It’s the little things that count – you really just need your passport, phone and wallet to go on any trip, but how many times have you ended up buying overpriced items at airport shops for little things you forgot to bring… and end up using them just one time? Here is a list, a reminder of small essentials, that I really should write down on a proper packing checklist so I don’t forget them on my next trip.
Especially when the countries you visit are much colder or have a drier climate than Singapore – chapped and cracked lips are really uncomfortable and a bitch when they peel/bleed, so much that most people just cave in and pick up a tube of lip balm at their nearest drugstore counter. Then we put it aside when we’re back in our nice moist climate, and then FORGET IT AGAIN on our next trip. Anyone ever done a little spring cleaning and realise how many different tubes of lip balm you have somehow amassed? Story of my life.
When you are swarmed by commando sized mosquitoes in the tropical forests and doing the itchy dance – that’s when you most regret axing that spray bottle from your overstuffed bag because it ‘didn’t seem necessary at that point’ (true story). While we do get mosquitoes here in Singapore, these jungle ones in tropical countries tend to be HUGE and swarm you like a homing beacon as you approach, unassuming in your shorts and tanktop, a veritable buffet spread of juicy bloody limbs for the taking. Keep some mopiko or cream on standby just in case the repellent isn’t enough!
My hands tend to get dry in colder climates and you know how you sometimes have that one hangnail or loose bit of skin around your nail that REALLY annoys you, and you try twisting or nibbling it off only to give yourself a bigger skin tear/bleed instead? All very avoidable if you just remember to pack a small nail clipper on your travels. It’s a pretty multi-purpose tool – whether for irritating hangnails or clipping loose threads before your clothes start unraveling.
PAPERCLIP (or Smart Phone Pin)
Most useful when you need to change the SIM card on your smart phone – women can also repurpose the metal sticks of their earrings if not too flimsy, but it’s way easier to just have a proper pin on hand. Also good to have is a small roll of washi tape which is not only great for scrapbooking or keeping things together on the go, but useful in sticking your spare sim card and skinny pin down to something bigger (usually to the original card that the sim card came in) so it’s harder to lose.
The worst thing you can forget on a summer holiday is sunblock because UV rays are everywhere – hiding in the shade doesn’t do very much to protect your skin. Most beaches or hotels do sell sunblock, but if you are particular about the brand and coverage, it might be better to bring your own. Do remember that you can still get sunburned even on winter holidays – ski slopes take you closer to the sun and all that reflection off the snow doesn’t help either.
(CHARGED) POWERBANK AND (THE RIGHT) CABLES
What’s more annoying then seeing your smartphone battery drain to single digits? Smugly reaching in to your bag thinking you’re all prepared and realizing that you forgot to charge your power bank after using it before, or because it’s all drained out over time.
Another horrible situation – when you have a nice full battery but no way to use it because you brought the wrong cables out *smacks forehead* I’ve taken to putting all my cables into a single pouch so that it’s all in one place at any time!
I tend to get sinusy when faced with new weather or the enclosed environment on the plane, and I’m not in the habit of carrying tissue around with me at home so I always end up having to sneak several pieces of tissue from the airplane toilet into my jacket. I tend to hoard unused napkins from fast food purchases or the restaurants I dine at, so that’s one way to save yourself from actually having to buy tissue paper.
Also good to have – wet wipes because they are pretty handy when you need to clean anything without a tap and soap on hand, but especially when you’re in places without toilet paper, dry tissues are still a must have. A common way to maximize use of any tissue is by cutting up some of the pieces into smaller strips (just for wiping lips after a meal) or using 1ply instead of 2-3, this makes your stash last longer!
The humble grocery store plastic bag is usually the one thing keeping your dirty wet clothes separate from your clean dry ones – especially on weekend beach holidays where your swimwear might not have had time to dry before packing. Always have at least 1 normal sized plastic bag around at all times – they come in handy anytime you want to keep things dry (e.g. hostel shower area, leaky backpacks, wet bikinis…)
I’ve taken to keeping a small pouch of these essentials for travel purposes only, separate from stuff I use daily, so when it comes to packing I can just grab and go without worrying about whether all my essentials are available. Of course I’ve still managed to forget packing the entire pouch, but it’s a start because I usually remember that I need at least one of these items!
What are your essential small items for travel? Are you as bad as packing them as I am?