Throughout 2011, I had the opportunity to discover many new must-haves that I have added to my list of travel essentials. Let me preface the list by saying these are personal choices and not information gathered from Top Ten lists. I have personally used, read or worn everything on this list. These are in no certain order as favorites or such as a top ten. These are all things that I am currently using and take with me when I leave home.
1. IPad2 I have been a laptop gal for over 13 years now. It was a necessity for me if I were travelling or working from home which I did a lot. Last year, we broke down and bought an IPad2. Wow! What an amazing treat it has been. I bought the one with 3G so I have more options than with WiFi alone. (I’m also a Blackberry gal and have not switched to the IPhone so I had no idea, really, what it was all about.) I have loaded Facebook, Twitter, Hootsuite, Foursquare and a few other apps that allow me to work just like I do from my laptop. Another app, Docs to Go, lets me sync Office documents to my IPad so I can work with them there. I also purchased a keyboard so I can type email, blog posts or anything else fairly easily. I now have the option of leaving my laptop at home and still feel like I am able to work. The IPad fits easily into a large purse or a backpack and with a good case it is very sturdy. I also love that you go to “Maps” and get a blinking blue dot where you are in relation to where you are going. It (the blue dot) moves as you do. Oh, the joys of gps! There are other notepads out there that are probably perfect for you to use while travelling but like I said, I am only writing about products that I know and use and I don’t think I could live without it now.
2. Claude Bouchard Books! Who travels without a good book? I love having a good book to rely on for airport delays, road trips, beach side reading and dozing off to sleep the first night in a new place. I discovered a new (to me) author this past year and dearly LOVE his work. His name is Claude Bouchard and he writes mystery/crime type novels that are true page turners. The depth of the characters is so strong that you feel like you really know them and miss them after the book is finished. I have read all five books in the series starting with the first, Vigilante, and am not-so-patiently waiting for the next one. Hint, hint, Claude! I highly, highly recommend giving these books a try. What I love the most about them is that I purchased and downloaded them to my IPad. How very cool is that?!? They are available in paperback, or e-reader (Kindle, Amazon, Apple and others). You can also find Claude via Twitter @ceebee308 He is a fun guy to follow. You can find his books at his website here. Be sure you read them in order. Start with Vigilante and you will be hooked!
From Claude Bouchard – “Summer of 96 in Montreal and a killer known as the Vigilante is on a spree, his victims, those who engage in criminal activities. Following 16 murders in 6 months, Lieutenant Dave McCall, head of Montreal’s Special Homicide Task Force is without clue or lead until an electronic message is received from the assassin himself. Failure in tracing the origin of the email leads McCall to request the assistance of CSS Inc., a security firm specializing in computer and communication networks and headed by EVP and COO, Chris Barry. As murders and emails continue, the two men join forces to bring the killer to justice. But whose justice will prevail? Theirs, or the Vigilante’s?”
3. Survival Straps – Have you every needed a rope or string of any kind and didn’t have one? Did you ever have need of a leash for a stray animal or forget to bring something to tie down your Christmas tree? Imagine having your bumper knocked loose on a road trip by some crazy driver in a parking lot or having the zipper break on your suitcase while in a place unfamiliar to you. Enter the Survival Strap. This company has created an awesome product that you can wear as a bracelet or anklet and take it apart if you need it. I bought one of the bracelets and just loved that I could choose my color combination. They are made of hand woven nylon with a metal closure. If you ever have need for a rope or tie material, you simply unravel it and voila! Honestly, they are pretty cool looking to wear which is a big plus for me. They have even upped the variations you can purchase by offering dog collars or leashes and accessories (key chains). You can choose your color or colors and customize to your liking. Check out their website to see the straps in action. One of the most impressive things about this company is that it is totally US based. All straps are made here in the US. They are also huge supporters of the Wounded Warrior Project and that makes me very proud to wear one.
4. Batab Products – I first became aware of Batab products when I was in Mexico on vacation several years ago. Although I knew better, I got a pretty good sunburn on the beach one day. My wonderful husband went over to the spa at the resort and asked what the best product was for sun care. He brought me a bottle of Batab After Sun Lotion. I was hooked from the first moment I smoothed it on. My burn did not peel and I never had the rough dry skin that usually follows a burn. The smell is slightly sweet but not at all over powering. It makes your skin supple and soft without being greasy. It absorbs extremely well and is just my favorite skin care product. You can order the products online from their website. Even if you are not a sun lover like me, your skin would thank you for using the Batab line. This is the reason Batab makes my top faves from 2011 even though I discovered it in 2005.
5. Personal WiFi or Hotspot – I do a lot of road trips throughout the year and more often than not, I wind up in places that do not have free internet access available. This includes trips to see family as well as road trips exploring new and favorite destinations. Early last year, we invested in a personal WiFi. We are AT&T customers so that’s what we went with along with the monthly plan. At $50 per month it is really a matter of whether or not you need internet where none exists. With this little device, if I have AT&T service, I have a WiFi connection. Recently on a week long road trip I found it especially nice to be able to surf the web via the IPad while on a highway virtually in the middle of no where. I have found that it is strong enough to allow me to upload photos via the web which says a lot for me. The best part is that you don’t even have to be geeky to figure out how to use this device. Just turn on and connect!
Well, that’s it for my favorite 5 must-haves. I don’t think I could live without any of them now. They have each become things that I always have on my checklist whenever leaving home along with my luggage and passport. What are some of your favorites? Please share with us below in the comments section.