6 July 2016

Nine travel essentials that I won't leave home without...

Having zipped around the globe as much as I humanly could fit into annual leave for the last 10 years (HOW HAS IT BEEN THIS LONG ALREADY?) including 3 flights last year to my own Kiwi home - aka almost as far away as you can get from England without cozying up to Antarctic Penguins - it's safe to say that I think I've almost got this travel packing thing down to an art. (I'll have you know that it was my husband who left all of my bathroom kit behind in England on a recent trip - thankfully it was only Belfast and I could buy almost everything I needed in any case.)

In the vain hope of wrangling yet another trip on our way home from the last one, I always leave a little bag of essentials tucked into my drawer. I like to think of them as emergency travel ninja supplies that I could pick up at a moments notice - and it's the first stash of things that go into my suitcase.


Well, actually, this was going to be 10 travel essentials list, because as a spectacle wearer since the age of 11 - long before fashion made wearing spectacles respectable, even cool - I would always have to tuck my glasses case and a large stash of contact lenses for special occasions and emergencies into our suitcases. However, Vision Direct approached me to share their international contact lens delivery service (taking only 2-3 days delivery to most parts of Europe) that is going to be a game changer for our holidays. We will be much less stressed about accidentally knocking our glasses off the bedside table and having to wander around beautiful places squinting in annoyance because everything is blurry...

My carry-on essentials that I can't enjoy travelling without are:


Headphones – 
I loathe those matrix-style little white buds that make people look like they are plugged into a mothership. It’s mostly because they continuously fall out of my big lugs, but also as I find the sound quality is at best fuzzy. I also hate big snoop-dogg style ones as after 3 back-to-back seasons of Gilmore Girls and Bones they irritate my ears. So, to solve my issues (practical rather than deeply-seated psychological) I bought a pair of over ear runner’s headphones which feel like you are wearing nothing at all. (On your ears.)

Clear mini-bottles - 
I have super, super sensitive skin, and though I love the gorgeous minis that hotels provide, often I can’t take the risk of reacting to them, so I always, always carry minis full of my tried and tested favourites. I’m even neurotic enough to even put them into my carry on for long haul flights (with full size bottles checked into the hold) just for the occasions such as our airline leaving our suitcases overnight in Australia as we arrived in New Zealand. Plus, when you’re tired and cranky, stuck in the airport as your middle long-haul flight is delayed there isn’t anything so relaxing as hopping into a lounge and washing off all of that stress and those air conditioning germs. Unfortunately occasionally my husband leaves them in the wrong country, but that’s just life…


Travel wallet - 
Leaving my passport tucked under the mattress of our Pisa Hotel (the safe wasn't working) as we stepped onto the train bound for Florence has turned me into a nervous wreck who checks her purse a hundred times a day on holiday. Now, thanks to Santa, I have a beautiful leather travel wallet that keeps me organised and as I can spot it a mile away I don’t have to rustle through my carry on a million times.

Scarf – 
I won’t leave home without at least one of my trillion scarves, especially when flying long haul. Not only are they compact, beautifully comfortable and good for emergencies, they can turn your plane gear into a chic outfit. Even after 30 hours in a tin can.

Snacks - 
Hey, don't judge, I have a friend who carries their own mustard everywhere. A literal little jar of English Mustard that she pops out at the dinner table. With that in mind, a couple of muesli bars to keep the hangry wolves at bay no matter what time zone it is doesn't seem so strange does it?

An empty water bottle –
I love the window seat when travelling as getting knocked by clumsy idiots - like myself - traipsing the long aisles just as sleep comes isn’t my thing, but it does mean harassing flight attendants (or keeping my husband busy) everytime I fancy another drink of water. However, taking a bottle of water onto the plane (emptied if going through security) means that I can pop it into my seat pocket along with snacks, and get it filled up as often as I want once empty. Keeping hydrated also really helps with jet lag too (not wine, don’t believe anyone who tells you that.)

** nb: Cat for sale - one careful, well travelled owner **

Handbag – 
I will never look like a local in many of the cities we visit, BUT you are far more likely to be less hassled if you stride through areas like you’ve walked them for years and dress as such. On the Prague metro which is notorious for tourists being targeted and fined by officials for not zapping their travel passes, I just rolled straight past them. Oh, I should also have put the ‘London commuter’ expression of blank indifference on this list – it worked a treat on my first night in Lisbon where tourists kept asking me for directions… I tend to use a cross body black leather bag or a light travel handbag. (Nb: This is absolutely typical behaviour for London as well, what can I say, in my head I'm perpetually on holiday!)

A pen - 
Go on, laugh until we are tripping together, we reach the front of the immigration queue and you start patting your pockets, rummaging through the crud in the bottom of your bag, pockets and suitcase and I smugly hand over my pen.Who will have the last laugh then?

Cheat's Google Map - 
It's now possible to create an offline Google map that can be marked with recommended restaurants and nearby sites - this is a new discovery that we tested in Budapest. All that's needed is a smartphone, a little time beforehand to set things up and a touch of GPS to impress the hardiest, hungriest travel companion.

I do always somehow manage to forget toothpaste though, discovering the omission whilst clad in Pyjamas, and inevitably buy a new travel size tube that joins the selection waiting at home. Oh, and did I mention that the Vision Direct summer campaign involves a video series featuring a beautiful pug called Gizmo and his family on holiday in Spain?

What is your most essential travel item? It's a pug wearing sunnies right?


Vision Direct is Europe’s largest online contact lens supplier, stocking over 1 million lenses from world leading brands and is dedicated to making the purchase of contact lenses easy, quick and affordable. It offers free, fast delivery and seven days a week customer support, as well savings of up to 42% against high street opticians. This post is a collaboration with Vision Direct, but all thoughts and wandering sentences are very much my own.

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