrive or at the airport. Or maybe this is the universe’s way of telling us to literally unplug.

Sometimes the Universe knows best.

In the end, having your phone in tow really comes down to safety and emergency precautions. And safety is always essential. If this had been 1993, my friend probably would have asked me if I had her phone number and any other important phone numbers written down because pay phones used to be every where.

Wait, let me rephrase — in 1993 I would have had all of these phone numbers memorized. No need for paper even! What has this world come to?

Usually I put my phone aside when I travel anyway. It’s there if I need it and to reassure my parents through daily updates that yes, I am still alive.



You might be thinking, for one I won’t always be traveling to a place where I need a swimsuit and two, isn’t this one of the items I can buy when I arrive?

Good points. I applaud you for being a smarty-pants.  From personal experience, allow me to give my take on it:

One, you never know when you’ll stumble across a hot tub, beach, swimming hole or an opportunity to drink wine on a yacht or cage dive with sharks.  I can’t tell you how many times in the past I’ve either wished I had my swimsuit or someone I was with wished they had theirs. Really puts a damper on the day and limits the breadth of activities.

While on a group getaway I loaned a swimsuit to my guy friend, and I was able to do so because I packed extra knowing there would probably be at least one person who didn’t think to pack this essential item. Case in point: this post.

I’ll admit, I was thinking of the ladies in our group when I packed it….

Made for a hilarious addition to the trip. It was a bikini.  Damn, he looked funny (he wore both pieces, don’t ask me why).  This being said, packing a pair of shorts you don’t mind getting wet can also do the job.

Two, buying a bathing suit isn’t all that easy or convenient, especially if you’re going somewhere that basically requires a bathing suit (ahem, Hawaii). Who wants to dedicate time to finding a store that sells swimsuits and then spend even more time trying them on when the ocean is right there within arms reach?

No. Thank. You.

They take up like a microscopic amount of space. Roll it up. Vacuum seal it. Get one that expands when put in the water (hey, that’s a pretty cool idea actually… writing that down…).

Also, can you say expensive?

So many places hike up the swimsuit prices because they’re catering to absentminded tourists. Just think what else you could spend that money on?  Like several drinks at the floating bar…at the beach…where you’ll be the only clothed person in sight.

Have I convinced you yet?

On occasion and depending on the company, forgetting to bring a swimsuit can lead to a whimsical, skinny-dipping, midnight frolic in the sea. OR you can choose to do that with a bathing suit.  It’s called: taking it off (which is deliberately adventurous, rather than accidental, but both are fun and encouraged).

Just pack it already.


Credit and Debit Card

No brainer, right?  Sure. But notice I said both, not either. They are both essential. Need I say it again: essential items are the items we forget. Do I need to bring up the garage door in Home Alone, second only to Kevin?  Hello! We always forget the essentials, especially in the flurry of packing for what should be a relaxing trip.

I feel super secure when I have both my credit and debit cards.  I’m not limited with my spending. I can get cash (always need cash). I can buy the items I forgot — and have the freedom to NOT buy the items I forgot. Sometimes less is more, and having the freedom to do so or not do so is peace of mind.


Driver’s License/ Passport 

You need one or the other to fly and to rent a car and to get into clubs and to buy a drink and to get back into the country and to prove you’re an organ donor and not a psychopath.

Well, that last one’s debatable. You could be both an organ donor and a psychopath. But why go there?


Anything not on this list? Really not essential. Forgot your pajamas? Sleep in your clothes. Or naked.  Forgot your camera? Buy a disposable one or use your phone that should be packed or savor the moments in your mind (unthinkable!).  Forgot your sunglasses? I feel like this is one of the easiest purchases to make. They even sell them in the airport.  If you do forget an essential item, it’s not the end of the world. Take a deep breath, ask for help and think of it as a chance to be resourceful and adventurous. Who knows what adventures could come from not packing an essential item?
Keep meandering,

Have an essential item you never leave without? Love to hear it! Leave a comment below. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: