10 travel products to invest in because you may be on vacation, but Covid-19 is not
From collapsible bags to air tags, this wishlist has everything a 2021 traveller would need
I always thought I was far too rational to believe in horoscopes. That changed last year when I ran out of things to keep myself entertained. It got tiring to doomscroll through Instagram while staring at the Netflix homepage, trying to decide what to watch like it was a major life decision. So I began reading horoscopes. Now, the only thing I relate to more than my star sign, Sagittarius, are lazy cat memes.
Sagittarians are adventurous, spontaneous and free-spirited. We’re the kind of people who begin planning our next trip while we’re sitting at the airport on our return home. It perfectly explained why this year has made me more restless than a 10th grader before a math exam. I was itching for a vacation, with sand between my toes and an array of potent cocktails to test. But the best I could do was put on my mask and climb the stairs to my building’s terrace while pretending to be on a trek.
It’s not just the archers of the zodiac who are double-vaxxed and ready to go. According to a report in the Indian Express, as lockdown restrictions ease, vacation bookings have doubled this year, and some hospitality chains have recorded a 1000% spike in daily reservations.
While we’re getting ready to plough through our travel bucket list again, remember that COVID-19 hasn’t gone on vacation. So pack extra reusable masks, keep your sanitiser within arm’s reach and check the latest RT-PCR test requirements before landing up at the airport.
I also zeroed in on travel products that can serve as extra ammunition to safeguard ourselves, and make your vacation hassle-free.
10 travel products that could make post-COVID vacations smoother
A water bottle with a built-in filter
We hate buying and throwing away plastic water bottles, but COVID-19 made us extra cautious about touching public water coolers or restaurant bottles. The LifeStraw filtration water bottle is friendlier to the environment, and has a two-stage filtration process that kills harmful bacteria, parasites and germs. Clamp the carabiner onto your backpack when you’re going trekking or hold it close as you navigate a crowded airport.
While most reviews say that the bottle is a dream come true for travellers, they caution that the bottle needs to be held upright to protect against leaks. It also helps to purchase extra filters to use after the one in the bottle has reached its capacity.
Want to drink from that beautiful stream you saw while you were out hiking in the wilderness? Go for it.
Travel bidet spray bottle and female urination device
In college, a few friends and I decided to go on a 20-day long road trip around Himachal Pradesh. Clear skies, snow-capped mountains, gorgeous valleys and roads that were riddled with more twists and turns than a Bollywood movie. None of us wanted to come back to the noise of our metropolitan lives.
Although, it was on that trip that I learned the essence behind Rachel Green’s famous quote, “No tissue, no tushy”. Everywhere we went, the washrooms smelled like rotten eggs. Sometimes worse. The pain of having to hover was real. Going to the washroom shouldn’t have to be such a dreaded task.
The travel bidet spray and female urination device will save your thighs, and protect you from nasty UTIs.
With the travel bidet, all you have to do is fill the bottle, put the lid on and spray for extra cleaning. This is especially useful when travelling through Europe and America. The female urination device is reusable, leakproof and allows you to stand and pee. All you have to do is wash it after every use.
These two products will flush all your anxieties about public washrooms down the drain.
Travel bidet spray, ₹1,121 and female urination device, ₹220
Reusable food pouches
My family is loyal to dabbas, but allergic to paying for excess baggage. These adorable reusable food pouches are easy to label. They’re handy to carry snacks and take up less than half the space your trusty Tupperware would.
Any time you feel snacky, you won’t have to fish around for a bulky dabba. Just slip one of these pouches into your sling bag and you can eat on the go. They are lightweight, washable and airtight. I won’t go so far as to say these pouches make dabbas seem obsolete, but they do know their job well.
Afraid of using the cutlery given on trains, planes, or even at restaurants and cafes? Reusable cutlery is portable, easy to wash and minimises exposure to risky surfaces.
Did I mention that this fork and knife pair is also sustainably produced from coconut wood? So you don’t have to worry about adding to the plastic crisis. Each pack includes a spoon and a fork that comes encased in a jute pouch. It’s the ideal travel companion.
All you have to do is wash the spoon and fork with lukewarm water and not soak or scrub them.
While everyone loves going to the beach, it’s never fun when you leave there looking like a sand monster. This blanket lets you lie down without worrying about being itchy because the sand entered your bathing suit. You can also wrap your clothes in it and go swimming without fretting about ruining your favourite pair of shorts.
It is waterproof, comes in a variety of colours, and has four corner pockets that can be used to store a few things or to anchor the blanket when it’s windy. The absolute best part about this blanket is that it’s compact and portable. Unlike other blankets, it won’t occupy half your suitcase. In fact, you can just slip it into your handbag.
Scarf with a secret zip
For those paranoid about the safety of cash, cards or keys during a trip, this scarf, equipped with a secret zip, might provide a solution. The zip is hidden from plain sight so you can always have your possessions on your person without anyone realising it. No more fiddling around your sling bag for loose change or worrying about pickpockets.
If you are as prone to losing things as I am, this scarf should definitely be on your wishlist.
Collapsible trolley bag
Always wanted Hermione Granger’s beaded handbag with the extension charm? We have the next best thing. A bag that can be adjusted into a tote, clutch or trolley depending on your requirement.
Need a tote to carry to the beach? Or a cute clutch to a club? Or a trolley bag for when you have to walk miles and miles to get to your gate at the airport? Done, done and done. This is the real bagwati and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Lingerie travel pouch
Considering that bras cost a fortune, a lingerie travel pouch should be a staple travel product. This one is made from nylon and is very durable. It’s lightweight, easy to wash and has separate compartments for your bras and your underwear.
You never have to worry about your expensive bras losing shape again. If you support them, they will support you right back.
A few weeks ago, my girlfriends and I spontaneously decided to visit Goa for the weekend. We sat on the beach, swam in the sea, drank beer and ate more seafood than we could handle. In the midst of all this Goan fun though, I misplaced my bag. I was sad but not shocked. It wouldn’t be the first time that I’d lost something on a trip. And even though the owners of the bakery I left it at were nice enough to return it to me , I couldn’t help but realise the need for an Air Tag.
A lesser-known product of Apple, an Air Tag is an easy way of keep track of your belongings. You could attach it to your keys or your phone or just slip it into your bag and you will be able to track the location of the item at all times through the Find My app. If I had one of these back then, I wouldn’t have lived on borrowed underwear for two days. Technology at its best.
When I first saw the ostrich pillow, my claustrophobia kicked in. As much as I love butterflies, the idea of being cocooned is terrifying. Besides, it looks like the helmet part of a stormtrooper costume.
Despite all my qualms, I have to admit it’s possibly the best solution when that wailing infant on your flight gets too much to bear. Or when you want to nap but your travel buddies have other ideas. The ostrich pillow completely envelops the head and has openings on the side for you to slip your hands into. This gigantic pillow reduces surrounding light and muffles noise, creating the perfect nap environment. It’s exceptionally comfortable. You don’t have to worry about waking up with a throbbing neck and shoulder pain after spending the night in the middle seat.