The Items Anthony Bourdain Never Traveled Without


Anthony Bourdain is one of the most iconic travelers ever. The late, great celebrity chef inspired a whole generation of adventurers and food-lovers with TV shows like No Reservations and Parts Unknown and books like Kitchen Confidential and A Cook’s Tour.

While Bourdain took his own life in 2018—a tragedy his legions of supporters are still coming to grips with today—he provided plenty of wisdom during his time with us. Oftentimes, his wisdom took the form of broader life lessons, but sometimes it was as simple as a handy travel hack.

In an interview with Travel Channel, for example, Bourdain shared a list of the 13 items he never travels without. Some of the items he mentioned feel a little dated at this point, but his choices are interesting nonetheless.

See Bourdain’s 13 travel essentials below:

  1. iPad: With 3G and lots of space for movies and downloaded rough cuts. I didn’t know I needed one until I got one. But now I need my Angry Birds app for flight delays. Also iBooks.
  2. iPhone: Same story. Apple may be evil, but there it is.
  3. Laptop: A Mac. I finally gave in after years as a PC user.
  4. Headphones: Good ones.
  5. Sunglasses: Hopefully appropriate to the “look” of the show. In Boston, for instance, in keeping with the ‘70s Eddie Coyle theme, I went with some very sinister and frankly ugly Ray Ban tinted aviators.
  6. Jeans: Comfortable jeans.
  7. Clark Desert Boots: Great for airport security and really, really comfortable almost anywhere.
  8. Hoodie: A super lightweight Patagonia down hoodie that bunches up really tiny into my carry-on. Great for a cold plane headed to a hot country.
  9. DVDs: I have a few new ones and some old favorites I’m considering ripping off for the show. Right now I’m on a Nagisa Oshima, Takashi Miike jag.
  10. A Fat Book: For that period on the plane when you are prohibited from using electronic devices. Reading Borges now.
  11. Valium or Similar Substance: For long flights and for adjusting to new time zones.
  12. Lomotil or Immodium: For obvious regular risks of the road.
  13. Kwik Clot: Cause you never know these days when arterial bleeding could be a problem.


Bourdain also named a few of his other travel essentials in a 2017 interview with New York Times. These items admittedly feel a bit more current.

  1. Pillow substitute: I always carry a sweatshirt or a scrunchable lightweight down jacket, in case the plane is cold. But just as useful if I need a pillow in an airport, if I have to curl up on a floor or a bench. Actual neck pillows are too bulky and take up too much space.
  2. Moleskine notebooks: I bring three or four. Any writing I do, I do quickly by hand first. And then as a function of inputting it onto the laptop, I edit as I copy it in. That process works for me.
  3. Gi: I practice jiu jitsu; that’s how I stay in shape. It’s mentally good for me and I try to train literally everywhere I go. I bring a couple of [the uniforms called] gi, actually, because one has to give serious consideration, always, I have found, to laundry cycles in hotels. I’m very aware that you need to get it in by 9 or 10 if you want it back the same day and one can’t always do that. I’m a worst-case scenario planner, so chances are I’ll bring three gi just in case the laundry cycle is not what I would like.
  4. Books: I bring at least one physical book, I find that comforting. Often a book set in the country that I’m headed towards. A work of fiction, preferably. The perfect book to read before you go to Vietnam is Graham Greene’s ‘The Quiet American.’ Fiction seems to capture the place in a way that’s more tangible. It just works for me better than a travel guide.
  5. Hidden knife: If it’s a place with heavy street crime, I have this sneaky credit card that turns into a knife. It’s not something you’d want to get into a serious fight with, but it might be a rude surprise should someone grab you from behind as you enter your hotel room.

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