Travel Equipment Essentials

Having just returned from a two week trip to Europe where I visited many of the tourist spots in France, Italy and Spain, here’s my take on the essentials for travel equipment.

Pickpockets

While visiting Rome and Paris, there were many public announcements and notifications about pickpockets and to keep an eye on your belongings. It’s actually fairly easy to protect against this. For one, be aware of your surroundings. If someone walks too close to you, move away if you can. In a crowded area, be mindful of your belongings at all times.

For guys, I like to wear cargo pants/shorts while traveling since they all seem to have buttons or zippers on the back and front cargo pockets. I’ll keep my wallet in my back pocket buttoned up and my phone in my front cargo pocket that I can also button up. It’s much harder for them to have to unbutton your pocket to take your stuff. They’ll most likely target others who are wearing jeans where it’s easy to lift your wallet out of your back pocket.

For girls, depending on your fashion sense, this is more difficult and so I would advise with putting your items in a secure purse. I’ll explain more in detail in the next section.

One thing I was taught when I was young while traveling abroad was to keep some pocket change (around $20 or so) separate from your wallet. This way, when you make small purchases from a street vendor or so forth, you’re not pulling out your wallet and showing off how much cash you have in there. Many of these pickpockets hang around these areas and find their targets this way. They’ll see how thick your wad of cash is and which pocket you have it in. So, the less often you bring out your wallet, the better.

Backpack/Purse

Some of you probably like to travel light and then others like to travel with huge back country backpacking packs. This is, of course, all up to you. But the thing I wanted to point out is about securing your items.

I use a standard size hiking backpack. There are convenient side pockets for my water bottles and, of course, the main compartments can be zipped up. While traveling around the cities, I don’t sling the backpack on just one shoulder, I wear it over both shoulders. When you just sling the backpack over one shoulder, it’s easy for someone to run up behind you and pull it off of you and then run off with it.

For females with purses, do not use a small handbag. It’s too easy for someone to grab it from you and run off. Carry a purse with a shoulder strap and sling it over your head, across to the other shoulder. As I mentioned above, if you just sling it over one shoulder, it’s easy for someone to grab and pull it off of you. If you sling it over your head to the other shoulder, they won’t try.

Also, carry a purse where you can zip it up. If you have one of those open top purses, it’s way too easy for pickpockets to reach inside and pull your stuff out in a crowded metro. And, even if you can zip it up, if you’re in a crowded metro train, hold the purse in front of you, not behind you.

Portfolio Phone Case

I’ve seen too many people using phones where the display is cracked and I don’t understand why people don’t protect their investment more. These smartphones aren’t cheap. This is why I use a portfolio type phone case where both the front and back of the phone are covered when I’m not using it.

Besides better protection for the phone, there’s a convenience factor with using a portfolio type phone case while traveling. Most portfolio phone cases have pockets to hold credit cards and some cash, for example. While traveling abroad, this made it convenient to hold my pocket cash instead of having to pull my wallet out all the time.

I also used it to hold my Sea Pass card from Royal Caribbean since part of the two week trip included a 7 night cruise. I kept my credit cards and the bulk of my cash in my wallet buttoned up in my back pocket and rarely had to pull my wallet out unless I was making a big purchase.

This way, people didn’t know if I had a wallet on me to pickpocket. My shirts were un-tucked so it masked the bulge from the wallet in the back pocket as well.

Adapter/Converter

With adapters and converters, this is where many people have issues. While I thought I knew enough about converters, I guess I didn’t. I had brought a couple of adapters and one converter. The converter I brought was rated for 2000watts and I figured it would work fine for a flat iron. I was wrong.

The converter stated that it’s only for hair dryer usage. I’ve read reviews where others stated they had used it for other devices such as flat irons. When we plugged it in, the electronics near the LCD screen in the flat iron burnt up so we had to throw it away in Spain.

So, not all converters are made compatible and this is where I started thinking. The reason the company stated it’s only good for hair dryers is that hair dryers don’t have electronic circuits. It’s basically a resistance heat coil and blower. When it comes to real electronics, not only does voltage matter but also the frequency and how clean the sine wave is. And, when it comes to converting AC, there’s many ways of doing it and the best way isn’t the most cost effective.

The best thing is to find a dual voltage (110-240v) item so that you don’t have to deal with converters. Using an adapter would be good enough and hassle free. These days, it’s not hard to find most products with dual voltage capability.

We’ve already found a dual voltage flat iron when we came back so I just need to find a dual voltage handheld steamer before out next overseas trip.

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