light-hearted I take to the open road

I’ve been doing more traveling again, so I thought perhaps I would do a little travel-stuff roundup of things that have been making that traveling easier lately.

I’ve carried one of these portable power bars for years, but I guess they’ve been discontinued (and that model, used, is selling for >$300, which is frankly ridiculous). The same company makes a smaller, cheaper one now—for $6, it’s worth checking out:

These are a lifesaver in airports—instead of fighting over an outlet, you can share and make friends! They’re also great in hotel rooms where they have inexplicably used up precious outlets by the bedside table with useless things like clock-radios.

Speaking of hotel rooms and their terrible outlet placement, I recently splurged on a set of extra-long lightning cables, which are fantastic if you like to use your phone as an alarm clock and charge it overnight—unless your hotel room is truly palatial, a ten-foot charging cord will let you keep the phone on the bedside table no matter where the nearest outlet is.

For long flights, I also just got one of these:

If you (like me) are just a little too short to rest your feet comfortably in an airline seat this thingumbob is amazing! The strap goes over the tray table arms (so be aware that it won’t work in an exit seat where the tray tables are in the armrest) and it’s very quick to set up and adjust. (You can fold the tray table up with it in place, too.) It is not super-sturdy (I had to reinforce the stitching where the straps meet the sling) and if you have very large feet you might feel constricted, but $14 for a MUCH more comfortable flight is completely worth it.

I was worried that it might be annoying to the person in front of me, but nobody on my flights turned around and gave me the stink-eye. The flight attendants didn’t seem bothered by it either, and it’s way better than the tiny stepstool I was using before (not joking).

Other things I take when I travel:

  • a stainless steel water bottle (gets less gunky than plastic, less likely to break in my backpack)
  • a travel coffee press (you can make cold brew with it!)
  • a travel yoga mat (this folds up pretty small and it has 100% improved my daily yoga practice compliance when traveling)
  • a large handkerchief or bandana (I like the excuse to use my Liberty ones, but any cotton handkerchief will do)
  • for very long flights I really like this travel pillow—it’s inflatable, so you’re not carrying a floppy drool-soaked foam donut around—and I think it’s less likely to give you a crick in your neck)

I also take a 4×6 soft mesh zip bag (I think I got it at Ichiban Kan), and while I’m waiting in the security line, I dump all the junk in my pockets (pen, notebook, phone, wallet, lip balm, handkerchief, change, etc.) into the bag, and then pop the bag into my backpack to go through the actual scanner. (Way more secure than those little bowls, especially if you’re pulled out for extra screening and can’t keep an eye on your stuff.)

Probably everyone in the universe is using packing cubes right now (but if you aren’t, I like these) but I’m excited to try compression cubes on my next trip.  I’ll report back!

If you’re a gadget-lover in general, you’ll probably enjoy Recomendo, a Cool Tools-style newsletter full of neat stuff (and apps and sites).

Anything you can’t travel without? Leave a comment!

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