Essential Travel Kit Items
When I'm traveling, there are a few essentials I never leave home without whether it's by air or car. I present the following checklist as a helpful guide for my fellow performing travelers to consider. These fit easily into a travel kit perfect for air travel or under my driver's seat:
Paper, pen and cell phone, confirmation numbers: These are essential for your traveling 'office' and your arrival. Always make sure you have at least two people's cell phones you can call if you run into a delay, an emergency or get lost. And write it down on paper in case your cell phone breaks or your batteries die. Don't ask how many times that's happened to me. Obviously, don't forget your cell phone charger. I also really like the free PocketMod (www.pocketmod.com) for its customizability and compact way to keep you organized.
Tissue, hand wipes, pain reliever, theraflu, vitamins: When driving I prefer to have along a full first-aid kit, but in a pinch? These essentials will keep you ready for just about any case of the ick, especially during conventions and conferences. Try and swap out your aspirin and theraflu packets at least once every six months to keep them fresh.
Zippered pouch/zip-lock bag: Have someplace you can store your receipts and small loose items you pick up along the way so it's easy to sort out when you get home and file properly.
Umbrella: It's amazing how small they can get umbrellas now, and it's really handy during unexpected weather to keep your camera and other sensitive equipment from being exposed to snow, rain or other elements.
Snacks: Keep yourself from getting grumpy and biting off your hosts' heads (always bad form!). Fresh fruit and granola bars are my usual choice. It'll keep costs down and improve your health as opposed to what you can find in the airport stores or roadside restaurants.
Business cards: I always try to keep at least twenty business cards and brochures ready for audience members and other people who are interested in my work or have special projects coming up. If you’re just getting started, www.vistaprint.com will give you 250 free business cards, although there are also others who will give similar or better deals if you look. Of course, if you’ve got books or brochures, you should bring a set of these with you too. I'd always carry a few by hand, rather than pack them in luggage or have them shipped, just in case a box gets lost or arrives too late.
Autoclub membership card: Even if you're flying in, a membership with an auto club like AAA or other good travel club can come in handy for discounts at hotels, restaurants and many tourist spots around the world. Usually they'll offer services like roadside assistance and towing, help opening locked cars and many other perks. Hope you never need them, but with one accident and the membership more than pays for itself usually.
Alternate ID and insurance card: It’s always handy to have photocopies of an alternate photo ID just in case, or at least promotional posters or a copy of your book with your picture on it in case you ever have to prove who you are. Getting caught without proper insurance is a major hassle, so it goes in the list.
Additionally, when you can, you should always e-mail yourself a copy of your manuscript that you’re reading from, and other key documents, just in case you lose them in transit. This way, it will be easy to pull the material from online and prevent any unexpected problems during your performance.
That usually gets me through any situation. But what do you like to bring with you when you hit the road?