During my recent travels to Southeast Asia and India, there were a few items that made life on the road so much easier and more comfortable. Here they are (with links to where you can purchase them):
1. Packing Cubes – These really changed my life. My beloved Eagle Creek backpack (circa 1998) has a zipper that runs it’s length like a suitcase (as opposed to an opening at the top), so it’s easy for things to fall out when making a last-minute dive in while in line at the airport check-in counter. But these cubes keep everything organized for easy access. I used the littlest one for underwear and bras, the mid-sized one for tanks and tees, and the largest one for bottoms and other miscellaneous items like my hat and bathing suit.
2. Packing Envelopes – I’ve always had a habit of packing smaller items and toiletries in Ziplock bags – much to the delight of a French ex-boyfriend who had never seen Ziplock bags before; however, I’ve discovered that those can rip fairly easily and wear down when on long trips. These much sturdier envelopes were the perfect solution. They come in a wide variety of sizes, so you can use them for everything from jewelry to makeup to your first aid kit – and even cords and adaptors. And they’re transparent, so you can find what you need quickly.
3. Travel Power Strip (Also known as the Belkin SurgePlus 3-Outlet Mini Travel Swivel Charger Surge Protector with Dual USB Ports) – Most of us don’t travel light these days when it comes our gadgets; we’re loaded down with smartphones, tablets, cameras, GoPros, and more. And there’s nothing worse when you get to your hotel at night, and there’s one lonely outlet. This power strip was super handy for charging all of my devices at once – and even more helpful when sharing a room with friends, so we didn’t have to arm wrestle over who got to charge their phone first.
4. Cotton Travel Sheet – Sometimes called a “hostel sheet,” I’ve gotten more use out of this than I thought I would. Not only can it give you a piece of mind when the hotel/hostel sheets are looking a little grimy, it also can provide an extra layer if you get chilly at night. You can even pull it out on a plane, train or bus for an instant cocoon. (They also have a silk version; I went with cotton because I thought it would wash better/last longer.) The only drawback is that I do find it difficult to fit back into the stuff sack.
5. Patagonia Bandha Dress – This was one of the only new items of clothing I purchased to bring to Southeast Asia, I’ve since worn it about 142 times. I don’t even know where to start in saying how wonderful it is – it doesn’t wrinkle, it doesn’t show sweat, you can dress it up/dress it down, and you can throw it over leggings/under a cardigan for cooler days and nights. And it dries quickly, so you can wash it in the sink at night and wear it again the next day.
Here I am in my favorite Patagonia dress with Sandeep Mall of Round Table India (Madras Midtown Round Table 42) at Pallikaranai Government Secondary High School in Chennai. (My visit resulted in this article for the Rickshaw Challenge blog.)