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Travel Essentials: Living Out Of A Suitcase

travel essentials
By Chris Plunkett

For the past nine years I have been living out of a suitcase; an itinerant in the greatest sense of the word, a carpet bagger, a carney. My most important possessions are my passport and a battered notebook, these being the items which in the event of a disaster I would not hesitate to risk life and limb to retrieve.

There is no doubt that I own greater and more valuable things which travel with me through the world, but these two bound bundles of paper are what best represent ‘home’ to me. Of course, nothing can make a hotel a home but there are a few essentials which are tucked or shoved into a corner of my luggage before I depart on my journey if only to make life a bit more comforting when away.

Coffee. Ever in search of a better, smarter and smaller way to make my morning espresso I have tried everything from Starbucks instant (only in desperation) to a Bialetti portable mocha.

The absurdity of carrying an espresso machine is not lost on me, especially when it requires the ownership of both 110 and 220 voltage. Of late I have pared down to a hand grinder, 200g of good espresso from my local and a tiny pump action unit which only requires boiling water to get me on my way.

A portable router. There is comfort in being able to skype, check email and connect from bed. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

There are great units available which can fit into the palm of your hand or the pocket of your coat. Simply connect the hotel LAN cable and hey presto, you’ve created your own universe.

An e-reader. I am a great collector of books and typically have overages on my luggage on the return journey due to that.

But not all cities I travel to have a great bookstore or even a bookstore with English language texts.  At those times my e-reader has been a saving grace.

A local guidebook. Even if I only plan on being in a city for a short while, a good guidebook allows me to familiarise myself with the streetscape and locate a few places I might visit on the odd day off or grab a bite after the day is done.  Apps on the mobile phone are handy, but it’s a good idea to be able to function without using excess data.

 A pashmina. It’s a blanket, a fashion accessory and a sarong in one package.

If I could get this much use and versatility out of the rest of my clothing I’d be a superstar. As it is I usually have one in my carryon and a spare in my suitcase.

This list isn’t exhaustive (I also carry a collapsible vase with me so I can have fresh flowers in my room), but it represents the items which can make or break a trip whether it is for 3 months or three years. Living abroad and away from home can be an arduous exercise in comfort. The small things become big issues and the big savers of sanity are the little comforts you carry with you.


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