Have you ever left something at home when you’re traveling? Terrible feeling, right? Well, the other day, I did it in a big way. I fly almost 200,000 miles per year and have developed a routine that works well for me. Every now and then, however, it gets messed up.

When I’m traveling for work, I use this briefcase. When I’m traveling for fun, I usually take a small backpack. Either way, I take all of the items below in that little grey bag (except for this once…).

Part of my routine is to keep my “travel essentials” in a little grey bag, which I take on every trip. A few nights ago, I was getting ready for a trip to the Midwest.

I pulled out that little bag, grabbed a cord, plugged in my iPad, and went to bed.

The next morning, I unplugged my iPad, put the cord back into the little bag, and failed to drop the bag into my briefcase. Whoops! I felt naked the whole time, which reminded me of the vital nature of this little bag to my traveling experience. As a result, I thought perhaps some readers might find it helpful to see what’s inside the little bag. I take these things on both business and personal trips. So, let’s take a look at this little bag…

The Bag
First thing’s first, I use a repurposed Delta amenity kit to store everything. It’s about five inches wide and three inches tall. It fits perfectly into my briefcase and has plenty of room for the items below. Keeping everything in one place also means it’s much easier to keep track of all of this miscellaneous stuff (when I remember to pack it!).

I take two plugs. One is an iPad charger, which provides more juice and charges devices more quickly. The other is a plug for my Kindle, which goes slower, but it’s nice to be able to charge two devices at once.

I take two Apple lightning cables. One is three feet long and the other – this is key – is six feet long. Why? I never know where those pesky plugs will need to go. Many hotel owners have wised up and realized we need plugs nearer the bedside table, but that’s not always the case so six feet gives me a bit more reach. I also take a short cable for my Kindle.

Cable Clips
These things are awesome! They keep everything much cleaner and easier to manage. Until I found these guys, I’d just stuff cords into the bag and it was a mess of tangles that made late-night arrivals even more difficult. Now, when I step into my hotel room, it’s much quicker to unpack and plug in my devices. I like the ones from Blue Lounge. Here’s a link.

One of my biggest indulgences are Bose Quiet Comfort 20 headphones. I said for years that Bose headphones were too expensive and not worth it. Then, I won a set at a conference and was surprised at how incredible they are. The technology virtually eliminates the sound around me and I sit in silence no matter how loud the engines or crying babies are. When the set I won wore out, I bought the 20s, which are much smaller. I couldn’t be happier about the investment.

Headphone Splitter
You never know when your seatmate may want to share in some entertainment, so taking along a headphone splitter allows two people to enjoy the same music, television, or movie. I don’t always travel with a friend, but it’s nice to have one of these just in case. To be clear, I’m not a weirdo who taps a stranger’s shoulder and offers to share a movie, but when I’m traveling with someone I know, we might want to watch the same screen.

Headphone Adapter
Okay, many airplanes still have old-school two-pronged headphone plugs. I suppose this is good because it gives the whole thing more structure, but it also means I need to take along an adapter. I actually have a couple because they’re very inexpensive (on Amazon) and it’s nice to be able to share them with others.

USB Storage
I don’t need this often, but it’s been tremendously helpful a time or three. It’s a quick way to download files from friends or colleagues when the internet is not available. Mine has a couple of gigs on it.

Microfiber Cloth
I got mine from Delta with a boxed lunch some time ago. I wouldn’t have included otherwise. But, it weighs nothing and has been helpful in cleaning screens and sunglasses. It’s pretty useful.

Car Charger
A USB adapter for a car has saved me in rental cars many times. They’re “slow as molasses on a fence post in winter,” to be sure. But it’s a relief to be able to plug in during a long commute into town from an airport.

Like the car charger, having extra battery life at the ready can be a life saver. Especially after a long flight in which I’ve been relying on my phone for music.

Fingernail Clippers
Weird addition? I think not. They’re very practical.

Who knows when I’ll end up with a headache or back pain so some pain relievers are a welcome addition to my little bag. I also find eye drops and ChapStick to be helpful in an airplane’s dry cabin.

If I’ve got a long-haul or ultra-long-haul flight, a good night’s rest can make the experience much easier. Melatonin is a naturally occurring chemical and is available in pill form to aid sleep.

How about a couple of bonuses? These are items I take with me on every trip, but that don’t fit in the little bag.

It’s not in the bag, but my iPad Pro is all I travel with. No more laptop. What makes this so great? I don’t have to remove it in the security line (although with TSA Precheck, it doesn’t make so much of a difference), it weighs much less than a laptop, does virtually everything a laptop does and is significantly better for watching movies.

I really, really, really prefer reading real books, but I’m always thinking about weight and space when it comes to travel. Less is always more. So, I caved and travel with a Kindle to carry thousands of books, which would otherwise be impossible. Could I use the iPad to read? Yes. But I prefer the size of the Kindle. Also, I have a brightly colored case so it’s easy to spot. I once left one of these on a plane thanks to its dark case. Never again!

Spotify Premium
This, in my opinion, is the best music app. The selection is killer and with the ability to download music, it’s the perfect partner for short or long flights.

Unless it’s an emergency, don’t buy clothes in the airport either.

(Obvious) Bonus Tip
By the way, here’s an obvious tip that’s still worth mentioning: Do your best not to buy any of these things in an airport where the prices are exorbitantly higher than in the real world.? On this recent trip when I forgot my bag, I wandered into a store in the Detroit airport and looked longingly at the plugs, but couldn’t justify paying four times the cost just because I was trapped in an airport. So, when my battery ran out, I read the in-flight magazine instead.

(Not-so-Obvious) Bonus Tip
If you leave a charger behind, check with the front desk of a hotel. Lots and lots of people forget them in hotel rooms, which means a lot of hotels have extras waiting for their owners to call and request them. If you need to borrow one, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll have one for you to use.

Okay. When I left all of this stuff behind the other day, my travel experience became more challenging. In my experience, these items make travel much easier.

What about you? What do you take that makes a difference for your travel?