My Top 3 Packing "Must Haves"

Underwear and socks... check. Deodorant... check. Pair of versatile jeans... check. Purse with wallet... check. Now, why do I have the feeling I forgot something?

Everyone goes through this process while packing for a trip, whether near or far. The basic essentials typically include clothing, toiletries, money, and electronics (cell phone, laptops, iPads, etc.) Depending on your style, you could pack a lot or a little. I myself am an over-packer. I admit it.

For a four day trip to Mexico, where I knew I'd probably be wearing a tank top and shorts each and every day, I still managed to fill a whole suitcase with clothing, toiletries, sandals, and hair products. Packing light is a concept I am still trying to master. The weight of my carry-on bag alone is enough to dislocate one's shoulder. And even with my excess-packing problem, I still manage to forget items.

What are your top packing 'must-haves'? Image via

This weekend I took a mini-trip in my own neck of the woods, traveling from Red Deer, Alberta to Edmonton, Alberta for a conference. I know this isn't 'traveling' by most people's standards, but I bring it up today to point out some 'essential' items that should be packed on most trips (because I forgot them this time around and was bitterly disappointed). I will call these my "Top Three Must Haves".

A deck of cards

Make sure you slip a pack into a little pocket somewhere in your luggage! They take up no room, but bring big entertainment for moments when you have some unwanted downtime, or need to occupy a group of people. My colleagues and I found ourselves with a slow evening during our conference, and desperately wanted to play a rousing game of "Kaiser".

Some cool playing cards - gotta get me a deck like this and keep it in my suitcase! Image via.

The gift shop in our hotel was unexpectedly closed, and there were no gas stations or knick-knack stores in our area, so we had to drive around the city on the hunt for some cards. It wasn't hard to find them, but it was a pain in the rear. I vowed to always have a pack stored in my suitcase - even if I did lose at "Kaiser". Twice.

Bathing suit

Even if you are not expecting to be swimming, often you are presented with the chance while on vacation or traveling.

Bathing suits are great to pack, even if you don't think you'll be swimming.  You might!

Our hotel had a gorgeous hot tub set-up in the inner courtyard, resplendent with palm trees and fountains (it was an indoor courtyard, enabling the palm trees to thrive). My colleagues and I gazed at the hot tub longingly, but alas, none of us had packed a swimsuit. It would have been nice to relax in its warmth, especially since it was snowing outside.

Ibuprofen / Advil

Sometimes you need it RIGHT AWAY, and don't have the time or the inclination to go out to the store and buy some. It can also be expensive to purchase at a hotel gift shop, so it is just better to have your own supply on hand.

Always good to pack for emergencies - headache pills.  Image via.

As of this weekend, those are my top three items that I must forevermore never forget. I’m sure over the course of my travels, I will add to the list. Are there any items that you believe are “Must Haves” for a successful trip, be it short or long, near or far?

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