Have you ever boarded a plane, only to realize that you’re never going to sleep because of all the noise? Have you pulled at itchy clothing, lost charge on a phone in the middle of nowhere, carted around bulky books to read or lugged a giant suitcase up a flight of hotel stairs? Everyone’s had a few miserable travel experiences, and they nearly always stem from not having the right stuff.
Travel may be on hold for the moment, but that shouldn’t stop you from stocking up on the essentials. Soon enough, global travel will go back to normal, and you’ll want to be prepared for when it does. With Christmas right around the corner, now’s the perfect time to think about travel clothing and travel gear.
Whether you’re buying for yourself or a jet-setting loved one this holiday season, here are seven items that no traveler should be without.
1. Merino Wool Clothing
Your life can be neatly divided into two sections: the time before you knew about Merino travel clothing, and the time after. This wonder-material has long been a poorly kept secret among world travelers. It makes traveling so much easier and cleaner.
Because Merino wool is breathable and bacteria-resistant, you can wear it for long periods without it getting smelly. Some travelers report wearing their Merino wool shirts for weeks on end without any noticeable odour. That’s not all. Merino wool is also insulating, meaning you can wear that same t-shirt as an effective base layer in cold weather.
It’s soft, quick-drying and sweat-wicking too, making it an all-around powerhouse for travel wear. For versatile, sophisticated Merino wool travel clothing, check out Unboundmerino.com and peruse their shirts, underwear, socks and sweaters.
2. Packing Cubes
If you’ve ever dragged a large suitcase up a cobblestone hill in Europe, you can attest to the merits of packing light. You can do the “roll method” to help save space, and, of course, you can cut down on the amount of stuff you pack. But for an effective tool that enables you to reduce the size and keep everything you want to pack, reach for packing cubes.
Essentially, packing cubes are like mini-suitcases inside your suitcase. They compress your belongings, removing all that unused space and allowing you to fit more inside a bag. They’re also handy in that they organize your belongings. The last thing you want is for your bag to fling open on the luggage carousel and some underwear to come tumbling out. With packing cubes, you keep everything neatly compartmentalized.
3. Noise-Canceling Headphones
As a traveler, you have to contend with a lot of noise: screaming kids on the airplane, boisterous chatter on the train, raucous parties on the street under your hotel room and more. To tune out the sound, grab a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
While still more expensive than regular headphones on average, noise-cancelers are well worth the investment. Especially in those first few days arriving in a foreign country, when you’re battling against jet lag to get a good night’s rest, they are true life-savers.
4. A Portable Charger
Nearly every operation requires a phone. When you need to consult a map, you check a phone. If you have to call your embassy, you reach for your phone. And when you need to figure out where to eat for dinner, your phone has a ready list of recommendations. It’s a vital lifeline.
To ensure that your lifeline never goes dead, pack a portable charger. These handy devices allow you to wirelessly charge your devices – phone, e-reader, camera, etc. – wherever you are. They aren’t expensive either, making them a great stocking stuffer idea this Christmas.
5. Portable Wi-Fi
The same way a portable charger keeps you connected to your lifeline, a portable Wi-Fi device ensures you’ll never be without the internet.
These small but mighty devices allow you to connect on the road. If you’re lost in the middle of Tokyo and in need of directions, a portable Wi-Fi could be your savior. And if you just need a few YouTube videos to pass the time as you bus across South America, a portable Wi-Fi device provides at-the-ready entertainment.
Unsure which of the many portable Wi-Fi devices to choose? Consult this Wirecutter article, which lists the best devices at a number of different price points. Their top pick is the Verizon Inseego Jetpack MiFi 8800L, which doubles up as a portable charger.
6. An E-Reader
Physical books certainly have their time and place. It’s a fantastic feeling being able to rifle through the paper pages of a novel. But when you’re traveling, you have to consider space and weight.
If you don’t already own an e-reader, consider picking one up this holiday season. E-readers have the capacity to store countless books within a thin, lightweight tablet, ensuring that you’re never without a book to read. They fit neatly within the pocket portion of your backpack or suitcase. And, because the technology is nearly 15 years old now, they have come down in price significantly.
E-readers may not be as romantic as their paper counterparts, but reduce space and weight and allow you to carry thousands of books wherever you go.
7. First Aid Travel Kit
Safety comes first – or, in the case of this list, it comes last. It’s always surprising how few travelers carry a first aid kit. Traveling is ripe for unexpected accidents, including scrapes, scuffs and cuts, and those accidents don’t always happen under hygienic circumstances.
Especially in the time of COVID, you want to avoid hospitals and clinics if you can. Find a first-aid kit that comes with hand-sanitizer, band-aids and gauze, and supplement your kit with cold medication and other over-the-counter treatments.
Before long, you’ll be back on an airplane heading to a far-flung destination. To ensure that your trip goes off without a hitch, pack these seven essential items. If you have a globetrotting loved one in your life, use this list for gift inspiration this Christmas. Happy trails!