As a travel writer and all around travel geek, it’s important for me to be able do drop everything, pack and take off on a trip across the country or around the world on a moment’s notice.
For that reason, I always have my bags partially packed and ready to go. With only a few last-minute additions, I can be out the door in about five minutes with enough stuff to keep me comfortable, connected and looking sharp for a few days or a whole week.
What do I keep in my go-bag? Let’s take a look:
First off, let’s talk about my bag (or bags). I typically travel with two, a briefcase, which serves as my office on the go, and my carry on spinner, which contains everything else.
Both my briefcase and roller bag come from Briggs & Riley. Over the years, I’ve found that this luggage brand makes a product that can stand up to the rigors of the road and comes at a decent price point (mine costs about $300). It’s not cheap, but I’ve found that you almost always “get what you pay for” when it comes to luggage. A broken bag can definitely slow down a fast-paced trip.
When I walk out the door, I stack my briefcase on top of my B&R Transcend Widebody carryon, and I’m off. Those four wheels make navigating the airport or the airplane aisle (turn it sideways!) a cinch. Perhaps the best thing about Briggs & Riley is its no-nonsense lifetime guarantee: If your bag breaks, they will repair it for free, no questions asked.
Did you know that your iPad charger can charge your iPhone about two times faster than the one that comes with your phone? That’s because the iPad charger is 12W vs the 5W charger that comes with your iPhone. (Details here.)
Since iPhone and iPad chargers are the one thing I most frequently leave behind, I have recently decided to keep one 12W charger in my bag for travel and another 12W charger at home. That way I’m never without a charge. And I don’t beat myself up in the car on the way to the airport when I forget it, and then have to borrow or spend a fortune on a new one at my destination. With two, I know I’ll always get a good charge!
So just buy an Apple 12W USB Power Adapter ($15) online now, pack it in your go-bag and leave your other one at home or in your office. (Another tip: Your phone charges even faster when you put it in Airplane Mode.)
The cheapest thing in my go-bag is one of those clear plastic covers you get from the dry cleaners (see photo at top). Since I’m a frequent business traveler, I need to arrive for meetings sans wrinkles. When I first started traveling for work, my boss taught me to “hang, wrap and roll.” This means leaving your pressed clothing on hangers, wrapping them in the dry cleaner bag, and then rolling them up to pack in your suitcase.
Somehow, the plastic wrap prevents clothing from bunching up, which is what causes wrinkles, so when you get to your destination, just pull them out, give ’em a shake, and voila! No wrinkles! The cleaner bag also serves as the perfect receptacle for dirty clothes or soiled shoes for the trip home. See this tip come to life in this CNN segment (fast forward to about :36 seconds).
Getting a good night’s sleep on the plane or at the hotel is essential to a successful trip. I’m a light sleeper and have tried nearly every potion, drug, contraption or device out there, and have come to rely to two primary items that ensure good rest: A Bucky or Dream Essentials eye mask and Mack’s silicone earplugs.
The cheap eye masks provided by most airlines are uncomfortable, don’t keep all the light out, and leave marks on my face and temples. So every year I invest in new Bucky Contoured Blockout Shades ($13 on Amazon), which block out all light, have thick adjustable bands that don’t leave marks, are contoured so they don’t smush your eyeballs, and offer big velvety cushioning that is soft and cozy on my face. Plus, they are washable. I also like this cushy contoured mask from Dream Essentials.
Thankfully, a swimmer friend turned me on to Mack’s earplugs. They are designed to keep water out of swimmers’ ears, but they also do a masterful job of keeping out unwanted noise! Those cheap expandable foam plugs that you stick into your ear canal can hurt, plus they do a minimal job of keeping out the noise on a plane…or a snoring bed partner.
Macks Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs are disks of moldable silicone that cover the opening to your ear canal– and they block out nearly all noise. Ever since I switched to Mack’s, I’ve never slept better on planes, hotels or in any noisy environment. And they are cheap- just $7 on Amazon. (Warning: You might sleep through an alarm clock with these on!)
And based on the current brouhaha surrounding which states have Real ID compliant licenses, and which don’t, I now simply store my passport in my go-bag.
What would you or do you keep in YOUR go-bag? Please leave your suggestions below.