Like every travel writer I spend a lot of time planning my adventures. Right now I am planning a trip to Egypt in April, and a marathon 3,500-mile solo road trip in May and June. Along with my planning comes the desire to have the right “accessories” for every situation.
In addition to plenty of audiobooks to make the miles sail by, I’ll be taking along a cooler for Diet Coke and snacks. I’ve tried several over the years and one I really like is eBags Crew Cooler II.
Originally designed for flight attendants and pilots, this little cooler has all the bells and whistles you need in a compact design. A few features include a top "dry" compartment perfect for non-perishables, a zippered mesh pocket in the lid to keep napkins and other small items in place and, of course, a “cold" compartment that is completely insulated. An elasticized mesh pocket against the body is great for packets of mayo, mustard, etc. plus there is a zippered mesh pocket against the front – a perfect place for silverware. On the sides of the cooler are special pouch pocket water bottle carriers. In addition to handles and a removable shoulder strap, it has rear pass-thru pocket for stacking on top of your suitcase which I love for taking it into hotels with me.
I also purchased a first aid kit for my upcoming road trip in May. I always carry Band-Aids, but felt the first aid kits would bring everything together in one place in case I would actually need to get to my supplies quickly. This kit comes with scissors, tweezers, a whistle, first aid manual and all the supplies needed to help someone whether that someone is me or a fellow traveler.
RFID-Blocking and Anti-Theft
As you may know, I am a huge fan of RFID-blocking and anti-theft accessories.
RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) uses electromagnetic fields to identify and track information attached to objects including credit cards and passports. Although it has been around for years, it’s relatively new use is identity and digital theft. RFID skimming enables information from RFID-based smart cards to be read and duplicated.
Many companies are making and selling purses, backpacks, passport cases, wallets, luggage and credit card sleeves to shield against attempts to steal information.
I found several RFID-blocking bags and wallets for my upcoming travel including two beautiful bags.
Travelon’s boho crossbody bag comes in several great designs and features an RFID - blocking main compartment and card slots, a zip wallet pocket, locking front zip pocket and rear zip pocket, and a feature I love, a mesh expansion pocket that holds a water bottle, umbrella or sunglasses! There’s also a tethered key clip with LED light.
Travelon also offers a matching wallet that can be used as a wristlet. Featuring two zip compartments, card and currency slots and a coin pocket all with RFID – blocking, it is the perfect companion piece to the crossbody bag.
Another great find is this messenger bag. In addition to the RFID-protected card slots, the fabric is slash-resistant and the shoulder strap has an internal stainless steel cable for an additional way to protect your belongings. Locking hardware also allows you to secure your purse to the back of your chair without worrying that it'll be snatched by someone passing by.
I often use a neck wallet while taking a backpack and carry-on suitcase on an airplane. It’s a secure place for my passport, credit cards and cash, and is easy to keep out of sight. I also use it while moving around a cruise ship or even as a mini-purse while sightseeing so that I don’t have to carry a larger bag depending on what I am doing.
And let’s not forget the men in our lives. There are several RFID – blocking wallets available for every taste.
I am a great fan of packing cubes. I just discovered a new kind that combines a lightweight nylon material with mesh tops for easy identification when I am looking in my suitcase for something. If you have never used packing cubes, they make living out of a suitcase much easier. I put tops in one, undergarments in another and so forth. Also when I cruise and put everything away in my cabin, I just put the packing cube in the drawers; no need to unpack further.
I also found a new toiletry case. The size is right (12-1/2"W x 5"H x 4"D) and it features zipped pockets on all sides plus interior zip pocket storage and cargo pockets for smaller items. I like the shallow depth which allows small bottles to stand upright and the length for items like a hair brush.
I came across the coolest luggage I have seen in quite a while. Morphus International Carry-On — the world’s largest carry-on! Basically it’s a suitcase inside a suitcase. Bought too many souvenirs? Just separate the inside suitcase from the wheeled luggage to double your carrying capacity for the trip home. Or if you are planning to trek on your vacation and need a sturdy backpack, the inside suitcase features straps to convert it to a backpack. Check out the Eagle Creek website and the video. It’s an amazing concept!
I found two neck pillows that I think are superior. The first one I actually forgot to pick up in security and by the time I realized it was gone I was too far away from security to go back and retrieve it. I love it so much that I bought another one. It completely surrounds your neck giving you 360 degree support.
I just discovered another neck pillow made with memory foam that I am anxious to try on my next flight. It would also be perfect for car passenger travel. According to the website, body heat makes the memory foam mold to your head and neck, keeping your head from bobbing off to the side or drooping down. There’s also a button strap to prevent the pillow from falling off your shoulders.
I just added a reflective luggage tag set to the suitcase I use most often for airline travel. The set includes a set of zipper pulls, handle wraps and an ID tag making the suitcase easier to identify on the luggage carousel.
I also splurged on a travel umbrella because of its small size and its sturdiness. I really feel ready for any on-the-road travel as well as my international adventures this year.
Many travelers collect Christmas ornaments to help them remember the great times they’ve had on vacation; me too! If I can’t find the perfect ornament while on my adventures, I order it from Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. They offer hundreds of beautiful ornaments representing destinations throughout the United States and around the world. Many can be personalized like this one I made to remember a cruise I am taking with my daughter and granddaughter.
So get out there, explore, enjoy, find new adventures; this is a great year to travel!