Travel hacks – things I don’t travel without

Travel Hacks
Travel Hacks

Living in Australia is incredible but there is one thing everyone who travels a lot comments on – it is so far away from everything, especially if your family is spread out across Europe and the US of A.  

After many lengthy trips that involve at least two 14 hour flights and stopovers, unpredictable circumstances like that time  I was stuck in Minneapolis airport for 24 hours because it was snowed under, I have worked out a list of staples I don’t travel without: 

1 Travel insurance
Seems pretty obvious, right? But I have had so many encounters with people who have done months of backpacking and multiple international trips and never got insurance, and then happened to be hit with major medical bills, lost luggage or stolen credit cards that it has become number one on my list. Most of us think – nothing will happen to me, it’s unnecessary. But when the connecting flights fail to connect because of said snowfall, or your suitcase arrives broken, you realise you actually do need travel insurance! Make sure it includes flight delays and lost or stolen luggage and credit cards as the insurance funds will tide you over while you’re getting luggage or cards sorted.

2 The lightest luggage I can afford (make it with four wheels too, please!) 
I have a confession to make – I love shopping. Wherever I go, I do shop – whether it is clothes, wine, vodka, or Panama hats, I do need every bit of extra room and weight I can get. It really depends on how much you would like to splurge on a suitcase, but my personal favourite over the last 15 years since I started travelling long haul has been Samsonite. Their luggage is light, durable and you can choose hard or soft cases. Plus of course they have long term warranty. Not cheap but definitely worth the investment as it will serve you a fair few years! 

3 Luggage scales
A really random thing to have, but in the era of airlines that charge you for using the toilet on the plane, they will also charge you for a hundred extra grams of luggage. After I had to display the whole contents of my suitcase in Ecuador while on a 5 week work trip, and re-pack it in full view of the queue, I acquired luggage scales and have not travelled without it since. Saved me a lot of time, moments of shame, as well as a few hundred dollars! 

4 My medical emergency kit
This is a bit of a girly thing but I like to have the peace of mind and know I have sanitiser, cold and flu tablets, painkiller, as well as band aids and Imodium in my possession, shall something strike me in the middle of the night in a foreign country where I drank tap water by mistake or aircon on the plane gave me a cold, and I have to be up and running straight off the plane. 

5 Entertainment 
Not everyone reads these days, but it is definitely something I prefer doing on a flight. Since carrying a physical book or many on a lengthy trip is impossible, i have switched to kindle on my phone and haven’t looked back. It means that I always have a book to read when  a plane is delayed or when I am having breakfast solo in a foreign country. Another option is to check out what’s on the in-fight entertainment system prior to the flight, and plan the viewings. Someone once taught me that the longest flight is only measured by the quantity of movies you will watch. 

6 Selfie stick 
This one has struck controversy with many of my friends and fellow travellers (some of them labelled it tacky and cringe worthy), and then turned out to use it and love it. As I travel a fair bit for work, and one-armed selfie is not my forte – I somehow always end up with a pained cross-eyed expression, selfie stick managed to be my reliable photographer that has assisted me in documenting my memorable travel experiences that I lived through on my own. I also somehow attract more attention, strike conversations and even make new friends while using the thing, so if you are in need of company or a chat on your travels – selfie stick is your mate. 

As you can see – nothing really revolutionary, but a few bits a pieces that make travelling easier and saved my travelling self many times!

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Written by Lena Shifrina: A Russian-born Princess who lives to eat, travel, explore other cultures and meet people all over the world! Despite extensive travel research still struggles to read a map upside down, can talk under wet cement in a few languages, and dance at the traffic lights even at 9am. Coffee and opera aficionado.