Plenty of times my passengers have stopped me on the way to the airport to ask if they could return home because they’ve forgotten something essential, like a wallet, a passport, or their airline tickets. For this reason, when I go traveling, I’ve come up with a list of seven essential items never to leave home without.
- Passport/Identification: These days I can’t board train, plane, or bus tour without showing my identity card. Whether trying to catch a flight to Dublin or attempting to buy a pint in the United States, lack of identity can leave a traveler stranded and parched.
- Money: Actual cash isn’t necessary anymore, but having a few paper notes never hurts. In addition, some type of credit card is vital to traveling, whether I want to buy the odd duty free bottle of scotch, a locally crafted antimacassar, or a simple cup of coffee.
- Comfortable shoes: When I trekked up the slopes of Machu Picchu, I brought along sturdy, weatherproof hiking shoes to wear. If I’m in Brussels for a conference, walking shoes may not be de rigueur, but a comfortable pair of slippers will come in handy at the end of a long day. Something to look forward to while subjugating split infinitives with the client.
- Phone: Unless I’ve purposely planned one of those “Castaway” vacations, its requisite for me to have a means of communicating with someone in civilization, whether its the boss, the family, or the stubborn customer service people when something goes awry. Inevitably, something always manages to fall outside the plan and at these times a phone is not optional.
- Camera: Whether I’m spending a weekend at Dover or seeing the beaches of Ipanema, I’m never without a means of taking a photo. That’s just me, of course, but I also hear plenty of my passengers complaining that their trip was ruined when they discovered they’d left the camera at home.
- Hand Sanitizer: It’s a dirty, dirty world and something has to keep me clean on the go. Wipes or gel, the sanitizer is my best friend in airplane seats, at motel rooms, and public restrooms that ignore soap. Since I’m not always sure I can find sanitizer while riding a tuk-tuk or gazing at baobab trees, I bring some on every travel.
- Water bottle: When I’m not drinking from glass or paper cups, I take advantage of the world’s free water to fill up my aluminum water bottle. Yes, I’m helping the environment by not wasting plastic bottles, but the empty bottle is also providing me with the perfect receptacle for ticket stubs, loose buttons, and other tidbits I acquire on travel.
What is in your essential travel bag?