Rather than pen a ubiquitous ‘Top Ten’ list of travel items I would instead offer a few products I find handy and had performed well for me on the road.
Travelling with only a carry-on necessitates watching the amount and size of liquids in the little plastic pouch you must use for airport security so two years ago started using a bar of shampoo as it not only counted as a solid and not a liquid but it had the added bonus of never leaking and spilling inside my toiletries bag.
The 55g bar by LUSH comes in nine varieties -I’m using the Jumping Juniper at present- and will last for months with normal daily use. At $10.95 it is a good value especially for those who prefer supporting socially conscious firms as it is vegan friendly having no animal products of any kind, is fresh without preservatives or additives, comes naked without packaging and is handmade.
This lightweight bar surprised me by lathering up more than I’d expected it to and doesn’t leave behind too strong of a scent. Like any solid bar it should be left in the open air to dry but does dry fairly quickly. I opted to buy a little metal holder to put it in for those times where I need to hit the road before it can dry out.
A staple in my toiletries bag for its sheer usefulness this item is a solid choice for travelers.
Another innovative product born of an equally innovative company is the 3D Clear Organizer Cube from Seattle-based Tom Bihn. Designed to replace the disposable plastic liquids bag for airport security as the name implies this cube has with zippered closure and features clear urethane sides with a frame of nylon available in a variety of colours.
Post 9/11 with the creation of the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) in the U.S. and not long after the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) having to store your liquids in an open ended plastic baggie just wasn’t convenient for those flying often so was happy to have find this permanent solution which has performed admirably over the past three years.
New models come with a cord and plastic hook that make the bag handy to hang on in the bathroom though my early edition is with one that lacks this hanger. O-rings on either end allow a should strap to be attached making it useful to carry while hiking or camping so this little performer works well for all kinds of travel. The zipper and zipper pulls are plastic to reduce the overall weight but do not make the cube waterproof.
Despite comments from other travellers that airport security may not approve of the cube none has ever rejected it in my travels and quite the opposite in fact as several have actually taken a closer look at it in the x-ray bins or remarked on it’s clever design.
The 3D Clear Organizer Cube is one of a number of rugged bags and travel accessories assembled in the small firm’s Seattle factory. Tom Bihn is very engaged with its customers through blogs and forums and welcomes feedback on how to improve the design or construction of its products and it’s this customer focus coupled with a commitment to design and produce their own high quality products that have earned the company a growing legion of fans and count myself among them.
The Innate Portal Billfold is a wallet made of durable rubber-like material which the company says is recycled urethane underneath a top layer of repurposed 210-denier nylon material from scrap fabrics. The two layers are put together without seams so there is no stitching or other obvious ways of bonding the two layers. There is room for at least 6 cards in one of two stacked slots plus a side covered pocket however the more cards carried the thicker the profile and more obvious it becomes in your pocket.
The urethane used in the card slots offers a secure grip and as a field test I put a few cards into the pockets, held the clip point and turned it upside down and shook the wallet hard for 30 seconds and nothing budged so while travelling the likelihood of a card falling out is low. I have tried other lightweight travel wallets including one made of Tyvek, a synthetic fibre material used in building insulation and courier envelopes, and the hold on the cards in the slots was not as firm as with the Innate Portal Billfold.
I liked that the cash pocket was deep enough to accommodate a variety of currencies without sticking up too high although as there’s no divider in this pocket your currencies will be kept all together.
The clip point on the right might be useful for some to attach a key ring however have not used it in my travels to date.
Note that this is a wallet and therefore is not large enough to hold a passport. I keep my passport in a separate holder which includes a few card slots I use for spare credit cards should I ever lose my wallet.
The Innate Portal Billfold is sold through MEC and at $16 is a very good value that has performed admirably for me in my travels over the past year and hopefully lasts for many more journeys.
There are a number of other travel products I carry that perform well but these have become my most indispensable items however not all the products I’ve tried have proven themselves and so will review a few in another post.