I found my favorite travel companion nine years ago in a flea market in Florence. When the crowds parted and the sounds of Italian hagglers hushed, it was like love at first sight.

I knew from across the plaza that this chestnut leather backpack and I would share many adventures together, and so we have. It was the best $100 I’d ever spent, and to this day I am convinced that the old man I bought it from cast some spell over the bag as just looking at it inspires me to travel.

When I am packing for a car-free day trip or weekend getaway, I always carry certain things in my old bag friend. And though it won’t be long until a diaper bag will replace this one, and Elon Musk will create a gadget that does everything—take notes and photos, make phone calls, feed me and tell me where I want to go before I even know—for now, I trust these belongings will come in handy on the open road.

In addition to the more obvious stuff one should carry, like cash, an i.d., bottle opener, a sense of adventure, here are my 11 favorite travel items.


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