My name is Travis and I’m a travel-holic.
I’m not kidding.
I just hit my 38th country with a move to Myanmar. Thirty eight. I was genuinely shocked when I listed all these out.
It’s not like I set out to travel the world or anything.
Just a culmination of lots of weekends away, and being based out of Europe and Asia certainly made it easy. Looking back as we start this new year I’m amazed at how it’s all added up.
But the funny thing about travel is you can’t turn it off.
It never stops.
Once the travel bug has you. It’s too late.
If it has you too, I’m sorry. The only advice I can give you is to embrace it.
It’s only five days into the new year and I’ve already got five international trips booked. I’ll add another couple of notches to my country list, as well as getting back home to visit my friends and family. And that’s just the start of it. I’m sure there will be a ton of other holidays thrown in too.
Because, what’s the point of living a good life if you’re not sharing it with the people you love? Right? Or maybe I’m just making rationalizations to feed my travel addiction.
All of this got me thinking about today’s post. And my must have travel gear. With the hundreds of hours I’ve spent in airports, on planes, ferries, boats, buses and trains, I wanted to share my pieces of must have travel gear for your next trip. The essentials I’ve got to pack when I’m working all over the world. I don’t go anywhere without these.
Sure, there’s plenty of packing lists out there and a whole range of digital nomad gear you could buy. But I wanted to cover my favourites. The essential travel items. The things that I absolutely must have every time I travel. What I actually need to take on a trip.
Like how I can’t start the day without a coffee, here’s what helps me cope with the rectangular meals, tiny seats, and all the other fun parts of travelling.
Because really, making the trip comfortable helps you enjoy the whole holiday. From start to finish you’re having a great time. So here’s the gear I can’t live without when I travel.
The must have travel gear I always pack
A trusty hoodie
I’ve done one long-haul flight without a hoodie and all I remember is never being able to get comfortable, and freezing my butt off the entire flight. Never again.
Never, ever forget your hoodie. If you don’t have one, buy one at the airport. Seriously. I contemplated it on that fateful flight, but then decided I’d be fine without one.
Planes get ridiculously cold at 1am when everyone is sleeping, and if I can’t get warm I can’t sleep. And if I can’t sleep you’ll encounter me as a very unhappy traveller stomping off the red eye.
Don’t do that. Bring your hoodie and spend the flight snuggled in a warm, cozy ball.
My pick is one with plenty of pockets so I can keep my passport and phone handy. It may just be me, but I hate trying to get my phone in and out of my jeans when I’m in an airplane seat. It just feels awkward.
The hoodie I rock now is an older style of the Ripcurl Blockout Fleece. I guess I’m still a beach bum at heart. What I really love about this one is the extra chest pocket you get. That’s where my passport goes, so I know it’s with me at all times, and I’m not crushing it every time I sit down.
Plus it’s about a size too large which makes it comfy as hell.
First lesson. Be comfortable for your flight.
A mobile router
I discovered these bad-boys when I was in Japan a couple of years back. It’s basically a phone-sized device that you can whack a sim-card in, and it creates a wifi hotspot you can login to and use. Perfect if you’re travelling with a group of people, and you don’t want to drain your iphone’s battery using it as a hotspot all day, or if you need to fire up your laptop and get some work done.
The one I bought had a hidden benefit I didn’t actually realize until I got home. I tend to buy things impulsively, much to the dismay of my bank account. I went with the Xiaomi MF855. What makes it cool is it’s also a 7800mAh battery, which means it doubles as a power bank should you need to charge anything with it while you’re out exploring a new city.
I love it. Highly, highly recommended as it’s saved me a couple of times when I’ve been out all day with my phone.
You can’t trust an iPhone to last all day on a single charge anymore, especially if you’ve been using maps, taking video, and uploading silly pictures of everything you eat.
Noise canceling earbuds
Travelling is noisy. There’s babies. Roaring engines. Drunk people. Loud talkers. Someone coughing.
Why is there always someone coughing?
