For every vacation that left you feeling more stressed than decompressed, it might be time to revamp your packing habits -- starting with your carry-on. How you pack can mean the difference between fond memories or flashbacks of frustration, but thankfully, a few essentials can go a long way toward vacation bliss. Here are five that fit in your carry-on:
1. The right wallet.
Nothing hijacks your vacation like a lost passport, expect perhaps lost phone data. The right wallet can protect both, especially if you're switching to an international SIM card. I'm partial to the purse-sized all-in-one wallet by Nomad Lane, which includes RFID-blocking tech, a SIM card slot and SIM ejector pin, with room for boarding passes, credit cards and even a travel-sized pen. If you can’t travel without accessorizing by the outfit (pointing at myself here), their jewelry case is a way to simplify your setup. The travel-sized case features scratch-free compartments for necklaces, rings and earrings.
2. The right headphones.
After years of refusing to ante up for proper noise-canceling headphones, I finally read a study that made me ditch my drugstore earbuds and embrace a little more bulk. The mid-flight nap becomes surprisingly realistic without the roar of the engine or the gum-smacking of your seat mate in EconomyPlus. Many great options exist, but the 20-hour battery life of Bose’s QuietComfort model is a versatile option that covers even the longest-haul flight.
3. A retro notebook.
The number of times you’ll be glad you saved directions in a place that won’t run out of battery might surprise you -- starting with the moment you realize your phone has died just as you’re about to head back to the hotel. A pocket-sized notebook can keep you from relying too heavily on devices for important details, while actually improving your memory. Studies show that writing things down can help you store the details long-term.
4. A good portable charger.
While it's true that storing important information analogue-style can help prevent emergency-levels of vacation stress, sometimes only your phone can get the job done. For every time you wished you could just take one more photo before your iPhone spiraled into darkness, you’ll be glad you packed a long-lasting portable charger. I live by Tzumi’s pocket-sized PocketJuice Endurance, an energy-saving option that routinely resurrects my battery-sucking iPhone 5 after hours of photo-taking or data-draining Google map usage.
5. An e-reader.
A good book is a travel lifesaver more times than you might realize. From flight delays to good old-fashioned poolside lounging, catching up on the latest Tom Clancy is a vacation rite of passage. As long as you've packed your PocketJuice, e-readers are often your best option -- they're pocket-sized, good on battery, and able to hold dozens of books at a time. E-readers also give you access to the world outside with newspaper and magazine subscriptions. The Nook Glowlight 3, for example, includes subscriptions to The New Yorker, USA Today and other major papers for a limited time:
Although nothing you pack can guarantee vacation nirvana, arriving at the airport fully charged, eardrums saved, book-in-hand, and essential information protected will surprise you with how much sanity you save. Happy travels!
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