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'Think before you take'

From GPS-enabled devices to electric sterilisers, frequent travellers reveal what their bags carry when they’re on the move

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The Sony Dev-5 comes with 20x zoom and records HD videos, making it the perfect travel companion

When packing for travel, some of us insist on taking everything we own while the smarter lot manages to bring it down to a strict science of abstinence. We talk to some people to figure out what every well-heeled traveller needs.

For instance, which electronic appliances can the Editor of TTN travel magazine just not do without while on the move? “My iPhone, not just because it’s my phone but because it is also my iPod, my language translator, my GPS, my camera and sometimes my travel guide, since I tend to download Lonely Planet apps,” says Shalu Chandran. “A universal adaptor and noise-cancelling headphones are also important on every trip.”

Most frequent travellers agree that a universal adaptor is top priority when travelling. Just as the travel magazine editor believes every well-heeled traveller should carry a GPS in some form, freelance fashion stylist and owner of fashion consultancy My Stylist Dubai, Nicola Flifel admits that her hair straightener, iPad and mobile phone accompany her everywhere. “Oh, and chargers for all three, of course,” she adds.

Useful equipment
Parents to young children, on the other hand, have different travel needs. Catherine Rankin, full-time mum to William, two, and Elin, seven months, as well as a freelance writer, travels between her home bases in the UK and the UAE regularly. “I carry a baby monitor, so children have familiar lullabies at bedtime and I can keep a ear out for them when I’m not in the room. Also, I take an electric steriliser so I can always make sure I have clean, sterile bottles and utensils for mealtimes.”

Dubai-based business traveller Turja Sen, Executive Producer, Ten Sports, travels 45-50 days a year across time zones on assignments. When asked what electronics he travels with, he says, “I am not much of a gizmo freak even while not travelling, but I carry my laptop to do research and my cell phone to keep in touch. A dual-sim phone is a good addition to anyone’s travel kit as it keeps you connected with people who don’t know your new local number,” he says.

This, of course, doesn’t work if blocking out all human contact from your travel experience is at the top of your agenda. “One must carry headphones and earplugs — mainly to block out the sounds of five screaming children you have right in front of you on your eight-hour flight!” Flifel says.
Quit playing games
So are gizmos a great idea when you’re on the move? “Too many gizmos while on tour makes you lose out on exploring the city and the culture. The moment you are hooked on to the PlayStation or DVD or Blue-ray disc players, you are tempted to stay indoors,” says Sen. Maybe it’s best for players (of all ages) to leave the portable entertainment at home.

‘Think before you take’ is the mantra of all frequent travellers, but the array of travel-friendly products available on the market can confuse any wallet-happy holidaymaker.

“We are led to believe that we cannot do without inflatable pillows, shoe bags or portable night lights when travelling but in my experience they are just unnecessary space wasters,” stylist Flifel adds.

As the needs of travellers and the nature of travel vary, so does the equipment that people carry when on the move. What would an adventure enthusiast ideally take when holidaying in an African jungle? Eyelash curlers? Massage belt? Hair straighteners? Or loads of make-up items? We don’t think so. A top-of-the-line sleek black Sony binoculars with 20X zoom that records HD video, perhaps? Drool.