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The One Little Thing: Earplugs


This is a post in an ongoing feature on Her Packing List called “The One Little Thing“. Each week or two, I’ll be interviewing a traveling lady to find out the one little thing she just can’t travel without. This one is brought to you by Jade Johnston:

jade johnstonI became a world traveller almost by accident. I started travelling almost seven years ago when I took a break from University to join a cross – Canada travelling volunteer program. Ever since then, I have always found living in different places fascinating. I soon went to Denmark on a university exchange, and then never came back!

I ended up living and travelling in Europe for the next three years, before moving further afield to travel in more exotic locations. I now live in Australia and have recently moved here after spending a year in New Zealand. I also found my passion lies in travel writing, and I spent most of my free time planning trips and writing for

What one little thing can you not travel without?

I can not go anywhere without ear plugs. I am a pretty heavy sleeper and can sleep for incredibly long periods of time, in uncomfortable positions as well. I have often amazed my friends by even being able to sleep in Ryan Air’s plastic airplane seats. Despite this, I still never leave home without my earplugs. And if I – a self proclaimed expert at sleeping – need earplugs, then I think that they would probably be useful for most other people as well.

>> Shop for earplugs on Amazon

Why has this one item been so important to you?

A good sleep is absolutely necessary for living a happy, healthy life. I have heard that going without sleep can kill you quicker than going without food. Just the nature of travelling itself can cause disruptions to our sleep patterns already, so I think it is extremely important to try to get the best quality of rest when we do have time to sleep well.

Also, did you know that ear plugs can help reduce motion sickness? Wearing an ear plug in just one ear, can help even out the inner ear pressure which helps reduce the dizziness and nausea associated with motion sickness (for when you don’t have any Gravol left).


How packable is it?  Does it take up much room?  Is it heavy?

Ear plugs are so packable and light, that you should probably pack several pairs. Despite my best efforts to be organized, I will inevitably lose my earplugs at least several times on my trip. I usually try to buy them in multi packs, and then keep pairs in different locations so that I always have some on hand if I need them.

Why would you recommend this to your travel friends?

If you are travelling on a budget then you will inevitably find yourself staying in dorm rooms. And it just takes one snorer to ruin your entire night. Or perhaps you want to get an early night because you have to catch an early flight or bus, but some chatty Kathy’s in your room just wont stop talking? Instead of getting angry at the people disturbing you, it is better for everyone involved to just whip out a pair of ear plugs.

Also, if you are doing a lot of overland travel, you never know exactly how the terrain is going to be like. Even people with the strongest stomachs can get motion sick in certain situations. Having an ear plug with you can help make you feel slightly better, without having to take over the counter drugs.

Can you name one incident or situation where you were so happy to have this item with you?

On a few occasions I have travelled with my Mother. She is a big snorer. No adjective can adequately describe how loudly she snores. I’m pretty sure the people next door mistake it as a small, but persistent earthquake. If I don’t have ear plugs with me, I end up waking up the next morning moody and grumpy. And believe me, I don’t make a good travel partner when I am moody and grumpy.

How did you hear about this item?

Ear plugs are pretty common in travel stores, drug stores, and at hostel counters. I first heard about their anti – motion sickness properties on a particularly rough ferry between New Zealand’s south island and Stewart Island. The crew were giving out ear plugs to all the people who felt sick.

What sort of traveler is this item perfect for?

This is a must have item for anyone who is going to be staying in dorms, or downtown hostels where the street noise might be particularly loud. Or for anyone who wants to try to non medical way to combat motion sickness.

About: Jade Johnston is a writer at – the website she runs with her partner James. She has been travelling for six years, and just spent the last year in New Zealand. Her website focuses on documenting her travel experiences, while at the same time providing practical information as well as budget travel tips. Currently Jade and James are exploring all Australia has to offer. You can also find her at facebook, and on twitter.

Written by Brooke

I run the show at Her Packing List and love packing ultralight. In fact, I once traveled for 3 entire weeks with just the contents of a well-packed 12L handbag. When I'm not obsessing over luggage weight, I'm planning adventures or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Morgan says

    I would really like to know more about your traveling volunteering group. I’m looking for something like that after college. I want to travel, but to travel for more than just myself would be amazing and be much better of an experience, in my opinion! Thanks for your post! I’m just like you, can definitely sleep anywhere!


  1. […] Ear plugs and/or noise cancelling headphones – I brought both, and have been glad I did on numerous occasions. Truth is, public transportation can be pretty loud, if not because of your fellow bus passengers, then because of all the honking and shrieking. Here in Xi’an at least, the buses are very old, and so they tend to make a lot of noise when they come to a halt. […]

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