Don't leave home without: six must-haves for travellers

Don't leave home without it ... a neck pillow is a must-have.
Don't leave home without it ... a neck pillow is a must-have. Photo: Getty Images

If you're planning on getting away this summer, no matter how you get there, you need a list of travel must-haves, which should help with the most common discomforts.

IN-EAR OR EAR-COVERING HEADPHONES

The idea of being on a public transportation system without something to block people out can cause panic in many hearts. Keeping others' annoying mobile-phone conversations away, blocking the yammering of children and crying babies, and fending off random conversation with bored grandmas - headphones do all of these things and also provide you with your favourite tunes, an absorbing podcast, or a recorded book by your favourite author.

ON PAPER READING MATERIAL

E-readers like the Kindle and Nook are great, but when you have many hours of transit and limited recharging ability (not to mention all flying time when devices are decreed powered off), dead tree reading is a safer bet. Pack at least one book and one magazine and you'll be protected from boring customs and security lines, too (where electronics are also frowned upon).

HEALTHY, FILLING SNACKS

Don't make the mistake of "picking something up at the airport" unless you know it well. While food offerings have gotten better in recent years, it's still mighty disconcerting to realise there's no food offered in-flight and nothing edible in the airport either. Crackers and muesli bars; dried fruit: good quality, organic dark chocolate; and a tough fruit like a banana, orange or apple travel well.

REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE

Contrary to popular belief, you can bring water bottles through security and onto your plane - they simply have to be empty when you pass through customs. Once through, you can fill it right back up. Keeping hydrated is a good way to avoid getting ill while travelling - dry mucous membranes in the nose and throat are more susceptible to germs.

INFLATABLE NECK PILLOW

It's hard to get any real rest while sitting up, whether in a car, plane or train, with your neck craned to one side or the other. A number of companies make already-filled neck pillows, but they are terribly bulky and make adults look like toddlers toting around stuffed animals. A much more travel-friendly and compact version is an inflatable neck pillow that takes four or five deep breaths to fill. They used to give these away on Pan Am in the '80s (along with free ice cream, activities for kids, and legroom, sigh). These days, one has to bring one's own. A basic version is good enough. Your neck will thank you, and you'll probably rest more soundly, too.

AN EXTRA PAIR OF THICK, COMFY SOCKS

Socks seem to get so gross when travelling, for some reason. Whether it's changing into them before arrival at your destination, or an extra layer over your feet at 30,000 feet, more socks are better.

MCT

What are your travel must-haves items and tips? Leave a comment below.

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