I got a call last night from a friend who’s about to go to the USA for business, asking me what “bits and pieces” I take with me on my travels. Here’s a list of things I take with me wherever I go:
I no longer travel with a laptop. My iPad runs all the applications I have on my PC, including Microsoft Office. I pack vga and hdmi connectors so that I can use it to screen presentations. I use its Kindle app rather than carrying a separate e-book reader. I subscribe to Amazon Prime which allows me to download movies and I download a load of programmes using BBC iPlayer before leaving home. (I’m a particular sucker for back episodes of Casualty and QI.)
I use my iPhone as my travel camera these days, rather than taking a separate one. And, of course, because I have sold my soul to Apple, my iPhone has all my music on it as well. And my emails. And my diary. And the details of all my contacts. And my life. Incidentally, I switch off cellular data before leaving Europe and rely on wifi.
A really good set of earphones
I prefer earbuds to ‘over the ear’ headphones. At the moment I use Beats by Dr. Dre urBeats Earphones. I find the earbuds block out all extraneous noise, so I haven’t bothered travelling with noise cancelling headphones for years, even though many people tell me they couldn’t do without them. I also use these with in-flight entertainment systems. On British Airways, I don’t need an adaptor.
On long flights, I enjoy having more than a thimble-full of coffee. (Cabin crew are always very kind and often make me a fresh pot of coffee to put into the flask.) My flask is made by Bodum and is a stylish lime green. Lovely. No, it is. Really. And here’s a confession: I tend to use my flask for making coffee in my hotel room too. I’m never entirely confident that the mugs you find with the complimentary tea and coffee have ever seen the inside of a dishwasher…
A bag of cables
I have a bag of cables for my gadgets that I only use when travelling, which means I don’t have to remember what to pack. I’ve recently included an hdmi cable – This allows me to plug my iPad into most hotel room TVs, so I can watch stuff on a large screen if I want to do so. I live life on the edge.
USB charging hub
All my gadgets now use USB plugs rather than traditional mains electrical plugs. So I use the charging hub and just one travel adaptor to link it to the mains.
This sits by my bed. I can never find a light switch in the dark in a strange room
Mine packs up really small. It makes me look like a geek. I am a geek. I do not get wet. (I lose umbrellas.)
My mum taught me how to wash my own underwear and socks when I was ten in preparation for the first time I travelled without my parents. I went to stay in Paris with my Dad’s cousin. I have travelled light and done my own washing ever since. This clothes-line is excellent. Never, ever trust any travel clothes-line with rubber vacuum sucker type thingies. It will not work.
I know they’re a bit silly, but I have to put one on if I’m going to get any decent sleep on a plane. My eye-mask sticks out at the front, so it doesn’t make contact with my eyelids when I’m wearing it. This makes it much more comfortable than the ones given out by airlines.
Bluetooth travel speakers
I like to listen to music and podcasts of ‘The Archers’ in my hotel room. Strangely, this is not always appreciated by the people in the adjacent rooms. I have learned to be sensible with the volume. I use JBL speakers.
I try to run or swim every day when travelling. If I haven’t recorded the activity and uploaded it from my Garmin to Strava, then I haven’t done it. Sad, I know, but true.
And associated kit, stuffed into the shoes. And swimming trunks. And swimming goggles.
I used to get very sniffy with people who insisted on eating food from home when travelling. I always try to be adventurous with local cuisine. But sometimes, I just crave Vegemite on toast at breakfast. (It could just as easily be Marmite – but Vegemite make excellent squeezy travel tubes of their product for itinerant Australians. You can’t get these tubes in the UK, but my friend and colleague, Sue, brings me supplies each time she travels from Sydney to meet me.)
And some things I no longer carry:
1 A kindle – because my iPad does the trick.
2 A neck support – because I’ve found that, actually, I can sleep perfectly well on a plane without one.
3 A ‘travel jacket’ – because no-one needs to look like they’re about to start a jungle safari when they’re in Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Even if they are actually about to start a jungle safari.
4 Little plastic bottles of shampoo – I have yet to find a hotel that does not provide shampoo.
5 Travel towel – I have yet to find a hotel that does not provide a towel. Though I do accept that some hotel towels leave a lot to be desired, they are always better than a travel towel.