What do you never leave home without?

As mentioned before I am an occasional international business traveler and have been for some years. I have found over that time the way I have prepared myself for trips has changed dramatically.

In the beginning it was of course a vast novelty (remember that?) and I therefore prepared and packed as if it was a novelty (i.e. going on vacation). I am sure we have all done this and the consequences are always the same. A massive checked in bag that is full of everything, some things I have packed in the past that it amuses me now to look back are:

  • Travel iron – why did I even?
  • Multiple pairs of shorts/swimming trunks – I wasn’t a regular swimmer back then and I wasn’t anywhere near a beach
  • Sun tan lotion – when did I think I would have time on a business trip to lie in the sun long enough to need this?????
  • Way too many clothes for “evening activities” – A suit looks just fine in a bar. Amateur.

I am sure there are many more but those are the ones that come immediately to mind.

Do I need to explain to anyone why you should always avoid checking in a bag? If I do, leave a comment and I will write an explanation there. Needless to say I have learnt now to only check-in unless I cannot physically fit everything that I need into my carry-on. I will pay for washing at a hotel before I take a carry-on. You get your t-shirts folded (first time ever) and sometimes in a plastic cover, AWESOME!

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So, many years later, what are the things that I always pack in my laptop bag or carry-on and am VERY annoyed if I forget? Yes another list is coming people!!

  • Extension cord, why? See here
  • Wet wipes – a friend swears by these when going to Asia. I swear by them where ever I go. The restrooms of restaurants, factories, truck stops etc, inside of cars, trains, buses and aircraft are occasionally poorly stocked so having these on hand is superb. Don’t waste your time with that nasty gel. It doesn’t clean your hands just sanitizes them and then they feel all sticky and horrible
  • Tissues – the pocket size pack. Always handy and takes up no room
  • SPF facial moisturizer – because I’ve never seen a hotel room which has this as a toiletry and you don’t need sunscreen but it’s good to protect your beautiful mug, right? Also apply liberally before and during long haul flights so you don’t look like a dehydrated drunk when you get off the flight. For the same reason lip balm
  • Shampoo – Hotel provided shampoo is nasty and causes dryness and then your expensive suit will have a sprinkling of snow on it when you go to the customer meeting. Way to make a first impression there! Get a good shampoo decant into a mini bottle.
  • iPad – or another type of tablet if you want, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t have an iPad though. Books, movies, games, photos, email, news. Weighs nothing and fits on a tray table in economy.
  • VPN – maybe not a physical thing to pack but all your connectable devices should have a VPN enabled (not just work stuff). I will write a separate article on setting this up soon
  • Noise Cancelling headphones – I bought mine when I went to China 5 years ago. They cost a fortune but they still work perfectly today and I am VERY ANGRY if I forget to pack them. Watching movies or listening to music on a slight is transformed with these and you can drown out noise in airport and hotel rooms as well. They help me sleep and they make the whole experience of traveling more bearable. I use Bose but I am sure other brands are good as well

So that is my list. Please add in the comments other things that you always pack on your trips. Ladies, I am fully aware that there are some additional essentials for you that  us men may not require so please add them in and I will edit the post to have them included!