Travel Essentials

I leave tomorrow for the first of several trips this summer (see last post) and I was thinking about my favorite travel gear – the items that I don’t go on a trip without. First up is a flashlight. You don’t always need one, but when you do, you’re glad you brought one. Last summer in Italy, this little flashlight saved my life – litereally. Besides being handy on the plane, or hotel room, it was great to have it the night we were stuck without a cab a few miles from town and walked a mountain road in pitch dark. I got mine at Walgreens. It’s so small, I can keep it on my key chain, and although it doesn’t have batteries because it’s disposable, it has a surprisingly bright LED beam.
In an effort to lighten my load, I thought that I would try a money clip. The Slim Clip is one of the “As seen on TV” items I also got at Walgreens. It holds up to six cards and a wad of bills.

Slim Clip

For the essentials, Eagle Creek has some great luggage and accessories, like this hanging toiletry kit.

Eagle Creek Pack-It Wallaby II Travel Toiletry Kit

For my laptop and carry-on items, I prefer a backpack since I have both hands full with a tuba case and a suitcase to maneuver. It’s made of rugged material and hardware, and features a clamshell-style design with schock-absorbing straps and back padding.

Wenger Sahara computer backpack

My current suitcase is by SwissGear. It’s small enough to not be a burden, but big enough to hold enough for a week.

SwissGear 21″ Upright Suitcase

The essential that I seem to forget more often than not are earplugs. Flying is bad enough without the noise. On long flights, or in other loud places, they can be critical.

Hearos Xtreme Protection Series Earplugs from Walgreens

The latest addition to my gear is an aluminum water bottle. With all this talk about dangerous plastics, I thought it would be wise to buy one of these babies (besides, it matches my luggage!)

Aluminum Bottle by SIGG

For booking, I swear by Expedia and and occasionally get a great deal on Priceline, and this year I discovered TripIt. TripIt consolidates all of the details for my itineraries. Because I make the travel arrangements for the Atlantic Brass Quintet, and always need to fly five people from three cities, I find this site extremely valuable. All you have to do is forward emails directly to TripIt, clips from the web, and add notes, pictures and other details to create a master itinerary with everyone’s information on the same page. For exploring an area, or checking hotel review, I like Trip Advisor.

My favorite travel writer lately is Matt Gross, the New York Times Frugal Traveler. He is currently posting articles and videos about his travels throughout Europe, retracing the the path of the Grand Tour.

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