I forgot my headphones one time. Another silly thing I tend to do when rushing around frantically trying to pack in the five minutes you’ve got before the taxi arrives. But with a 20+ hour flight from Sydney to Copenhagen via Singapore, and needing to actually function when I arrived, there was no way I was going to try and power through a red-eye without them.
On yet another spur of the moment buy, I grabbed a pair of noise-cancelling Bose earbuds. For two reasons. The sales rep assured me that they were the best. And back in my University days when I used to race my Skyline around everywhere, I had it fully kitted out with a beast of a Bose system. I guess the brand has me now. They’re a little pricey, but Bose sure know how to create awesome sound. They’ve upgraded to model I have to a full bluetooth version, but I’m still rocking the cable and I love it.
Two things have made me happy with these earbuds. They’re super comfortable in my ears and the mic works great when you need to do a call with a customer. Or Skype your family back home.
But that’s still not the actual best thing.
Here in Asia traffic can get a little crazy. If you’re heading across the road to grab a coffee or ducking out to flag down a cab, you don’t really want complete noise cancellation. It’s dangerous. Hearing a car beep before it runs you down is definitely a good thing. And Bose have built a pretty cool piece of technology into these speakers for just these kind of situations.
It’s called the “aware” button. It’s a switch that lets you turn the noise-cancellation on-and-off. It’s not 100 percent perfect, as the rest of the world sounds a little “tinny” when you’re using it, but it does let you navigate a street and rock your tunes, without worrying you’re going to get plowed over by a car you can’t hear. And that’s a winner in my book.
My wife likes to joke that I’m cheating on her with this device, and considering the amount of time I spend on it she’s probably right.
I love reading. Forget movies and reality television. If travel is my first addiction, books come in a close second. I’ve listed out a ton of my favourite books for digital nomads here, and I’m currently ploughing my way through The Alchemist. Again. Something about those last few chapters I wanted to revisit with the new year starting.
But all that aside. I need my kindle when I travel. It’s loaded up with my entire library so I’ve always got something to read, which is great when the only thing you’ve got to keep you going is the magazine in the seat back on the plane or reruns of a tired old movie.
Plus the battery lasts for ages. I still get about 24 hours from a single charge, which is more than enough to get you through a long-haul flight. Or to keep you occupied when you’re lounging down by the pool.
Forget expensive airport prices on books. Get a kindle and you’ll never look back.
This last one is my secret weapon. Especially if you’re landing in a completely new time zone.
Now I’m not a doctor, and you should definitely consult with yours before taking any supplements whatsoever. Especially if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or actually a kid. Don’t give your kids this.
In short, Melatonin is a hormone that helps your body regulate its own internal clock. You know how you start feeling drowsy as the evening rolls around, it’s (in part) due to rising melatonin levels in your body. They make you feel sleepy.
But here’s the fun part. You can take it as a supplement to trick your body to create this feeling.
Remember that last flight that you simply *couldn’t* fall asleep on?
Or when you land in a different time zone but you’re wide awake at 2am?
Melatonin, at least for me, does wonders to knock me out. I can sleep properly, and wake up ready to go. But you do need to be a little careful.
Because it’s a hormone and not categorized as a drug by the FDA, you get many factories manufacturing synthetic melatonin. Which means their listed dosages can be all over the place. If it’s your first time taking it, you could always try half or even a quarter or a pill, just to see how it feels. I usually go with Nature’s Bounty.
A typical dose ranges from 1 to 3 milligrams, and can elevate your blood melatonin levels anywhere from one to twenty times normal. I normally take one single 3 mg pill about 30 minutes before I need to sleep, and I’m off snoring away happily. Well, as happily as you can get on an airplane. But even a few hours of good sleep can make you feel a thousand times better when you land.
So you can get on with the trip as soon as you land, without feeling like a zombie or wasting three days to “acclimatize.”
There you have it. My five pieces of must have travel gear to help you have a great holiday.
If you’ve got any questions about any of these I’d be happy to help, just leave your comments below. I’m off to start looking for a hotel in New Zealand. Any recommendations for Auckland?
Safe travels everyone.
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