Unlikely Travel Essentials

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. In that time I’ve been all around Greece, visited Barcelona, traveled through Vietnam, Cambodia (of course I went to Angkor Wat), Thailand (including an ethical elephant sanctuary), and the UK (minus Northern Ireland), had another birthday and skied the Austrian Alps. BTW, Scotland is breathtaking and indescribably beautiful.

Now on to the topic of the post…I have recently transitioned to full time remote work and am traveling while working from my laptop. I am currently in Nice, France by way of Paris and Lyon. I’m kinda making it up as I go along but there are some essentials that I’ve found quite useful in this lifestyle that may not be readily apparent. These are all physical items. I’ll create another post for the digital items (i.e. apps) that I’ve found invaluable.

Scarf

This may seem like a winter travel item but I take a scarf with me everywhere, regardless the weather. I have never not needed one. I carry a medium-weight scarf that is easy to fold and keep in my purse or backpack. So, even though the blanket scarves are great, they tend to be too thick for regular travel.

Cover up

Think religious sites: when visiting some sites, it is too hot outside to wear full sleeves. But if you have a scarf you can arrange it around your shoulders before you arrive so that it is both respectful and removable after you leave. It is also handy at sites that require a head covering.

Pillow

The number of times I have used my scarf as a pillow is too many to count.

Warmth

i.e. Its Stated Purpose

Rain Cover

I first saw women doing this when I was in Moscow. They would have a scarf around their necks and upon reaching outside, move it up to cover their heads when it was raining. Genius! Since then, I’ve stopped carrying an umbrella and now just use my scarf. If it’s a heavy rain or monsoon weather, you’re probably just better staying inside as neither a scarf nor umbrella will help. Otherwise, I’ve found a scarf to work just as well.

Blanket

My scarf becomes invaluable during long flights and airport stopovers. It’s perfect as a blanket to take a quick nap in an airport or while on the plane.

My scarf is the most versatile item I pack and a must-have for me. As stated, I carry one in my purse or backpack so that it is always on me if I need it.

Freezer Zip Bags

I always use these bags for my undergarments and socks but I also pack a handful of extras, just in case. And I usually need them. Sometimes my dirty clothes overflow my laundry bag or a toiletry bottle leaks and needs to be quarantined or I buy some snacks that I want to take with me and need to preserve. They are durable, reusable, large and can vacuum seal for easier packing!

Reusable Bag

Not the same as above! I am referring here to a reusable shopping bag. I was given one years ago by a friend and now I carry it everywhere! They are called Envirosax and I completely recommend them – pretty much indestructible!

Same as my scarf, I always have it in my purse or backpack, just in case. It rolls up into a tiny burrito so it’s easy to pack and then opens up into a large reusable bag to take to the market, pack extra clothes on scuba trips (it’s waterproof), store dirty clothes, or take some weight out of the checked bag at the airport if I accidentally go over the limit. Also, its washable so I just throw it in with my laundry!

Power Cord Purse

Like most backpacks, mine does not have a lot of internal pockets and none that hold my power cords, attachments and outlet adaptors. What ends up happening is that they all get mixed together at the bottom of my bag and it’s a headache to separate and sort them to find what I’m looking for. Enter my repurposed clutch. I roll my cords and keep them here so when I need one, they are organized and accessible.

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Crossbody Bag

I’m not a huge fan of carrying a backpack everywhere. Only if I need my laptop do I carry my backpack. Otherwise, I take a crossbody bag. Finding one that is big enough without being too big is key. Mine is about 9in x 9in (22.86cm). This fits a water bottle, any small souvenirs/snacks or postcards I may buy and has a pocket that I’ve designated for receipts.

One important factor that I look for in a travel crossbody bag is a zippered pocket in the back, against my body. This is where I keep my small credit card holder and phone so that it is much less accessible in case of pickpocketing attempts. Also, all openings on the purse are closeable with a zipper and I make sure to rezip them after retrieving what I need from inside.

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Another benefit of carrying a crossbody over a backpack is that many museums do not allow visitors to carry their bags on their backs. Which means either carrying the bag by your side or paying to check it in coat check, which may or may not be secure. Having a crossbody comes in handy. It’s also much easier to access a bag that you are carrying on your hip than one that you have to take off completely to find what you need.

Shower Shoes

As someone who does not like going barefoot around the house/dorm or in the shower, these are essential for me. Flip flops came in handy in SE Asia as the custom is to remove shoes at the door. I was able to keep a clean pair at the door to swap out when I entered.

The benefits of wearing shoes in a shared shower are self-evident, I certainly hope.

Plane Pillow

A plane pillow seems like a given but the one I have is no ordinary pillow. It deflates for easy storage! There is a manual inflation tube on the side and a little carrying pouch to keep it in. The two sides also snap together to keep it secure around your neck. I’ve used this, not only on the plane, but also as a regular pillow during airport stopover naps.

Made by Andake and available on Amazon.

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Water Bottle

I know you can buy water pretty much everywhere but don’t we all want to be a little more sustainable, when we can? And if your crossbody bag is deep enough, it’s easy to reserve a corner for the bottle and save a little money on buying water. Also, keeping hydrated is a good idea. My bottle is from Klean Kanteen.

There you are – my unlikely essentials packing list. Anything to add?

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Unlikely Essentials Packing Checklist:

  • Scarf
  • Freezer Zip Bags
  • Reusable Bag
  • Power Cord Purse
  • Crossbody Bag
  • Shower Shoes
  • Plane Pillow
  • Water Bottle

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