Travel essentials vary from person to person and the items packed usually depend on one’s destination. I’ve found that regardless of where I’m going, there are a few basic things that I never leave home without. They are listed below in no particular order.
1. Travel toiletry
Even with universal logos, it’s sometimes hard to decipher product variations when looking at foreign packaging so I like to have my favorite brand of deodorant, lotion, toothpaste, and dental floss with me.
Hand wipes and small tissue packs are my other must-haves. There is no guarantee that you’ll find soap and tissue in a public bathroom, so my motto is: Better be safe than sorry.
2. Clothing and Accessories
Naturally, the destination’s weather forecast influences what you put in your suitcase. In my case, comfortable shoes, a pair of jeans, and a jacket or sweater are constant fixtures no matter what it says. Nothing is worse than getting blisters on the road, so having the right pair of shoes is crucial. And, if you don’t have time to pack everything, you can easily dress jeans up or down with tops from a local shop. I need the sweater or jacket for the airport and airplane because the air-conditioning always seems to be set to sub-zero temperatures (at least in my book).
With regards to accessories, my sole non-negotiable is a cross body bag. I do not do fanny packs, and shoulder bags are too easy to snatch. With a cross body bag, you can combine hands-free comfort with safety and style.
3. A voltage converter and plug adapters
After one memorable curling iron disaster in London (I mean loud popping sounds and smoke filing the air dramatics), I never board a plane now without a voltage converter and plug adapters. I suppose having to go through two or more curling irons in one three week cross-country trip will do that to you. It was a frustrating experience. Try as I might, I just could not find a device with the barrel size and temperature settings that I needed.
Of course, many electronic devices like phone and camera chargers, laptops and tablets are now dual voltage, but I drag my converter and adapters along nonetheless. You never know what to expect.
I like having healthy meals, and I believe in the ‘eating five small meals a day’ theory. But we all know that such lofty nutritional goals are hard to maintain on holiday. When you’re on the go, fried and fatty foods, and various sweets often replace the healthier items like fat-free or low fat dairy, lean protein, nuts, fruit and vegetables.
As a result, I pack a few snacks as back-up in case I have to skip the artery-clogging meal options. My stash ranges from instant oatmeal and hot chocolate packs to crackers, nutri-bars and nuts. Almonds, and trail mixes with peanuts and raisin combinations are my favorite. Bottled water, bought at the destination, is a great accompaniment.
5. Over-the-counter drugs
True confession: I had a funny yet embarrassing encounter with an airport security rep on my way to Cayman Brac one Easter week-end. The gentleman asked me if I had any tablets on me, and I proceeded to delay the line while I turned my bag upside down to look for my vitamins.
Deadpan, the man looked me in the eye and said, “I mean electronic devices ma’am; as in iPads or Nooks.” Feeling quite daft, I simply smiled and said no. All in slow motion. What else was a girl to do? My excuse is that it had been a rough work week, and I was tired!
So by now I’m sure you’ve figured out what’s in my travel pillbox. Heartburn and diarrhea medicine are often packed too.
6. Bug spray
I am a magnet for every type of insect that lives so I have to rely on bug spray to protect my skin from bites and stings. There are several brands on the market and finding the perfect one may take some time. I’m a Deep Woods convert.
7. Backup documents
I always travel with a folder that has print outs of my entire vacation itinerary – flights, hotel reservations, airport transfers and coupons for car rentals and day trips. I think it’s also a good idea to keep a copy of my passport somewhere safe, as well as a list of important numbers, like my bank and credit card company.
8. Reading material
Finally, books or magazines are always in my tote because I love to read even more than I love to travel (and that’s saying something). Judging from my earlier story, it’s clear that I don’t travel with Nooks or Kindles. But a riveting hard cover or paperback? Bring it on!
How does your list compare?