My recent article, Twelve Packing Tips Every Traveler Should Know, included some indispensable items no traveler should be without. Here are a few more favorite things that will keep your travels stress-free:
Mini power strip: Most hotel rooms have a woefully inadequate number of outlets. Even if you travel with a minimum of electronics, there’s just never enough places to “plug in.” This mini Power Strip takes one outlet and turns it into three, plus spots for USB chargers.
External battery: I bought my Mophie external battery at the Apple store, but these can easily be found online. This compact power reserve comes in multiple capacities, it’s lightweight, and can be used to power smart phones and tablets. My son, on the other hand, swears by his solar charger, Goal Zero Venture 30 Solar Kit, which he purchased for his upcoming sailing trip. I made good use of it on our last family vacation in Antigua — it occupied a sunny spot on my lounge chair for most of the week!
Packing Cubes: I know I mentioned this in my last article, but I just can’t say enough about using these packing cubes for multi-destination trips. Versions can be found at the Container Store, Tumi, and LandsEnd. Pack similar items together in a cube and easily transfer them from suitcase to hotel dresser drawer and back again.
Noise canceling earphones: Yes, those earbuds are super convenient, but they don’t always block out all that annoying ambient noise on the plane. Over-the-ear headphones (like Bose) can become VERY pricey, but a basic model like this SONY brand, definitely does the trick at the right price – under $50. (Make sure to throw an extra AAA battery into your carry-on).
Headphone splitter: This little cable can eliminate many family arguments. Just insert into tablet, phone, or laptop and two prickly siblings can watch one movie at the same time. My favorite, the Belkin Rockstar, links up to five headphones to one device.
Wireless keyboard: On second thought, leave that heavy laptop at home and purchase a wireless keyboard if you really need to do some extensive typing while away. These Bluetooth enabled devices can even be hooked up to your smartphone.
Messenger bag: A lightweight nylon cross-body bag will come in handy on any trip, whether trekking through Costa Rican jungles or pounding the pavement of your favorite European city.
Digital luggage scale: This device will help you make sure your bags stay within airline luggage requirements. Take it with you on your trip to check your suitcases once they are filled to the brim with all those gifts and souvenirs.
Travel cosmetic bag: I recently came across this clever “Lay and Go” cosmetic bag — its specially designed “lip” around the perimeter keeps makeup from rolling off the counter (especially beneficial on a cruise ship). Pull on the drawstring and it converts into a sealed soft clutch. (Traveling with kids? Buy the solid color version — it makes a great tote for tiny toys like LEGO’s.)
Shoe bags: Made from cotton or nylon, these are perfect for keeping shoes from soiling your clothing in your suitcase. I picked up these adorable Cath Kidson shoe bags on my last trip to London, but you can order them from the website, or check out Tumi or LLBean for other options.
Mini first-aid kit: I keep a mini first-aid kit stored in my son’s luggage at all times. You can even make your own by using a zippered baggie and filling with bandages, gauze pads, cleansing wipes, medical tape, and antibiotic cream. I also added a small sewing kit and some packets of laundry soap for those equally distressing wardrobe emergencies.
Ticket organizer/passport wallet: My boys made good use of this wallet when they traveled on their own to the British Virgin Islands for a student SCUBA diving program. It helped them keep track of passports, boarding passes, Global Entry cards, cash, and transfer instructions. The wrist strap helps keep the wallet close at hand when checking in or presenting documents to customs officials. Place your cellphone number in a visible location inside just in case you and the wallet get separated.
Adapters and Converters: Electrical systems and outlets vary throughout the world. Check what is required before leaving home and make sure to pack a convertor (which will change the voltage of local electricity to match your device) and adapters (which will reconfigure your plug to match the outlet of the foreign country). Traveling with Apple products? I highly recommend the World Travel Adapter Kit — this indispensable and compact kit includes seven interchangeable AC plugs with prongs that fit most outlets around the globe.
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