Travel Essentials For Flashpackers – Featuring Urby Wallets

Over years of travelling by myself, I have discovered that there is a certain thrill in ditching the itinerary and impulsively going off the plan to explore a place that has never been on my wishlist. (I recently spent a few days with the Mahadev Koli tribe in the interiors of Maharashtra, exploring their ancient way of living.) Unplanned trips also mean being invited to a popular place at very short notice. (Just last week, I was at the Rann of Kutch, attending India’s first conference on photo-tourism.) Excitement apart, sudden plans often mean you have to pack real quick and know exactly what you need for the place you’re heading to.

Backpacking To Flashpacking – The Need To Upgrade

Swiss tents are neatly set up in Kutch during the Rannmahotsav.

Swiss tents are neatly set up in Kutch during the Rannmahotsav.

Many backpackers I know are gradually turning into flashpackers – backpackers who travel and stay with a little more luxury than the hardcore backpacker, but are still backpackers at heart (and obviously in their choice of luggage) and not quite luxury travellers. I knew I was on a flashpacking trip when I was invited by the White Rann Resort in Kutch to stay in their Swiss tents fitted with air conditioning, wooden furniture and an attached bathroom (which again was fully functional with running water, bath amenities and all). Although flashpacking reduces the items you’ll need to carry with you (for instance, bath towels and toiletries are mostly provided by the property), there are some essentials which you must never forget to pack.

Travel Wallets For Quick Packers

My leather wallet by Urby lets me store the bare essentials I need before I head outdoors.

My leather wallet by Urby lets me store the bare essentials I need before I head outdoors.

Smart travellers pack light. For short trips, let your bag weigh no more than 7kg to ensure you have everything as carry-on luggage on flights (and avoid wasting time waiting for your checked bags to appear on the baggage belts). Apart from your carry on bag, it helps women to have a small travel wallet to keep on their person at all times. I’m happy to own one of Urby’s wallets for women which lets me carry stuff I cannot do without – my phone, IDs, money, credit cards and a lip balm. The smartphone wristlet is perfectly sized to fit my passport and boarding passes also. There’s a money-sleeve and coin/card pocket inside for organization.

Pick A Phone That Doesn’t Make You Cry For A DSLR

A good camera phone comes handy when you have an instant travel plan.

A good camera phone comes handy when you have an instant travel plan.

When I would travel within the city in Philadelphia, I would often be in a dilemma whether to take my bulky DSLR and the lenses out on every little walk. I also didn’t want to come across as a tourist in a country where I knew I’d be spending a few good months (unlike the regular short trips I usually did). My iPhone really helped me with that quandary by getting me some great shots that didn’t exactly make me run to my DSLR. It is a good idea to invest in a phone with a great camera, especially if you are going hiking and don’t unnecessarily wish to pile up the weight on your back.

Put Your Name On It!

I love having my stuff personalized with my name (it also makes it pointless for pickpockets to steal such things).

I love having my stuff personalized with my name (it also makes it pointless for pickpockets to steal such things).

Personalization is a double-edged sword that not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of your possession but also avoids cases of it being mistakenly (and sometimes intentionally 😉 ) be picked up by someone else. My Urby wallet has my name etched on it in a golden colour. When you travel to crowded places, you often tend to lose your belongings. The wrist loop makes this wallet harder to lose. The loop is detachable and can be used to latch the wallet to a bigger handbag. The ring that helps lock the wrist loop can also be used to hold a bunch of keys in a keyring. There’s good news also for the men reading this. Urby has a nice collection of wallets for men as well.

Travel Maps Will Never Lose Their Charm

Paper maps are surprisingly really useful even in this generation of Google maps.

Paper maps are surprisingly really useful even in this generation of Google maps.

The joy of walking across the winding lanes of small towns in Europe are not the same without the near-accurate maps that are folded several times over to fit into your pocket. Hostels and Airbnbs are rated higher when they delight their guests with a handy map of the place with points of interest clearly marked out and a big red dot for where the stay is located. It is hard to lose one’s way when a map guides one back home (or at least temporary home). Even though you have Google Maps for emergencies, it helps to grab a map for your self-designed walking tours, especially when you are on international roaming in no Wi-Fi zones.

When You Return From A Holiday

This Urby leather wallet can be stored safely in this clothbag that comes with it.

This Urby leather wallet can be stored safely in this clothbag that comes with it.

As travel bloggers, we often stress on packing and never the need for unpacking. But you must know that proper unpacking is just as important. All your leather bags must be protected from moisture (more so in monsoon) or else they have fungal growth and give out foul smell. Urby wallets come with their own cloth bags with drawstring for long-term storage. This helps lengthen the life of this premium leather product. The same goes for your rucksacks, hiking poles, trekking shoes, etc. Always clean your luggage when you’re back home and arrange for their proper storage so you find them as good as new for your next trip.

If You Don’t Have The Patience To Plan

When I look back at all the trips I've done, the impromptu ones have been the most fun. (Picture from Diu - I wait for the sun to set.)

When I look back at all the trips I’ve done, the impromptu ones have been the most fun. (Picture from Diu – I wait for the sun to set.)

