We all know that you should never leave home without your toothbrush, and you’d be silly to forget your passport. But too often it’s the little things that make all the difference on the road. Here are eight non-essential travel accessories that you may find to be, well, essential. If you have any of your own, feel free to post a note below.
1. Hot sauce
Anyone visiting Mexico, Thailand or Jamaica needn’t worry about the spice of their meals, but if you’re going to Europe, Africa, or just about anywhere else, a tiny bottle of hot sauce rescues any meal from certain doom. Hot sauce rescues most airline meals too. Remember to keep it in a plastic bag for security, and just in case it breaks and spices up your luggage.
You may never need it, but if you do it could just save your vacation!
3. Bungee Cord
Lose or break a belt in the jungle? Bungee time. Break a strap on your backpack? Bungee time. Need something to tie your gear to the car, keep the window shut, hang your gear above ground, or secure your belongings? Bungee time.
4. Pillow case
An inflatable pillow is great but they’re easy to lose and easy to puncture. Instead, grab an old pillowcase. It weighs nothing, but can easily be stuffed with my clothes to transform into a makeshift pillow for long bus rides, or hotels with mattresses made of porridge. Depending on its thickness (and your odour) you can use it to keep your laundry too, and just wash the whole bundle at the same time.
5. Ear plugs
If you are a light sleeper, having earplugs can make the difference between sweet dreams and an endless nightmare. They are especially useful when sleeping in trains or buses, hostels, or noisy hotel rooms (like the room overlooking Times Square!)
6. Alarm clock
Never, ever, trust a wake-up call. When you’re on the move you need to wake up early for flights, buses, trains and boats. If you get the rare opportunity to nap, you need to wake up to catch dinner. Finding a small, reliable alarm clock is as good as gold, but remember to change the time when crossing time zones, and to turn off the sleep function once you’re up. Nothing annoys people staying in the next room more than the sound of a rogue alarm clock.
7. Soap box
Say goodbye to the small, cheap and mostly useless hotel soap. Sure, it comes through in a pinch, but the difference between an OK rinse and a rejuvenating shower comes in the accessories. A soapbox has a full, thick bar of your favourite soap, and an anti-bacterial brand really helps in hot climates and dirty jungles. If you prefer, a bottle of shower gel works too.
8. Plastic bags
Carry a few extra plastic bags with you, and a couple of small zip lock bags as well. Use them to compartmentalize your luggage, to keep your laundry, and to store your muddy shoes, or your potentially explosive bottles of lotion or creams. Respect the environment and re-use the suckers too.
9. Hand sanitizer
I’m not sure if it does indeed kill 99.9% of all known germs but there’s little doubt that foreign nasties love to get around on our hands. Use a little sanitizer before every meal and you’ll greatly increase your chances of staying healthy. If you’re shaking a lot of hands, using a lot of public transport, or even handling flaky old money, a few dabs a day might keep the toilet at bay.
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