11 Things I Never Travel Without

This Post Was Originally Published on the TuGo Travel Blog on July 19, 2019 by Mark Crone

Whether travelling for work or on vacation, you want your trip to be smooth and easy. To do that, you need to pack a few things to make your trip as easy and comfortable as possible. Here’s my list of things I always travel with (and never travel without):

1. Money/Credit Cards

Credit cards offer the convenience and security of access to your funds and credit any time. Even with a credit card, you’ll still need travel money for tips, snacks, cabs, and other “cash only” items. It’s easy to get major exchangeable currencies like the U.S Dollar, Great British Pound or Euro before you go. Other currencies, for example Poland’s Zloty, are best purchased in small quantities for your stay while in that country.

2. Travel SIM

sim

While Wi-Fi is tempting, it’s not secure in public places and is very limiting when you travel. A SIM card saves on roaming and data charges while keeping you connected. TravelSIM is my choice because its pre-paid (providing cost control), works in over 170 countries and incoming calls and messages are free.

3. Tablet/iPad

Between flight delays and in-flight entertainment, this is an absolute must to keep informed and entertained. There’s nothing worse than getting on a 4-hour flight without the airline app required for viewing in-flight entertainment, or a 4-hour flight delay while sitting at an airline gate. Watch Netflix, look at social media, receive emails, or your Kindle. On the plane, you can watch movies that you’ve missed. Before you know it, you’ll be at your destination!

4. Hard Case Luggage

away-luggages

I usually travel with a small backpack (for my gadgets) but always take a smaller hard case luggage as well. They’re lightweight, sturdy and easily fit in the overhead bin. Your belongings are better protected with a hard shell, they’re easy to pack and unpack, and even easier to roll around the airport.

5. Portable Power Bank & Adapter

A pocket-sized portable charger is a great toy to have for travel or anywhere. Keep it in your pocket or bag to charge your phone when you can’t find an outlet. When you’re travelling abroad, it’s also a good idea to invest in a combination adapter/converter. You can plug it into different electrical outlets and convert power from 220/240V down to North America’s 110/120V to use your devices.

6. Noise-cancelling Headphones

bose-noise-cancelling

These are essential in today’s world of packed flights and delays. Travel is certainly easier when you can “noise cancel” the snoring neighbour beside you, the crying baby and/or the arguing couple. With these headphones, deep relaxation and sleep are within your reach. One of the best choices is the Bose QuietComfort 35. Although there are wireless ear bud options from Apple (AirPods), they aren’t really noise-canceling and aren’t nearly as effective as over-the-ear headphones.

7. Note Pad/Pen

I always carry a notebook and pen when I travel. Nothing fancy required here, just a small notebook and everyday pen (often a hotel branded giveaway). You can always jot down your thoughts, to-do list, next blog post, etc. at any time and won’t forget to hit “save”.

8. Toiletry Bag

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Amenities and toiletries vary greatly by accommodation and destination. An Air BnB may not have any; a resort may have soap on the wall in the shower; a better hotel may have product that leaves you with skin rashes. It’s easy enough to pack a toiletry bag with small travel-sized containers. If you’re not checking your bag, make sure you pack your <100 ml liquids in a small clear bag to show at security.

9. First Aid Kit

A small and basic first aid kit that includes medication is a must. Painkillers, band aids and other medical essentials come handy during travel, especially if you get a small cut or catch a cold. With a first aid kit, you’ll save time and money being able to take care of yourself!

10. Water Bottle

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A water bottle or travel mug is a real travel essential. If you’re off to explore, hike or even just relax on a beach, you need to stay hydrated throughout the day. And by bringing your own reusable bottle, you’ll be doing your part to save the planet from plastic water bottle waste.

11. Phone and/or Camera

You won’t forget your smartphone when you travel (or camera if you have one). You’ll need it for your boarding pass and other important travel apps. But you may well forget your phone charger, so here’s your reminder: don’t forget it! If you happen to forget one, go to the front desk of any large hotel and let them know that you forgot your charger in the room. Chances are, they’ll pull out a basket full of various chargers that were left behind. Choose the compatible one for your phone, and you are back in business.

And of course, don’t forget the essentials like travel documents and travel insurance. You can’t get around the world without your passport, and you shouldn’t travel without the protection or peace of mind that travel insurance provides.

Safe travels,

Mark

Travel Product Review – Sennheiser Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Travel Product Review - Sennheiser Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Photo by C. Cagnin on Pexels.com

It’s easy to spot the road warriors as they wait at the gate and board the plane. They are the ones listening intently with their noise-cancelling headphones. And I can finally say that after many years as a frequent traveller, I have become an official road warrior with my new wireless, noise-cancelling headphones. I really wish I had them on my long trip to Dubai! But rather than review 5 different headphone brands (buy 5 and return 4), the purpose of this post/review is to bestow the virtues of quality headphones for travel. And also to review my new Sennheiser headphones based on real life usage.

