Travel gear has certainly come along way. However, I sometimes find that the best things come in humble packages. Some of my most useful pieces of travel gear are even homemade.
My dear friend Cindy knitted this for me. The one time I wasn’t using it my iPod fell in a toilet, so I consider it to be an important strategy for protecting my favorite gadget. I usually hook it around a belt loop and then put the iPod in my pocket. I’ve even worn it around my neck and stuffed into my bra (things tend to fall out when your doing Downward Dog) to listen to a yoga routine as I bent and stretched on a dirty hotel room floor. Don’t leave home without it.
I don’t know how they originated, but I suddenly started seeing these handy little jobbers everywhere I went- Asia, Central America, Hawaii. I LOVE them. Beyond their intended purpose of providing cover and structure for unruly hair (something I happen to have a lot of), I’ve used them for eye masks when I want to sleep on the plane, and for a dust masks over my mouth and nose when I’m riding down a dusty dirt road on the back of a moped. Hats off (head bands off?) to the person who came up with these!
Everyone knows that a safe place to stow your passport, credit cards and cash is an essential piece of travel gear. Perhaps I’m picky, but finding the perfect passport holder has proved to be a bit challenging. I like to wear mine under my clothes, inconspicuously tucked into my pants- the theory being that if someone has their hands in my pants I’ll notice. This means that: 1) The strap has to be the right length so that the bag sits against my belly and not too far south, 2) It needs to be big enough to carry a passport, but no larger, and 3) It needs to be made of cloth that is comfortable to have against my skin, no rivets, zippers or buttons pressing against me. Even the expensive Victorinox one I bought at a shi-shi travels store in a mall did not meet my criteria. It was bigger than necessary which made it uncomfortable. And in order to make the shoulder strap adjustable they had put on a little plastic slider that had a way of always digging into my skin. This, my latest attempt, was purchased at the Hilo Farmers Market for six dollars. So far, so good.
After lugging my mother’s 50+ year old Singer sewing machine down to Mexico, I set out to make a one-of-a-kind piece of travel gear. In many hostel showers you’re lucky if there’s one hook to hang things on. So what items merit the place on the hook? The clean undies that you’re going to put on when your done? Or the dirty ones you’re taking off? What about the wash cloth you’re using? And how about a less than disgusting place to put my soap, shampoo, comb and deodorant? I wanted something that could hold all my toiletries at once, but still only need one hook. Something I could use to hold my hairbrush, dry my hands and see my teeth. So I invented my own specialized piece of travel gear.