What to Pack in Your Emergency Travel Kit

Stash these essentials in your bag and you’ll always be ready for impromptu trips.

By Kristy Texon
July 18, 2014

Traveling in itself is already a fun thing to do, but there's one way to make traveling even more exciting: go on a spontaneous trip! Dropping whatever it is you're doing for an impromptu out-of-town escapade is a thrilling idea, and the flurry of last-minute arrangements only ups the adrenaline. In light of doing something new this year, why not go on the next spur of the moment trip you're invited to? So you'll be ready for any adventure, we've listed down the things you should pack in your go-anywhere emergency bag. Keep the bag in your car, or in a spot at home that's easily accessible.


  • A clean shirt, and a pair of shorts or jeans--Two sets of clothes will allow you to go on a weekend trip. In case you suddenly decide to extend your trip, you can wash the set you've already used. Pack light--if you must bring jeans, wear them in transit so you can save on luggage space. Comfy and flexible items like drawstring pants, canvas cargo pants, or shorts are also smart choices. Avoid packing linen as it wrinkles easily.
  • A jacket--A jacket with a hood can keep you warm--opt for a water-repellent jacket if you're traveling in the rainy season. You can bring anoraks that fold and zip up into a pocket to save space. If you're bringing a thicker jacket, wear them in transit as well.
  • A sarong--A sarong is a great multipurpose item, as it can be worn as clothing or a coverup (for beach trips), and it can serve as a blanket, headscarf, or makeshift stall (when you need to do your business in the wild).
  • Underwear--As with your change of clothes, pack at least two sets. For ladies, pack non-padded bras so the padding doesn't get crushed in your bag. If you must, to help bra cups keep their shape, stuff your panties and other soft small items in the cups and face them together to make a globe. You can also have a separate bag for undies.
  • Socks--Bring at least one pair for when it gets extra cold. Pack extra pairs for hiking trips.

Bath basics

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste--A retractable toothbrush saves space in your kit. A toothpaste sachet with a twist cap is easier and less messy to pack.
  • Soap, shampoo, and deodorant--Choose travel-sized essentials to keep your bag light. Alternatively, you can just bring a multipurpose bath item, like a facial scrub, which you can use for your face and body. A plus: since the scrub comes in a tube, it won't be as messy to pack as a bar of soap.
  • Bath towels--Instead of bringing one large towel, bring two smaller thin towels to save on luggage space. Extra absorbent towels like Aquazorbs also take less space.
  • Sanitary napkins and/or panty liners--Ladies, have these on hand so you don't have to run to the convenience or sari-sari store, where these can be more expensive. Also stock up on tampons, as these are not readily available in most rural areas.

Wet set

  • A swimsuit--Pack your swimsuit in a Ziploc bag so it's easier to bring home when you're done swimming.
  • Slippers--You can wear rubber slippers for chilling by the poolside or on the beach, or for exploring the local sights. Wearing rubber slippers is a must for bathing in public bathrooms.

First aid kit

  • Medicine for headache, diarrhea, allergies, and other special medications--Check your stash constantly and make sure the ones in your bag are not yet expired. If you're taking regular medications, prepare them in a pillbox so you don't have to bring a large bottle with you.If you're prone to motion sickness, make sure to keep a motion sickness pill, like Bonamine, on hand.
  • Alcohol--Keep a handy bottle in your bag so you can disinfect your hands when you can't wash them. Alcohol in spray bottles are less prone to spills.
  • Band aids--Have these ready in case you get corns or calluses from walking long distances.

Practical items

  • Pocket knife--A multi-purpose knife will allow you to open sachets, uncap bottles, and cut up fruit, among many other things.
  • Flashlight--Make sure you have spare batteries with you especially if you're staying outdoors. You can also get the manually powered ones that are charged by small dynamo cranks. A minute of cranking by hand will supply approximately an hour of power.
  • Insect repellant--If you're not a fan of repellant lotion, you can try wearing a clip-on repellant to ward off mosquitoes. Or try citronella patches sold in home supply stores or National Bookstore.
  • Map--Mark your route prior to travel if you're going to an unfamiliar place. Also bring a small notepad to update old maps and keep track of travel times, directions, contact info, and other details.
  • Camera--Bring a camera to preserve the experience for posterity. Remember to bring the charger (or for old cameras, batteries and film). Make sure to recharge the camera's battery at the end of each day.
  • Cash--Have enough cash for your trip as not all places have ATMs. Keep cash in separate bags so you don't lose all your money if you lose a bag.