The worst part of taking a trip is lugging around a heavy suitcase or realizing you need something you never thought you would. I’m not here to tell you to pack socks, underwear, and a few nice t-shirts- you already know that. What may not have occurred to you are my personal lifesavers and knick knacks:
1. Microfiber Towel
There is nothing more disgusting than having to haul around a heavy, smelly, wet towel. A microfiber towel is the best option: it’s thin, light-weight, absorbent, and best of all, fast-drying (on sunny days, in under 15 minutes)! Before you stock up on Shamwow, please note that you can find microfiber towels of different sizes at any good ‘outdoor’ store.
2. Solid Shampoo and Conditioner
If at some point in life, you’ve sealed a shampoo bottle in a plastic baggie wrapped in a plastic bag for fear of it bursting in your luggage, or grumbled at airlines’ policy on liquids. Fear not! A solid shampoo or conditioner is compact and fits into a small metal tin easily stored in a luggage or carry-on. When used in the shower, these two work just like the liquid kind but you lather it up just like soap. As an added bonus, the solid versions can be placed in a carry-on while liquids usually cannot. Lush is a good brand for this. A bar usually lasts me 1.5-2 months if I wash my hair every day www.lush.com
3. Blister Bandages
If you’re on vacation, chances are you’ll be walking more than you’ve walked all year during your 9-5 job. For some, blisters are inevitable but they don’t have to be painful. Specially made bandages feel like a second skin and not only protect your blisters but cushion each step. A good choice is from Bandaid’s Active-Flex line. Trust me- you need this! PS. Don’t pop blisters, the liquid you see is meant to heal your wound faster. www.bandaid.com
4. Clip Watch
While a pocket watch stirs up images of the Victorian Era, a modern adaptation, the “clip watch” can be clipped to belt loops, packs, or purses. An out of sight watch will not only free you of tan lines, but also from the constraints of time itself when it’s not an obvious reminder. Bonus points if you find one with an LED light. The obvious question is- Why use a clip watch when I have my cell phone to tell the time with? I’ll answer that with a question… Have you ever left your phone at the top of a beach bag in the blazing 40C (104F) sun? What about those moments when you just want to bring a bag, a towel, and a water bottle to the beach just like the Europeans do and not have to constantly worry about someone stealing your #$^&! See?
5. Mini FM Radio with Headphones
Sure, you have your iPod but does it probably doesn’t play the latest Korean pop unless you’re really into that sort of thing. When travelers listen to their MP3 players, they are missing out on a whole chunk of local culture: music and language. You don’t need to understand it to enjoy it. An inexpensive one can be purchased at a dollar store. Some phones also have FM Radio so check it out!