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The Top 5 Most Important Travel Tools

What do I bring?  Will I ever use this?  What couldn’t I live without once I get away from the comforts of home?

All these questions will be answered, in this must have list of items to take with you on absolutely any trip.  You might just be headed down the street to get groceries.  Bring them.  Perhaps you’re on a one way ticket to Asia.  Bring them along or buy them there.  You’ll be glad you did.  Here’s the list of the Top 5 Most Important Travel Tools ever.

Tool #5:  (It’s best to count down, it builds up the excitement)  A plastic bag.  It sounds simple and boring, but let me explain.  What if you’re riding along on a bumpy mountain road in a Nepalese bus.  Your stomach begins to ache.  Soon, you’re too sick to keep those samosa’s inside.  Where do you turn?  Ah, that precious little plastic bag you brought along!  Just puke and rally, throwing the bag’o’joy out the window.  I saw plenty of locals do it.  The usefulness doesn’t stop there.  Keep your wet clothes away from the dry ones.  Separate little bits and pieces, keeping them organized.  Suffocate your enemies.  The list is endless.  And so are the styles/choices for plastic bags.  Just make sure you bring some.

Tool #4:  A small blanket.  I’ve recently discovered the magic withheld in my recently purchased, yak wool blanket.  This thing goes with me everywhere now.  I can wear it as a dress, a dashing scarf, pillow, seat cushion, the list goes on and on.  Warm or cold this item has really been a lifesaver.  You’ll wish you had one next time you have to lie down on a dirty sleeper train…

Tool #3:  The tiny knife.  Just so you know, I’m basing all of these tools off of the ones I’ve brought with me on this trip.  I found mine in the door of the car I bought this spring, BONUS!  It’s helped me pry open bottles, cut off shoe laces, extract the never ending dirt from under my fingernails, peel/cut fruit and veggies, scare off vagrants…you name it and this little guy can do it!  Of course, the knife is up to you.  Perhaps you’d like more of a Swiss Army Knife with attached bottle opener, or a Gerber for the powerful claw-like pliers.  I’d bring them, but frankly I’m afraid to lose such expensive items.  Plus airlines don’t like you bringing them on planes.

Tool #2:  Getting close to the cream of the crop, but no list of travel tools would be complete without a headlamp.  These little babies are priceless in a dangerous situation.  I’m not even sure where to start, it seems obvious that this would be on any list.  Also note, this is the first item that includes batteries.  When traveling, especially when you’re journey requires packing as light as possible, I avoid items that require constant charging or extra batteries.  When they’re dead they’re no good to anyone.  Except maybe to throw as bait to would-be robbers.  When looking at headlamps, you get what you pay for.  Aim for a quality one that will stand the test of time, and not die every week.  These puppies will let you read in the dark while your friends are sleeping.  Many have strobe modes and when a group of headlamps get together, it’s one rockin’ party.  In die hard bathroom situations in the woods, you’ll want to know if…well…just know it’s handy.

Tool #1:  The moment of truth.  The secret to traveling and having the right tools for every situation.  I think you’ll be surprised to find out that the most important item is…WHATEVER YOU WANT!  That’s right folks, it’s pretty much whatever is going to make you happiest throughout the trip.  This includes but is not limited to, an iPod, watch, altimeter, Gameboy, cellphone, compass, Kindle, etc.  These are all personal choices, but depend on the type of person.  I don’t call home a lot, but enjoy music and videos so I brought my iPod touch.  For someone who wants the latest copy of “Lonely Planet” and a ton of books that fit into a magazine sized space, throw in your Kindle.  I never know what time it is so a watch can often be crucial.

In the end, when all is said and done, you get to bring what ever you want.  It’s your trip.  I’ve just found from experience there are a few basic things that I wouldn’t want to have been without.  Just keep in mind, it’s always advantageous to pack light.  Smaller the better.  Items with high upkeep such as battery powered items can be frustrating, as they seem to break more often, require charging or batteries, and tend to be targets for theft.  It is also hard to leave behind the, “Just In Case” items.  They fill your bag and maybe get used once or twice.  Try to focus on things that will get used all the time, with many purposes.  Most importantly, remember that you’re out to have fun.  The trip shouldn’t be about the gear you bring, but the memories you make while you’re away from home.  So don’t get too caught up in what’s in your bag, but what’s surrounding you.

Hanson Photography – Out.

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