These Are The Things A Travel Writer Never Leaves Home Without

You’ve done your research, booked the tickets and planned your dream holiday. Now you just need to fit everything you’ll need into one suitcase.

You can probably afford to leave that travel kettle at home, but some items should go with you, wherever you are in the world. Your phone and passport are givens, but I wanted to give you the lowdown on the other things I’m never caught without.

Power Bank

Your phone will probably be the most-used item on any trip. At various times, it functions as a guide, translator, camera, entertainment system, and connection to home. All that work can drain the battery quickly (especially if you’re going in and out of coverage), but the sinking feeling that comes with a low battery alert can be easily avoided with a portable charger.

They vary from lipstick-sized booster packs to monster units that’ll last a week without electricity, so you can order beers in Ukrainian, check what time your flight leaves, or exchange contact deets with your new friends. Just remember to put it in your carry on because they’re not allowed in checked luggage.

Gastro-Stop Plus

It’s an adventurous traveller’s worst nightmare. You’re waiting to see the headlining set at Coachella, about to board an overnight bus, or half-way along the Inca Trail when a gurgling stomach tells you that last night’s dinner is searching for a speedy exit.

There’s never a good time to have diarrhoea, but it’s one of the most common health issues on holiday, and an untimely attack can derail your plans (and cause major embarrassment) if you’re unprepared. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution: these chewable mint-flavoured tablets don’t need water and provide effective relief from diarrhoea and associated abdominal pain, cramps and gas, so you don’t have to miss a minute of the action.


A cheap pair of foam earplugs is probably the best $2 you’ll spend on your trip. Travelling is exhilarating, but it can also be tiring, and these are a must if you’ll be staying in hostels where your new best friend could turn into a raging snorer or bring company home at 3am. They’re also great for plane and bus rides, and even hotels where other guests loiter in the corridors and misbehaving pipes can be surprisingly noisy.

Universal Adaptor

Languages aren’t the only things that change when you cross borders. There are around 15 different types of electrical plugs and sockets around the world and some are rather archaic-looking. Fortunately, a good universal adaptor will work in almost all of them (parts of India and Brazil are notable exceptions, while South Africa is in the process of changing standards). Choose one with multiple USB ports so everyone can charge simultaneously, and pick it up before you reach the airport, where they triple in price.

Swiss Army Knife

If it’s good enough for NASA astronauts, it’s good enough for you. From rescuing an impromptu picnic by slicing smallgoods and opening wine to repairing sunglasses with the screwdriver or using the tweezers to remove a splinter, there are plenty of uses for these multi-purpose tools. Just remember to pack yours in checked luggage, otherwise it’ll end up being re-gifted to a security guard’s nephew.


It’s hard to enjoy the beach when your back feels like freshly roasted pork crackling, but you can just as easily get burnt in the snow, or even on a plane. Plus, some medications leave you more sensitive to the sun’s rays, making good sun protection even more essential. Save space by choosing a sunscreen that doubles as a moisturiser and remember to reapply regularly.

Pro tip: don’t forget the backs of your legs when snorkelling.


Travel is all about trying new things, whether that means riding a scooter around a tropical island or tasting fermented mare’s milk in a smoky yurt. But not everything is going to go according to plan, and accepting that is one of the keys to enjoying the experience. Accidents happen, and insurance is the difference between them being an inconvenience or ruining your trip. Plus, it’ll help your parents relax when you tell them what you’re getting up to.

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