As the editor of the top travel gear blog on the web, I check out a lot of new clothing, gear, and gadgets on a regular basis. I get offered a lot of samples and am therefore cycling through enough items in the field to do eight fresh reviews each month.
So if I’m packing something over and over again, not just taking it because I need to review it, you know it’s really worth getting.
Here are the items that go with me nearly every time I pack a bag. They’re the things I don’t even think about: I toss them in because they’re a given. In some cases, I’ve been tossing them in for years.
Chargepod Callpod multi-gadget charger
I reviewed this Callpod item way back in January of 2008. It was more necessary when every damned device had a different connector, a trend that is finally reversing with most (but still not all) cell phone companies and other gadget manufacturers. Still, I typically need two or three kinds of USB and an Apple connector, so this handy device lets me leave the house knowing I’m covered no matter what. No chargers and connector cords to pack. Just this. For some reason a Verizon version of this is on sale at Amazon for the super-cheap price of $11.99 with six adapters. Grab it now because that might be a mistake.
Eagle Creek or Sea to Summit Toiletry Kit
If I’m checking a bag, I usually take the larger Eagle Creek toiletry kit I’ve been using since 2006. If it’s a carry-on, I take this Sea to Summit compact toiletry kit, filled with trial size bottles and a small toothpaste tube. The former has a mirror, which is nice, and pockets for things like deoderant and face lotion. Both hang from a hook, unfolded, if you don’t have much counter space. That’s quite handy in budget hotels and hostels.
Kangaroom Gadget Case
All kinds of assorted little items end up coming along for the ride when I travel, like spare camera batteries, a mini tripod, a Skype earbud/mic cord, a thumb drive, a mini mouse, a 3-prong adapter, etc. I can stuff all of them into this Kangaroom pouch, zip it up, and not be fishing around later for the little stuff. It’s all in one place and when I get home I just put it back on the shelf.
I’m not really a big fan of packing cubes, but I do often take one to put dirty clothes in (or a mesh laundry bag) and one for my second pair of shoes. If you get the right size and your shoes are relatively flat, you can fit two pairs into one. That way no matter what your shoes go through on your trip, they don’t have to dirty up what’s next to them in your bag. I just use a regular packing cube, but you can also get thicker ones with a lining specifically meant as shoe bags.
Innergie Mini Power Source
This Innergie PocketCell Charger is a rather recent addition to my regulars, and sometimes I take it without needing it, but when I do use this Innergie charger it’s a lifesaver. It’s a little battery with a multi-functional cord that will recharge your dead phone, e-reader, or music player when you can’t get to an outlet. I’ve found it especially helpful when on a very long flight or overnight bus ride (my iPod Touch has terrible battery life) or when in a 240-volt country with funky outlets. This can charge up from a USB port, then the output can be USB, mini-USB, micro-USB, or Apple. It holds enough juice to fully charge one item and sometimes two, but it takes up very little room and adds almost no extra weight.
What about you? Besides a phone, laptop, or tablet, what gear or gadget item makes your packing list every time?