Kim is ready for anything standing on the edge of Fish River Canyon in Namibia

Not Boringly-Obvious Travel Essentials

Some hot weather travel essentials for women are so obvious that I’m going to list them for you quickly and move on:

Passport, sunscreen, underwear, socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, travel visas, birth control, tampons/diva cup, water bottle, cash, sunglasses, razor or wax strips, tweezers, hairbrush, and a suitcase or backpack to pack it all into.


With those out of the way, let’s get to 15 hot weather travel essentials for women I’m actually excited about.

Photo of Kim

Trust Me

The first time I went on a solo trip, I brought two massive suitcases. Their wheels nearly broke off as I dragged them over the uneven pavement to my shared apartment in Barcelona.

Over the 10-plus years of travel since then (almost always to hot weather destinations, because… obviously), I’ve tried and tested tons of different products, clothes, bags, and shoes and dumped a lot of crap.

Only a few things remain that come with me no matter where I go. These are my favorites.

Affiliate Disclaimer

Most of the links to my favorite warm-weather travel essentials for women are affiliate links. They cost you nothing and earn us a small commission.

Travel Essentials to Look and Feel Good and Be Ready for Whatever

Ecco White Sneakers
My favorite Ecco sneakers

1. Ecco Soft White Sneakers

Tired, sore feet suck.

I eliminate this problem by getting shoes I can walk in for hours, and still feel decently stylish.

I recommend the Ecco Soft White sneakers because they’re high quality, deep fitting (so your heels don’t slip out and there’s space for orthotics), match almost every outfit, and despite the white color, can be easily cleaned.

Buy them:

Kim wearing her white linen shirt ready for anything in Muizenberg, Cape Town.

2. Hannah Lavery Drift Linen Shirt

I have a weird obsession with linen.

Linen is a natural material made from flax that’s famous for keeping you cool and dry in warm weather.

A white linen shirt can be dressed up or down and can look effortlessly chic with a naturally worn-in look.

I love my shirt from Hannah Lavery, a local Cape Town designer but if you want to buy one online in the Americas, I’d recommend one from Macy’s.

Buy it: Hannah Lavery or Macy’s

Kim wearing her Patagonia Nano puff jacket visiting one of Spain's most beautiful towns
My Patagonia Nano Puff came in handy on our recent road trip to Aragon, a couple of hours north of Valencia where the temperatures dipped nearly 15 degrees.

3. Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

Not the most stylish, but the most useful, I love my Patagonia Nano Puff jacket.


Because whether I’m going to the highly air-conditioned movie theatre in humid Panama or visiting Cape Town where the weather changes in a matter of minutes, this jacket always has my back.

Buy it: Patagonia

Kim wearing her Lululemon leggings and holding one of personal training clients back with a resistance band.
Leading a group workout class in Vancouver wearing my favorite Lululemon Fast & Frees.

4. Lululemon Fast and Free Leggings

These Lululemon leggings are one of my top hot-weather travel essentials for women because they’re thin, quick-drying, and have functional pockets sewn into the sides.

I wear them on the plane, for hikes, on coffee dates, or while working out with Chris.

Buy them: Lululemon

Kim, Eduardo, and Chris pose after learning from the pig farmer that sells the most expensive Jamon Iberico.
Walking around with Eduardo Donato and his expensive pig farm, these pants kept me cool.

5. Wide Leg Aritzia Nanterre Pants

Do you remember when hippie genie pants with a super low crotch were a thing?

Maybe they still are but I can’t stand them. Instead, I’ve found pants that are practical in warm weather, loose, and don’t make me look like I haven’t shaved my armpits in weeks.

The Aritzia Nanterre pants are made from thin cotton, are wide-leg, and have a drawstring waist making it incredibly comfortable for walking around the city or sitting on a 14-hour plane.

Dress them up by wearing a tighter fitting top and a necklace.

Buy them: Aritzia

Travel Essentials to Not Lose Money, Yourself, or Your Body Parts

Valencia woman rolling small suitcase and plastic bags over street in El Carmen neighbourhood.

6. Google Maps Saved Places

Google Maps Saved Places is my travel treasure map. I save all the restaurants, cafes, attractions, and photo ops spots I want to visit so whenever I’m in a new place, I just open Google Maps.

It’s one of my top travel essentials for women (and men!) because you can save notes (like what day of the week a restaurant has a special deal or when a museum is free) and access it all offline without data.

For more information about Google Maps Saved Places, read our in-depth post here.

Holding up my HSBC travel credit card
Pretty content with my HSBC Premier World Elite credit card.

7. Travel Credit Card

Who likes giving away free money? Nobody.

Well, if you’re using a regular credit card while abroad or using your debit card, that’s what you’re doing… to banks.

Chris and my travel credit card (HSBC Premier World Elite) saves us about $30 a month in foreign exchange fees where almost every other credit card out there charges. It also saves us $40 per trip in travel insurance, gives us $100 a year in upgrades, AND it pays us up to 3% cashback.

