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Travel Essentials with Huw James

Making sure you take everything you need and nothing you don’t... By Huw James
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I’m lucky enough that I get to travel for work and unlucky enough that I have to travel for work. One of my favourite parts of being a bit of a gear geek is packing and re-packing my bags. This probably comes from my drive, as an outdoor-sy person, to pack lighter and smaller. This article touches on some of the best ways to pack compact and light and ensure you take all your travel essentials with you on your trips.

Before You Leave

Do Your Homework.

Every good adventure should start with a Lonely Planet Book. Now, synonymous with travel and adventure, they’ve got the world covered. There’s now an App that gives you downloadable city guides! Trip Advisor also has a great App and website to help you find out what you need before you go.

Try and get any useful Apps, Music or Movies downloaded the day before you leave. A checklist of things to check or download before leaving are:

  • Your flight carrier App: Save time and check in online before getting to the airport, receive live updates through the app and your electronic boarding pass
  • Find out what you can expect to pay in Roaming Charges or turn your Roaming off. Some carriers run a service where in some countries you can use your phone at no extra charge
  • Maps: You can download sections of Google Maps in advance but can also download whole countries with turn by turn navigation with Apps like Maps.Me
  • Currency Calculator: Some great ones out there including Currency+ that gives you hassle free calculations between currencies
  • Entertainment: Make sure you make your Spotify playlists offline, download iPlayer or Netflix movies and a few games to help pass time while travelling
  • Lastly, find out what the regulations are for both hand and hold baggage on board your flights, these can differ between airlines. If a flight is fully, or overbooked, airlines can enforce the hand luggage regulations even if they’ve been relaxed in the past

Preparing the Essentials

Getting everything you need for a trip, even if it’s just a short break or vacation, can be tough. But packing things in the right places and having the right gear can help.

There are certain items you’ll always want to keep handy in transit and I normally whittle those down to a travel wallet and a travel pouch.

Keep all the documents you need to see you through to your destination unencumbered together in a travel wallet. These could include: Passport, Passport Scan, Paper Driving Licence, Travel Insurance Docs, Spare Credit Card, Business Cards, spare clear bag and Pen/Paper.

You can use a Travel Pouch for small things you’ll need to keep you entertained on the journey; Earbud Headphones, Airplane Headphone Jack, Two Way Splitter for Headphones, Multi Charge Cable, External Battery, Extra Pen, International Plug, Toothbrush/paste and Sunglasses.

Hand Luggage

Most of the time my most valuable travel essentials are in my hand luggage and need to be well protected. If you’re taking electronics then it’s important to keep them in a padded area of your bag. Personally, I try to always take my electronic gear and cameras on as hand luggage for snapping pictures en-route.  It’s important to remember airport security, you can check what is allowed as Carry on or Hold luggage on the CAA Website. Usually, batteries should be carried on in hand luggage and having a Lipo Fire Resistant Battery Bag can help give you piece of mind. Water is obviously a no -no but a reusable bottle means you can fill up on the other side of security.

Main Luggage

Hold luggage is obviously where most of your gear goes and normally the hardest bag to close. There’s no end to the luggage types you can get and you’ll find the one that works best for you. How you use your luggage can be key, some tips for packing effectively are as follows:

  • Weigh It: Take some scales. Weigh it before you go and on your way back. Remember that you’ll use toiletries and other items out there but you’ll also pick up presents and souvenirs. Having an extra, light bag that you can pack and check in as hold luggage on the return journey can really save the day if you buy too much!
  • Track It: There are a range of ways to track your luggage now. Obviously having a luggage tag is number one, leaving a business card or address inside the zip is also a good idea. A Tracker of some sort can also help.
  • Cube It: Packing cubes mean all your clothes will be where you left them. They also make unpacking at each end of your trip super straightforward.
  • Roll It: When packing into cubes, rolling is always better than folding. Using the spaces in your shoes for socks and pants can save space in your bag!
  • Seal It: Having an extra waterproof bag for toiletries and a few plastic bags for shoes helps. Using cling film in between a bottle and its lid means the liquid can’t escape.
  • Charge It: Keeping all your charging cables in one place means you won’t be looking round everywhere for them. Have plenty of Travel Adapters and make sure you take one of each type of cable (or multi cable), sometimes you can get multi chargers for your batteries.
  • And Keep the Essentials: A First Aid Kit with Compeed, Plasters and tablets are always essential. Ways to bodge and fix things like Velcro Wrap and Sugru can make all the difference! Every person is going to have their own system that works for them, it’s part of what makes travel so exciting. But it doesn’t start and end when you step foot outside the house and it needn’t be as arduous as it sometimes feels.

Huw's Top 5 Travel Essentials

  1. Headphones
  2. Multi Cable Charger
  3. International Power Adapter
  4. Maps.Me App
  5. First Aid Kit with Compeed, Plasters and Hand Sanitiser

Huw's Top 5 Techy Essntials

Huw travels the world making videos and doing photography for work, here’s some extra essentials if you’ll be taking a lot of techy gear away with you:

  1. Battery Tester
  2. External Battery
  3. Velcro Wrap and Sugru
  4. Fire Resistant Battery Bag
  5. Luggage Tracker

Happy Travels!

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Posted By

Huw James

Huw is a scientist, adventurer, photographer, film maker, and ambassador for Ruffwear. He spends most of his life in the outdoors or trying to get into the outdoors. He’s a climber, mountaineer, runner and everything in between. He spends a lot of time travelling around the world to new and sometimes very old places. Find out more at www.huwjames.com.