Traveler’s Bag-o-Tricks

This time, a little more light-hearted.

I like to travel light, as light as possible. It is rare, no matter the length of trip, that I check a bag on. The airlines can’t lose my luggage if I don’t hand it over, right?

Regardless of how you travel, here is a gaggle of ideas I have learned that go with me globally.

I  learned from my friend Bob to travel with a small power strip. That worked for years. Then I found an even smaller version. This way I can plug in all my widgets even if the grungy Kolkata hotel room has only one outlet hidden behind the noisy, rusty air-con unit. A single unit outlet adaptor covers every version known to mankind (do electricians not talk to each other across international lines???). That gets me charged up for the day. Now if I can only sleep and get truly charged.


I am sure you are way too familiar with the 1/4″ padding that airlines generously put in their seats. I can handle that for about 2 hours before physical and emotional distress sets in. Then I found a fave travel friend that I lovingly dubbed the “tush cush.” In the U.S., REI sells this little gem for about $15. It saves my you-know-what when I venture on trans-oceanic flights. It also comes in handy when I am looking for a clean seat in Bejing where every inch of ground is covered in ancient gunk. When in use, I tie the supplied little stuff sack to the outside of the my shoulder bag to remind me in my jet-lagged state to not leave my beloved cush behind. There is a similar lumbar pad that can be had too.


Be Prepared
In a tiny pouch I have safety pins, a couple of rubber bands, band aids, a little tube of anti-bactorial cream, anti-inflammatory of some sort and my favorite head cold medicine, and some Tumms for stomach stuff.  Oh, ear plugs for sure. Lots of ear plugs. I’ve scavenged thread and needle from hotel bathrooms – those really tiny ones that are free.  This stash usually covers close to any minor emergency.

An averaged sized Cambodian tuk-tuk can easily fit into my shoulder bag. Seriously, its bottomless. Its usually pretty empty. But when needed, I can cram my laptop, coat, books, water, whatever stuff I can’t live without at the market, and still have piles of room.  If I need extra space in my roller on the way home, my beloved bag swallows it. Mine is a very large version made by Timbuktu. It is built like a tank and keeps the rain out.  If it gets heavy in the airport, I set it on top of my roller and let it do all the work.

Maybe those are common sense items. They seemed brilliant at the time.

What are your global travel tips and tricks? Pray do tell.


This entry was posted in Traveling Tips and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Traveler’s Bag-o-Tricks

  1. Pauline says:

    Would love to see a picture of your gianormous shoulder bag. Always looking for helping things for overseas travel. I also carry a few medicated patches to put on achy wrists, back, etc. Many varieties sold in Japan. Most likely the name in the States is Salonpas.


    • Scott S says:

      Pauline – thanks for the ideas on medicated patches.

      In the realm of international meds, we somehow stumbled upon Voltaren which is essentially ibuprofen in cream form. It is not over the counter in the U.S., but is in Europe (and Asia?). This stuff is some pretty sweet music to achy muscles. I have brought many a tube home with me. Easy to carry a small tube along for the ride too.

      As for my monster bag – it is a Timbuk2 ( “Commute Computer Bag TSA 2014.” You can get a good picture of it on their website.

      Thanks for commenting with ideas! SS


      • Pauline says:

        Scott, thanks for your response. The same medication is available over the counter in Japan as medicated patches, a liquid roll-on, or ointment. It definitely is a help when needed. If you injured a knee, ankle, or other joint in Japan, the doctor would hand you a package of the medicated patches to put on the sore joint as well as prescribe pain pills. It is the “go-to” medication here for orthopedic doctors. Sounds like you have found the same medication helpful.

        Thanks for your blogs. I have really appreciate them.


  2. Penny says:

    Not being much of a traveller let alone a world traveller I am happy to just get on the plane !!! You share some great info my friend:)


  3. Nicholas says:

    Scott – your light packing filled my luggage free heart with joy. I also carry a timbuk2 messenger bag. That pared with a small rolling carry on is enough for me whether 4 days or 12.

    I recently switched to what I would call the mothership model of computing. I have a desktop as my primary computer and then travel with a tablet that can access the resources on my desktop. Carrying the tablet vs a laptop feels like I am carrying less in my bags, has lighter weight, and, depending what kind of phone you use, a single charger can be the only item you need for all the devices in tow.

    I have tried to figure out the best way to travel from hot to cold environments and back again. I have found that a down jacket packs down very well, can keep its loft if I need a pillow in a pinch, and keeps me warm.

    Apart from the above, I don’t have any advice for little tools or things that help with travel. I mostly try to pack as little as possible so that I have less on my mind.


    • Scott S says:

      Nicholas Thanks much for the thoughts. There is something to say about simplicity while on the road. Feels sort of like a mini-pilgrimage to me. Thanks for the ideas. I like down jackets as well. Thank you again for the input. SS


  4. Anna says:

    I like to pack as much as possible in carry-ons, too. Too much 3rd world traveling has left me wary of handing my luggage over to someone. I haven’t done the “tush cush” but I use a similar recharger and a little bag of things to handle emergencies. I like to have lotion & chapstick easily accessible since planes are so cold, and I dress in light layers. That way I can adjust for the temperature. I wear my biggest shoes & wear/carry a jacket to leave space free for other things in the suitcase.

    My #1 tip would be to keep a color copy of passport & visa in a separate bag than your passport, and keep a 2nd copy at home in a safe place while traveling.


    • Scott S says:

      Anna Thank you for your suggestions. They are all very helpful. The copies of passport and visas are extremely important. Thank you for mentioning that.

      Thanks again. SS


  5. Nancy says:

    Scott, I have a question about the mini power strip. I bought one for my husband along with the plug adapter gadget for Christmas last year. We just came back from a trip to Europe and Africa and he said that since the mini power strip is on 110 current, if you plug it into a 220 outlet, which is the current in many other countries, that the mini power strip will get zapped. So essentially, it wasn’t that useful. So, are we wrong in understanding this. Have you used the mini power strip in a 220 wall outlet with success?


    • Scott S says:

      Nancy Oh, I am so sorry to hear of this. I use mine in both 110 and 220 current without problem, in fact mine is plugged into a wall here in Europe as I write this. I have had two and both worked fine in 220. I am not sure what to say about it other than that – maybe a faulty one? Thanks for the quick question. SS


      • Thanks Scott, It isn’t that we have had a problem with it, we just haven’t risked trying it as we thought it would only work in 110. But it sounds like we would be OK using it in 110


      • paulmaugerlam says:

        So, you use the Belkin mini power strip on 220 current without a converter directly into the wall with only a socket adapter and it works fine? I can’t find anything written on the power strip that says it will work with 220 volts.


      • Scott S says:

        That is correct. I have used it in many countries now without incident. SS


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s