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These are a few of my fav-or-ite things... After four months of rigourous testing on the road, here are some items that performed outstandingly. Text in GREEN has been added since my latest trip. Do you know about a great travel product? Tell me about it!





When I got my new Macabi skirt in the mail, I couldn't believe how small and light the package was... I thought they must have made a mistake and sent me a scarf instead! But no, they got it right -- the material may be light (Supplex nylon), but the cut is long and full, and really does convert easily into blowzy pants, and can even be made to imitate shorts. A truly practical and innovative design. The skirt worked very well, I especially appreciated the deep pockets and the additional security pocket (something every item of travel clothing should include, in my opinion).


Long Sleeve Shirt

Royal Robbins

Full-featured, this shirt is breezy and light, but also boasts a sun protection factor of 40, has tabs for holding rolled up sleeves in place, generous velcro-secured front pockets (one with security zipper), hidden mesh vents in both the front and back, and the Supplex nylon resists wrinkles and dries in a flash. A very good shirt, I wore it often.


Sleeveless Shirt


Cute, cool, light. Anti-wrinkle fabric. Pockets. I wore this over and over again, and it still kept coming back for more... The security pocket was particularly useful when I was wearing a skirt or pants that did not have a secure pocket. The fabric held it shape despite many washings and crushings. It dried fast enough that I could wash it, wring it out in a towel, and put it on immediately.


Day Pack


I got this Tree Frog day pack just days before I left, and I'm glad I did. This became like another appendage for me, carried everywhere. The lockable zippers gave me a sense of security, the built-in rainfly protected everything when the sky opened up. The organizer section kept phone, binoculars, headlamp, etc. safe and easy to access. The main compartment was large enough to carry guidebooks, jacket, water, snacks, photo supplies, etc. Padded straps and ergonomic design made carrying all this comfortable.


Mesh Bags


These nylon mesh bags with zipper closure across the top are probably the single most important reason I lost almost nothing in four months of continuous travel. I used one to keep my small clothing items (socks, underwear, scarves) together, and one for small electronic gear (phone charger, battery charger, hard drive for photo storage, etc.). I used a larger one to keep dirty clothes separate from clean clothes. The mesh allows everything to shift and compress for maximum compactness, provides excellent ventilation, and still keeps things together and organized. I got mine from TravelSmith, but it appears they are not selling them anymore. A good (although possibly less robust) alternative would be the net bags sold to wash delicate laundry (look for them in drugstores).


Mini Notebook

The Container Store

Absolutely one of the most essential pieces of equipment I brought with me... a great place to jot down everything, from addresses of people you meet, to train schedules, hostel and hotel information, quick observations and thoughts. Measuring just 2-3/4" x 3-3/4" it has an elastic band that keeps it neatly and securely closed. The bright color makes it easy to find, and hard to lose.


Toiletry Bag

Eagle Creek

This is a well-constructed bag with lots of handy pockets and features, including a little velcro-attached mirror, a spill-proof zippered section, and an open mesh section for allowing things like toothbrushes to dry. A very fine bag of adequate size that held up excellently during four months of continuous use.


Anti-Friction Ointment

Body Glide

Designed for endurance athletes, this is a lifesaver for anyone who faces trouble with skin chaffing, be it to preventing blisters from ill-fitting shoes or inner thighs rubbing together. On days when I wore skirts and did lots of walking, especially in sweaty or humid conditions, one application in the morning when dressing lasted all day long. The version pictured here also has an SPF 25 and can double as sunscreen as well.


Stain Treatment


I love these things...when a pigeon dive-bombed me in St. Peter's Square during breakfast, I just whipped out one of these moist towelettes and quickly made my skirt presentable again. These saved me time and again, highly recommended. When you only have a few clothes to last you for months, it's really important to keep them looking their best.




Tiny Nivea Deo Compact spray deodorant I discovered first in Ireland, and later in other European countries, but I have yet to see it here in the states. Too bad, since it's so compact, light and concentrated (a container just a little longer than a lipstick lasts for 2 months).




Lightness, sharpness and toughness were the qualities that made these Victory Compact 8 x 20 B T binoculars by Zeiss so attractive. The field of view is sharp from edge to edge, and they come with a lifetime transferable warranty. Also, they're waterproof and fold up very compactly. I carried these everywhere with me, and I was delighted with their performance, whether it be in enjoying the theatre in London or the opera in Rome, admiring the stained glass in the cathedral at Chartres, spotting a submarine off the Isle of Skye or getting a closer look at an elk in the Scottish Highlands. If you're going to see the world, why not get the best possible view?




Princeton Tec

Three white LEDs provide lots of light (300 hours for 3 AAA batteries), and the headband provides hands-free convenience. Plus it's waterproof.


Hiking Shoes


Ecco Track Terrain Plain Toe, Low Cut: Thick nubuck above, solid serious traction below, and lined with waterproof, breathable Goretex. As seriously sturdy as any hiking boot, but still look o.k. with a skirt. These have already proved themselves through days of walking in the ice and snow of Chicago, these are shoes I feel I can count on. These shoes performed awesomely, giving me the surefootedness of a goat on mountain trails, keeping my feet warm and dry through chilling downpours, with positively no blisters, no matter how far I walked. The only improvements I could suggest are a protective covering for the toe (as the leather on the upper front took a beating) and shoe laces that stay tied without having to resort to double knots.



Digital Camera


The Minolta Diamage F100 features four megapixel resolution and 3x optical zoom, wrapped in a tough, compact all-metal body. It has goodly array of both manual and automatic controls, and can take AA batteries (easy to find just about anywhere). This camera performed like a champ through extremes of temperature and humidity, taking great pictures, especially in low light situations. It is small enough to take everywhere without weighing me down. It goes through batteries pretty quickly, so I plan ahead by carrying 2-4 extra rechargeable AAs. All my Picture of the Day photos are from this camera, so you can judge the quality for yourself. One problem that has just developed recently is that when the batteries are spent, the camera loses any custom settings (including date, time, and picture size/quality) and reverts to the default settings, which is most inconvenient.


Travel Towel


This towel strikes a good balance between effectiveness and aesthetic appeal. Its microfibers soak up water easily and dry quickly, but it also has the soft pliability you expect from a towel. This towel worked better than any other travel towel I have tried. It dried very quickly, was slow to pick up off odors, and when it finally got smelly, I could wash it in the shower along with myself, and then wring it out enough to dry myself off afterwards. Bravo! The 20" x 40" size is enough to get me dry, but not really enough to modestly wrap myself up in, but the savings in bulk and size are usually worth it to me.


Menstrual Cup


A less-well-known alternative to tampons and pads, the cup is something to think about if you don't want to carry around mounds of supplies. I like the cups because I can wear them longer and I stay cleaner with them. But no solution is perfect, so I am taking a selection of supplies for maximum flexibility. These worked great, and were much less bulky than other methods. Do try them out before you go, they take some getting used to and they are not the best solution for everyone.


 Saline Gel


Anyone who flies knows that plane air is dry air, and spending much time in the air dries out one's nose. This is a problem not just because it's uncomfortable, but also because when nasal membranes dry out, they're less able to fend off airborne infectious agents that cheerfully re-circulate throughout the cabin. Similar to saline spray, but more compact and concentrated, this gel dries out less quickly. This is good for people who don't want to be spraying something up their nose every half hour or so. Duck behind your in-flight magazine, dab a little inside each nostril, and breathe more comfortably for hours.






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