Just Returned From → Sun Peaks, British Columbia. Headed To → Bella Coola, British Columbia.

8 Important Travel Items You Haven’t Thought Of

Clean underwear? Check. Passport? Check. Sunscreen? Check. But what about the other travel items — things you may not have thought about, but are just as important as clean clothes… sometimes more? I’ll show you 8 items not to forget!

In This Travel Article You Will Discover:

  • How to Pack Properly
  • How To Create A Travel Checklist
  • Important Travel Items You Haven’t Thought Of
  • And More!

Even a child knows to pack a toothbrush and clean clothes — but what about those items newbie (and some old-hand) travellers never think about packing? Items that can literally enhance — or even save — your dream vacation? Here are eight items you haven’t though to pack:

No affiliate links — just honest opinions!

1. Foam Earplugs

I can’t understate the importance of foam earplugs. I buy a 100-pack every year, and use them all. Whether it’s to enable yourself to get some shut-eye on a plane, to block out a snoring roommate or loud neighbours, or just to escape into your own mind in a crowded environment, earplugs are a godsend.

As an aside, I once read an anecdote about a traveller who offered some earplugs to airline staff who were being subjected to the cacophony of a malfunctioning airport alarm system. He was upgraded to first class, free of charge. Again — I can’t understate their importance!

2. Performance Socks (NOT 100% Cotton!)

Cotton — our most abundant clothing material — is also our most useless, in terms of performance. It gets soggy and takes forever to dry. It serves as a bacteria smorgasbord, meaning it starts to stink if you break a light sweat. And, in the case of socks, it is coarse and unforgiving and rips your feet to shreds. Enter the performance sock: made from natural wool, nylon/lycra, polypropylene, CoolMax, Merino Wool and a whole host of other proprietary materials — performance socks are characterized by being quick-drying, moisture wicking, non-abrasive, supple and even antimicrobial. Trust me — if your travels involve anything more than a jaunt to the local café, switching to true performance socks and ditching 100% cotton “sport” (laugh) socks will change your life. (Note: performance underwear and tops are also good… )

If you’re just being introduced to performance socks, here are some key brands: Wigwam, Fox River, Salomon, The North Face, Hunter’s Specialties TEK 4.

3. Business Cards

I know — you’re on vacation. No business cards needed or wanted… you don’t even want to think about work. But then you meet a guy who has a bungalow in Costa Rica that he “hardly uses” — and he wants to stay in touch so he can offer it up at a moment’s notice. You scribble his name and email on an old receipt, which you accidentally throw in the trash less than an hour later.

Boy, handing him a business card with your full name, phone number and email address sure would have come in handy…

 4. Hand Sanitizer

If one good thing came from the H1N1 pandemic, it was to shine a light on hand-washing. And we’re not just talking post-toilet (which if you weren’t doing before H1N1, shame on you and gross!), but post-everything — or, more specifically, pre-eating. Yes, we wash our hands before sitting down to dinner… but what about before digging into a bag of chips or a piece of chocolate, on-the-run? Or a donut or a cup of coffee? You’ve touched a billion germs with those paws of yours, and you’re just going to feed them right into your mouth? Hand sanitizer is a quick and easy way for you to stay healthy, wherever you are. You can also disinfect surfaces, tools and personal items with it, if needed. (Note: buy small bottles — less than 100 ml — so you can take one on a germ-infested airplane without having it confiscated)

Also — in a pinch, it can be used to disinfect minor cuts… but be warned, it is SHOCKINGLY painful to do so.

5. Band-Aids

Anyone who has done anything, anywhere, has, at one time, succumbed to an annoying cut on a finger that just won’t stop bleeding. Sometimes it’s as simple as catching a cuticle on a magazine, or a jutting wire in a chainlink fence, or a freshly-popped zit… whatever. I take band-aids on overnight trips. Even on day-trips. And I’ve never regretted it once. A half-dozen band-aids weighs about as much as the space they occupy, so you’ve really got no excuse.

6. Candy (In Some Parts of the World)

Before we entered Bali’s most sacred temple, Pura Besakih, our guide “warned us” of children in the temple, who were “forced by their parents” to beg visitors for money. “Do not give them any!” he scorned. My girlfriend, Erin, slept through this, and when she saw these poor kids, she played with them and allowed them to stick flowers on her — a service for which they wanted money. I had all our cash — all she had was candy.

You’ve never seen bigger smiles.

Kids love candy. And in many parts of the world, these same children will beg at you for money — usually at some else’s behest. If cash is not in the cards, give out candy  (handing out wads of cash is never really a smart idea). A handful of individually-wrapped sweets (not chocolate, it melts) will turn youthful beggars into friends the world-round. Just be prepared to be swarmed, and also to leave with empty pockets but a full heart.

7. Wet Naps

This one is sort of along the lines of hand sanitizer, but perhaps for post-meal, rather than pre-. Or post bicycle/motorcycle repair, or post-fall-into-an-open-sewer… Regardless, it’s always nice to be clean. A pack of wet naps will serve as wonders when you have sticky sugar on your hands from that Parisian pastry, sap after climbing the grapefruit tree, or… Trust me, it’s an old soccer-mom standby that we all could learn from.

8. Gold Bond Medicated Powder

This one is just for the active-adventure types — specifically, those who travel by motorcycle and/or bicycle. Trust me, after (and during) a long day in the saddle, Gold Bond is worth its weight in… um… gold, I guess. You have to try it — and you have to need it — to understand. ‘Nuff said, short and sweet.

What Are Your Favourite Travel Items?

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some images courtesy dreamstime.com

 

About the author: David Webb is a Vancouver, BC-based travel writer, photographer and magazine editor.

7 comments… add one
  • Nathan Apr 14, 2014

    Love the idea for the candy. I take students overseas and I stress to them not to give money to the begging kids, even though it is so hard, but giving them candy is a great alternative and it makes them happy. Thanks!

  • LOVE THESE!!! Ear plugs is one of my favorites!!! I always use the gel like ones because they block out so much more sound. They are also great for when you are swimming or in the water alot. Keeps your ears nice and dry. I have also fallen in love with the gold bond smaller container that you can get in the travel section at the drug store. Great tips!!

  • CRA Adventure Travel Jan 31, 2013

    Love the tips and advice. I would have to see your girlfriends side on the kids, we have a hard time shoving away these adorable little faces. Candy indeed is a fun second option. Or bouncy balls. What little kid doesn’t love a toy they have never seen before! -Daniella

    Thanks for the great tips

  • Loic Tuckey Feb 14, 2012

    I could have done with these tips a while back. It’s your earplug suggestion which has really struck a chord with me. Some of the buses in South America creak so loudly i barely slept a wink while moving about.

    I’ll know for next time 🙂

  • Nomadic Samuel Feb 13, 2012

    These are great suggestions. I’ve found hand-sanitizer especially useful in countries where I eat a lot of street food.

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