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Items you should never leave the house without (and can easily afford)

2019-09-29

You can never be too prepared. At least, not when it comes to packing your bag.

That's why we always make sure to pack these products before we leave the house — so that no matter what life throws our way, we can handle it with panache.

If you want to be that person who always has it together, then this list of items should be stashed in your tote, backpack, purse, briefcase — or whatever you bring with you on the go. Even if you don't need it, you can be the hero and have it on hand for your lesser-prepared pals.

(And if you're looking to carry everything with flair, check out this reversible faux leather tote or the hyper-trendy Fjällräven Mini Kånken Backpack.)

Sunglasses

This is the number one item we always keep with us, even on overcast days. Not only do sunglasses like this polarized bamboo pair help us look cool, they keep our eyes from straining whenever we walk outside and shield them from debris in the air. 

Headphones

Bluetooth headphones are a must. When you're on the go, there are no wires that will tangle with your bag; plus, you can control your music without having to get your phone out. These Anker Soundbuds are affordable while still offering rich sound quality.

Portable charger 

In order to avoid the struggles of a dying smartphone, we always keep a portable charger on hand. This lipstick-sized model from Anker is ideal for its compact size, and it can add a full charge (plus some) to an iPhone in minutes. Don't forget a cable.

Tablet 

You never know when having a tablet at the ready will come in handy — like an unexpected delay on your commute or a solo lunch break. The Fire 7 Tablet is incredibly affordable, and you can use it to read eBooks, stream shows, play games, or listen to music. It's like having a full entertainment center in your bag.

E-reader

If you like to keep a book on hand, may we suggest a Kindle instead? This e-reader will take up less bag space than a physical book, and it has so much storage space it's like carrying a personal library with you.

Windproof compact umbrella

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Weather is unpredictable, so make sure you're prepared — always carry an umbrella. This compact travel umbrella is lightweight but still windproof and durable, so you'll be ready for any conditions.

Water bottle

Hydration is key; make sure you stay on top of it by carrying your water bottle with you wherever you go. It's an easy task when your bottle is as attractive as this one from Simple Modern.

Key finder

Even if your keys are in your bag right now, you'll inevitably take them out at some point during the day. If you're like us, you know the struggle of coming home after a long day of work to set your keys down... only to forget where they are. Cut out the lost-my-keys panic by attaching a Tile to your keychain. 

Notebook 

You never know when you'll need to take a note or write down an idea. Yes, you can use your smartphone for this, but you'll look much more suave pulling this Moleskine notebook out of your bag. (And don't forget a pen.)

Reusable shopping bag

These are great for impromptu grocery runs or any situation in which you find yourself needing to carry things. BeeGreen makes fun and colorful shopping bag that folds up so small, you'll forget you have it — until you need it.

Hand cream

Keeping a small tube of moisturizing hand cream on deck prevents dry, cracked hands. You'll only need a small drop of this shea butter hand cream from L'Occitane to keep your hands soft, so this compact tube last a long time. 

Face wipes

You may not be able to carry your full skincare regimen with you, but you can carry cleansing face wipes in case of emergency. We opt for these oil balancing wipes from Simple because they're gentle on skin — yet still effective.

Reusable straws

If you enjoy an iced latte on occasion, it's worth your while to keep a reusable straw or two on hand. You'll significantly cut down on your plastic consumption while also impressing your local barista. You can get a set of 8 stainless steel straws for very cheap, so you can share with friends, too.

Sunscreen

No one wants sun-damaged skin. Keep a small tube of sunscreen (we love Sun Bum's mineral sunscreen) in your bag so you can reapply whenever you need to.

Lip balm

We hate chapped lips, and you probably do, too. But we love this Intense Therapy Lip Balm that has SPF 25 because it lasts for a long time, so you don't have to constantly refresh.

Hand sanitizer spray

You never know when you're going to come into contact with something questionable, which is why keeping a hand sanitizer spray in your bag is convenient in scenarios when you need clean hands but don't have access to soap and water. Having this with you, especially in crowds or on cramped public transit, can keep you healthy when others are sick around you.

Sarah Pitts is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

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