Last week I was having a conversation with Paige, my business partner. I mentioned that I received a new suitcase for Christmas (a gift from my wife) and that one thing I planned to do that weekend was transfer the contents of my old suitcase into my new one. She was surprised to learn that I keep certain stuff (other than my shaving kit) in my suitcase at all times, packed and ready to go. Keep in mind, I travel a lot. (Notice from the photo on the left that I don’t use the traditional black or navy blue suitcase. They are too difficult to identify coming off the baggage carousel. I always go with off colors like olive green or khaki.)
Here’s an inventory of some of the things I keep stashed in my suitcase to make travel a little easier for me.
- An extension cord! Yes, not every hotel has those convenient outlets next to the bed or built into the bedside table. At a minimum I’m going to need to charge my iPhone and my laptop – and I like to have them both within reach. This little extension cord has saved the day on many occasions.
3. The paper plate! This one might surprise you. Yes, I travel with a stash of paper plates. They come in very handy when Thai takeout is the only viable options and the restaurant doesn’t supply such things.
4. To go with the paper plates, I have a set of heavy duty plastic utensils that go everywhere I go. I think these are meant to go in a kid’s lunchbox but they work perfectly for this business traveler.
5. Very tiny bottles of Tabasco. Sometimes a meal on the road needs to be spiced up. These little bottles of Tabasco do the trick.
6. You may recognize this as a paint can opener. It is also one heck of a bottle opener. Occasionally, while living out of a hotel room, I have the need to open a bottle. This works really well.
7. Of course, once you open the bottle, you may need to put a stopper in it to preserve the bubbles. That’s where these come in handy. These work well for soda, beer, Champagne and other assorted fizzy drinks.
8. A spare thumb drive. This is self explanatory. People give them out like candy so why not stash one in your suitcase. This has saved me on more than one occasion.
9. l love this little old school digital alarm clock. I usually set it for the next morning immediately when I check into my hotel room. That way, if I forget to set the alarm on my iPhone, this little gem will keep me on schedule in the morning. Truthfully, I can never figure out how to work the hotel alarm clocks. Whether I am too tired when I tackle them or they are too complex, it is something I would rather not deal with.
10. Earbuds. Another no brainer. I always find it helpful to have a spare set stashed away.
11. A trusty baseball cap. This one is from Tufts Medical Center in Boston and it goes everywhere with me. Have you ever been in a hotel in the middle of the night when the fire alarm goes off. I have. Several times. I just throw on the Tufts MC ball cap and make my way to the appropriate exit. This happened at the NESHCo conference in 2015, two nights in a row, and I met several people in the lobby who wished they had a hat like mine!
12. Ziploc Bags. These leak-proof multi-purpose bags come in extremely handy. I always like to have a few hidden in my suitcase. They are perfect for storing that leftover piece of pizza – or a leaky bottle of shampoo. I have friends who store their travel receipts in a Ziploc bag. They are also good for storing loose change.
13. Kind Bars – These bars travel well and taste good. When I don’t have time for breakfast or lunch, a Kind Bar will save the day.
14. Kleenex Tissues. Another no brainer. I like these wallet packs.
15. Wipes. Hotels can be nasty places – even big name hotels. It is good to have wipes on hand for dealing with sticky surfaces, remote controls, etc. Trust me. This is an essential.
When I pack for a trip, I want it to be as simple as possible. Beyond figuring out what clothing to pack, I don’t want to have to engage my brain. Having these few “essentials” stashed in my suitcase keeps me prepared for life in a hotel and the normal eventualities that occur on the road. For me, that’s piece of mind.