My favorite ten travel essentials I like to take along with me are small enough to pack and have come in very handy. Keep in mind to check the voltage used in the countries you are traveling to. MOST major electronics like laptops, PDA’s, camera and battery chargers, and cell phone chargers are dual voltage: 110 / 220. You just have to check and make sure they are or you will fry your gear if you plug it in. If your items are dual-voltage, you will need plug adapters which easily attach to your existing plug. Most times its best to buy them before you leave because you can probably find them somewhat cheaper at home. If you can avoid it, I would not recommend bringing a voltage converter if you don’t have to because they tend to be bulky which wastes packing space and they are usually heavy.
Immersion coil – Sometimes when you are traveling you may see a tea or other instant hot drink you’d like to try. Immersion coils are used to heat water in a cup. Make sure its a travel one rated dual voltage. Just make sure you unplug it before you remove it from the water or you’ll burn it out. You can pack a cup or buy one that catches your eye. Remember when packing a cup to put small stuff inside it so you are utilizing that space as well.
Large Ziplock bags – Eventually you may have rain on your trip and you won’t want to have your cell phone, documents, camera lenses and other sensitive items getting wet. Large Ziplock bags will come in handy for this. They keep dust out too.
Electrical Plug Adapters – as mentioned above, your gear may be dual voltage compliant, but you won’t be able to plug them into some outlets in other countries, especially if it has a three prong grounding plug like they have in the United States. You may also want to bring along a power strip with surge protection. Depending on how dependable the electrical service is in some countries, you’ll want to protect your equipment from electrical surges or again they may get fried. Most importantly, make sure you don’t leave the adapter behind in the wall socket when you check out or move on. Happens a lot.
Travel Journal (and a pen) – Although we all tend to use laptops now, travel journals have a duel purpose. When you have down time at night or on the move, it can be fun to jot down notes or passages which are more personal for you. The journal also becomes a handy holder for postcards you may buy and ticket stubs you may want to keep as mementoes. They’re good too for pressing wild flowers or leaves you may see along the way.
Passport / ID Holder – I have traveled a lot and use one that hangs around my neck. It holds my passport and any other documents I would consider important and sensitive to include spare cash. I have also tucked it into the top of my pants at the small of my back and tied the cord around my belt loop if it gets uncomfortable around my neck. My advise to everyone is NEVER leave your passport in your hotel room, hostel room, or wherever you stay because unfortunately you never know what may happen to it. That little hotel safe may look like a good place to keep it safe, but most are not bolted down. You may even be asked to present your passport in public while walking around like I was once in France by a gendarme. There’s nothing more intimidating then being surrounded by a bunch of policemen armed with machineguns. Better to keep these kinds of items with you especially in this day and age.
Multi-purpose tool – What is a multi-purpose tool? It’s a gadget that has all kinds of little tools that could come in handy when traveling. I have a Gerber tool, but also have used a “Leatherman”. You never know when you might have to make an adjustment to your pack or other item and it has a can opener. This would have to be placed in your checked bag however because there is a small folding knife blade and some other pointed items which would be frowned upon if found in your carry on. This is especially true in the U.S. because TSA will take it.
Small flashlight – Good to have in case of blackouts or for rummaging around in your bag while staying with other people in a hostel or a train car. Nothing more annoying than someone who turns the lights on while you’re sleeping.
Mole skin / bandaids / tube of triple antibiotic ointment / Q-tips – Take care of your feet or they won’t take care of you. More than likely you will be doing a lot of walking. New shoes for the trip you thought would be perfect for the trip? Or new sandals that have that back band that rubs and rubs until you have a blister? The mole skin with cover the affected area to protect it before you get a blister. If the blister pops, you’ll want to keep the area clean. Remember you are in a different environment and you may be introducing bacteria or other organisms through the wound which could cause you problems. The Q-tips are for applying the ointment so you don’t cross contaminate the tube. This assortment of items makes up a small first-aid kit that doesn’t take up much room and can be kept in a baggie. These travel essential items are excellent to also use on any small cuts and abrasions you may get when falling off that bar stool while drinking a few pints with your new found friends. :-)
Waterproof point and shoot camera with mini-tripod – These have come a long way over the years and are a great backup for your expensive camera you may have brought along with you that you don’t want to get wet. Snorkeling rated cameras are great for this.
Small packages of wet wipes / antiseptic wipes – for quick cleanups and for wiping the “seat” before you use the bathroom. Some countries you may travel to may ‘do things’ differently for ‘cleaning up after’ and the antiseptic wipes especially are worth a piece of mind anyway.
Well, I hope these suggestions are helpful for someone out there. I know they have been for me. Happy travels!