It’s the end of an era here, as my faithful Crocs sandals have given up the ghost and snapped at the ankle. Although I can probably get away with wearing them still, they’re not as practical as they once were.
I’ve had them almost since I moved to China four-and-a-half years ago and they have served me well through the torrential plum rains of southern China in April, the razor-sharp coral off the coast of Gili Trawangan in Indonesia, and hiking through the damp, humid forests of Borneo.
They have also been remarkably comfortable everyday-wear shoes, as well as one of my most useful essential travel items. All this and, for a pair of Crocs, they were actually quite stylish. Booooo! 🙁
In honour of the sandals and their amazing service over the years, I thought I’d write about some of the other essentials that have accompanied me on my travels. Here, in no particular order, are my travel essentials:
These are technically in Merrell’s range of trail running shoes, but I have used them for years for both hiking and walking around cities, and they’ve been extremely comfortable. They’re not the most supportive of shoes for extremely tough hiking trails but they are very light and flexible for packing, can be worn with no socks so are great for hot weather, and can be machine-washed when they get dirty (or whiffy!) The Vibram high-performance soles give good grip in wet conditions and have been really durable.
Kathmandu Pocket-it Jacket
I picked this little baby up in a Kathmandu shop in New Zealand, when I was unexpectedly caught in a downpour while on a bike ride around Napier. It was in the sale section (got a bargain!) and I loved the bottle-green colour and close-fit of the jacket, which is perfect as a lightweight, yet not-too-unstylish, raincoat. It also folds down relatively small, making it great for throwing into a backpack for use in emergencies.
Lululemon Ta Ta Tamer sports bra
Every woman who travels needs a comfortable sports bra and my go-to is the Lululemon Ta Ta Tamer, which is perfect if you need a bit more support in this area (like I do)! I’ve had a couple of these and they wash really well, are super comfortable for long-distance travel (when you don’t want underwires sticking in), and are really supportive during sporting activities. They’re not cheap, none of Lululemon’s products are, but they’re well-made and durable meaning they should last you a really long time.
Diary Doll period knickers
While I kind of hate the name of these, they are actually one of my most useful travel items. While they may look like normal knickers, they have a clever waterproof layer to prevent leaks, perfect if, like me, you bleed heavily overnight. These have set my mind at rest many-a-time when I’ve been travelling while on my period and have had to sleep in hotels with their crisp, perfectly white bed sheets just waiting to be ruined…
Trespass Ultra rucksack
A birthday gift from my sister about a million years ago, this funky little rucksack has been all over the world with me.It’s lightweight, comfortable and rolls down fairly small so you can pack it away in another bag when you’re not using it. It’s now starting to come apart at the seams but I’m hoping it’ll survive for a few years longer yet – although having spotted a pink version on Amazon, I’m surely tempted into getting a replacement!
I bought this as part of a set with a small Rockrider rucksack from Decathlon years ago – I stopped using the rucksack a long time ago (my Trespass one is much more practical) but the hydration pack remains an essential item for any travelling that involves hiking or cycling. It’s just so practical to have hands-free access to water when you’re on the move. The pack can also take quite warm water, although not boiling, meaning you can fill it up with water that you’ve boiled for sanitation purposes.
Olympus PEN Mini Camera and pancake lens
Apart from the fact I love the colour of my Olympus camera, it also helps me take pretty good photos. While I do try and experiment with the settings, the camera is pretty good in ‘push-and-point’ situations, especially when using the super-fast pancake lens that I tend to take with me. I bought it while in Kyoto, in Japan, so it also has special memories of my very-first trip to Asia, way back in 2012.
Xiaomi portable power bank
It’s pretty crucial to keep your devices charged while travelling and this bank from Chinese tech company, Xiaomi, is a little power house. From full power, it can charge my mobile phone around three times, which is pretty impressive given its size and relatively cheap price. Not the lightest thing in the world, it’s worth the weight for the fact it can keep you connected with the outside world for longer (if you want to be of course!)
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream
I’ve been a fan of this skin protectant from Elizabeth Arden for years now, it’s just the best thing for keeping lips, skin, cuticles – everything – soft and protected while travelling. It’s also wonderful and soothing if your skin gets cracked and sore, a serious risk when travelling in climates you’re not used to. It doesn’t have a strong ‘feminine’ smell so even my husband has started using it! I love it so much that I also use the sun defence for face and the SPF lip balm.
Tiger Balm (red)
One of the absolute worst things about travelling in exotic lands is mosquito bites. No matter how cautious you are, you’ll always end up with at least a few horrible itchy bites (or, if you’re like me, what feels like millions of the damn things). For me, Tiger Balm is the best thing for soothing mozzie bites. Rubbing it on those nasty little bumps provides almost instant relief. The balm is also great when you have a cold and need a decongestant. You can mix in hot water and inhale the vapours or rub on your chest. It’s also a great muscle rub. Just be careful you don’t get it in your eyes, my god it stings!
Do you pack any of the above items? What are your travel essentials? Let me know!