This is not just the latest rundown of the ‘newest gadgets you should take on your travels’. This is a practical list of brand independent, time-tested and tried items. Most of them are cheap and reasonably easy to source. They are simply great things to have with you to make your travels a success.
Staying Powered Up
Surge Protected Combination USB Charger and Powerboard
Especially if you are travelling carry-on only you don’t want to be weighed down with a bulky travel board. Technology has advanced enough that we really can all graduate to something smaller and considerably lighter!
My personal one served me pretty well – I picked it up from a hardware store in the power board section. It has two USB charging ports, a single power socket and is surge protected.
This brand – Arlec – is available in Australia and I haven’t been able to find this particular item online – but really any sturdy combination charger like this will do fine. It costs only a few dollars – and some even have more than two USB charging ports or an addition power socket.
I got some bad advice from a Travel Blog during my preparations to travel. It was this – ‘don’t bring a towel, most places you stay will have them’. This is not sound advice.
If you are debating whether to take a towel, debate no longer. Just take one.
Firstly, not all places have towels. Those that do don’t always change them regularly. And furthermore, the presence of towels does not mean the towels will be any good.
Now, I’m not fussy when it comes to towels, but during my travels, I came across some really sad towels that really weren’t much good for drying anything. You won’t regret taking a small and quick-drying travel towel as back up.
I purchased one from my local department store that seems to do the job – gym towels seem to work ok too. Just make sure to buy one that isn’t too heavy.
Another take on the towel issue is presented by Her Packing List and also by the Snarky Nomad who advise multi-use Turkish Travel Towels or Linen Travel Towels, respectively. Both seem to be viable options, though I can’t say I’ve tried either of them.
Travel Money Belt
Better than a neck pouch in that it doesn’t put a strain on your neck, a travel money belt is a great thing to have. Most of the time you probably won’t need it. But there will be times that you know carrying money in your bag or pocket isn’t as safe as it usually is – so it comes in handy.
Get one with a few compartments, sturdy zippers and a reliable clasp. Also, be sure it is large enough to hold your passport – yet not too big so that it will look bulky.
I adore my travel money belt – but sadly I don’t think Kathmandu is making the exact same one anymore. But if their old design is anything to go by their new ones might be worth checking out.
Earphones and A Spare
It is pretty disastrous when you settle into your seat for a long journey, put in your earbuds and what happens is…nothing. Unless you have top dollar headphones, etc you probably know that earbuds are a disposable purchase..and you never know when they will stop working. So my motto is: Have a pair – and a spare!
A Large Bit of Fabric
This has to be one of my favourite travel accessories. It is an all-purpose item that can have a multitude of uses. Use it as a makeshift blanket, as a headscarf – yes guys can wrap it man-style like a turban, as a shawl or skirt. Use it as a picnic blanket, temporary towel or even as a top – if you can pull off some creative tying.
When selecting fabric for this purpose there are a few things you will want to keep in mind:
Weight – Sure you want it to be lightweight. But at the same time, if it is too light it might to too transparent or not substantial or absorbent enough to perform as a towel.
Warmth – Again, if it is too lightweight it will not be likely to provide enough warmth. Then again, you don’t want it so warm that it is unsuitable for use in the tropics.
Wrinkle-Factor – As with most travel items, wrinkle-free is great. But even if it isn’t wrinkle-free, you at least want it to not be prone to staying wrinkled. I mean, you don’t want to have to iron it all the time.
Width – Wide and long is good. Aim for a size that you could wrap around your chest and which would at still fall to your knees or longer.
While it can be fun to have brightly coloured and patterned stuff, this doesn’t create a very versatile item. Ideally, you want a colour and style that can be used equally well on the beach as for a casual evening out as a wrap. So aim for something simple.
Also, consider if it will take long to dry. Now, it doesn’t have to be made of one of those fancy ‘dry-in-under-an-hour’ fabrics, but you also don’t want it to take too long to dry. This is the case for most of your travel clothing anyway, so should be a general consideration when choosing things for travel.
Not only do things that dry more quickly give you less hassle in terms of laundry, but they also are less likely to stay wet if they get wet while you are wearing them.
Definitely, feel free to simply purchase a length of fabric and stitch down the ends if you find something cheap that suits you. It can be hard to find something that ticks ALL the boxes I mentioned above, but try to get as close as you can.
There’s no point packing all this great gear only to have it all destroyed as soon as you step out of the airport into monsoon weather. Therefore, be sure to pack a…
A lot of travellers invest in expensive lightweight packable raincoats – but the truth is that most of these simply won’t keep you dry during a serious downpour.
By all means bring a fashionable rain slicker – but also keep cheap disposable ponchos on hand.
These are often big enough to allow you to be able to wear it over your bag as well – helping to keep not only you – but your stuff! – dry.
Resealable Sandwich Bags
If you haven’t already read my post on why digital nomads should use resealable sandwich bags, you don’t know what you are missing!
Suffice it to say, that I am convinced of their superiority and versatility for the traveller who likes to travel light – and they keep your stuff dry!
I like to think of the following as the essential trio for staying rested during your travels:
Definitely an essential part of your travel gear. Sure you could use a folded bandana or a scarf – but let’s face it, Travel Eye Masks are super-cheap and light, so you had might as well get one.
They help to block out the constant brightness when you are trying to sleep on a red-eye flight, help you to rest during long journeys in the daytime and they tell other people that you don’t want to be disturbed – that’s priceless, right?
The partner of the Travel Eye Mask earplugs blocks out noise, where the mask blocks out light. It’s all about blocking out sensory stimulation so that you can chill out during your travels.
The final side in the ‘comfortable travel trio triange’ – the Travel Pillow. Why? Because if the ear plugs and eye mask do their job then you should be on your way to an excellent nap…but when you sleep sitting upright you often lack neck support, meaning you wake up with your head cocked to strange angles. Not good.
Even if you have no intention of sleeping, travel pillows can make journeys more comfortable just by providing general support and soft comfort – always welcome in any form when you are confined to a small space for an extended period.
What are your must-have travel accessories? Do you have any items that may seem insignificant, but actually ensure your journey is enjoyable and stress-free?