What’s in my bag?

Here’s a different take on my What’s in my bag posts. These are some of my travel essentials — the mainstays inside my bags whenever I go on a trip.

Quick drying, super absorbent microfibre towel

Microfibre towels
Sea to Summit and Aquazorb microfibre towels

When I was just starting to travel, I passed on buying a microfibre towel because of its price. To compromise, I bought a small towel and a sarong. I figured the towel would be absorbent enough, yet it wouldn’t take up as much space, won’t weigh as much as a regular bath-sized towel and dry (relatively) faster. I finally gave in and bought a Sea to Summit Drylite towel in 2009 and quickly saw the difference: it dries so much faster, absorbs much more and it’s a whole lot lighter. It was pretty expensive though: Php 599 for a small towel.

Luckily, I found out that there’s now a local company who makes great travel towels: Aquazorb. Fluffier than Sea to Summit, it absorbs as much liquid, it’s light and dries fast. Even better, a large towel only cost me Php 499.75!

Sea to Summit products are available at Travel Club and R.O.X. while Aquazorb towels are available at Landmark Department store.

Power adaptor

Power adaptor
A family of power adaptor

If you’re like me who can’t travel without a gadget, you definitely need one of these! When researching about your destination, be sure to check what kind of plugs they use. If you’re only traveling to one country or countries that use the same plugs, it’s okay to just buy the single adaptors. However, if you’re traveling to several countries, it’s better to bring a universal power adaptor.

I was content with using the single adaptors, but when I was given an universal power adaptor as a gift, I realized just how convenient it was. No need to worry about forgetting to research the power plugs because it’s fitted with all possible plug designs.

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Single adaptor plugs and universal power adaptors are available in most hardware/electrical shops (Ace Hardware, SM Workshop).

Bag locks

Travel locks
Go Travel, Pacsafe, Victorinox and Master Lock

These are on my bag rather than in it, but it ranks high in my travel must-haves. Bag locks not only prevent people from taking stuff out of your bag, they also prevent them from putting things into your bag. Remember, it’s never wise to bring bags you did not packed yourself.

As you can see, I prefer combination locks over regular padlocks. Though I have an aversion to padlock keys (specially small keys that are prone to getting lost or worse, broken while you’re turning the key to unlock the damned padlock), I liked the Pacsafe Prosafe 750. Instead of a key, it uses a keycard, which you can store inside your wallet. It is TSA compliant, which means it can be opened by the Transportation Security Administration of the US Department of Homeland Security using their master key.

Master Lock is available in SM Workshop and similar hardware shops. Go Travel Combination Lock with cable, Victorinox Cable Lock and Pacsafe Prosafe 750 lock is available in Travel Club and R.O.X.

Bag tags

Bag tags
Bon Voyage!

Cute and colorful bag tags not only tells the world just whose bag it is, it also help you spot it in the baggage carousel. You can buy pre-made bag tags pretty much everywhere, but if you want something that really stands out, you can have personalized cards made with your own picture or design at any Bag Tag kiosks.

The Bon Voyage tag was a gift from Cla, while the MNL tag is from Team Manila.

Re-usable bags

Re-usable ecobags
I love ecobags!

I first encountered reusable shopping bags in Australia. While the bags from the supermarket didn’t impress me much, I was instantly taken with the Envirosax, which I spotted while in Sydney. Since then, I always make sure to bring one in every trip, whether to another country or just to the neighborhood mall. They work great as an extra bag (beach bag anyone?) and of course, for shopping. That’s one (or three) less plastic bag! The Earth will love you for that.

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Envirosax are now available locally (Fully Booked, R.O.X., Travel Club, Brat Pack, among others), but the local prices are absurd. Since going green is now the trend, local companies have started making and selling similar products at a fraction of the price. They’re available in most malls (check Watson’s, Saizen or kiosks selling various knick knacks) around the Philippines.

Travel-only and travel-sized toiletries

Toiletries for home use, toiletries for travel

If you’re staying at hostels, you basically just get a bed and a room. It’s not like staying at a hotel where almost everything is provided. That’s why when you go on a backpacking trip, it’s recommended that you bring your own toiletries. However, with the airline restrictions on liquids and low cost carrier’s incentives/discounts for not having checked-in luggage means you’re limited with the amount of toiletries you can pack.

Sachets are the answer, you’d say. They’re the right size, and you just throw the packets as soon as you finish using them. Unfortunately, that’s not too good for the environment. You can also buy travel-size (100ml or less) bottles, but if you’re like me who use a lot of products, 4 100ml-sized bottles will not fit inside a quart-sized zip lock bag. A great compromise are re-usable travel sized bottles. With these containers, you can continue using your regular brand and just refill them when you get back from a trip. You can also opt to go with sticks and bars instead of liquids and gels: shampoo bars instead of regular shampoo, bar soap instead of shower gel, deo sticks instead of roll-on anti-perspirants.

If you’re a frequent traveler (or will start traveling often), I highly recommend keeping a separate set of toiletries. That way, you don’t leave your toothbrush or deodorant behind.

