When 18th-century upper-class Europeans embarked on their “Grand Tours”, they usually took with them a vast collection of luggage, containing everything they might possibly need during their time on the Continent. Today’s travellers no longer require the full complement of trunks ; instead we tend to focus on keeping things as light and compact as possible. These are some of our favourite travel gadgets that are designed to make your life on the road simple and your luggage as light as a feather.
The Grand Tourists were often escorted by a cicerone, whose role was to act as tutor, guardian and translator. Today, Google Translate offers a simple software tool that can be downloaded to your smart device to take over that role. The app makes it easier to ask for directions or strike up a friendly conversation with locals in a foreign language. Best of all, if you were already planning to pack your smart device, it adds no extra weight in your suitcase.
Airports are getting bigger but small children’s capacity for walking long distances to departure gates has not changed. An innovative way to address this gap is with carry-on luggage that doubles as a free ride to the plane. There are various options available and whilst you wouldn’t want to drag your child along a cobbled European street aboard one of these, they’re perfectly suitable for the long haul to your aircraft. They also come in fun designs ranging from monster trucks to favourite animated characters – who wouldn’t want to arrive at their gate riding a unicorn?!
These zip-closing, fabric containers are designed to allow you to compartmentalise your suitcase. You can keep your belongings compact and organised so that you no longer need to ferret through your entire bag in search of that one t-shirt. They come in different shapes and sizes so that filling your suitcase becomes like a game of Tetris. Some have compression zips, allowing you to condense your belongings even further. As well as making it easy to organise the contents of your bag, they also help to keep your clothes wrinkle-free, and because they’re available in different colours, it’s easy to find what you need. You may like to pack a spare one for storing your dirty clothes, and if the need arises, a well-packed cell can double as a pillow.
If you want to minimise the impact your travel has on the planet, an easy way to make a difference is to reject plastic water bottles in favour of carrying your own drink bottle. In many places, tap water is unsafe to drink: the solution is to opt for a bottle that contains its own purifying device. There are different options available, and which one you choose should be determined by your destination: do you need something that simply filters the water and enhances the taste, or do you need one that also purifies, removing viruses as well as bacterial nasties? Some options are also available as a soft, flexible bottle, which take up less room in your luggage when not in use.
Travelling somewhere chilly? If you’re a hot water bottle and woolly socks kind of person, you don’t need to fear the cold if you’re bound for cooler climes, thanks to the wonders of modern technology. Keeping your toes toasty is easy because heated insoles for your shoes are now a thing! There are many different choices available – the fanciest ones have rechargeable batteries and you can control them via Bluetooth, using an app on your smartphone.
Aviation regulations mean you can no longer just toss a pocketknife into your carry-on. Victorinox, who have been making Swiss army knives and other helpful gadgets since 1884, have come up with a new way of packing multiple useful items into one compact package. Behold the SwissCard, which manages to pack not just the obligatory blade but also tweezers, scissors, a screwdriver and even a ballpoint pen into a credit card-sized package that will satisfy your inner Bond fantasies.
Every traveller has a favourite hack that simplifies life when you’re living out of suitcase – ask your personal travel manager for their top tips.