If you have a daily commute or you ever travel – on business or for pleasure – you ought to review the following list. Over the years, mostly by discovering I didn’t have something with me in an emergency, I’ve added eleven essential items to my backpack that I absolutely will not leave home without. All of these items are readily available, so adding them to your briefcase, backpack or daily bag should be easy…
1. First of all, I carry an emergency medical kit: a quart ziplock bag containing the following: a small bottle containing 3-4 days worth of the prescription med I take each day, 20 aspirin or so, a few Pepcid AC®, some multivitamins, Benadryl®, and a couple of decongestants. In addition, I always have a few band aids and a styptic pencil in the bag. A styptic pencil, if you’re not familiar with it, is a small stick which contains aluminum sulfate or titanium dioxide and which will stop a small cut from bleeding, should you nick yourself shaving or get a nasty paper cut. You can find them in the shaving section at your drugstore; they cost less than $2. In addition, as a contact lens wearer, I always have an extra set of lenses in this bag as well. I don’t bother with a toothbrush or toothpaste, as hotels will typically have emergency toiletries available, should you be stranded.
2. Have you ever sat near a screaming infant on a plane? Don’t leave home without a couple pair of disposable foam earplugs, noise canceling headphones, or your ear buds and iPod. You can buy 7 pair of foam earplugs for ~$3.99 at Walgreens or CVS.
3. Emergency cell phone charger: pick up an inexpensive cell phone charger in case you forget your AC charger or are stranded somewhere. Click on this link for a CNET article about 3 different types of emergency chargers.
4. Ever lost your wallet? If you’re traveling, the pain of losing your wallet is multiplied many times. There are a few ways you can still have your critical data. My approach: I composed a simple email with my driver’s license number, credit card numbers, and the 24 hour emergency contact numbers for the credit cards and emailed it to myself. In Gmail, I applied a label and archived the email. When needed, I can access these emails with my Blackberry. In addition, I scanned my driver’s license and medical coverage card and emailed them to myself as well, and again archived them. Of course you should encrypt such emails before sending. Another alternative is to save this data as an entry in your address book in your phone. The advantage of the scan of my driver’s license is that in an emergency I could at least show the scan to a TSA agent or law officer. (Incidentally, you do not need to have a photo ID with you in order to board a plane… see this post from Tim Ferriss.)
A second alternative is to photocopy this information and carry photocopies in your bag. Of course should you somehow lose your bag, you’ve got a hard copy of your data in someone else’s hands.
Finally, you could photocopy the data and have a friend, your spouse, or S.O. keep it and you could call them in an emergency. In any event, plan ahead in whatever way you prefer, should you lose your wallet or purse while on the road.
5 & 6. I carry an extra pair of reading glasses and a cheap pair of sunglasses in my bag… if you’ve ever lost or broken your reading glasses while on a trip or forgotten to bring your sunglasses when traveling to a sunny locale for a day or two, you can appreciate how important this is.
7. There’s something to be said for planning for the worst, and for that reason I pack a small disposable digital camera. If you’re ever in a car accident and need to document what happened, one of these inexpensive cameras will enable you to do so. On a more positive note, if you’re presented with a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity and didn’t pack your regular camera, you’re covered. (Disposable film cameras with flash retail for as little as $6.99, and will work just fine for this purpose.)
8. Back to being stranded somewhere, I pack a pair of Wickers® underwear and a pair of Polartec® socks (any will do, of course) in a ziplock bag. Put them in the bag, press all the air out, zip it shut, and you at least have a change of underwear should you be stranded with your checked baggage unavailable. With all the air forced out, this takes up very little space in my bag. I’m suggesting high tech, moisture-wicking products because they’re easy to wash out and dry quickly should you be stuck somewhere for more than just one night.
9. Energy bars. I always have a few Clif bars or Kashi bars in my bag. If you have an early flight or are delayed somewhere, you’ll have a good snack available.
10. Perhaps betraying my age here, but for the last couple of years I’ve carried a credit card-sized magnifier which has come in extremely handy when trying to read tiny type, instruction sheets, and the like. Although this isn’t the exact one I’m using, it’ll give you a good idea of what I’m talking about. <$10.
11. Finally: 5 $20 bills in a zippered compartment in my backpack. Ya never know when you might need some cash in an emergency.
That’s my list… feel free to comment or share those items you always have in your daily bag or briefcase! If you enjoyed this article, please Digg it and/or subscribe to my blog by clicking the RSS Feed button at the top of this page! Thanks!!
- Critical information & numbers to store in your cell phone – one of which could save a life!
- Create your own roadside emergency kit!
- Travel Tips: 6 clever uses for your cell phone on the road
- What to do if you get sick while traveling
- The best airline ticket search engine you’ve never used
- Declutter your wallet: adopt a minimalist approach with the Storus Smart Money Clip Lite!