Redeeming your airline miles this summer? Consider all the items you'll need once you land. Holidayers usually get so caught up in the logistics - booking the most economical flights and researching the perfect hotel location - that packing for a smooth trip becomes an afterthought. This is understandably so, because a traveller's homework never ends.
The essentials that complete your holiday is knowledge gained over years of flight experience. We're talking about game-changing necessities to keep you from heaving a frustrated sigh on your first morning, in a foreign country. Expert travel tips are hard to come by, which is why we reached out to a seasoned globetrotter who's touched down in over 100 countries so far.
Parikshit Balochi, a Dubai-based travel blogger and radio jockey, has been following his wanderlust since 2011, and hopes to mark his hundred-and-second destination soon. "If I'm travelling in the summer, I'll be carrying as few clothes as possible. You just need a good pair of bottoms that you can wear again under different shirts. Always travel light," he told Gulf News.
If you've shopped for the summer holidays, don't forget to check out packing tricks and tips from a pro organiser. Balochi likes to roll his articles of clothing in the backpack, instead of folding them, to make use of every crevice. A good rule of thumb is to pack with the destination in mind. Still, regardless of where you're headed, there are things you'll always want on your checklist.
Let's take a look at what our travel expert deems essential for a comfortable trip, whether you're going solo or with family, from comfortable shoes to a universal travel adapter. We've also featured recommendations from travel influencers online, to keep you abreast of what's trending.
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1. Best Travel Pillow: Cabeau Evolution S3 Travel Pillow
Balochi recommends the Cabeau neck pillow with so much fervour that it's won the first spot on our list. "I find a travel pillow to be one of the most underrated items. If you're a sleeper on the plane or are on a long flight, the pillow will stop your head from lolling against the window, and it even packs light," he said. Cabeau's memory foam pillow can be used anywhere in transit, since the straps attach to any chair, from an inter-city bus seat to an airplane seat. Its raised support and flat back ensure the perfect spine alignment to prevent slouching and the resulting neck pain. You'll get a carry bag that compresses the pillow down to half its size. Or, you could let the pillow hang from your main carry-on during layovers.
2. Best Travel Shoe: Birkenstock Arizona Sandals
- EVA outsole to cushion your step
- Hardy and resistant to years of wear
- Contoured cork footbed
- Takes time to break into
Over at TikTok, Birkenstocks enjoy popularity among travel influencers for supporting long walks and pairing perfectly well with most casual outfits. Proclaimed as the summer shoes, any pair of Birkenstocks will last you years of wear and tear, through cobbled streets and hours spent exploring the city on foot. "Always pack shoes according to the destination and the terrain. Say you're hitting Portugal in summer; carry any light walking shoes you'll be comfortable in," advised Balochi, who prefers comfortable sneakers for exploring. These unisex Arizona sandals have a two-strap design with a skin-friendly synthetic leather upper and the classic cork footbed. The EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) outsole absorbs shock from rough terrain. Reviewers mention wearing these daily on travels through Europe and Asia. The only qualm with Birkenstocks is that they need some time to break in before you jet off.
3. Best Travel Adapter: Ownit 35.5W PD Travel Adapter
- Compatible with over 150 countries
- Supports UK, EU, AU and US plugs
- Three USB-A and two USB-C ports with fast charge
- Travel pouch
- Makes a static noise when charging, per reviews
A travel adapter is one item that lingers at the back of our minds but never makes it to the bag. Balochi has been using his universal travel adapter ever since he bought it in 2015. Much like his gadget, the Ownit adapter comes with device charging capabilities, great for when you want to save juice on your power bank. It covers power outlets from more than 150 countries, with plugs used in the US, EU, Australia and the UK. Charge up to six devices at the same time, including cameras, smartphones, power bricks, e-readers and even laptops. The adapter has three USB-A ports with 20-watt fast charging and two USB-C ports, one of which supports PD (Power Delivery). Reviewers love that it comes in a nylon travel pouch. Check out other tech essentials to pack here.
4. Best Travel Backpack: Oakley Men's Kitchen Sink Backpack
Solo travellers will be better off with a rugged backpack, rather than a carry-on suitcase, says Balochi. A good backpack also comes in handy on family trips, especially if you're the planner who is in charge of everyone's passports and tickets. "I still use my Oakley backpack that I bought nearly ten years ago. It lasts forever and is great for people with kids or who have a lot of miscellaneous items to carry. The maximum allowance is about 45 litres, so do buy accordingly," he said. This Kitchen Sink Backpack is a premium water-repellent bag suitable for a weekend trip or an extended holiday. It has a 34-litre capacity, distributed among specialised pockets for a 17-inch laptop and shoes. You can store your summer shades in the hard media-player compartment at the top. Toss the bag into the washer after each trip, worry-free.
5. Best for Laundry: Scrubba Portable Wash Bag
Speaking of washing, a lesser-known travel hack is this portable wash bag. With the Scrubba hand washing machine, you don't have to spend time scouting the nearest laundromat. Most hostels and hotels ask for a premium for each article of clothing, so this on-the-go washer comes to the rescue during emergencies. Scrubba has a washboard-in-a-bag design, where the inner surface is lined with ridges. Throw in t-shirts, socks and delicates, add water and soap, secure the top and give the bag a good rub for a minute or two. Reviews say it's a money-saving essential, and those with eczema leave five stars for the hand-washing alternative it offers. Some advise that you have to plan ahead for drying the clothes.
Warranty: The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty.
6. Best Travel Mobile Wi-Fi: TP-Link M7350 4G LTE MiFi
- Streams Wi-Fi to up to 10 devices
- Intuitive display shows connected devices, battery, data used and more
- Small enough to fit in a pocket
- Eight hours of battery
- MicroSD card slot to share library across the network
- Needs a data plan on a SIM card
Travelling in a group? Share your mobile data with up to 10 friends via a portable Wi-Fi box. All you have to do is insert a 4G SIM card to turn the device into a secure Wi-Fi hotspot. The M7350 by TP-Link can reach up to 150Mpbs download speeds - to give you an idea, reviewers have attended webinars on multiple laptops using the bars from the Mi-Fi unit. To share your vacation library seamlessly, slip your camera's microSD card into the dedicated slot on the unit to give your network full access. On a full battery, the Wi-Fi box can run for eight hours straight. Users confirm the strong signal strength and often put it to use when the hotel's internet is slow. This is going to be an irreplaceable kit for holidayers taking their work laptop with them.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh18 and two years for Dh29.
7. Best Travel Torch: Wuben C3 Flashlight
- Incredible 180-metre throw for a small flashlight
- USB-C charging (cable included)
- Six modes of lighting
- Charge can last for up to 143 hours
- Heats up on the brightest setting, say reviews
Consider adding a mini torch to your tech travel kit. Balochi always has one on him on every trip, noting how "uncertainty is part of travel", and it's better to be prepared when unforeseen circumstances arise, like a power outage. The Wuben C3 flashlight illuminates up to 180 metres ahead, using powerful P9 lamp beads that emit 1,200 lumens of bright light. In Eco mode, the battery lasts for up to 143 hours and fully charges in three hours with the included type-C cable. It withstands harsh weather conditions, as the body is made of durable aircraft-grade aluminium. Measuring only 4.78 inches in length, you can easily pocket it or let it hang from a belt loop. Those who inspect cars, go on camping trips, and mountain bike attest to the quality, adding that it works in rain or snow.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.