Beyond the usual essential items, everyone has a few extra travel accessories they won’t leave home without—things that make travel a little more comfortable, safe, or fun. Here’s my top five list:
Nice ‘n Clean Moist Wipes:You wouldn’t know it from the size of the package, but there are 20 showers contained inside this resealable pouch! Whether I’ve been camping, taking an overnight flight or train, or staying in a nasty hostel, one or two of these antibacterial wipes has proven good enough to take away the day’s grime and leave me feeling refreshed. ($5, on REI.com)
Dummy wallet: Everyone knows the importance of hiding your passport and money when traveling to an unfamiliar place, but most people don’t think about what they’ll do if they are robbed. You can’t pull out your secret pouch, select a nice crisp $20, and then be on your way. That’s why I always travel with a dummy wallet. It’s just an old wallet that contains a real looking ID and credit cards (an expired license and a few of those fake credit cards you get in promotional mailings), plus whatever cash I need for the day in the local currency. That way if I am robbed, I have something to hand over while my real valuables stay safe.
Buzz Off Insect Shield bandana: These paisley bandanas made with natural insect repellent have kept the bugs away from me not only on adventure trips, but also in urban areas with mosquito and fly problems. I used to douse myself with DEET before heading out into pest-prone areas, but now I’ve found that by wearing a Buzz Off bandana around my neck, I’m generally bite-free. The product label claims the repellent will last through 25 washes, and mine are still going strong after about 10. ($4, on ExOffico.com)
Chaco ZX/2 sandals: On a two-week trip to Brazil this summer, I limited myself to whatever I could fit into one backpack, including two pairs of shoes, hiking boots, and my new strappy black Chaco sandals. These versatile sandals proved sturdy, comfortable, and fashionable enough that I wore them for almost every occasion: forest walks, sightseeing, nights out in Rio, and lounging around the hotel. They’ll definitely make my packing list next time, wherever I go. ($95, on ChacoUSA.com)
Garmin eTrex GPS: Not only is this tool fun, it can actually help you out in a pinch. As long as you’re in a place with an unobstructed view of the sky, you’ll be able to tell where you are and which way is which. I can think of a few times in recent memory when I didn’t have my GPS, but really wish I had, like the time I got lost on the Amazon River in the fog in the middle of the night on a boat with no navigational equipment. Luckily, a native fisherman in a dugout canoe pointed my hapless captain in the right direction. ($99, on EMS.com)
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