Travel Accessories - Spend or Save? - Part 2

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Travel Accessories - Spend or Save? - Part 2

Find out if you really need to spend a little extra on a branded accessory or if a generic one / travel hack work just as well?


Toiletries Case
Travel Accessories - Spend or Save? - Part 2 Travel Accessories - Spend or Save? - Part 2 Travel Accessories - Spend or Save? - Part 2 Travel Accessories - Spend or Save? - Part 2

The easiest way to determine what kind of toiletry pouch worked for me was figuring out how I like to travel most often. If you frequent hostels and budget accommodations, try picking a minimal list of items in a water resistant bag that features a hook. This means you don’t need to struggle with finding somewhere to place it. 

REI, eBags, Sea to Summit, Amazon Basics and Muji all make some very practical and sturdy options. Some of these even feature a removable clear pouch to replace the quart-sized clear bag that you need to store liquids in for air travel.

If you find yourself using Air Bnb’s or hotels, a flat-bottomed case works fine too. Things to consider when picking a toiletries case include handy organising features like mesh pockets, compact design and lightweight, water resistant material.

I started out switching through a number of cases, mostly ones that I collected during the course of air-travel. Honestly, these are good enough for most kinds of travel. Sometimes, they even give you all the versatility and features of the more expensive cases for FREE.
   


Very recently, I upgraded to the Squeeze Pod Black Toiletry Organizer. and I love it. The case is designed with one shell like case over a transparent, TSA approved, quart sized bag. While the shell has two Velcro closed pockets on the outside and clear sectioned pockets on the inside, the privacy panel is what I love most. It allows you to keep a few unmentionables or precious trinkets away from prying eyes, yet superbly organised.

FTCD SAYS:
SAVE IT. Unless you really want something very specific from your toiletry case, you can get by with something as simple as a strong sealable food storage bag. But if you’re considering an upgrade, then give consider all these options as you build your wish list.

Toiletries
Besides the toiletries bag itself, carrying everything from toothpaste to deodorant in a travel size is a good idea. The downside - finding travel sizes of many professional/ specialist products is difficult. I find that simply decanting my favourite go-to products into smaller airtight containers makes everything easier.

When I first started travelling I simply bought travel sized products that I could find easily at the corner store or stuck to the small collection of complimentary hotel freebies. The resulting skin and hair tragedies that followed were enough to reconsider this strategy very quickly.

Lesson: Most things that are free are usually of poor quality and only permissible when used as a quick fix. In fact, I find it much more effective and efficient to carry along the products that I can count on to do what I need them to do. But, if all you need are the basics, brands like Forrest Essentials , Khadi NaturalBiotique Women / MenBody Shop and Squeeze Pod have moderately-priced, versatile selections you should check out online or in-store.

Travelling with liquids and gels means you need leak-proof containers with wide mouths (larger mouths make it easy to empty, refill and clean out when done). When selecting containers, pick a set with a maximum capacity of 100 ml and try to ensure this is visibly stamped somewhere on the receptacle. 

Click here to check out a review of the travel tubes I use.

While essentially any container that fits the profile mentioned above would do, I started out with the UPPTÄCKA set priced at CHF 3.95. I loved the fact that they were spill-proof and brightly coloured to tell them apart. Creams and gels usually go into empty, sterilised  M.A.C. cosmetics sample containers. These tiny pots are transparent and superb for carrying really small amounts of gel or cream products.

Next, I stumbled upon squeezable silicone travel tubes. While companies like Human Gear and Cool Gear are better known among travellers around the world, a quick search will reveal there are plenty of generic brands like this set by MEDED that work fantastically.

Click here to check out my review of the set I own here.

Considering that silicone travel tubes are probably the pricier option, I still prefer them to plastic bottles because they give you all the functionality of bottles but have a few great added benefits. Drop a hard plastic bottle and it will most likely break, but with silicone, clumsy fingers have nothing to worry about. Add to this flip open caps, wide-mouths to get all the product in and out and easy availability of various shapes and sizes and they practically sell themselves.

FTCD SAYS:
SPEND IT. Whether you decide to go with silicone travel tubes or hard plastic bottles, the idea is you pick containers that are most importantly airtight and no more than 100 ml. Anything more and it's simply a matter of preference.


Power Bank

If you’ve ever been at the mercy of dear old Murphy’s Law, you know that your phone or tablet battery will die at the most inopportune times. Not the best thing to happen when you’re hopping from one new destination to another and often through various modes of transport with luggage in tow.

This is precisely where portable battery packs or power banks come to the rescue. These, usually, lithium ion, external batteries work to give your many devices that little extra fuel to help keep you connected while on the road. But the variety of options available are enough to leave you a bit dizzy.

Even if you don't think you need it, I highly recommend having at least one on you when you travel. A couple of things to consider before you buy one - capacity, input (how long it takes to re-charge) - output (how long it takes to charge your devices), reliability and price amongst others.

Though chances are, depending on how connected you like to be, what devices you use and the availability of charging stations, you may easily need more than one on a 7-10 day trip. My suggestion - have two. One with a larger capacity of about 20,000 mAh one and one smaller one of about 10,000 mAh.

So, what is mAh or milliamps per hour? Put simply, it’s the unit used to measure the capacity of the power bank. Power banks with the higher mAh can possibly charge multiple devices multiple times and keep you going for much longer than ones with a lower mAh.

But, while checking the mAh it is important, it’s also great to check that the bank charges all outputs at the same rate when multiple ports are used at the same time.

Check out Banggood to understand this a bit more in detail. Also note that higher mAh (over 20,000 mAh) battery packs are also usually chunkier, heavier, and more expensive. But with devices getting more power hungry with every upgrade and larger capacity power banks getting slimmer every day, pick the highest mAh you can afford.


Most power banks are sold with a USB to mini/micro connector. If, however, you need a different kind, safety-checked adaptors for every kind of charging port are available both online and in stores. Keep connectors and power banks from getting separated or lost at the bottom of your bag by securing them with a high-quality elastic band or a bit of flat rubber tubing. 



When travelling by air, watch for the rather ambiguous policies of most airlines, some of which say you can't carry batteries that are any higher than 20,000 mAh. Also,  avoid putting any power banks into checked in luggage. With recent incidents of exploding batteries in the cargo bays of aircraft, many airlines now only allow them in cabin baggage. Put power banks in an easy to reach outside pockets before you stow your bags in overhead compartments. This means you can easily retrieve them in-flight, even when the cabin lights are dimmed.

Another thing to consider with SO many websites giving you the “best deals” is the possibility of fakes or well-disguised imitations. Even though most brands still make and export products from China, the amount and rigour of safety and quality checks varies drastically. Cut your chances of buying a fake by either buying directly from the brand website or from a site that offers verified sellers and has clear policies on returns and warranties.

From personal experience and some very reliable recommendations, next time you're in the market for a power check out brands like Mi, Anker, Aukey, Hako, Kmashi and Ambrane

FTCD SAYS:
SPEND IT. The simplest reason - personal electronics are expensive and picking a power bank you can trust to do its job anywhere does as much for your productivity and connectivity as it does for your peace of mind.

With that lineup, I’m hoping to have given you a great place to start looking for all the little bits and bobs that go into making travel less stressful and far more fun. Good luck!

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