Travel Accessories You Can and Cannot Live Without
When there are so many new gadgets on the market it can be difficult to decide which items deserve a place in your suitcase and which are just space eating toys. Then there are the age-old travel accessories that your great uncle John swears by.
I personally feel lost traveling anywhere without my trusty tent and hiking boots, but for most people, neither of these things would be classed as essential items.
We’ve taken into consideration the needs of the average of traveler, including backpackers and city hoppers and put together our very own list of travel accessories which we feel are worth considering before hitting the road.
We’ve even made it easy for those with limited luggage space by separating out the useful items which potentially could be scrapped from your packing list and the ones which should never be left behind.
Never go anywhere without these essential travel accessories:
1. Noise cancelling headphones
It’s everyone’s worst nightmare. A 12-hour flight with that guy two rows back blasting R&B tracks out of his ‘personal’ music player. Been there? How about when you’re tucked up your hotel bed trying to get some beauty sleep but the couple next door has other ideas? Or, worse still, sharing a hostel dorm room with people who bring the party back with them at 5 am.
Noise cancelling headphones are generally light-weight, compact and available for a range of budgets. It’s more than worth investing in a quality pair that will stand the test of time, and make all your trips from here on out a far more pleasant and restful experience. Don’t leave home without them!
2. Universal plus with multiple USB ports
Sadly, well over 100 years after the discovery of electricity, the world still can’t come to an agreement on which power outlet is best. If you’re going to multiple destinations, it’s a pain in the neck carrying multiple plug adaptors along with all your other bits and pieces.
Pick up a universal adapter with dual USB ports and at least one power input for laptops and you’ll never have an issue charging your electronic devices, wherever you are.
3. RFID protection travel wallet
Inside every bank card and passport is a tiny chip which contains a large amount of your personal data. Admittedly, the chanced of someone stealing this data is fairly slim but these days it’s better to be safe than sorry.
An RFID protected travel wallet will help to keep your personal info safe should you be unlucky enough to have someone try and steal it. They’re also very useful for keeping your documents organized and often come in fun colours with stylish designs.
4. Micro Fibre Travel Towel
Light-weight and quick drying fabrics are one of the most useful additions to your travel kit and I never go away without my microfibre towel. They roll up very small, and dry extremely quickly, especially if you leave them out in the sun.
Nowadays, they’re very affordable, come in a range of colors and sizes, from face cloths to bath towels, and should only take half an hour to dry, so you can pack them away in your luggage.
Even if your accommodation has the very best fluffy towels then a compact alternative is still handy for taking to the beach, using as a picnic blanket or doing a better job at keeping you warm on a plane than those flimsy blankets they hand out.
You’ll probably find you end up using this kind of towel for more than just travelling, as they’re fantastic for taking to the gym, too.
5. Unlocked mobile phone
If you’re working online while you travel then an unlocked mobile phone is a must. In fact, even before I began working online I always opted for unlocked dual SIM handset.
International roaming charges can cost you a fortune so picking up a local SIM card in the country you’re traveling in and popping it into your unlocked mobile is way more practical.
That way, even if you’re not working whilst on your travels, you can use your phone to help you navigate and ring ahead to accommodation or activities.
Whilst some travellers do still try and do it the old-fashioned way without a phone, it’s always good to have a working one in case of emergencies.
6. Packing cubes (organizers)
A few packing cubes help to reduce the amount of your holiday you spend rummaging around inside your backpack or suitcase, blindly feeling around and pulling out items in the hope of finding the sunscreen before you start to sizzle.
It’s incredibly frustrating when you end up emptying your entire suitcase when you only needed that one thing lurking right at the bottom.
Packing cubes are particularly useful if you’re sharing a suitcase with your travel buddy or if you just want an easy way of keeping your dirty socks separate from your clean ones.
Whilst they may look bulky, once you get the hang of packing them they’re a real space-saver, and lots of people use them with carry-on luggage to optimise their space, meaning they can travel for long periods without needing to check a bag.
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If you’ve still got space in your suitcase, we recommend the following items:
1. Wireless travel router
You’ll find that, in corners most of the world, Free Wi-Fi is advertised in big bold letters in just about every cafe or restaurant and will be available in all hotels or hostels.
With that in mind, this travel accessory is for people who specifically require a secure and fast internet connection at the drop of a hat, or prefer to travel in less developed rural areas where they might not come across a handy cafe when they need one.
2. Folding water bottle and/or thermos flask
While on the road it seems almost impossible to avoid using disposable products and single-use plastics, with all that time you spend waiting around in bus stations or grabbing a bottle of water on the go.
Environmentally conscious travelers should consider carrying a folding BPA-free water bottle. They’re virtually weightless, take up very little space, and save you money if you’re traveling long term.
If you’re travelling somewhere where the tap water isn’t safe, there are water bottles with built-in filters as well as simple water filters and purification tablets available that can help you minimise your plastic consumption.
And the environment isn’t the only thing that benefits from you shunning plastic bottles. An aluminum thermos flask is a convenient accessory for keeping your water cool on a long hike or enjoying a cup of hot coffee on a long bus journey, so once you’ve started travelling with one you’ll never look back.
Many suitcases now come with built-in combination locks and other safety devices but if you plan to stay in hostel dorms for most of your travels then you’ll need a decent padlock to keep your belongings safe, just in case. There are often lockers in hostels that you have to use your own padlock for.
The locks on suitcases are pretty good these days and considering you generally have your backpack with your key valuables with you when you head out (not always) we thought the padlock was more on the list of useful but non-essential travel accessories.
On the other hand, if you do have a lot of electronic devices with you that you won’t be carrying everytime you head out, then this is definitely an essential for you.
4. Travel laundry kit
Yes, this is the 21st century and yes, you probably will find laundry services in just about every destination on your travel itinerary, and in a lot of places they’ll be very reasonably priced. That said, who actually wants to hand two weeks’ worth of dirty undies over to a horror-struck hostel receptionist?
If you’re on a longer trip and want to travel a bit lighter then we recommend that you get used to washing your essentials in bathroom sinks and hanging them around your bed or tent like Christmas decorations.
You will have to find a laundromat at some point to give all your clothes a proper wash as I don’t recommend trying to wash your jeans in the sink, but being able to wash your underwear will mean you can go longer between proper washes, which are always time consuming.
I find that a small bag of laundry powder is perfect for washing underwear and socks in sinks.
5. A travel pillow
Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, bus, car, or hang glider, a travel pillow will make the world of difference on long journeys. Okay, perhaps not with the latter form of transport.
Unfortunately, some of them can also be a bulky and awkward item to fit inside your luggage, so it might actually be more of a hindrance than a help.
This one is all down to personal preference. Some people to whom decent kip is a priority never go anywhere without their travel pillow, but some people just find them annoying to cart around and prefer to make the best of things.