After 6 months of travel I made a critical addition to my packing list that’s become my most essential tool

  • In March I left New York to travel around the world as Business Insider’s international correspondent. Though I brought just a carry-on suitcase and a backpack, I packed it with everything I thought I’d need for the trip. I created a meticulous packing list.
  • After returning home to reset and reflect, I realised there was one item I needed to pack that would make my next trip less stressful and more organised: an electronics travel organiser, often known as a Dopp kit.
  • The kit works like your regular toiletries bag, but for your devices. I packed it with all my travel adapters, cables, chargers, devices, and accessories. After travelling with one for two months, I can call it the best travel purchase I’ve ever made.

As Business Insider’s international correspondent, I’ve spent the past year travelling through more than a dozen countries.
For the trip, I brought just a carry-on suitcase and a backpack, which I meticulously packed (and repacked) with everything I thought I’d need for the trip.

But during my first six months on the road, I kept encountering the same problem when leaving a hotel room. Did I remember my extra-long USB-C cable? What about my headphones?

It’s an awful feeling, a heart-stopping surge of anxiety that you’ve forgotten something but just can’t remember what it is.

Before leaving a hotel room, I would pack my bag while listing everything I was supposed to have. When I was done packing, I would painstakingly look under every crevice, no matter how little time I had spent there.

Inevitably, I would still leave things behind. Or, sometimes, I would pack something important in a new part of my suitcase and think I had lost it.

The final straw was when I thought I lost my universal travel adaptor in Portugal. I ended up driving in the middle of the night to a Portuguese Best Buy and purchasing an overpriced subpar adaptor. I found the adaptor I thought I had lost two days later in the water-bottle pocket of my backpack. Woof.

When I was home in New York for a month in September, I was determined to find a solution. The folks over at LifeHacker had a genius one: I needed a toiletry bag (or Dopp kit for the cool kids) for my technology.

The idea, via LifeHacker’s Patrick Lucas Austin:

“A tech dopp kit centralizes all the dongles, cables, and adapters you’ll inevitably need on the road. It makes travel easier, since you don’t have to worry about losing anything when packing and unpacking in your hotel room, or at the airport’s security line. It all goes in the kit.”

After searching on Amazon for a suitable solution, I pulled the trigger on the Bagsmart Double-Layer Travel Organiser for $US25. Brandt Ranj on the Insider Picks team recommends TwelveSouth’s BookBook Caddysack, but at $US40 that was a bit steep for me.

As soon as the magical Christmas gift to myself showed up in the mail, I loaded it up with all of my tech doodads that I usually travel with. As a journalist and a photographer, there were a lot.

Here’s the rundown of what I’ve got in there:

Electronics Dopp Kit

Side A:

Electronics Dopp Kit 2

Side B:

Needless to say, that’s a lot of stuff to keep track of. Mind you that before I purchased the Bagsmart kit, all of these items were floating around in my suitcase, backpack pockets, or Ziploc bags. No wonder things were getting misplaced.

After two months of using a tech travel organiser, I can confidently say it’s the best thing I’ve packed on my trip.

Now, whenever I need to start work, I just whip it out and pull out the cables I need. When I enter a hotel room, I know exactly where to go to get my devices charged. When I get on a plane, I just grab the kit and throw my backpack in the overhead compartment. I used to always put it in front of my seat in case I needed to grab a cable.

My favourite part? When I leave a place – a hotel room, the aeroplane cabin, etc. – I can flip the kit open and quickly take inventory. The kit is so loaded with doodads that if there’s an open space, it means something is missing.

No more heart attacks two hours after I leave a place. I look then and find what I’m missing.