Be Prepared. The motto of the Scouting Movement also rings true for travellers. The items you carry on a day to day basis can help you make the most of your time on the road.
Whether you like to carry a daypack or to place items in your handbag or pockets makes little difference. Having a stock of a few items you can help keep you in the right frame of mind to enjoy the place you’re visiting.
Here are some of the items I like to carry, in addition to a note book and camera, when I travel in urban areas:
Hand sanitiser – Having a sanitiser on hand (see the pun) helps neutralise 99.9 per cent of the bacteria picking up while touching surfaces, shaking hands and handling items. Scented 50ml plastic bottles of hand gel are inexpensive and small enough to be easy to carry. Recently I’ve been using Aquaint, a natural product which deodorises and is safe enough to swallow.
Mineral water – Providing I’m not going into a restricted area, where carrying liquid is prohibited, I like to have a 500ml bottle of mineral water with me. Why? Staying hydrated means staying fresh and being able to concentrate on the sights of the city.
Granola bars – Getting hungry while travelling means I tend to lose focus and, heaven forbid, can become grumpy. An emergency cereal bar can take the edge off my hunger. Granola bars don’t melt, they are easy to carry and it doesn’t really matter if they crumble inside the packaging.
Plasters – Ideally shoes won’t rub or cause blisters. I always try to ensure I wear comfortable, tried and tested clothing and footwear. Occasionally, though, too much walking causes soreness. The timely application of a plaster can prevent things getting too painful.
Paracetamol tablets – A strip of Paracetamol tablets can help dull pain or treat the first signs of a raised temperature. They take up very little room and are always worth having available.
A torch – A small flashlight comes in handy in case of power cuts and when cutting across poorly illuminated land. They also prove useful when looking for dropped items under beds and seats. My compact Karrimor torch is powered by a single AA battery.
Spectacle wipes – A handkerchief and exhaled breath does the job of taking city dirt off specs, but spectacle wipes do a better job. I usually then use the wipe for cleaning the surface of my smartphone and laptop screen.
A USB stick – The evolution of the cloud means that many people have given up on USB sticks. But backing up the documents I’m working on is good practice and my USB stick from Munich’s Bier und Oktoberfest Museum has the benefit of being designed with an integrated bottle-opener—always useful, just in case.