4 essentials to pack for your next vacation


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I have traveled by myself, in a 15-passenger van on a youth mission trip and as a chaperone of elementary kids on a tour overseas. With every trip, my packing list gets more and more defined. Here are four items I can’t forget in my suitcase.

I wouldn’t know what to do without a portable phone charger. But the free ones you might get as promotional items don’t cut it. You need to invest. My brand pick is Limefuel, and I have used them for years.

Limefuel Blast charger.

Their Blast charger can charge up to four items at once and its own battery can last for days. I usually get my iPhone 7+ charged from 0 to 100% twice before having to recharge the Limefuel battery.

limefuel rugged
Limefuel Rugged charger.

I also own their Rugged charger, which has two ports, but is very durable. The USB port has a snap cover to prevent the ports from getting dirt or water inside when they’re not in use. It’s great is you’re camping or like me, are hard on items.

Limefuel products do not accommodate laptops, but can juice up tablets, phones, digital cameras and gaming devices.

The oontZ Angle 2 Speaker 

I received an oontZ speaker as a gift a few years ago because I was taking my phone from room to room in order to hear what I was playing off of my phone. The oontZ hooks up via Bluetooth and it can get pretty loud. It also is waterproof, which was helpful after a buddy of mine dropped mine in a hot tub in Palm Springs. The oontZ speakers are small, easily portable, and can hold a charge for a while. Beyond traveling, they’re perfect for backyard parties and days at the beach.

The three-pack of Tide To Go pens are lifesavers.

This pick isn’t the most revolutionary, but Tide To Go sticks are in my suitcase, backpack and fanny pack — just kidding on the last one, but seriously, I stock up on every trip. They don’t dry out and do not leave a ring like Shout Wipes do. There’s always a sticker shock when I see how much a three-pack costs, but it’s well worth it.


2.5 gallon resealable bags will change how you deal with dirty laundry while traveling.

Okay, plastic bags aren’t fun electronics, either, but they come in handy.

When I was a member of the Minnesota Boychoir, we had choirboys pack their clothes in 2.5 gallon-sized bags. They would put their underwear, socks, neck gaiters and specific uniform items for the day in the bag, compress the air out, and seal it up. Then you could label the bag with the date (and a note from mom and dad). Bonus: when the day was over and the clothes were stinky, the socks and underwear could go right back in the Ziploc bag to prevent suitcases from getting stinky. And since everything is compressed, it saves room in the suitcase, too. Here’s their video tutorial teaching boys how to pack (it’s entertaining).

Today, I use Ziploc bags to hold receipts and loose change — before, they were all over the place between pants pockets, my backpack and suitcase. And obviously they’re good for storing anything that’s liquid (I once had sunscreen explode in my bag on my way home from Guatemala and had to be pulled aside…a somewhat nerve-wracking moment considering I had no clue the sunscreen exploded and I was getting called by gate agents).

Do you have an item you can’t travel without? Let me know!

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