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When it comes to basic travel essentials most people have an idea of what to pack, and frequent travelers might not even have to think twice about it.

But the basic travel essentials you’re used to will be very different once travel picks back up again after the pandemic.

Starting to plan your travels again? Here’s a checklist of the travel essentials you’ll need to add into your existing list of basics.

Essentials for Post-Pandemic Travel

Sanitizer & Wipes

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Now a travel essential post pandemic, make sure you pack a supply of hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, and alcohol wipes to disinfect your plane seat and tray table before you settle in.

This can be packed in your carry-on, and is your first line of defence to staying healthy while traveling.

Though make sure liquids like sanitizer are within the limits – usually this has to be in containers of 100 millilitres or 100 grams or less, and all containers should fit into one transparent and re-sealable plastic bag, like a snap-lock bag.

While it’s important to sanitize your hands, keep enough of a supply with you so that you can sanitize things you touch as you travel too – this includes door and car handles, knobs, gas nozzle handles, light switches and more.

If you’re staying in commercial accommodation, wipe down all the high-touch surfaces, and try to avoid touching objects with your bare hands.

Take Pen and Paper

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Pen and paper used to be a basic almost everybody traveled with, but since the digital revolution they’ve gone out of fashion, and people instead rely on their phones.

But a pen and paper are incredibly helpful to have, especially as you’ll likely need to fill in arrivals / departure cards at the airports, sign for any credit card purchases, or write down information if your phone is out of battery.

Using public pens which have been held by hundreds of other people is a huge risk post pandemic, so it’s a very good idea to travel with your own. Make sure it’s blue or black (as most forms require this), and it’s worthwhile taking a few spare.

Make sure the pens you do travel with are properly capped, or store them in a pencil case of some sort, as pens do have the risk of ink explosion, which is not fun dealing with when it’s gone all through your carry-on!

Compression Bags / Packing Cubes

Compression bags are a great idea for post pandemic travel as they allow you to carry much more than any regular bag would, and they also allow you to separate your regular clothing from your dirty laundry when you’re traveling.

Packing cubes are great for the same purpose, and not only are these options far more environmentally friendly than plastic bags, they mean you can keep clean clothes separate and lessen any risk of possible cross contamination.

Packing cubes are also great for in flight organisation, and quick access to what you need without having to dig through a large bag.

Reusable Water Bottle & Filtration

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Your water intake is more than usual when you’re traveling, and especially now post pandemic, it’s always good having water with you to be able to easily wash your hands. 

Buying water bottles regularly is harmful to the environment and burns a hole in your pockets. So it’s much better for both if you travel with a reusable water bottle. Pick one that’s easy to fill up and lightweight.

Even if you’re not caught in a disaster, and just traveling to a country where it’s not safe to drink the tap water, it’s a great idea to have a water filtration device. This is small enough to include in your first aid kit, so there’s really no reason not to carry it.

Options range from water purification tablets (for those travelers trekking off the beaten path who may not have the option to drink bottled water), or water filtration devices like Life Straw and the SteriPEN Freedom.

Devices like steripens use ultraviolet light to sterilize the water so that the bacteria are unable to multiply thus making the water safe to drink. We recommend you buy the following from Amazon:

Power Bank & Adaptors

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A portable power bank is extremely useful when you have to charge your devices, and there are no power sockets nearby, but it’s also a great way to avoid having to use public outlets post pandemic. 

When you charge your devices via public plugs you usually have to sit or stand by it to keep watch, or you’re using it at the same time. This often means sharing small confined spaces with others, and touching the same surfaces.

The battery on our electronics tends to go faster when we’re traveling, because we’re using it more frequently – for instance you might be using your phone constantly for currency conversions, to take photos, and then to share them on social media.

Charge your power banks at your hotel each night so you won’t have to use public outlets.

Keep in mind that when you are using your devices online, to avoid free public WiFi networks too. Even the network offered by your hotel might lack encryption protocols to safeguard all your communications.

Before you leave download a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which adds the missing encryption element and protects your data from being stolen on public WiFi networks.

Minimal Cash

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Cash is still an important part of traveling, and many countries around the world will only accept cash payments. So while you may well need a certain supply of local currency, try to keep this to a minimum if you can.

Much of the world has moved to embrace a cashless system for payments as a way to limit the spread of disease, and between March 1 and April 23 of 2020, the percentage of sellers who had converted to cashless skyrocketed from 8% to 31%. 

Cash contains a lot of bacteria, and while The World Health organisation has not issued any warnings about not using cash, people view cash as the dirtiest in a long list of items that they come into contact with on a day-to-day basis.

If you do need to handle cash, make sure you wash your hands after handling money, especially if handling or eating food.

Reusable Face Masks

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Wearing surgical face masks in public was already a cultural norm throughout much of East Asia before the pandemic, but there has always been a certain stigma about wearing them in Western countries.

Not so much anymore.

It’s normal now for people to wear face masks across the world, and will actually be required in many countries, depending on their regulations around public health and safety.

Airlines are now requiring face masks in public airports, and to be worn throughout your flight, and while many will give you a mask, it’s worthwhile traveling with your own reusable mask which you know is yours, and you’re comfortable wearing.

It’s also worth having this on hand as many countries have been coming in and out of snap lockdowns, sometimes without warning. Even though masks may not be required when you land in a country, doesn’t mean they won’t be required by the time you leave.

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 100+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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