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Quart-sized resealable bags are available in supermarkets. Reusable travel bottles and containers are available in Travel Club, R.O.X., Beabi, Watson’s and Muji. Shampoo bars are available in Lush.

Compression bags

Daiso compression bags
Clothes for a one-week trip

My friend Rochelle introduced me to these compression bags. It’s basically a huge Ziploc — you put your clothes inside and either suck out the air from within using a vacuum or squeeze it out by rolling the bag or sitting on it. The difference is huge and it can really free up some space in your bag. Word of warning though, it just compresses the space, not the weight.

Daiso compression bags

This bag helped me fit one-week’s worth of clothes in a small backpack and gave me enough space for the souvenirs I bought along the way.

Compression bags are available in Saizen for Php 85, while sturdier Sea to Summit compression bags are available at Travel Club and R.O.X.

I’m raffling off a basket of travel essentials! Get your own microfibre travel towel, universal power adaptor, bag tags, reusable ecobag, travel-sized liquid containers, quart-sized zip-top bag and compression bag by joining the Just Wandering travel essentials giveaway!

Article by Nina Fuentes

Nina doesn't aim to travel to every country in the world -- she just wants to travel to the places that means the most to her. She started traveling in 2006, and hopes to travel for as long as she can. Her travel blog, Just Wandering won the Best Travel Blog in the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards and in the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards.

This Article Has 33 Comments
  1. The microfiber towel is very handy especially in hiking trips where space and weight are big considerations. I started bringing one also on my regular trips because most backpacker’s lodges dont offer towel and toiletries. I’ll try getting the compression bag next time, mura lang pala :)

  2. i got the same clip with the flower (on the luggage tag)! can’t exactly remember if i bought it from indonesia or thailand. talagang yun ang napansin ko. haha! awesome tips nina. i should start using bag locks. i never did.

  3. nina says:

    Di ba kayo natutulog?! XD

  4. chyng says:

    mapapasakin din ang mga yan lalo pa’t nasagot ko na ang candied bacon!

  5. pusangkalye says:

    natuwa ako don sa 1 week worth ng clothes. yun na talaga yun? tas with the compression bag para lang wala!!!nag disappear.hahaha.makapunta nga sa Saizen bukas na bukas! lol

  6. Chichi says:

    I love my aquazorb towels too! And it doesn’t hurt that it’s pinoy made ;)

    Been looking for those compression bags in Cebu. Thanks for the tip Nina! Saizen is located at Robinson’s Galleria right?

  7. Kat says:

    How large is the large Aquazorb towel? Kasi I have an Aquazorb body towel and if I remember correctly, Php300 lang sya from a stall/kiosk in Rockwell.

  8. freeze says:

    i ought to get myself and try one of those compression bags. :) great tips as usual!

  9. dyanie says:

    ay gusto ko din yung compression bag! meron ng saizen sa atc? weeee! ma check nga yan! i like aquazorb! nag effort pa ko sa megamall nyan tapos meron pala sa rockwell hahahaha!

    susyal naka L’Occitane na shower gel! pareho tayo! apir! :)

  10. shinchan says:

    Hi Nina! thanks for the compression bag idea! :) will try to buy one as soon as possible! :)

  11. kate says:

    What’s inside the body shop bottle? Essential oil? :)

  12. ida says:

    ey nina!
    i recently got a nice microfiber towel that so far i consider to be the most absorbent i’ve ever tried. its about the same cost as the ones you mentioned above and it comes with free embroidery :) check it out here: http://bit.ly/f5vF84

  13. great tips! having an old-fashioned lock-and-key is also practical, especially if you have poor memory or having a senior moment. hehe.

  14. Picture Asia says:

    Good advice !
    I guess the compression bag is what i need now :)

  15. Eric says:

    Hi thanks for the tips..I would buy microfiber absorbent towel which is more light and easy to bring….

  16. Stella says:

    hi ms nina! good to see this entry…remember got a problem with the universal plugs hehehe…been hibernating from the last time i visited your blog. keep it up!

  17. Kat says:

    I didn’t know Towelite’s a local brand. I’ve been looking for something like that since I saw my cousin lug one around. Thanks for the head’s up!

  18. Katie says:

    Hi Nina! Thanks for your blog. You are in inspiration – reading your blog (and Gael’s – the pinaysolobackpacker) – makes me want to travel more. I’m also a fan of Nomadic Matt. :-) Since my plan is to be a more frequent traveler this year, I will be buying some of these things that you’ve mentioned. I’ve also read your Borneo entries – am planning a trip there soon. My question is, where are Travel Club and Rox outlets located? I don’t go to Metro Manila often. Are they available in Megamall, Glorietta or other big malls? God bless, and continue traveling and writing! Carpe diem! :-)

    • Nina says:

      Thanks Katie! ROX is in Bonifacio High Street in Taguig, and they also have a branch in Ayala Center Cebu. Travel Club has branches in SM North, Shangri-La Plaza. I think they have branches in malls outside of Manila. Check out their Facebook pages for a list of all their branches :)

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