If you’re Canadian and are looking for the travel credit card best for you, read this post.

Kim trying to lasso a tree as part of the Adventure Trail, an interactive game the owners of Gecko Camp in Namibia organized for their guests.
Don’t test your luck by not buying insurance.

8. Insurance

No matter how many lucky charms you ate as a kid, accidents happen. That’s why travel insurance is one of my top hot-weather travel essentials for women.

It’s the only thing on this list that we hope will be a waste of money for you.

If you haven’t left for your trip and are looking for the best travel insurance, read this post.

Already traveling? Here’s how to find the best and cheapest insurance ASAP.

Travel Essentials to Keep Everything in its Place

Stack of two packing cubes for clothing

9. Packing Cubes & Ziploc Freezer Bags

Maybe it’s the Japanese in me but I find organizing my belongings, especially when I travel, to be extremely rewarding.

I organize my clothes with packing cubes to separate them by type (pants, shorts, tops, bras/underwear/socks, etc) and to keep my dirty laundry separate. This makes unpacking and finding specific items incredibly easy.

I also pack an assortment of Ziploc freezer bags for separating and packing toiletries, waterproofing electronics, carrying leftover food, and… for so many other reasons.

Buy them: Walmart and Amazon

Kim wondering if she needs to buy anything else in Sevilla wearing her trusty Longchamp bag

10. Longchamp Le Pilage Tote

I’ve considered leaving this Longchamp bag at home on so many occasions but it somehow squeezes its way into my luggage every time.

It is lightweight, foldable, versatile, and I end up using it almost more than any other bag I own.

Buy it: Longchamp

Muji containers in a ziploc bag, ready for travel.

11. Travel Sized Containers

I couldn’t believe it when I recently saw a friend unpack two full-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner from her suitcase. Either her hair gets super dirty on vacation, she’s planning on using the bottles as weights, or she packed poorly.

Small travel-sized toiletries are enough. They can easily last me 2-3 weeks, and if they run out, I buy new product.

Invest in high-quality containers with simple lids so they don’t explode in your bag, and can be refilled and cleaned easily.

Buy them: Muji or Amazon

Quick Tip: Get a plastic spray bottle (10-15ml) for your perfume instead of carrying around a heavy glass bottle!

Travel Essentials to Stay Dry, Fit, & Make Friends

I’m smiling but my glutes are screaming.

12. Workout Resistance Bands

Maybe not all women consider staying fit while traveling essential, but I do.

And that’s why I don’t leave home without my bands.

I use them to stretch, activate muscles before a run or a workout, or use them for partner exercises like Chris and I sometimes do.

Buy them: Amazon(booty bands), Amazon (pull-up bands)

plantronics backbeat fit headphones

13. Plantronics Wireless Headphones

I didn’t know how much I took my Plantronics wireless headphones for granted until I accidentally cut them in half with a pair of scissors the day before I left for Spain.

Without time to buy a replacement, I was stuck getting tangled in and untangling my wired headphones that barely stay in my ear properly.

I swear by Plantronics Wireless headphones because they stay put during sweaty workouts, have a long-lasting battery, and are very durable (as long as you keep them away from scissors).

Buy it: Amazon

Relefree Travel Towel

14. Relefree Travel Towel

A travel towel is a boring item to include on a list of hot weather women’s travel essentials, I know.

But somehow it keeps finding new ways to be useful for me, so I can’t help but include it.

I use my travel towel for working out, to cover my shoulders in Muslim countries, at the beach, and to cover cheap apartment rental chairs in warm weather so my thighs don’t sweat. The list goes on…

Buy it: Amazon

Maple salmon gift from Canada

15. Gifts from Home

This travel essential is a trick we picked up from some of our favorite guests back when we were Airbnb hosts.

They were a Korean couple and they presented us with a pair of wooden ducks. They explained in their culture the ducks symbolize partners in a relationship and depending on your mood, the duck is positioned differently.

Because of this funny and memorable gift, we connected better with them and made extra sure they had an awesome stay with us. And we really want to visit Korea (for more than a layover).

As Canadians, our go-to gifts are smoked salmon, maple syrup, local wine, and dried foraged mushrooms.

Travel Non-Essentials

To save the hassle of lugging these things around, save money, and save the planet, think twice about bringing these non-essentials.

  • Hairdryer
  • Bulky towel
  • Heels
  • Security belt 
  • Full-sized toiletries 
  • Travel-specific clothing like zip-off pants

Traveling Soon?

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Disclosure: Whenever possible, we use special links that earn us a cut if you pay for stuff we'd recommend anyway. It costs you nothing, so we’d be crazy not to.


  1. Thanks for your comment, Swati! Sunscreen is indeed very important and I actually mention it at the beginning of my post. I’ve tried to highlight the less obvious items that I pack and use on almost all of my trips, in hopes of helping other female travelers. Cheers!

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