Note: this post was sponsored by Adero, but they seem to have gone out of business. The post is still relevant though, and there are now a lot of companies, including Apple, that make small tracking devices that can keep you from losing things.
I’ve done packing posts before on the little things that we travel with to make our vacations more stress-free, but I’ve never written about what I travel with in my carry-on. These are the important things; what I would never put under the plane. And as opposed to our normal trip packing, where we alter what we take based on the destination, weather and trip length, my carry-on items stay the same regardless of the trip.
First, I always travel with a backpack. I find it far easier to run through an airport with a backpack than if I’m carrying or pulling anything. And in the event that I arrive at my flight late and there’s no overhead space, it fits under the seat in front of me. An added benefit is that wherever I’m going, there’s a good chance I’m going to want a backpack when I get there, whether it’s for a hike, walking around a conference, or heading to a theme park.
What’s in My Backpack
So what’s in my backpack, more or less permanently?
A passport wallet. This contains my passport, an extra passport photo, my Medjet Assist evacuation card, foreign currencies for my destination and my layover points, business cards, and a backup ATM card. Note: always check your passport expiration date well before your trip to make sure that you’ll have at least six months’ validity from the end of your trip, and always carry at least two ATM cards.
A camera (or two or three). I talk about my cameras in this post. In general I travel with a DSLR or Mirrorless body, a 16-35 lens, and then other cameras depending on my activities (waterproof for kayaking, a lightweight body for theme parks and hikes, etc…)
Headphones. I like over-the-ear headphones far better than ear buds. I’m currently using Bose SoundLink wireless headphones.
Cables and power. I always have two lightning charging cables, one micro USB cable, two chargers, two small power banks, a European plug adaptor, and a plug adaptor for my destination. The European charger has two uses. First, airport lounges rarely have outlets that can fit US plugs, but European prongs work most of the time. And second, there are a lot of times when my normal plugs won’t work with an airplane’s power system, but a European adaptor will work. No idea why that’s the case.
A notebook. I keep all of my travel and conferences notes in an old-fashioned paper notebook. It’s also good for when the kids want to play games or sketch. Right now I’m liking the notebooks from Nomatic.
My laptop, a charging cable, and a mouse. I hate using the touchpad on my laptop…
Emergency toiletries: A toothbrush, small toothpaste, deodorant, band-aids, Neosporin, ibuprofen, and kids’ ibuprofen. Every once in a while my checked luggage is delayed to my destination, or I get stuck overnight somewhere. This makes things far easier.
Emergency snacks: I always travel with 4-5 granola bars. Every once in while you’re somewhere with no food options.
Sunglasses. I don’t want to end up anywhere without sunglasses, so I keep an extra pair in my backpack permanently.
A water bottle. We really try to avoid single-use plastics, so we always carry aluminum water bottles with us, filling them up after we get through security.
Reading material. Generally travel magazines and a Kindle.
And then in my pocket I have my wallet and phone – always loaded with shows and movies, although most of the time I end up watching the inflight entertainment or working on my laptop.
How I Keep from Losing Anything
I travel a lot, flying more than 100 times a year, and checking in and out of 40+ hotels. That means I remove items from my backpack often – in hotels and on planes of course, but also out and about in cities. So I’m loving Adero’s Intelligent Organization System. Simply put, it keeps me from leaving anything behind, which greatly reduces my stress while packing and traveling!
How it works: I’ve affixed Adero’s Taglets to all of my essential items. And I have a Smart Tag on my backpack. These communicate with each other, and with Adero’s app. Once I’ve programmed my items into the app once, I can simply open the app and press the Tag to know whether everything is in my backpack, or what’s missing. One of my major fears since I started traveling: leaving things in my hotel room’s safe. This keeps that from happening, and it means that I can leave things in the safe until I’m ready to go to the airport, rather than removing them early just so that I don’t forget. Adero even sends me a push notification reminding me to grab my passport!
And it works great for my kids’ backpacks too. When we’re traveling the kids will take things out of their bags in the airport lounge and of course on each plane. At the end of a long flight, it’s easy to leave things behind. Rather than quadruple-checking every location within five feet of my kids’ seats, they can press the Smart Tags, or I can simply check the app and verify that everything is put away.