Nothing ruins a vacation faster than hitting snags that should be avoidable...things like a cellphone that doesn't work, a lost or stolen passport, or a long plane delay with hungry, cranky, bored kids.

So we polled our well-traveled friends and came up with these top 5 travel essentials.

1) Travel wallet: It could be a money belt that goes around your waist or a wallet "necklace," but you need something that will allow you to keep your passport, money, and an emergency credit card at hand without attracting the attention of pickpockets like a purse would. Something that goes under your clothes is ideal, plus it leaves your hands free for taking photos or holding a bottle of water.

 

2) Disposable cellphone or rental phone: Phones from some carriers will not work overseas, but some plans will provide you with a rental phone that will. Otherwise, relatively inexpensive prepaid phones are easy to find in big cities. And even phones that work overseas could wallop you with big data charges if you merrily post all 483 pictures you took of the Eiffel Tower to Facebook without finding WiFi.

3) Travel chargers or adapters. If you're going to another country, a set of adapters that will fit foreign outlets and convert voltage is essential. How annoying would it be to truck your laptop across the world and not even be able to use it once you get to your destination because it's out of juice? And even if you are staying stateside, you'll want something that can charge your devices in the car...at least if you are like my husband and me, who invariably set off on a trip across the wide-open spaces with both phones near dead. A wall charger that can power a tablet and phone at the same time would be a good thing to toss in your bag as well.

4) Stashable, non-messy, non-perishable snacks. Imagine being stuck on a two-hour tarmac delay with a toddler...a hungry toddler. And all you have to offer her, if your flight attendant takes pity on you, is a teensy bag of airplane pretzels. It's like traveling with a bucket of snakes -- and you know how well those do on planes. If you're traveling by car, snacks can help stave off sibling crankiness and a 14th round of "Are we there yet?" Good choices include granola bars, little bags of trail mix, and fruit leather.

5) A bar of soap. You can use it to wash yourself and your clothes on the road or wash your hands at questionable rest stops, and it also keeps your luggage smelling fresh (a suitcase can build up some serious travel funk after a week).

What are your travel essentials?


Image via TravelSmith