I don't travel with a Kindle. I used to, and I found it pretty handy. But then I just stopped. I realised I like having an actual book to hold. I like being able to keep that book too, as a record of what I've consumed. And I found I never go through more than one tome on a trip anyway.
So I ditched the Kindle, just as I've ditched so many travel gadgets and accessories over the years. You might think that the longer you travel, the more bits and pieces you would collect to carry, but for me it's been the opposite. I've been whittling my collection down to the necessities over the years, to the items I always use and actually need.
Everyone is different in this regard. One person's necessity is the next person's nightmare. But these are now the only gadgets and accessories I take on every trip.
Let's start at the most basic. I can't sleep on a plane without an eye mask – I don't know how anyone can – so I always have one stuffed into my carry-on. The fancy ones with the bulgy eye bits are the best, though any thick, dark bit of material that covers your face will do the job.
Photo: Craig Sillitoe
Another basic travel essential, especially for flying, and also for budget accommodation with thin walls. Earplugs cost almost nothing, but they're extremely valuable.
There's nothing revolutionary or exciting about this – I just need to work on the road, and this laptop is the best way to do it. The 12-inch Macbooks are small enough to slip easily into your daypack, but powerful enough to take care of any writing and photo editing jobs you need to do. I carry mine everywhere, in a fairly ratty case that doesn't draw too much attention.
I don't have a money belt. They're uncomfortable, they're tricky to access, and they create a bulge around your waist that any would-be thief could spot from a mile off. Instead I just use a standard travel wallet, a place I can put my passport, my vaccination card, any spare foreign currency and any other assorted bits and pieces, and always know where they are. The wallet lives in my daypack while I'm travelling, and in my hotel or hostel when I'm staying somewhere. I've never had a problem.
1More Triple Driver headphones
This is my first real indulgence: a set of fairly expensive headphones that are probably also quite easy to steal. That's a risk I'm willing to take though, because the sound quality is amazing, and I've never understood people who spend lots of money to fly with an airline that has large seatback entertainment screens, and then use the crappy airline headphones to watch them. These headphones make movies and TV shows better – plus they're in-ear phones, so they can double as earplugs if necessary.
Bose SoundSport Free headphones
Yes, I travel with two sets of expensive headphones, which is kind of crazy, but hey, I like music, and they have different purposes. The first set is for inflight entertainment. The second set is for running, which is something I've started doing a lot of when I travel – it's a good way to see a new city in the early morning, plus it means I can eat more during the day. Full disclosure: I was sent these headphones for free, but I genuinely love them. They're wireless, they never fall out, and the sound quality is insane. Oh, and they recharge in a hard case that can hold three charges' worth of power.
Canon EOS 6D camera
This is one I've been tossing up lately. If I wasn't a travel writer, I wouldn't carry a big camera. I doubt I'd even carry a camera at all – a mobile phone does the job. But I need to take high-quality photos, and the 6D does that. Trouble is it's big and heavy, and I curse it every time I have to lug it around. If you're a budding photographer and you like to travel, I would advise going for one of the new, lighter mirrorless SLRs.
Universal power adaptor
As you can probably tell, with all of the gadgets, I'd be pretty well stuffed without one of these.
Leatherman Juice CS4
I'm not sure why I carry this, to be honest. Probably because it feels kind of manly and cool, and it means that on the off-chance I need to fashion a life raft out of three saplings and a roll of kitchen twine, I'll be able to make it happen. Of course that's never been necessary, so this glorified Swiss Army knife stays tucked down the end of my backpack until I need to get the cork out of a bottle of wine. Which, to be fair, is important. Just don't pack it in your carry-on or you'll never see it again once you hit airport security.
A phone is much more than just a phone to travellers. It's everything. Photo: Bloomberg
Everyone travels with a phone now, right? A phone is everything. It's your camera and your torch; your wallet and your map. It's your music player, your TV screen. It's your way of communicating with friends; your way of making new ones. Of all the gadgets and accessories I carry, this is the one I could no longer do without.
What do you carry when you travel? Have you whittled it down to the necessities? Anything you've found completely unnecessary?
See also: How to travel with only carry-on luggage
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