Everybody has their own personal list of ‘essentials’ that they would not dream of leaving the house without, let alone going on an extended trip. It is not by any means intended as a travel ‘bible’ of must take items, but a personal list, which will prove useful for anybody considering travelling, especially those who stray from the well trodden path!
Multitool – this are great pieces of kit, with a variety of tools all packed into one small easily transportable little item. There are a number of manufacturers of these, Leatherman, Gerber or Victorinox make the best. They usually include pliers, scissors, a blade, saw, bottle opener, coskscrew, screwdrivers and many other useful little tools. They can even be purchased in the form of a credit card sized pack of tools, just do not forget it must be packed in hold luggage for flying.
Powermonkey-eXplorer – this handy little device has been a virtual life saver for me on many occasions. It is a portable charging system that is charged from a normal power supply or by using a small solar charger. It holds the charge quite well and although the solar panel is not especially efficient it’s been enough to keep my mobile devices charged on several longish trips away from the nearest wall socket. It will usually fully charge all but the most power-hungry of devices more than once from a single full charge. It will even work as a universal adaptor/charger as the mains plug has changeable ‘heads’ and connectors useful in most countries, and on a variety of rechargeable devices.
Universal adaptor – In today’s modern world even the most independent of us have the need to use a mains socket now and then, possibly even more than a clean toilet for the really adventurous. This then is the second no-brainer, knowledge is power, but a universal adaptor will offer the source and keep our multitude of travel gadgets working wherever we may travel. An adaptor that also includes a USB socket is even closer to travelling nirvana.
Universal charger – It may seem that there are a few items which are device related but the fact is most of us still want to stay in contact with the outside world wherever we are. Camera, mobile phone, mp3 players all need to be kept charged and there is no escaping the need for devices to achieve this. The obvious problem is that they all seem to need a different charger, as every device has different connections and batteries. The Powermonkey-eXplorer is very capable, but won’t be able to charge AAA or AA batteries and possibly not camera batteries either. A number of companies; Ansmann or Delkin however make good universal chargers that will charge most if not all of these, and if combined with the eXplorer should cover all your devices. This should save on having to carry a charger for every gadget you take.
Hammock – Possibly not high on the list of those that only stay in five-star hotels. To those that enjoy straying beyond resorts and finding secret destinations they are worth their weight in gold. Hammocks vary greatly in comfort and versatility, and whilst a simple string mesh hammock will be perfectly fine for very occasional use, a little more shelter and comfort is available for little extra cost or weight. My personal hammock has a tarp and mosquito net attached and still weighs a less around half a kilo, made from lightweight parachute silk. There are many manufacturers of quality personal sleeping systems, to give it a posh name, but Hennessy Hammocks are excellent and Hammock Bliss are a great budget choice
I used to serve in the military and often had to travel Hercules class or by Chinook helicopter, neither of which are built for the comfort and notoriously slow. On particularly long flights I would always ask the ‘cabin’ crew’ if I could strategically deploy my hammock. Trust me it is much more comfortable than the seating arrangements! It has also saved me and uncomfortable night on the ground when Bastia airport unexpectedly closed until the morning; I received many envious glances from my fellow travellers as I set-up that night, and even slept in the next morning!
First Aid Kit – This is an essential item, end of story. Sure you can usually buy items in the local towns, but shops close and most of us head out-of-town occasionally. It is only for yourself and travelling companions, therefore it need not be as comprehensive as the average paramedics kit. Scissors, assorted plasters and sterile dressings, antiseptic ointment, safety pins, paracetamol and possibly some eye-wash are basic necessities. If the plan includes really heading out in the wilderness for any length of time consider a sterile ‘sharps’ kit, consisting of hypodermic needles and syringes as hygiene is usually lacking in remote locations. A small dental kit is also useful as toothache in the middle of nowhere is not anybody’s idea of fun. A reliable supplier is LifeSystems.
Sewing/Repair kit – There are likely to be times when something will get damaged or just worn out. It maybe more convenient to just buy a new shirt or pair of shorts but replacing that super comfortable backpack is a less appealing option. A sewing kit, some strong breaking strain monofilament, duct tape, a small tube of super glue, paracord and a puncture repair kit will cover most eventualities.
Sleeping bag liner & mattress cover – Five star travellers look away now, but for those of us which regularly use words like “budget” and “shoestring” in our vocabulary these two items are pretty indispensable. If when you are looking for accommodation your usually use the drop down menu and enter “cheapest first” then you have probably stayed in more than your fair share of less than salubrious hostels. Hygiene is often not a consideration, checking out the reviews can often avoid this, but every once in a while we all get caught out. Avoid using the supplied ‘bedding’ and sleep in your own cocoon, as sleeping bags are often too warm. Too avoid any nasty bed lice a specifically designed mattress cover will keep you smiling and feeling all smug and savvy for days afterwards, especially if you’re travelling companion is continually scratching themselves throughout!
PacSafe TravelSafe – PacSafe make great quality security items for travellers. Some items however are pretty heavy and exclude themselves from most packing lists; the travelsafes however are extremely useful. They come in three sizes; my personal preference is the TravelSafe 12l as this will even take an average size laptop and is probably the best compromise of size, weight and security. It maybe secured to any fixed object in a room, vehicle or wherever, to leave it in full view is still unwise of course and I would recommend upgrading to a sturdier padlock than the one supplied.
Mosquito net/repellent – show of hands, who likes being bitten by mosquitoes, ah yeah strange guy at the back with the cigarette burn scars, wearing the thumbscrews, self piercings and the studded jockstrap ……. enough said!
All purpose soap – (that’s eleven) Bonus item, great for washing yourself and clothes, which hopefully is not a bonus. It is especially useful if water isn’t necessary for personal hygiene, evaporating to leave you feeling all fresh and dry.
Some will probably feel a lot of this is excessive and probably weighs far too much, but most is surprisingly lightweight and packed away easily.
I am sure you have your own personal must bring list, but at least this may stir some brain cells and provoke a little thought. It will be great to hear any of your suggestions.