For many years, and like many of you, I carried earbuds (or purchased them on the plane when I forgot to bring them). I even purchased noise-cancelling earbuds a few years back. (They really aren’t noise-cancelling and aren’t the same as headphones). While travelling with earbuds in your pocket or handbag is beyond easy, listening with earbuds on a plane is like being in the dark ages. If you travel with any regularity and/or commute by transit or walk distances, you simply must get yourself a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.

Travel Product Review - Sennheiser Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Photo by Jason Toevs on Pexels.com

Headphones are quite simply essential in today’s world of packed flights and delays. Travel is certainly easier when you can “noise cancel” the loud and unwanted sounds all around you. They will alter your in-flight, walking or commuter experience, letting you disappear into a cone of relative silence and/or into your favourite song. Quiet time and even sleep are highly possible. I find it pretty easy to sleep on a plane but only if I can block out the airplane sounds, baby cries and the loud conversations.

There are plenty of great headphones in the market. Sony, Beats, Bose and Marshall all make great headphones. Whatever you choose, make sure they warrant the investment (generally $200-$1,000) and are worthy of being in your carry-on. They must be comfortable, portable (fold up), have great sound, cancel noise, and have enough battery life to last through a long day. And will they fit with a decent travel pillow? Keep in mind that if you are a commuter, you’ll be using them on trains, subways, buses and/or long walks down busy sidewalks (in addition to travelling).

I’ve chosen the Sennheiser Model HD 4.50BTNC, based on their price point and reputation for fidelity. They are middle of the pack in terms of cost ($250-$300) and quality. You’ll pay more for many other models from Sony, Bose and Sennheiser too.

Travel Product Review - Sennheiser Noise-Cancelling Headphones

The lower price comes from a mostly plastic outer shell (fine with me), and a canvas sack carrying case (instead of a rigid case). The 4.50s fold up easily for carry-on and provide very good stereo sound (my opinion). Sennheiser’s NoiseGard™ active noise cancellation lets you enjoy silence or music in peace. If you spend more on a higher-end model, you will undoubtedly get more but I’m perfectly happy with my first pair of quality, noise-cancelling headphones. I’ve travelled with them and had an almost silent plane ride with music and sleep. The battery life is decent at close to 19 hours (2 hours to charge).

My verdict – they are a solid buy (and I did buy them). They provide great value; they fold easily; are comfortable and come with an auxiliary cord when you need to be wired. Perfect for long walks and travel!

Safe travels,

Mark

Travel Product Review – Travel SIM

Travel SIM

Travel SIM – Yes or No?

You’re about to depart on a trip and you’re thinking about how you’ll stay in touch. Do you turn off roaming and data and jump on wireless when you can or do you use your phone abroad with data? I’ve done both but I prefer to be in touch, use my GPS apps and check email periodically. In my travels, having a cell phone is a must for driving directions (think roundabout) , destination information (the next town) and in case of emergency.

Travel SIM

Travel SIM – Your Best Option

My personal money saving tip for most travel destinations is to pass on your cell provider’s international travel plan and go for a SIM card instead. A SIM card saves on data and roaming charges and keeps you connected. TravelSIM is my first choice because its prepaid, works in most countries and there’s no cost for incoming calls and messages. You buy it online and it’s delivered within a couple of days. You also get great “bars” in destination (cell reception) because you’re using a local telecom provider. Make sense?

The small challenge here is installing the SIM card. You’ll need to remove your current SIM card and insert your TravelSIM card. It’s easy – use a pin to open the SIM card slot (a thumb tack or paper clip both work); take out your current SIM card; put in the new SIM card, and Voila! Your phone will need to be “unlocked” for the new card to work (if it’s locked, the new SIM card won’t work). Contact your service provider or a cell phone unlocking service.

If by chance you didn’t buy a SIM card in advance, you can still buy when you arrive in destination (at the airport, train station or bus station). Just look for a store that sells SIM cards. The cards will be cheap and in many cases an employee will insert the SIM card for you.

Travel SIM

Travel SIM – The Bottom Line

You can save a lot of money and get a lot more high-speed data by planning ahead and buying a Travel SIM card.  If you are traveling to multiple countries, you will probably need a separate SIM card for each country unless you buy a TravelSIM card that features multiple countries and zones. If you get a new SIM card for travel, you will be using a different phone number from your regular one. To simplify taking a smartphone abroad, use messaging apps like What’s App or iMessage to maintain your identity and end-to-end encryption. A SIM card for travel keeps you in touch and keeps you off unsecured public Wi-Fi.

Safe Travels!