Whether your travels will take you 90 or 9,000 miles, three days or three months, these small wonders will improve any travel situation.

1. A notebook & pen.



Pack a small notebook like the Moleskine pocket notebook in grid (best for adding little drawings to your notes), which features a pocket in the back cover for stashing old boarding passes, business cards, and metro tickets. For trips that involve real adventure, the Field Notes “Expedition” pack of waterproof, rip-proof notebooks ensures that your observations, travel details, and the contact info of new friends remains intact even while white-water rafting, skiing fresh powder, or getting caught in a sudden rainfall. If your smartphone quits or you're out of power without a place to plug in, those jotted-down details may save the day.

2. Compact towel.



Lightload Towels, mini sizeare incredibly affordable, unbelievably compact, and easy to toss in every sort of bag. Dry off after a surprise downpour, mop up a toiletry spill in your luggage, wet one to wipe off your shoes after a dusty hike—there are any number of uses for something more substantial than a wet wipe.

3. Moisturizer.



The importance of moisturizing on long flights has been widely discussed, but the reality is that moisturizer should be part of any flight, no matter how short. Look for a universal moisturizer with little or no fragrance and natural ingredients; we love the multi-functionality of Rosebud Salve and Lucas’ Papaw Ointment, which can be used as everything from lip gloss to rash ointment. Keep it in an easy-to-reach place, such as your headphone case or a pocket of your laptop sleeve, for moments when itches or dry skin unexpectedly irritate.

4. Clear shower cap.

Shower cap (with clipping path) isolated on white background

Shower cap (with clipping path) isolated on white background (iStock)

Next time you leave a hotel and double-check the restroom to see if you've packed up all your toiletries, grab the free shower cap sitting near the sink. Cover your hotel remote control, wrap it around shoes to keep dirt off your clothes in luggage, slip over a bicycle seat after a rainfall, use as a makeshift bowl when sharing snacks while on the go, or stash your dirty socks in one until you can do laundry.

5. Flash drive.



Even when you're traveling with a laptop, a flash drive is perfect for "what if" situations, such as with an unexpected flight cancellation or a minor rental-car accident, when documents may need to be transferred or printed. What if your smartphone memory maxes out, but you're unwilling to delete photos and don't feel confident storing them on your laptop alone? Perhaps you want to copy a folder of images taken by a new traveling friend (who's never heard of Dropbox). These are the moments when a flash drive comes in handy, and this 8GB credit card-size flash drive from the Boeing Store is efficient and compact.

Check out more items you should never leave at home.

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