I travel somewhere almost every day of the year, and I’m always amazed by the bizarre lists that online magazines put together as gifts for business travelers! Wooden iPhone speakers, really? Do these people really travel? Other lists include things like MacBook Airs and iPads, which are downright obvious.
If something is going to be added to my travel bag then there are three things it’s has to achieve: it has to let me travel better, lighter and achieve a specific purpose.
So here is a list of things that achieve this, at all budgets. If you have a traveler in your household then they may well appreciate one of these as a stocking filler this holiday season!
1) Improved 3-1-1 washroom equipment
I always carry my washroom in my laptop bag, for easy access at security and because with a little work, you can easily carry kit for 2 weeks in a 1-quart bag. The awesome GoToob containers ensure that nothing gets spilt, and are super-easy to refill! There are packs between $6.99 and $25.99 and they are worth every penny.
I have been using Ziploc bags for years and they wear out every few weeks. If you do this, make sure you use the branded Ziploc bags rather than a generic – they last much longer. If you want an upgrade then consider the Tom Bihn 3D Clear Organizer Cube. Note that whilst it is a quart in size, TSA officials can in theory ask you to move the contents into a Ziploc bag. It’s yours for $30.
2) Socks and Underwear
I can’t recommend this enough! I used to wear cotton socks for travel and they end up soggy, heavy, and difficult to wash. Switch them out for Calvin Klein Micro-Modal Trunks and you will never look back. They retail at a steep $26 a pair but you can buy them at a discount – $18 at Amazon and even less if you wait for sales.
The same works for socks – $22 for 3 pairs at retail, and $11 if you shop around.
3) Scrubba washing kit
The Scrubba is a 5oz, $55 washing machine that can wash your microfiber undies in 3 minutes flat. Make sure you fill a GoToob with a little hand wash liquid and you are set for those times when you are stuck away an extra day.
4) Travel Towel
I always carry a Sea To Summit Small Towel when I travel. It’s perfect for when you need to shower in the office after a long flight. It costs $16.95 and mine is 10 years old. I dry it on the back of a chair and wash it when I get back home. It weighs 2.2oz and packs down to nothing!
5) Noise-Canceling Headphones
I’m not the biggest fan of the Bose sound but the Bose QuietComfort 25 Headphones are mandatory for every business traveler. They pack down small, and get rid of all the noise on a plane. Just awesome, but they have a $300 price tag.
Some people asked about using these for phone calls. Honestly, I just switch out to the Apple headphones for this. They are so much better.
6) Travel Pillow and Blanket
There are many discussions on the best pillow but for me the Cabeau Evolution Pillow is by far the best. It’s super-comfy, and packs down into a small bag for transportation. It’s $37 at Amazon or $29.99 in most major airports.
At around $70, the Cocoon Silk Travelsheet is a luxury, but as you snuggle down for a good night’s sleep you won’t regret it. Buy the blue rip-stop version and get it dry-cleaned periodically.
7) Mophie Power Pack
It amazes me how many people don’t have one of these! Right now I’m writing this on an iPad, charging it with a Mophie. Pick of the draw is the Mophie powerstation plus with its built-in cables, with versions from $80 to $150. I prefer the smallest version, it’s enough for 2 full charges of an iPhone.
8) A new carry-on bag
Be very very careful when buying a new bag. Maybe even just provide a cash, because bags are very personal and many of the best are only available from the manufacturer.
If you like rollers, my favorites are the Tumi Alpha 2 International Wheeled Carry-On and the Briggs & Riley @ Baseline Luggage Baseline International Carry-On Wide-Body Upright Suitcase. Both are great for extended trips.
Either way, don’t buy a bag for someone unless you talked to them first!
We have all been caught out in the wet and bought 20 cheap umbrellas through the years that are good for a single use!
The Davek Solo is a thing of both beauty and practicality, though it is steep at $99. If that’s too much for you then the EuroSCHIRM light trek is available for around $50. It doesn’t look as businesslike, but the price is less than 10 cheap one-use umbrellas and they are both light enough to drop in a laptop bag!
For everyday use, I have a small 4-card holder wallet that can slip in any pocket.
When I travel I like to split my plastic and I carry a second wallet which means if one is stolen, I’m still OK. The U.S. has drivers license and ID cards which are useful as you can put one in each. The Bellroy Travel Wallet is a nice option which also carries your passport, ticket and includes a pen and cardholders.
If you are worried about security, consider the Saddleback Leather Passport Wallet with RFiD Shield for protection against identity theft.
There are a bunch of things notably missing from this list. In no particular order, these are things you shouldn’t buy a business traveler!
– Cameras and Torches. It’s 2014, there’s smartphones.
– Knives. You can’t carry on a knife, silly, and we don’t check bags.
– Speakers. Hotel rooms have iPod docks, and there’s always headphones.
– Tablets. Doesn’t he/she have one? If not, buy the WiFi-only Apple iPad Mini Retina.
– Laptops. We already have a work laptop, that’s enough to lug around thank you!
– Pens. We lose them routinely so better to keep a cheap plastic one in the laptop bag or use the Belroy pen.
By the way if you are buying anything, I highly recommend visiting The Wirecutter. They have original research and great no-nonsense reviews.
I hope this helps someone over this holiday season and I’m interested – what did I miss? Let me know!