Nothing is as dreadful as getting stuck at an airport, waiting for your already-delayed connecting flight after having spent 12 hours in a pressurised aluminium tin hurling along in the sky at 40,000 feet. Luckily, you can avoid (or at least minimise) most unpleasantries of air travel if you’re well prepared.
- Luggage. This is a centrepiece of any traveller’s gear. I travel with TravelPro Maxlite 20" Slim Body Rollaboard (which I believe has been revised since then and is now available as Maxlite 2), which makes for a great check-in bag as well as a carry on. It’s light, durable and sized to be approved by even the cheapest and stingiest of airlines. It comes with a lifetime guarantee and is worth every penning of its fairly modest price. With 22 international flights so far this year, I’ve given it a solid stress test and it’s holding up great.
- Scross World Adapter Pro+USB will keep all your devices juiced up wherever in the world you happen to be. It comes with a 2-port USB charger, which is a true godsend.
- Bose QuietComfort 3 noise cancelling headphones. A pair of good headphones will block most of airplane noise, make you less irritated and help fall asleep. I personally like QC3’s but I’ve heard good things about other Bose models, as well we some in-hear headphones from other brands.
- Gatorade or rehydration salts. Most of the fatigue from travelling comes from dehydration. Drinking a lot of water and electrolyte solutions helps prevent it. I suggest at least a glass for every hour of flight. Stock up after passing security to avoid having your fluids confiscated (although some airports do it anyway; I’m looking at you SCL).
- Chap stick, hydrating face cream, nasal spray & eye drops. Apply every 1 or 2 hours to keep your skin moisturised. Believe me, it makes a huge difference.
- Eye shades, ear plugs and face wipes. You’ll them in your amenity kit on most flights, but it’s good to have a backup.
- Zip-lock bags. The most versatile packing solution. Take a few spares as they disintegrate easily (and it’s easier to have spares than buy them at your destination).
- Priority Pass. Even if you have status with your alliance and can use their lounges, it’s best to have a backup in case you’re flying with a different airline. Check with your bank as some premium cards come with free membership as one of the perks.
- Ex Officio underwear. A fairly recent addition to my travel gear. They’re easy to hand-wash and dry really quickly, so you can travel with a pair or two for weeks. I usually pack four because I can’t be bothered to do laundry every day.
- Umbrella. A sturdy umbrella will last a lifetime and save you from getting soaked from head to toe when travelling. I swear by my Davek Solo as I use it not only when travelling, but if size matters to you go for their Traveller or Mini models.
- Pen. Flight attendants only have a few to hand out, so keep yours to fill out any landing cards or custom forms you may need.
- Local SIM cards. This is the first things I buy when I arrive in a new country. You can typically get a pre-paid card with a data plan for substantially less than a you’d pay roaming with your carrier and you may even be able to Skype over 3G in countries with good coverage.
Unfortunately, there’s no one ultimate travel gear—you’ll have to figure out what works for you through by trial and error. But once you do, you’ll never look back.