I will never deny the benefits of a well planned holiday. Those are generally more value for money as you assumably have your tickets and stay booked at discounts and know how to make the most of your time. But every once in a while, it feels special to go on an impromptu trip to surprise your own self. You don’t have to go to the “must-visit” places or eat the famous grub of a place. Some journeys show you more of your soul than the outer world.

Have you tried flashpacking yet?

Write your answers as comments below! 🙂

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A Travel Secret Up My Sleeve – Urby Passport Holder

So much goes into planning a holiday, especially if it’s a long one. I have a big trip coming up this week, and all of the planning is stressing me out. Yet, I know the tension is temporary. My joy on reaching that faraway land will drown even the memory of the hassle I’m going through right now.

On-Trip Euphoria Is Greater Than Pre-Trip Anxiety

Alone on a German Island - Old Town in Lindau.

Alone on a German Island – Old Town in Lindau.

This is not the first time I’m travelling to another continent (read – Lleida – A Reminiscence), but this will certainly be the longest I’ll be away from home. I know from experience that the jitters are only before I set foot in that foreign country. All that I explore afterwards, will make me smile ear to ear. It is always a good idea to have all your travel essentials in place – the bags, the documents and the cash. If you are travelling to a country with specific rules, ensure you are prepped for the immigration procedures. Your passport is your first document of importance. It helps to keep it easily accessible.

A Passport Holder Also Helps Hold Yourself Together

You need a handy holder for all your essentials at the airport.

You need a handy holder for all your essentials at the airport.

At airports when I’d mostly be in a hurry, I would often struggle to find my passport in my handbag. Some scrambling later, I’d catch hold of it, only to realize I’d have to keep digging for my boarding pass next. Sitting down for a snack at an airport cafe would require some more ransacking of my bag for currency or cards. I was starting to get worried my passport would fall apart with all of that frequent manhandling. I needed a saviour. That’s when Urby came to my rescue!

A Leather Sleeve Brought Me Sound Sleep

Traveling means exploring living rooms full of books and music.

Traveling means exploring living rooms full of books and music.

My Urby passport holder is essentially a jacket for my passport. It also has 4 slots for me to slip in my multicurrency prepaid card (which acts as an ATM cum debit card for all my spends abroad), credit cards and perhaps a business card. There is also a sleeve which I can use to slide in my boarding pass or air tickets. This elegant way of organizing my air-travel essentials is going to give me a smoother travel experience. That means more time to catch forty winks during layovers! 😉

Luxury Is Personal

Urby sent me a personalized passport holder to make my travels more comfortable.

Urby sent me a personalized passport holder to make my travels more comfortable.

True indulgence is not in plainly sporting a premium brand, but having it customized for you. My limited edition passport holder from Urby’s “Wanderlust” collection is handcrafted and feels great to touch. I have my name printed in gold on the baked-cherry coloured high-end grained leather. I also have a drawstring canvas pouch to store my passport holder when I’m not travelling. Genuine leather needs care, especially during monsoon. The pouch will help keep moisture away, so my little piece of luxury stays luxurious for longer.

I Like To Travel Every Season

I watched the trees change colours during fall in Austria.

I watched the trees change colours during fall in Austria.

When I was growing up, most of our family trips would happen in summer (because we had holidays). Monsoon was considered a bad time for vacation as my folks didn’t like rains (and the ensuing sludge on the roads). We were also quite cautious of getting out in the winters lest we should catch a nasty cold. These unnecessary restrictions made it quite hard to travel frequently and enjoy different climatic conditions. I had decided when I was very young that I would travel far and wide, in every season and every situation. I’m filled with delight as I tell you today that I’m doing exactly that these days! 🙂 (Read – For Travel Goals that are Long Term…)

Travel More, Work Even More!

Urby passport holder has a pocket at the back (so you can easily slide in a business card).

Urby passport holder has a pocket at the back (so you can easily slide in a business card).

My friends often wonder how I’m jobless, yet not penniless. Conservative culture has led them to think there are only traditional ways to earn a livelihood- you slog all day if you are not born rich. I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. And contrary to popular belief, my parents are not funding my travels. Over the past 5 years that I worked hard in the corporate world, I managed to save up a little bit. And now that I am a full-time freelance travel writer, I work even harder. More travel means meeting more people and developing lasting relationships, many of whom later become my clients. This is why I always carry my business cards on me. (Check out my friend, Grenville, who designed my card!) Urby’s passport holder has an extra slot at the back of the jacket (which I use to carry a couple of extra cards for serendipitous meetings at airports). You can also use it to carry loose change or some currency notes.

Carry Your Belongings The Way You Would Carry Yourself

Some parts of the world are so bright, you need sunglasses at night! ;-)

Some parts of the world are so bright, you need sunglasses at night! 😉

Immigration desks across the world have convinced me that sharp dressing goes a long way in having a trouble-free clearance. When you carry yourself impeccably, wouldn’t you want your passport to be carried in a similar fashion?

Do you ever struggle to find your passport in your bag?

Are you a fan of leather?

Let me know in the comments below! 🙂

Follow me on InstagramFacebook, Youtube and Twitter to know more about my new way of living. Do share this article and let your friends know about organizing their travel documents!

Disclosure: The passport holder was gifted to me by Urby. However, the review reflects my honest opinion.