After 8 transatlantic flights and multiple single carry-on weekend trips, these are my favorite and most useful possessions:
- Travel towel
I bought a travel towel this year after realizing that my regular towel was taking up 1/3 of my Ryanair carry-on allowance. I’m going to tell you a secret: I use my travel towel even when I’m not traveling. It’s soft, efficient, dries quickly, and it’s a pretty color. I keep the bath towel from home hanging in my closet, and it’s still fluffy and smells like my mom’s house. Its smell is now its primary utility.
- Wool socks
Wool socks were my original travel towel. I wore wool socks once, and haven’t worn anything else since. They are warm, lush hugs for your feet that always hold their shape. They wick away moisture and prevent blisters in cities where your main form of transportation is hours and hours of walking in the same sturdy boots. When spring comes and the warm kiss of the sun wakes the early flowers, I mourn, for I know I shall have to store my wool socks and wait until autumn to wear them again.
- Comfortable, fitted earbuds
Nice earbuds with squishy pads that lock them in place — and block ambient noise! — are great for running and commuting (full disclosure: bad for avoiding bicycles that are coming up behind you). I go through 2 or 3 pairs a year.
- Microfleece travel blanket from the airplane
I always steal the blankets they give you for free on the airplanes. They’re warm and lightweight, and sometimes make all the difference between firing up the heater and staying cozy. Not to mention they are portable, making excellent picnic or beach blankets and good-enough yoga mats. When your guest wants to curl up in something on the couch while watching a movie, you don’t have to haul out your gigantic duvet. Always steal the travel blanket from the airplane. The more, the merrier.
- REI goretex jacket with chest pocket and side zippers for air flow
I can wear this jacket any time of year. It has been one of my favorite articles of clothing since I first got it in 2008. It’s a comfortable rain jacket in the spring, and an unbeatable snow jacket in the winter with a fleece under it. Now, 4 years later, and having worn it a minimum of 500 times, I finally have to buy a new one.
- One small purse
This purse should go with everything, be cross-body to prevent theft and to leave both hands free, and only just tall and long enough to fit a simple Kindle. A few inches of width allows me to fit all I need: a pen, a small notebook, my smartphone, a coin purse with my IDs, credit cards, and cash, keys, Carmex, hand sanitizer, a bag of kleenex, a city map, public transit pass, and a few bags of different kinds of tea.
- Go-everywhere black boots
Every year I go through a pair of the same style of boots. They are always the same approximate width and height, black, with buckles, and I wear them nearly every day, walking hundreds of miles in them until the sole rips away from the toe. I guess, after three pairs, this is now a Thing.
- Long underwear
I wear long underwear every day in the winter. I tuck them into my wool socks and pull my jeans on over them. Then I put on my black boots. Every time I do this, it feels familiar and comforting, like watching my mom make pancakes.
There are some close seconds: my sleeping bag — which I am in at this very moment –, my journal, my gold bangles from Morocco, the blue scarf my mom made, and my old Express jeans. My wall is papered with city maps from my travels.
On the other hand, my duvet cover doesn’t match my pillow case. I actually don’t have a pillow case, but a sheet rolled up several times around a pillow like burrito bedtime for little girls. I’ve improvised long-term storage out of old shoeboxes and an open suitcase propped up in my closet. I have one drawer for important papers, one for electronic gadgets and their cords, and one for Everything Else. My most silly possession is probably the Roberto Cavalli perfume.
Well, now you know everything that I own.
Sometimes I’m jealous of people who have nested, who have beautiful homes full of taste and style, and everything they need to be comfortable in every room, and every type of clothing to be comfortable in every social situation. But when I review the list above, although it may be sappy, it tugs at my heartstrings. What do my favorite possessions say about me now? That I am clean and warm, but not at home. My favorite possessions reflect my most prized value: exploring (not pictured high-priority value: eating food).
I’ve got a good life.
I love my travel towel.