my travel essentials
Over the last few years I’ve spent a lot of time traveling for work and after traveling a bit through Europe and daily life in Rome I put together a list of my travel essentials from apps on your phone, to websites, to products I recommend carrying with you. Most are travel essentials you can use anytime, anywhere, but some are specific to Rome.
HOPPER, SKY SCANNER, GOOGLE FLIGHTS
Hopper, SkyScanner, and Google Flights are my go-tos when booking flights. Hopper is only available on your phone. SkyScanner and Google Flights are available on your phone and the web. If you’re open to destinations, I love the “Explore Destinations” feature on Google Flights. You can find this feature by going to Google Flights and then clicking on “Explore Destinations” on the right, not to be confused with “Explore” feature on the left. You put in your departure airport and tentative dates and Google will show you a map of all the destinations and their prices. If you have a flexible schedule, Hopper allows you to have “Flex Dates” which means the app will watch prices over a 3-month period and notify you with the cheapest prices. It also gives you insight on when you should book and if they expect prices to drop. I always crosscheck with SkyScanner to ensure I’ve found the cheapest price.
HOTELS + CARS
From hotels to B&Bs, we love searching and booking our accommodations through booking.com. I love their user interface on both the phone app and the web, but even more I love all the stats they provide you (review score, location score, parking options, neighborhood, distance from the city center, etc.). There are filters for almost anything you can think of and really allows you to find an accommodation that is perfect for you. Make sure to create an account because the more you book with booking.com the more discounts you receive on future bookings. I do love Airbnb, but in a lot of European cities they aren’t always managed properly. A friend of mine had her Airbnb broken into and her passport and iPad stolen here in Rome. I love the comfort of staying in an actual apartment/home when traveling, but there is a layer of security that exists when staying in a traditional hotel.
We didn’t ship either of our cars to Rome, so when we want to get out of town and don’t feel like taking the train or it’s not an option, we always rent cars through rentalcars.com. Their user interface in the app and on the web is clean, easy to use, and has all the filters you need to find the most ideal car for your trip. We do a lot of the spur of the moment trips meaning I’ve booked quite a few cars through their mobile app while walking around town. We’ve never encountered issues booking the cars or picking them up.
Citymapper is available on your phone and the web. It’s available in most major cities and is hands down my favorite way to get around town when using public transit. From point A to point B, it shows you all the different route options including how long it takes to walk to the bus/metro stop, when the next bus is arriving, how many stops to your destination, time for each leg of the trip, distance, and price. It also notifies you of any stops that are closed or not operating.
If you’ll be using public transit while visiting Rome, I highly recommend downloading the Probus Rome app. It allows you to search by bus and tram stop to find out when the next bus or tram is arriving. You can search by your location or by using the 5-digit number found on the bottom left of bus stop signs. You’ll also find this number on the pole of the bus stop sign.
DELIVEROO, GLOVO, UBEREATS
Traveling is exhausting and sometimes you need a night where you stay in, turn on some Netflix, and eat take out. Our favorite is Deliveroo and if you use their website you can change the language (this option isn’t available on the app), but Glovo and UberEats are also good. The more popular restaurants will be available on all three apps, sometimes with different delivery prices so we always check all three when ordering take out. All three are available on your phone and the web. If you’re using Google Chrome, the websites will automatically translate to your native language.
EVERY DAY APPS
Staying connected with friends and family while you’re abroad is important and so is knowing the time difference. I love the World Clock app on the iPhone because I’m able to create a widget that I can quickly view without having to unlock my phone or open an app. It also allows me to have dual time shown on my Apple Watch; something that isn’t possible with the Clock app that comes with your iPhone. The World Clock app is also available for Android users.
Depending on where you are and what season you’re traveling, weather can change drastically from day to day. I love the Dark Sky app because it gives an hourly breakdown of temperature, what it feels like, precipitation probability, humidity percentage, UV index, and a few others for a 7-day forecast. You’re also able to explore weather in the past or future. It is a paid app, but it costs less than $5 and is worth it.
