7 Must-Haves for the Savvy Traveler
There’s a bit more to happy traveling than hopping on a plane and having the experience of a lifetime. Transportation hiccups, unexpected frustrations, and unforeseen challenges can turn a simple holiday into a headache, so it makes good sense to prepare. Luckily, a few helpful accessories can keep you comfortable during turbulent times, and help you stay happy and organized on your trip.
A universal travel adapter is a must for any globetrotter, but not all adapters are created equal. The best one to pack will have everything you need and little else: slots for various prong shapes, surge protector, compact shape – and maybe even a USB port. The USB port is a nice bonus, but remember that it’s more important to use an adapter that works without frying your electronics, so try a trusted brand like Road Warrior or Targus. Travel adaptors are also notoriously easy to lose, so you may want to pass on the expensive, top-of-the-line model.
Waterproof travel kit
Airplane cargo bays are mysterious places, and who knows what your luggage will go through before you meet it again on the other side. If you’re carrying any liquids, invest in a sizeable waterproof case or kit for your creams, gels, and solutions: a latex-coated pouch will ensure that any spills or punctured bottles will be safely and cleanly contained, and your best outfit will be spared. Once you get to your destination, you can use it at the beach, pool or anywhere else sensitive stuff could get wet.
The low-tech version is a little tablet that’s dropped into your drink, but tech-savvy travelers may prefer the SteriPen: simply dunk the tip of the small device in a glass of water, and it will emit enough ultraviolet rays to eliminate any harmful pathogens. You’ll have safe drinking water anywhere you go, without the expense or waste of plastic bottles (and the device is extremely easy to transport, too).
Pedometer or activity monitor
Vacation is a time to let loose, but that can quickly get out of hand. From extra pounds to sleep deprivation and all its discomforts, neglecting your diet or healthy habits could leave you with a couple of unwanted souvenirs. A simple pedometer can be a helpful reminder to keep moving, but why not try something a little more sophisticated? The Basis Carbon Steel Edition can track your distanced traveled on foot or bike, plus it can monitor your sleep patterns. The NikeFuel band is another option, and it syncs easily with your smartphone to keep you informed anywhere, anytime.
You don’t have to put up with the annoying, distracting, sleep depriving noises inherent to travel – if you have the right sort of headphones. Cheap corner-store headphones won’t give you the serenity you’re looking for; you need to get yourself some noise-canceling headphones that either sit in your ear (like the Monoprice Enhanced Noise Canceling Headphones) or snugly around (the Bose Quiet Comfort series is a top contender). These are a must if you like your music, but also for anyone who values a bit of silence when they need it most.
All it takes is an over-zealous packing session, a few extra pairs of shoes “just in case”, or one weighty impulse buy to learn an extremely expensive lesson at the check-in desk. Luckily, you can erase any worry of ever going over the airline weight allowance by investing in a simple and very handy luggage scale. Find one with a sturdy hook and a clear and accurate display (you may want to test it out before the big departure day), and pass on other bells and whistles that you’ll probably never use.
Once you’ve gathered all your incredibly helpful travel accessories, you’ll need a way to keep them untangled and easily accessible. A travel bag insert with a bunch of pockets will do the trick for your miscellaneous odds and ends in your purse or carry-on, but you may want to get something separate if you have a lot of gadgets. The Grid-It organizer is a creative way to keep things in line: with a grid of stretchy elastics against a sturdy pad, you can tuck in your devices in perfectly and compactly, and trust that they won’t knock about during the trip.
Every traveler is a bit different, so try to assess your travel style before rushing out to buy too many gadgets. Pack light and only add the gadgets that will definitely help you out -- after all, your money will be better spent on an unforgettable experience than on an accessory you use just once.