8 things you shouldn't travel without

15 June 2016

8 things you shouldn't travel without

What are the things you shouldn't travel without?

Your passport. Obviously. Goes without saying.

Toothbrush. If you want to speak to other humans on your holiday.

Insurance. Undies. Your phone.

But beyond the blindingly obvious, here's our tips for eight things you really should be packing next time you travel.

Some extraordinarily comfortable shoes

You will be walking. A lot. Probably a lot more than usual. Exploring a local town, walking a coastal path to an ancient fortress, wandering a gallery – even if you are not on a hiking trip, you'll be on your feet a lot. You need some good, supportive shoes.

Yes, they may look marginally daggier than your usual city footwear. But it's worth it to keep on your feet that little bit longer. You'll have the leg strength left at the end of the day to walk that extra two blocks to the city's best icecream shop. And that is something you definitely should prioritise.

Some local words

Whether it's a language app on your phone or a few notes in your journal, don't go anywhere without some basic words in the local lingo.

Start with the basics: Hello. Thank you. Good bye.

Add some pleasantries: How are you? Good thank you.

Add something that roughly translates as the useful: Thank you very very very very much.

And then learn some eating and shopping words:  What is this? How much is this? Can I have this please?

Add more if you are a keen linguist. A bit of effort with the language shows respect and will go a long way towards starting some genuine exchanges with the local residents. And that is what creates a rich and rewarding travel experience.

A bag for your cords and tech

Phone charger, tablet charger, laptop charger, usbs... no-one these days is without a tangle of cords and plugs. Instead of throwing them in at the last minute on top of your other stuff, or randomly shoving them into the pockets of your bag, make a dedicated place for them.

Get a drawstring bag or an old toiletries bag and put all those bits and pieces together. Your cords wont get tangled, you'll know where to find them, and you can do a mental tally when you are packing up – if you know there should be four cords in the bag, you won't accidentally leave the phone charger plugged in behind the bedhead.

And an extra suggestion – a double adaptor or four-socket powerboard can mean you can charge more than one device at once using a single international adaptor. Pretty handy for the plugged-in traveller.

Something to meaningful read

Sure, you've got your tablet and your phone and access to a world of information. But this is a holiday. You should use the break in routine to disconnect from the grid, even just a little bit. Engage the world around you, and when you need some down time, don't jump on facebook and see what's happening in your normal life. Your normal life will be there when you get back. Give it a break.

Take a meaty novel (or a history or biography) that's set in the place you are visiting. Think 'A Suitable Boy' for India, 'The Sun Also Rises' for France and Spain, or 'The Motorcycle Diaries' in South America. The book will be so much more meaningful when you are amongst the places and the culture that it describes – and you will be totally absorbed in your travel destination.

A scarf or sarong

A big scarf is good for wrapping around your neck to keep warm. But there's so much more your scarf can do for you. It can be a towel on the beach, a blanket on the plane, a pillowcase for a grubby pillow or a headcover for a temple. And if all that hasn't made it too filthy, you can throw it on before you hit the town, to add some colour to your outfit.

Germ protection equipment

We're not going to spell out a whole first aid kit for you here, but four handy things to take in the germ protection department are:

Band aids – for blisters from walking and for keeping the germs out of cuts and grazes

Antiseptic – for keeping those little cuts from turning into festering wounds

Hand sanitiser – for those times when you don't have access to clean water

Electrolyte powder – for re-hydrating after a tummy bug or a day in sweltering heat

A pocket knife

A pocket knife may sound a little boy scout-ish if you are off to Vienna or Paris. You won't need to be fashioning a rudimentary leg splint or hacking down palm fronds to build a waterproof shelter. But, actually, a pocket knife is the handiest of things wherever you are. Mainly for eating – eating any place, any time.

In Paris, you can buy a baguette and a slab of cheese in the local deli and head to a nearby park for an instant picnic. In Vienna, grab a slab of plum cake and cut it up to share with your mates. In Vietnam, buy a pawpaw at the local market and tuck straight in.

Depending on your pocket knife model, you can also cut your nails, open a bottle of wine, remove a splinter, crack open a beer, file your nails... and build a waterproof palm-frond shelter.

A little bag of random handy things

Lastly, get a little snaplock sandwich bag. Put in it: a couple of safety pins, a few rubber bands, a bit of strong string, a needle and thread and a couple of spare snaplock bags. Then shove the little snaploack bag  in a useless pocket in your travel bag. This little bag of handy things will weigh under 20 grams and wont bother you – but if you need it, it will be invaluable.