Packing for a trip is one of life’s small joys. It’s part of the adventure, part of the little pre-holiday thrill, a regime woven into the very fabric of any exotic getaway, right up there with handing your passport over at the gate.
It’s also comforting, to think of the many great men who also will have grappled with the issue of what to put in their luggage; from the fictional (Indiana Jones mulling over what trinkets to throw in his leather-bound explorer suitcase; James Bond folding stealthy black nightshirts into his Brunello Cucinelli Cowhide duffle) to real life visionaries such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Steve Jobs, who, for all their genius, you just know at some point suffered the annoying pang in the brain you get when you realise you’ve forgotten something.
Not that you’ll need to fret over what to pack for much longer, as here comes a list of highly practical essentials to up your travel game immensely.
1. Crease-proof shirt
We’ve all been there: you frantically stalk the hotel room in search of a mini iron, only to discover it’s about as effective against shirt wrinkles as Superman is Kryptonite. The answer? This Farah slim crease proof shirt (£60), ready to whip out anywhere, anytime. Bonus tip: for more formal travellers, J Crew’s rumple-free wool suit jacket (£450) is a triumph of unfussiness.
2. Luxe passport holder
True, we could have just said any luxe passport holder will suffice for your travels, but that would be doing you a huge disservice considering Bond Street stationers Smythson are masters of the craft. The brand’s understated Panama cover in Nile Blue cross-grain calf leather (£125), complete with two slanted goldstamped pockets – one for passport, the other for your boarding pass – is practically a love letter to the golden era of jet-setting.
3. Foldable McQueen sunglasses
Owing their fame to Steve McQueen who wore them in The Thomas Crown Affair, Persol’s foldable 714 model remains a timeless staple of eyewear, not to mention highly practical for the fact it fits into cases half the size of normal ones. Basic pairs start at £144, but if you want to upgrade to the McQueen special edition, pictured with light Havana frame and blue crystal lenses above, you’ll need to double that amount and email to order.
4. A ‘second’ good book
Drop the Kindle. Nothing can match up to the literary pleasure of a genuine page-turner, and given many of us tend to devour our books by the time we touch down, having a second one stowed away in your hold luggage makes a big difference. Two we’d recommend right now: Julian Barnes’ fictionalised and darkly funny account of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich’s life under Stalin in The Noise of Time, and Haruki Murakami’s typically existential set of short stories, Men Without Women.
5. Ruggedly portable power bank
Rugged indeed, this surprisingly portable USB power bank from RAVpower (£30) might as well come with a small beard accessory. Heck, it looks like the Knightrider of charging devices, and we can think of no higher praise than that. Aesthetics aside, it is superb for travelling: it supports various phones, has two USB ports and can be charged for 4 to 5 hours for more than 2 days use – and might be the difference between having enough battery to order an Uber at your destination and being ripped off by a local taxi firm, or letting your mum know you’ve arrived safely and being a bad son. Shame on you.
6. Herschel toiletry bag
Anyone who’s travelled on Virgin Atlantic Upper Class of late may already have a Herschel toiletry bag. Either way, they’re well worth a buy. Nicely padded, affordable and simplistic in design, it’s small enough to slip neatly among your sock stash, but also spacious enough to carry everything from your toothbrush to face oils to scissors to electric razor. There are a few options but for the more daring among you, we suggest opting for Keith Haring’s special editions Forest (£29.95) and Peacoat (£31).
7. Top of the range camera
It’s the dark secret no Instagrammer will tell you: for every overly filtered sunset pic they’ve posted, there will be 30 or so efforts they’ve since deleted. These days, everyone possesses a decent camera on their smartphone, but when the extraordinary arises, ‘decent’ simply will not cut it. Do justice to moments of wonder then by taking a proper camera on your travels, with our choice the Lecia M (£5,500): sturdy, old school explorer-esque, offering shot after shot of incredible quality, and considerably less bulky than your average high street DSLR, it’s a dream. Then again, any camera which you’d be happy to frame an image from would probably do it.
8. Moisturiser to combat dryness and fatigue
One minute you’re stepping onto a 747 looking like Harry Styles, the next you’re looking like Harry Kane. Sleep deprivation and a lack of natural air will do that to you, giving you even more reason to ensure you have the right moisturiser. This travel-sized Clinique Maximum Hydrator is your best bet. Its liquid-sphere technology will reduce the ageing and unwanted effects of environmental stress and dryness.
9. Striking swimming shorts
When travelling you never know when you’re going to come across a chance for a quick dip, making a pair of swimshorts a must. Make a statement as well as a splash with Olebar Brown’s quick-drying photographic print swim shorts (£225). Or if that’s understandably quite steep on price, Ted Baker’s waterslide themed efforts (£33) will evoke a similar aura on a smaller budget.
10. A lint roller
This should be a given, really. As any gent who’s spruced himself up for dinner, checked the hair is on point and belt matches the shoes, before it quickly dawns on him that he’s covered in fluff, will attest, the lint roller is a handy partner in crime should any formal occasion arise. This John Lewis number (£4) should do it.
Short of going on a gap year with Eli Roth, the only way to truly capture the terror of extreme adventures – think rafting, bungee jumping, sky diving and the like – is to do it yourself. And what you need is a GoPro. The Hero 6 (£479), one of the smallest and lightest of the range, captures stunning video quality and is even waterproof to 10m. A worthy fit in any suitcase.
12. A comfy hoodie
Sometimes the best comforts are the simple ones. This smart Reiss hoodie (£95), or any hoodie you fancy, in fact, is one such comfort away from home. Having one of these stuffed away, ideally in a carry-on, is well worth it. Whether that’s helping you warm up if a flight gets a little too chilly, or allowing you to feel a bit more fresh when you’ve been wearing the same clothes for 24 hours straight, it’s nothing if handy.
13. Universal adaptor with USB charger
Universal travel adaptors are great and all, but when you’ve a camera, smartphone, laptop and other devices pleading with you to give them a charge, one alone can feel restrictive. Thankfully, this Skross adapter (£29.99) not only features easy-to-slide retractable pins for use in over 200 countries, but also twin USB sockets, allowing you to multitask to your heart’s content. Trust us, you’ll be the most popular person on the trip.