Top 10 must haves for short trips

Sunday 26 June 2011
If you're like me and loathe having to lug around massive suitcases through various train stations, airports, subways and hotels, traveling light is the way to go. For those of us who live in the UK, you'll know that getting to and from the airport is often either an expensive or exhaustive exercise. The cost of airport cabs is debilitating if you take a lot of short trips. At times, they cost more than the flights. Hopping on the train to Heathrow or Gatwick is far cheaper but frustrating if you have to rely on the tube (subway) as well. It helps having a small trolley suitcase or bag because you can get around so much quicker.

I've backpacked in Greece, Malaysia and China with my medium sized Kathmandu rucksack. I remember a time when I had to walk up a steep hill to get to my accommodation with two other girls. They each had a ginormous backpack. It was such a drama getting up the hill for them so we decided to catch a cab and split the cost. Upon arrival, I jumped out and they followed suit only to fall backwards into the taxi from the weight of their backpacks. Over the years, I've made plenty of mistakes but after countless trial and error, I've managed to formulate a system that works for me.

1. Longchamp Le Pliage totes
These are a lifesaver. They're light as a feather and fold up into a small rectangular pouch making them easy to carry around. I travel with the large sized shopper with long shoulder straps as well as an extra larger tote folded away in case I plan to do some shopping. On short trips, I can fit everything into my bag with plenty of room to spare.

2. iPhone
Previously, I used to carry books, maps, an iPod, laptop, cellphone, journal as well as chargers for the 3 electronic devices. Now a tiny little iPhone does all these and more. I can't live without my smartphone. Well, I can but I choose not to.

3. Ulmon city guides
The city guide is an application which you can download onto your iPhone at a ridiculously low price of £0.59. It works offline with maps including the subway and packed with everything you need to know about the place you're visiting. If you have no sense of direction like yours truly, the map itself is invaluable. The Paris metro system is a nightmare to work out but oh so easy on with this incredible app.

4. External Battery for iPhone
While we're on the topic, I'm fed up with the battery on my iPhone dying on me within a few hours. If you're a heavy user like me, checking your emails, getting on the internet, sending a few text messages and reading an ebook drains the battery like there's no tomorrow. While I was in Turkey, I saw Lil Bro with his external battery for his iPhone. *smack forehead* Why didn't I think of that?! There's a cheap version by TeckNet available on Amazon for only £12.99 plus postage.

5. Travel sized toiletries or better still, samples
I pare down to an absolute minimum. Everything has to fit into my small Cath Kidston toiletry pouch. I have one moisturizer (Trilogy Rosehip Oil) which doubles as a night and eye cream. I buy little bottles for cleanser, shampoo and conditioner as I find the ones provided by the hotels aren't always suitable. Other times, I don't even bother. Instead, I bring little sample sachets that I stockpile at home. I don't wear a lot of make up so the most I'll ever bring along is a sunscreen, lipstick, concealer, powder, eyebrow powder, blusher, couple of brushes and a small can of hairspray.

6. Crease free Clothes
When I'm traveling, my PJs consists of a t-shirt and soft comfy cotton elasticated pants. I tend to wear jeans rather than packing them in as they're bulky. I only pick clothes that requires no ironing and can be easily rolled up.

7. Photocopies of passport and credit/debit cards
If you've ever had your passport and/or bank cards stolen, you'll know how truly invaluable these photocopies are. I've had my entire money belt pickpocketed by a 4 year old gipsy boy when I was in Italy 15 years ago. I was silly enough not to wear my money belt at the time but despite the fact that I was clutching my rucksack tightly, it didn't deter the little thief at all. Thank goodness I kept photocopies of my passports as well as the bankcards. Remember to photocopy BOTH sides of your bankcards as the emergency helpline number is located just above the magnetic strip. Hubby lost his wallet while we were in Greece recently and we were able to contact the banks swiftly. None of the fluffing around trying get online to locate the phone number of our bank.

8. Camera
Okay, I'll admit that I'm just not a point and shoot camera type of gal. I'll grit my teeth and bear it with my iPhone camera but the inability to control a shot just drives me crazy. Whilst most of my male friends who are just as passionate about photography upgrade their equipment every year (The bigger, the better. I call it the penis envy syndrome), I prefer to pare down to an absolute minimum. My banged up Canon 400D is the smallest and lightest in its range. The accompanying 50mm f1.8 lens is not only cheap and light, it is crystal sharp. It doesn't have a zoom but heck, I've got legs.

9. Cashmere shawl
I am addicted to my Hermes and Louis Vuitton leopard shawls. The weather in Europe is unpredictable, a little like me when I've got PMS. A shawl comes in handy and it doubles as a blanket on the plane or train.

10. Tissue paper
You thought I was going to say something clever. No truly. Tissue paper. In little packs. Ever suffer from sinuses especially when the air-conditioning blew hot or cold? You have runny nose and you're desperately trying to look cool and composed.... without resorting to major sniffling. Or worse, you sneezed before you were able to pinch your nose and now you have to deal with snot and saliva sprayed in all directions. I'm sure I'm not the only one......


  1. the only lens you carry when you travel is the 50 mm?

  2. Only on short trips. I'm amazed by the crystal sharp photos I'm getting with this cheap plastic lens.

  3. I'm more of a small trolley kind of gal rather than a backpack, but I sometimes do use it when travelling with Sophie. It's convenient while pushing the stroller around getting from A to B. I'm also not a point and shoot camera person and only have small toiletry bottles. Oh, I ALWAYS, ALWAYS travel with tissues also and, most importantly, wipes!

  4. LOL. I remember the days when I had packs and packs of wet wipes. These days, tissues are sufficient. I must say, I haven't worn a backpack in years. Speaking of which, I'll have to replace my trolley with the 4 wheeler ones. SO much easier to push around.

  5. Dh, the kids and I just made it through Europe with a small trolley bag and a tote or small duffle each (Longchamp for me, too!!) It was so easy to hop on and off of the trains and trams! We never had to check our luggage and it just felt so nice to go with less. I watched countless people struggling with HUGE bags through cities and airports. Never again! I got 2 weeks worth of clothes and 3 pairs of shoes in there with no problem. Yes to tissues in those little packs! But I did need a heap of wet wipes - let's just say two trips to Berthillon in Paris and a messy 7 and 9 year old require them! hehe

  6. I know what you mean, Lauraloo. I saw so many people with humongous suitcases and the look of horror on their faces when they saw lots of stairs without an escalator in sight. That's Europe for you.

  7. help! i am absolutely crazy over jen aniston's tom ford fold over bag with big zippers in black!!! i can't find the cost, are you able to find it n the places to get it?? shoulder bags haven't looked so good since the 80s!!

  8. If you didn't bring this to my attention, I wouldn't have known anything about this new bag by Tom Ford. I had no idea he has ventured into bags. I've tried googling but right now, there's no info as to where you can get the bag. I'm sure it'll be filtered thrugh NAP, Neiman Marcus or similar websites soon.

  9. These tips are so timely for me. I almost used it as a checklist. Le pliage, tick. iphone, tick. Ulmon, must download. External batt, must buy. Travel sized toiletries and samples, tick. Crease free clothing, tick. Photocopies, must photocopy. Camera, sticking to S90 (though I'd die for your shots). Cashmere shawl, tick. Tissue paper, double tick! :)
    Thanks for sharing!!!

  10. My pleasure, Heather. If it's a short 1-2 night, I just put everything in my Le Pliage. When I check out, I've just got my tote and off I go shopping and sightseeing without having to worry about lugging a trolley.

    Hope the weather is good at your end.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...