Summer is full of roadtrips and travel. As we embarked on a 33 day road trip, I thought long and hard about what to pack. I was struck with fear from my "be-prepared" instincts, "What if I leave something really important behind?! What if I don't have what I need?"
While unpacking from the trip, I stopped to evaluate what items I found really useful in my personal kit (purse or backpack) that I want to bring with me next time.
- Stainless steel straw - Hydration is important while traveling. Some places don't do straws, or servers forget, but I need a straw help me drink my water at a reasonable pace.
- Bamboo utensils - Avoiding using wasteful, flimsy plastic utensils for eating take out or leftovers. Bamboo is reusable, sturdy enough not to snap mid-meal, and can be there anytime, like at midnight in a hotel room when you really need some leftover Thai food, or when you discover they didn't put a fork in the bag for you at the take-out place. To-go ware comes with it's own handy carrying case.
- Self-filtering water bottle - I'm all for local flavor, but not in my water. Get your water from any tap to save money & avoid creating plastic waste, and stay hydrated! Sense a theme?
- Hydrocortisone cream for bites, rashes, and burns - Itches happen when you travel, whether it's from voracious insects, heat rash, or a minor burn from a pot handle, traveling is more comfortable with hydrocortisone cream.
- Pocket knife - useful for tightening screws, opening wine bottles, prying open cans, and oh yes - cutting things! Mine came with a little case that goes through belt loops or backpack straps, just remember to take it off before you fly.
- Chapstick with sunscreen - I'm addicted to this stuff.
- Battery backup UBS charger - Life support for mobile phones. For when you really need your phone and are unable to charge it normally... like in a tent. The iGo PowerXtender takes AA batteries, which is convenient. Make one like Minty Boost, or buy one.
- Instant stain remover - Dribbles happen. Obliterate stains as they happen and keep your stuff from getting stained or looking messy before your scheduled laundry stop.
- Flip video camera - small, unobtrusive, and takes great videos.
- LED headlamp - Hands free light lets you make dinner or rummage through a bag with ease. Mine takes AA batteries, so while it's heavier than a watch battery they are easy to replace & I always carry AA's for other devices.
- Soap strips - Rest stops, campgrounds, even some restaurants can fail to have soap. Stay healthy and clean by bringing your own single-use soap strips, they're just like minty breath strips... for your hands.
- Paper maps - Get both detailed city and state/province maps. GPS's fail and get confused in some places, our smart phones were even worse - don't rely on them! But you do need some way to figure out your route, we had great state routes and sorely missed a city map in Calgary. Use a highlighter to mark your intended route to easily find your place on the map.