Here are a few things I use regularly and recommend highly for a traveler–either someone you’re buying for or for your own wish list:
Quart-sized zipper bag (with travel bottles). I write bottles in parenthesis because it’s not them I use. The bag might seem expensive, but it’s worth it. I keep my liquids packed, ready to go anytime. This bag is sturdy plastic with a real zipper, so it can be closed on more items the quart-size from the kitchen cabinet, and it won’t pop open under pressure. This is especially good because as Mom, I’m the one with the extra stuff, like itch medicine and first aid cream.
First Class sleeper cushion. I felt really self-conscious the first time I slid this behind me and inflated it. But after using it one time . . . who cares what anybody else thinks? Now I don’t ever want to fly a long flight without this. Used as directed, it has the effect of letting you stretch out like flat in bed, even though you’re diagonal. It puts me in a position for my legs to be straight with my feet under the seat in front, without bumping my knees of the seat in front of me, so while I’m trying to sleep it doesn’t matter how much the seat in front of me is reclined. If I inflate it less, I can fold it in half for a lower back cushion.
No Jet Lag. This is another must when I’m crossing more than 2 time zones. Chew one pill (pleasantly sweet) taking off, then every 2 hours, and when landing. I admit that even without No Jet Lag, I don’t get hit as hard as some by the effects of jet lag. But with the pills, it’s even less.
Dual-voltage beverage heater. Dual voltage means I can use it in the US and internationally where the voltage is 220. I pack this with a non-breakable mug from home and whatever hot beverage mix we’ll want.
Collapsible water bottle. When it’s empty, it rolls up small. After I go through security in places where water is safe to drink, I fill it at a water fountain–lots less expensive than buying bottled water. When I’m in countries where water needs to be filtered. I might need to go ahead and buy bottled, but sometimes there’ll be a large filter container I can use to fill the bottle.
Headlamp. I can’t say enough good things about my headlamp. In places where there often are blackouts, I wear it like a necklace after dark, so I have it ready immediately with my hands totally free for serving, eating, mending, etc. On Joni and Friends wheelchair missions, our mechanics used headlamps regularly in the low lighting of the hall where we worked. For a long time I’ve kept a flashlight in my purse, even at home. Now I just keep my headlamp there instead.
Bandannas. Even when I’m not traveling, I always have a bandanna folded up in my purse (unless I forget to replace one that’s in the laundry). When I’m on the road, I have several. They’re one of my best multi-purpose tools. Napkin. Hand towel. Mop up spills. Sweat wiper. Neck sun protection. Washcloth (and even bath towel in a pinch). Cooler (saturate and wear around neck). Impromptu kid’s game (bandit mask, pirate headgear, cowboy kerchief , peekaboo with a baby . .).
Kindle. I never have to wonder which books to pack or whether I have enough baggage weight allowance. On my Kindle, I have hundreds of books with me, including sometimes tour guides for the place I’m visiting.
Flash drive (with more memory than you think you’ll need). I often need one of these, especially for transferring files to someone else’s computer–maybe for printing a document or giving the other person photos I’ve taken of them. The one that’s pictured isn’t one I have, but I like that there’s no cap to lose and that there’s a ring so I can fasten it to my bag (one less thing to wonder where it is.)
Three-prong adaptor. You never know when you’ll run into a socket that only takes 2 prongs. Then what do you do about recharging your laptop? I keep one of these in my everyday computer bag as well as in my travel electronics bag.
Extension cord. This is another way to add spaces to plug at least 3 more electric items. And often, even in nice places, the closest socket is across the room, so the extension cord brings electricity to where you need it.
Dual voltage power strip. This is the kind I have. There’s space enough between the sockets to allow for those bulky boxes on some of my electronics. Don’t assume that just any power strip you have at home will work internationally. I embarrassed myself by blowing the fuse twice in a guesthouse in Germany before I figured out that it mattered.
But I just saw this other travel power strip and I love it that it accommodates almost all the different international plugs.
International plug adaptors. Even with a cool power strip like the one above, I’d want to take plug adaptors for plugging something in on the other side of the room, for example.
Electronics bag. At first glance, you might think this is a cosmetics or jewelry case, but you’d be wrong–at least about mine. Each little compartments is labeled with the electronic device or charger that goes into it, so I know at a glance if anything’s missing before I finish packing.
Packing cubes. I used to think these would be a waste of money, till I traveled with someone who used them. Then I was sold. I love the way they fill up the suitcase to the corners and compact stuff just enough so it’s not overflowing the edges of the case. And when I arrive, I pull out all the blouses at one time, or all the trousers, or whatever. It’s a time saver, and I don’t arrive home and say when I’m unpacking, “Oh there’s that scarf. I thought it was in there somewhere!”
Mini camera tripod. This is another of those items that’s in my purse at home as well as with me when I’m traveling. With the flexible legs, it can adapt to uneven surfaces or wrap around a tree branch. My most common times for using the tripod are when I’m setting up for a self-timed photo or for a video.
What are other things you must have when you’re traveling?
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