Travel Items That Matter
Over the last few years we’ve invested a considerable amount of money in travel equipment, from luggage and packing systems to gadgets and single-purpose tools. Here are some that have been the most useful pound for pound.
Possibly our most-used travel item for sheer number of days used, the pack is our go-to for organising and storing clothes on the road. Each pack has a carry handle, hooks for hanging over a door or railing, and 6 compartments for clothing or items. Essentially you have a small backpack/carryon sized chest of drawers. I use the small compartments at the bottom for socks and underwear, and generally have one or two compartments each for shirts, pants, and weather specific items.
The first generation packs closed with clips, and I hate using the one we have because small items will squeeze out the gaps. The second and subsequent generations of The Pack brought the option to have compartments close with zippers. We bought three and haven’t regretted it for a second.
Although there is no particular brand to which I am devoted, over the years of travel the item I have most missed when forgotten is a good portable power pack. Although they don’t have much direct utility (some come with a small LED light that you can use to find things in the dark), there is something to be said for the peace of mind knowing that if your mobile device is about to run out of battery, you can always plug it in to charge while you continue to explore. This is also great for anything that charges or runs off of USB power – including camera battery chargers, portable fans, and Darcey has recently acquired an electric spinning wheel that will probably be coming on future trips with us.
It’s a library that fits in a suit pocket. If that doesn’t amaze you, you need to read more books.
One of my favourite new travel items from the past few years, the Mogics Power Donut/Bagel combines a plug adapter, USB power adapter, and a 5 outlet power strip with a meter long cord into a single device the size of a bagel. This means that a single wall outlet can charge two phones, and any combination of 5 laptops or other devices that run off of standard plugs. This is a life-saver when staying in hotels or guest rooms with limited socket access.
Although I sadly lost my original Tilley visible in the picture above – or perhaps some envious individual pilfered it while I wasn’t paying attention – I still love these hats. My first one lasted about a decade, and a few travel stains aside was still comfortable and in great condition. They keep the sun off, they keep rain off, they float, and they’re backed by one of the most comprehensive warranties around. Hopefully I will keep my new one even longer than the first.
Saving the best for last, these are probably my most used everyday carry item. I usually try to bring at least three or four on any extended trip: they’re good for mopping up spills, cleaning dirty children, drying wet hands when washing in areas without towel dispensers or hand dryers, wrapping up leftover food or snacks, and even keeping cool when it gets hot out.
This is one of my favourite travel/survival hacks. Just wet the handkerchief and twist or roll it diagonally until you have a long thin strip of damp cloth. Wrap it around your neck snugly, but not so tight it’s uncomfortable. Evaporation keeps the cloth cooler than your skin, which in turn cools the blood in the major veins and arteries in your neck.
I still have a few handkerchiefs that I bought from a dollar store when I worked at a summer camp more than a decade ago: they last forever, and get softer with use.