What’s in Your Bag? Travel Edition

suitcaseNo matter what kind of trip you’re going on this summer, whether for work or play, half a day or two months, you’re probably going to bring some stuff along with you. As I’m beginning to get ready for my own upcoming conference and research trip, I thought I’d bring together two strands in the ProfHacker tradition — the posts on your bag and posts on travel.

In an early post, Billie asked What’s in Your Bag, Jason commented on Stuffing Your (Work)Bag, Heather wrote about choosing your bag, and Ryan reviewed his Ideal Commuter’s Backpack.

My travel bag is a small (20″) carry-on rolling suitcase with spinner wheels. It easily fits front to back in overhead bins (the preferred loading method) and prevents over-packing. I usually also carry a bookbag or tote with my computer and ready-access items as my allowed “personal item”.

ProfHackers travel a lot (check out Mark’s What’s Your Tech for Traveling Abroad, Erin’s International Travel: ProfHacker Style, Kathleen’s Traveler’s Aid series on lost luggage and delayed flights, and Anastasia’s Leaving the Laptop Behind).

Five Things I Don’t Travel Without

Of course, there are all the obvious things I pack for a trip: clothes, toiletries, workout gear, and my laptop, Kindle, tablet, and phone with all their chargers. I keep the basics on a travel packing list on my computer that I can modify as needed for a particular trip. But here are a few of the less-obvious things I also pack:

  1. An internet cable: when available, I prefer to use connected internet rather than wi-fi, which is often spotty in hotels. Sometimes the cable is provided (or even affixed to their wall socket) but often it’s not. Bringing my own (plus the USB adapter for my ultrabook) means that’s one thing I don’t have to worry about.

  2. A USB stick for printing: Since I backup and synchronize my files with cloud storage, I rarely use USB thumbdrives any longer except for printing in hotel conference centers or photocopy shops. They are easy to forget, so I leave one permanently in both my bookbag and suitcase.

  3. Snacks and electrolyte powder: as a vegan with food allergies, it’s very reassuring to know I’ve got some healthy snacks with me when faced with unfamiliar airports or potential delays. I usually pack a sandwich and raw vegetables for the first day, and keep protein bars on hand for the rest of the trip. This Electro-Mix powder by Alacer is a great vanquisher of the headaches and fatigue that can accompany a long day of travel. (Of course, I try to drink plenty of water throughout the trip as well).

  4. Alcohol swabs: cheap and available at any drugstore, alcohol swabs are great for quickly cleaning hands or objects (gummy seatbelt buckles on planes are a particular horror of mine), and a good first aid item to have on hand as well.

  5. Earplanes: I just discovered these specialty earplugs earlier this year when I needed to fly while still getting over a head cold, and they’re now a must-pack item for all my air travel. Earplanes are designed to minimize ear pain or discomfort from the changes in cabin pressure during takeoff and landing. You insert them in your ears before take off and then about an hour before landing, when you hear the engines change speed. On flights less than 4 hours, I’ve usually just worn them for the whole flight, as they also reduce noise.

What are your non-obvious essential items for travel? Let us know in the comments!

[my CC licensed picture of my suitcase]

Return to Top