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My 5 must have travel items…

5 Must Have Items For Travel

I loved to travel before having kids, and now we travel just as much with our kids. As a lover of the outdoors, all our trips are centered on activities and adventures. Summer adventures include extended weekends to the lake, trips to Fernie, and canoe trips or expeditions. Winter vacations are mainly centered around ski trips, urban adventures, but a warm beach vacation fits in most years as well.

I consider myself athletic, not an athlete, so I am not in the habit of packing specific sport items for most of my trips. I need to pack multiple items or versatile items that meet the needs of many activities I may encounter, without packing or taking a ton of stuff. Sometimes items lend themselves nicely to other activities, for example on a winter ski vacation, outerwear for XC skiing works well for winter running, snowshoeing, and can be layers for Alpine skiing. In other cases, things don’t mesh as well for multiple uses.

Before my latest trip I was asked what were some of my must haves for all my travelling. I drew a blank as I could only think of large must take items like luggage or equipment. During my last vacation I thought about the items I had with me that I needed each day, and the items I did not want to be without.

Here is my list of the 5 items that I would not want to do without on all my trips.

1) Headlamp – A headlamp is so important to me I actually travel with 2. One is always in my toiletry kit to serve as a just-in-case I forget to pack one. I had once forgotten to take a headlamp on a late season canoe trip many years ago. It was horrible to stumble around campsites in the dark and so I decided that wasn’t going to happen again. For travel it’s great for morning or evening runs/walks, has served as a kids night light, and most recently allowed me the ability to join a night-time cross country ski race in Fernie. They are light, small and so handy once you have one, you’ll wonder what you did without it.

2) Trail Shoes, not running shoes – If space is no object, pack as many shoes as you want. But with luggage prices, space/weight restrictions, etc, etc, if you can only take one pair of shoes, take a good pair of trail running shoes. The new breed of trail running shoes are good for pavement pounding and open up so many other great adventures. My trail shoes have been to the tops of rugged mountains like the Polar Peak Hike in Fernie, BC. They have trekked along the crater’s edge of Haleakala Volcano in Maui, and so many other trails in-between. Last summer they served as mountain bike shoes for some trail riding at Blue Mountain Ontario, and my preferred shoe colour is black so they can “dress” up for a nice restaurant evening out. Previously known as hiking shoes, or brown shoes, the trail running shoe is the new all purpose adventure travel shoe.

3) GORE-TEX Rain Jacket – Windbreakers, rain slickers, or basic rain jackets won’t cut it for all rain jacket needs. A good breathable rain jacket is a must, and GORE-TEX is the best. Breathable means you can wear it as a windbreaker and you won’t sweat to death in it. Most GORE-TEX rain jackets from quality brands are built better with versatility in mind. Things like armpit venting so you can run or hike in the jackets, higher placed pockets so you can wear the hip belt of a pack and still use your pockets, and the most important feature, the hood. Make sure the hood fits so you can still see when you turn your head. One other tip about GORE-TEX jackets, they are covered by the manufacturer’s warranty; and they are also covered by W.L. GORE company for any manufacturers defects = double protection!

4) Quick dry fitness clothing – If you have limited packing space then good quality fitness apparel is a must. Limit the amount of cotton, lycra, and spandex to zero and take polyester or poly/wool blends for odor control. Quick-dry means you can wash them out in the sink of a hotel or condo and hang to dry for the next use. Good quality quick-dry also means you can wear them when wet/damp and they will still perform. The athletic brands seem to own this category but the outdoor brands have more experience and make better products with better quality fabrics.

5) Chariot carrier/running stroller – If you have kids and travel, this should be on your must-take list. My preference is the Chariot Carrier Cougar, now called Thule Carrier. Any great kids carrier that can have kits attach for multi-use would work. We fly with it and check it as a stroller so the airlines don’t charge us. It folds down and fits in our Thule box on the roof, or in the back of the SUV. Most of the time we just take the jogging wheel attachment, but if we know that we will be in urban centres we take the stroller wheel attachments, and if we are away on a winter vacation we take the ski kit, so our little one can hit the ski trails with me. The bike attachment goes the least as we can only take it to places that our bikes go, although friends of ours have taken their bike attachment if they are going to rent bikes. It’s a little bulkier then some kids joggers but it’s worth it in the long run. Any parent knows that little ones need to nap, and when travelling their schedules get mixed up and too much time can be spent indoors fighting with them to nap. We use the chariot for nap time as well as play time. Whether we are running, walking, or skiing in the winter, junior can take a nap and we still get our exercise or entertainment in. The Chariot also works great to haul gear and kids back and forth to the beach, resort pool, and they are tough enough to handle even some single track trails, like we tested back a few years while in Fernie, BC. Summer use or hot vacation use is no problem with the great sunscreen shield and tinted UV windows on the chariot. Winter use is not a problem either, as I have Nordic skied at minus 25 with a warm happy little one inside. I can’t imagine being on a trip without our Chariot Carrier, and many friends have thanked me for talking them into taking one on their holiday.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading my list and I hope it can help you on your adventure.

In the words of our favorite brand, The North Face, Never Stop Exploring.


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