The more I travel, the more I develop a specialist travel kit that only comes with me on the road. As time passes, the higher I value ruthless efficiency when it comes to packing – there comes a time when you start learning the difference between any old shirt and a Magic Shirt. I’m at the stage now where there may be a few changes in the bag each time, but it’s mostly full of ever-presents. And here are 13 of the now-familiar items that I find invaluable…
Cabin Max Backpack
I rarely check in luggage these days, and this baby is largely responsible. It holds 44 litres of stuff, is very lightweight and is to the exact maximum specifications of even the stingiest budget airline (hello Ryanair!). I find I can get twelve days of clothes plus all other necessary gear inside it without it being too much of a squash. I’ll usually put in a day pack that folds up super-small too so that I can effectively use the Cabin Max as a keep-in-room case once I’m out of the airport.
2 x Swiss Travel Products Travel Adaptors
I have a tendency to pick things up in weird places due to emergencies. I have a Mexican phone charger, an Australian iPod and French camera battery charger. I need an everything-to-everything adaptor at home, let alone abroad. The Swiss Travel Products ones are incredibly nifty in terms of design, and they stop me having to think about what plug sockets I’m going to encounter – they can handle all of them. Well, apart from the really awkward ones in , but that’s another issue.
Design Go Charge-It
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My Mexican phone charger is, thankfully, in retirement now. I have this handy beast instead. There are two key innovations here. One is including detachable heads for most major mobile phone brands as well as the iPod; the other is having a USB slot at the back so you can charge two things at once with the same charger. It saves having a bag full of chargers – one of these sorts out my phone, my fiancée’s phone and both iPods.
I spend a lot of time walking around in high temperatures – and I’ve found that Craghoppers do the best Magic Shirts. They’re just about presentable to wear in the evening, they’re quick to sink-wash, they dry quickly, they’ve got ample pocket space for storing phones/ notepads and on the more expensive versions there’s secure zip pocket to protect cash and passports from vile ruffians. The basic Craghopper Kiwi shirts are good, although the Nosilife ones are even better.
Bottle opener keyfob
I have lost count of the amount of times a bottle opener keyring has made me the most popular person for miles around. Where there is thirst, there is not always something to open bottles of beer with…
Canon Powershot SX 200 IS camera
I’m not a photographer, but I’m often asked by editors for photographs if I have some. In the past, I owned a bigger camera, but hardly ever used it because I couldn’t be arsed to get it out of my day bag. The Canon Powershot SX 200 IS fits easily in my pocket, and thus I use it far more regularly. It also has impressive battery life and spec – 12.1 megapixel and 12x optical zoom.
Merrell Moab Ventilator shoes
As footwear goes, this is as close to a happy medium as I’ve ever found. As long as you’re not doing formal in the evening, the Merrells do the job as smart-casual wear, whilst they’re also suited to proper hiking. I also find that they’re quite airy and let the feet breathe – essential when walking round European cities in the summer months.
Bridgedale Trainer socks
Cotton socks are awful for your feet when it’s hot. They retain sweat and turn your feet into fungal havens. And, put simply, I like these Bridgedale socks because they do a sterling job of keeping my feet dry.
I’m somewhat promiscuous on brand with these – as long as they zip off into shorts just above the knee, are easily sink-washable, dry quickly and have a secure zip pocket, I don’t mind who makes them. They’re never going to be fashionable, but they’re extremely useful (especially if you have to go straight out from a day-long trudge or need to dress respectfully in a church etc) and take up very little space in the bag.
Acer Aspire One Pro 531h-06k
I don’t need amazing computer – and I certainly see no need for an iPad, iPhone or the accompanying roaming charges. But I do need a computer to connect to the internet with and type on. There are undoubtedly better options on the market, but this 10.1 inch screen netbook does the job perfectly for me. It’s small, weighs virtually nothing, and with 2GB RAM and a 250GB hard drive, it can store all of my photos and all of my music. The battery life is superb, too. If only it had a CD drive…
It doesn’t matter what noise you’re shutting out – plane, street or snoring – a set of earplugs is arguably the most cost-effective purchase you’ll ever make…
Plastic travel bottles
The only problem with travelling hand luggage-only is getting round restrictions on liquids. My solution is to decant sun cream and moisturizer into cheap plastic 100ml bottles that do the job just fine.
Europa Minor 127x76mm notepads
I’ve learned my lesson with big notepads – lose it, and you lose a hell of a lot of information. So I now stick to lots of little notepads that fit in my pocket easily and can fit one to three days’ worth of notes in. I like the Europa ones because they come in different colours, and it makes my rather odd filing system a lot easier (yellow for cities beginning with A, B and C, blue for D, E, F and G etc).
Disclosure: Many of the links to the products mentioned are tracked to my affiliate account on Amazon. I make a feeble commission on anything bought through these links. I genuinely do take these products everywhere, however – and I’ve used Amazon because prices are generally lowest there. Other outlets may be cheaper, however, and it might be worth looking round elsewhere if you’re absolutely desperate to look like me when you’re travelling.