There is no need for us to go on about how much we missed travelling during 2020 and 2021. Amidst all the Covid confusion of where we could and couldn’t go in lockdown, which countries needed what documents and whether we were once, twice or three times vaccinated, it seemed that everything except us was up in the air. Although Covid is in no way a thing of the past, it looks like easier travel is finally back on the horizon.
So, it's time to dust off the passport, book some much needed time off and finally start ticking off the sights on our wanderlust wish lists. If you’re ready to pack your bags, then don’t forget these eight travel essentials.
1. Sleep Essentials
Let’s hope that there is a good bed involved wherever you are going, but let’s be honest - sometimes the journey is not as good as the destination. It is universally agreed in the Neat and Shaken office that no one can sleep in a car or on a plane, even when travelling at night, so we always make sure that we've got a good sleeping kit in our hand luggage. This means earplugs (to block out the noise of the engine and or any chatty neighbours), some lavender pillow spray and a good sleeping mask. Invest in this latter item please, get a good blackout one that moulds to your face and you’ll be enjoying disco power naps in no time.
2. Insect repellent
Yes, even if you're going on a staycation in Suffolk, chances are you’re going to need a bit of insect repellent. Not only will having a bottle of DEET (other brands are available) stop you from leaping around your bedroom trying to annihilate the entire mosquito species but itchy red blotches are not a good look for summer 2022. And we haven’t even mentioned the diseases that these winged bloodsuckers carry: from mosquito-borne malaria to Lyme disease carried by ticks, avoiding insect bites is not just about looking good.
3. A good book
If you don’t want to be bored out of your mind on your journey and by the pool, or even if you just want something to read while you wait for your Mai Tai, then we can’t recommend enough the joy of having something good to read. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the complete works of Shakespeare, but having a book or an e-reader on hand will not only while away the hours spent waiting for delayed planes, but offers a moment of escapism like no other. And let’s be honest, there’s nothing more relaxing than a good read beneath a warmer sun.
4. Rain Jacket
Assuming that you’re doing your bit for the planet and staying at home this year, you’re going to need a good waterproof. You simply can’t expect there will be no rain on a British staycation, so go for something practical but stylish and above all compact. If you can get one that will fold down into your beach bag if the sun does decide to shine, then even better.
5. Portable charger
We’re not going to mention why smartphones are the ultimate travel essential (maps, reservations, photos…) While they are the ultimate multi-tasker, their cross-functionality means that they run out of battery fairly quickly. Even if batteries last far longer than they used to, having a (fully charged) portable battery charger will give you peace of mind when need directions and don’t speak lingo. Go for one that is small enough for your bag and powerful enough for the ultimate top up in an emergency, no matter where you are.
6. Waterproof wallet
One of the joys of being out of the office is being able to connect with nature, and for us, that means being by the water. No matter the temperature, whether it’s the sea, ocean, lake or river, we can guarantee that at some point we’ll be going in for a dip. The trouble is when travelling alone or with a partner leaving your valuables on the shore can be a bit nerve-wracking. Worrying about having your cash and phone nicked really dampens (ha ha) the experience of jumping into the surf, so now we always pack a waterproof wallet. Get a good one that is completely airtight and can fit all your bits - keys, credit cards, special pebble etc - so you don’t have to pop back to your towel every five minutes to see if it’s all still there. And that, my friends, is worth every penny.
After phone and passport, having a big scarf on your person is perhaps our number one travel essential. A scarf is fundamental: it will elevate your travel outfit of comfy clothes, keep you stylish in the evenings, and provide an extra layer of warmth if you need it (aeroplane air conditioning, we are looking at you). You can even fashion it into a 1950s style turban if your hair gets messy at the beach, or use it as an impromptu mask if you find yourself caught short. Versatile, compact and stylish, it's a big yes from us.
8. Travel Sickness Pills
If you suffer from motion sickness - be it on a boat, car or plane, then you’ll know how miserable it can make travelling. That low-level nausea that starts as soon as you get in the car and stays with you for a good few hours once you’re back on terra firma is horrific. Though this has got better as the years tick by, some of us in the Neat and Shaken team are still not great travellers, so having a good remedy to combat travel sickness is a must. There are great options depending on what floats your boat, from homoeopathic pills to pressure point patches to medicine that will make you drowsy enough to just sleep through the whole journey. Have them on hand to give to anyone else who might be feeling the pain too.