Google Translate has been a lifesaver. Whether you’re trying to practice the language and converse with people, need to know what signs or menus say, or just need to ask someone a question but aren’t sure how to pronounce it, Google Translate has you covered. My favorite features are the camera, hearing how to pronounce words, and their offline dictionaries. Many alphabets comprise of characters different than those in the English alphabet and so typing in words or characters is sometimes not possible. The camera feature allows you to take a picture of what you’re wanting to translate and does all the work for you. Once you type in what you’re wanting to translate, click on the speaker icon and it will pronounce whatever you’ve typed. I love hearing how to pronounce words in the app and use it every day. Whether you plan to travel with data access or not (because there are always bad coverage areas), make sure to download the language dictionaries so they’re accessible offline. You can do this by clicking the language and clicking the download button.
You can Google “pounds to grams conversion”, but if you don’t have good phone coverage or you’re not planning to travel with data, make sure to download the UNITS PLUS app. It has conversions for area, currency, data, fuel mileage, length, power, pressure, speed, temperature, time, volume, and weight.
CROSSBODY BAG WITH A ZIPPER
A crossbody bag with a zipper is the most ideal way for me to travel around the city. I can carry it in front of me and the zipper makes it more difficult for pickpocketers to open. I purchased this inexpensive one on Amazon before we moved to Rome and it’s held up really well with everyday use. We’ve lived here for almost 7 months and it’s kept my belongings secure. It fits my wallet, a coin purse, portable charger, handheld fan, reusable bag, phone, headphones, keys, and chapstick.
On days where my I need something that’ll carry more than my crossbody bag, I use my flap backpack from Target. It’s comfortable to wear all day, carries quite a bit, and keeps my belongings secure. If you’re walking through a crowded touristy area or are on public transit, make sure to move the backpack in front of you for extra security.
We all have gadgets these days. This is my favorite European travel adapter because it has two USB ports and one side that fits the standard N American 2 or 3 prong flat pin plug. We each have one and use it every day at home and take them with us whenever we travel. It’s compatible with your phone, tablets, computers, cameras, smartwatches, and Kindle devices. FYI — these adapters are not compatible with hairdryers, hair straighteners, or curling irons unless they are dual voltage or have an input voltage range of 100-240V. Because we’re living in Italy, I’ve purchased European or dual voltage hairdryers, hair straighteners, and curling irons, but if you’re looking for a travel adapter that is compatible check out this one on Amazon for under $30.
There are quite a few options when it comes to portable chargers, but our favorite is the Anker PowerCore 20100. It has two USB ports and provides over four full charges for iPhone and Androids. We’ve had ours for over two years and use them almost every week.
I have a super-sensitive nose and a lot of smells give me a headache or make me nauseous. Sometimes it’s sitting behind someone wearing too much perfume on a plane, leather seats in a car, or being on a bus with no air conditioning on a hot and humid day (use your imagination to think of what that might smell like) and your only option is to wish there was something else to smell. Because of this, I always carry peppermint essential oil with me to rub under my nose. I use this migraine stick which also helps alleviate headaches when dabbed on the temples.
I always carry at least one reusable bag every day to avoid having to use a plastic or paper bags. My favorite ones are Enivrosax because they carry up to 44 lbs and roll up into a compact ball.
I love physical books, but when I’m traveling or using public transit I like to carry the least amount of things as possible. I have the Kindle Paperwhite and love it. The battery lasts for weeks and the backlight means I can read anytime, anywhere. I use Goodreads to organize and rate my books and Libby to check out ebooks from the library back home.
Summers in Europe are hot and humid. It’s not that uncommon for public transit and restaurants to not have air conditioning or fans, so I always carry a handheld fan. The one I have is rechargeable, so when I need to I just plug it into my Anker charger.
I hope you found this list helpful and found something to add to your travel essentials. Let me know what your travel essentials are below.